A little curation on curation for associations
Two weeks ago I shared a few thoughts on how the concept of curation might work (or is working) in the retail industry, and I promised to dig a little deeper into curation in the association context. That post drew some interesting comments, so first I recommend going back and reading them.
That discussion got me thinking a lot about the topic, and so I spent some time reading what others have written about content curation already (which is quite a lot). In the interest of practicing what I preach (and in not restating what others have already said much better than I could), I decided to gather and share a handful of the most useful resources I've found on content curation:
Where to start if you're new to "curation":
- Beth Kanter: "Content Curation Primer," October 4, 2011
- Rohit Bhargava: "The 5 Models Of Content Curation," March 31, 2011
On the actual job of curation:
- Steve Rosenbaum: "Content Curators Are The New Superheros Of The Web," April 16, 2012
- Robin Good: "Real-Time News Curation - The Complete Guide Part 5: The Curator Attributes And Skills," October 6, 2010
- Robin Good: "Real-Time News Curation - The Complete Guide Part 6: The Tools Universe," October 13, 2010
- Robert Bruce: "How to Dominate Your Industry like Drudge"
On associations' role as content curators:
- Ellen Behrens: "Content Curation," August 19, 2011
- Jeff Hurt: "The Person Who Chooses Your Conference Content Has All The Power," December 12, 2011
- Steve Drake: "In 'Content Fried' World, Associations Content Curation Can Benefit Members," February 14, 2012
- Aaron Wolowiec: "Associations as curators: Supporting your speakers, educators and facilitators to success," January 18, 2012
- Steve Rosenbaum: "Will Associations Become Filters for Digital Overload?" May 6, 2012
- Maggie McGary: "Why I Doubt Associations Will Become Filters for Digital Overload," May 9, 2012
More curated info about curation:
- "Net2 Think Tank Round-up: Curating Content," September 26, 2011
- "Content and Curation for Nonprofits," Scoop.It page curated by Beth Kanter
- "Content Curation for NonProfits," Scoop.It page curated by Ken Dickens
After all that reading, I came to a couple conclusions that I think can also help you approach curation at your association:
Curation is a philosophy, not a tactic. If you take some time to read some or all of these articles, you'll find that "curation" takes on a lot of different meanings and forms, depending on who you talk to. You might find that frustrating, particularly if you're looking for how-do-I-do-it-today advice, but I think curation is best viewed as a philosophy rather than a tactic. I like Rohit Bhargava's definintion, because it encompasses any range of methods that accomplish the same goal: "finding, grouping, organizing, or sharing the best and most relevant content on a specific issue."
You can apply that goal to just about any form of content that your association might produce, ranging from blogs and magazines to research and education. But make note of the wording: "the best and most relevant content," not "your best and most relevant content." That's the shift that associations have to make, from being the source of expertise to being the conveyer of expertise, regardless of the source. Viewed this way, curation is more of a new filter or lens through which to look at the things associations already do, rather than an entirely new source of value.
Real time vs. long tail. Of all the various forms that content curation can take, I see them mostly falling into one of two buckets, which I haven't seen clearly identified elsewhere:
- Real-time curation. This is the ongoing, day-to-day form of curation. It's how you keep your members up to date. The subject area can be wide (as wide as your association's profession, perhaps), and the criteria for selection expand from "best" and "relevant" to also include "new." This form can appeal to a big audience, but it has a short shelf life, as it needs constant attention. Think "today's top news."
- Long-tail curation. This is the long-term, highly specific form of curation. It's how you help your members dig deep into a topic. The subject area in each case is narrow, and the criteria for selection might be best described as "the absolute best" and "the most relevant." And the timeframe for selected content can go back for years, as long as the content stays relevant. This form appeals to a specific audience in each case, but it has a long shelf life. It could be maintained with only periodic updating. Think "Wikipedia."
Both of these forms can be valuable for associations to provide to their audiences, because they address two different user scenarios: the user who engages often to stay in touch, and the user who only comes to you when they have a specific problem to solve. (Of course, these aren't exclusive; a single person can engage with your association in both ways at different times.) But in either case, if your association is the place to easily find the best information and knowledge from throughout your profession, you'll keep those users (members or non) coming back.