There is an awful lot of content circulating around about content curation and why it is essential to well…everything, apparently. While I agree that knowledge sharing is a powerful business tool I have some doubts regarding the hows and whys of modern content curation and distribution.
You didn’t write it. Or read it.
If you’re anything like me….you’re probably a little busy (okay, that was irony). And there is simply not enough time in the day to read all of the content that is being created and shared. Like me, you probably have your preferred news outlets, favorite blogs, and nifty applications to push quality articles to your inbox. And I’m also guessing that, like me, you probably only read, maybe 25% of the content you share online. Don’t worry, I polled a few contacts and this behavior is common. Perhaps it is a side effect of our hyper-networking, peer pressure best practices, keeping up with the Joneses social stream outflow tendencies. Or perhaps we’re all too trusting and entirely too lazy. And how does this constant flow of content affect knowledge sharing? And more importantly, knowledge retention?
I do agree that content curation plays an important role in defining your social footprint and building a solid foundation for your personal thought leadership. However, I feel the pendulum needs to swing closer to the less-is-more side. If you share an article that you haven’t read — what exactly does that mean? From a social metric standpoint probably not a lot. Page views will be good, share metrics great, and the author will feel their content is resonating with their network. But how many people who retweet, share, and +1 your post are actually reading the article? A frighteningly low percentage.
For the last two months I have taken a more manual approach to content curation. I actually read the majority of the content I am sharing online. I’ve started using Meddle to add my own commentary to certain articles that I found particularly interesting before sharing with my networks. And I’m pleased with the results. My outbound streams are less regimented and engagement is higher. I’ve seen a >10% increase in engagement, and it’s only been a few weeks using this new slimmed down content sharing strategy. Less is turning out to be much more.
Sharing is caring. Seriously?
Ask any social media professional and they will passionately tell you that engagement is the most important metric to monitor. And social share metrics are weighted lower than comments. A few years ago commenting was more popular. As was link building via commenting. Maybe that’s why we all stopped. A lot of blogs simply turned off the commenting feature to avoid being spammed. It is also one less metric to track and be graded on. But comments have value.
The quality of content that is being produced today is top notch. I am constantly impressed by how great and how frequently certain individuals and companies are able to create consistently good content. And in a variety of mediums. Blog posts, infographics, videos, slideshares. The list goes on. Are we as recipients showing ample gratitude simply by sharing a piece of content? Yes, sharing a news article or blog post helps the author amplify their message. But if you truly found value in it I suggest that you take a few minutes, leave a comment, and start a conversation.
What is the value of a Like? What can it be equated to in real life terms? A smile? Maybe a high five? This I know to be true…you cannot buy groceries with Likes. Likes are vanity metrics and similar data such as favorites, pageviews, and even blog subscriptions are easily manipulated. Refer instead to active user data that shows undeniable engagement — Mentions, Shares, and Comments. These metrics can loosely be termed referrals and will lead to increased awareness and (sooner or later) revenue.
The nature of community is that people imitate behavior. Set the standard high for content sharing behavior in your network by not just liking but also re-sharing and adding your own commentary. And don’t be afraid to share the same post several times. Social streams move quickly and it’s unlikely that your target audience will see everything you post. Share the same post at different times of the day and week (and even farther out for really stellar information) for maximum exposure. Fewer posts shared at optimal times on your social networks will guarantee an increase in engagement.
Content curation is an important piece of the social business puzzle. We are all our own journalists, editors, publishers, and archivists. Armed with content aggregator applications, content distribution tools, and social networks, we are powerful voices. My hope is that we make a concentrated effort to use our powers for good and share thoughtful opinions. Not just echoes. Share content that affected you and tell the world why. This behavior will build your personal brand faster than simply posting, liking, and retweeting.