What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear “curator”? You might have imagined a museum director or a collector of renowned paintings or sculptures. But not many people know that YouTube and The Huffington Post are curators as well.
Regardless of whether we’re talking about the art world, the internet or books, curators are the people who sift through the incredible amount of content out in the world, selecting the most relevant and enticing bits – and preparing them for their audience to enjoy.
If that sounds like an attractive job description, the book, Curate This! by Steven Rosenbaum gives some tips on what to do. And you’ll discover why these aren’t tasks you can easily delegate to a computer (though that might change someday).
The internet has grown to become an incredible resource, absolutely overflowing with information. Today, we can get the answer to any question we can think of through just a few clicks, right?
Well, it’s not always so simple. With so much information at our fingertips, it’s hard to cut through the unnecessary noise to find out what we really want to know.
In 2010, Google chairman Eric Smith revealed that five exabytes of information have been generated on the internet since 2003. That is a massive figure. After speaking at a conference that same year, however, Smith revealed that, as of 2010, the same amount of information is created every two days.
How can we possibly wade through this enormous sea of facts and figures to find the stuff we’re looking for? Well, machines have already been helping in this very pursuit for years. Techmeme and Mediagazer, for example, are two websites that automatically aggregate content.
This means that algorithms are used to snatch up headlines floating around the web to display on the site in order of popularity. New topics are moved to the top of the list when the algorithm reveals that they have become more popular than other topics.
But is it always best to read something simply because many others have read it? This doesn’t seem to leave much room for discovering new content. In these cases, we need something more powerful than a machine: the human mind.
The founder of Techmeme and Mediagazer, Gabriel Rivera, realized this himself, noting that readers weren’t just looking for what was popular online; rather, they were searching for what was truly newsworthy. Using machines to aggregate content is helpful up to a point. But to select, organize and present relevant content, we need a human curator.
Think you’d make a good curator? Well, let’s put you to the test. To become a successful curator, there are five key abilities you’ll need.
First – and this might surprise you – a good content curator needs to be able to create good content, too. After all, if you’re merely organizing content, you’re nothing more than an information redistributor. The Huffington Post combines content curation and creation talent by supplementing the links and articles from the web that they round up with new, original articles and invitations for audience contribution as well.
Second, you’ll need to be able to work to a schedule. Why? Well, you wouldn’t like it if your weekly newspaper was delivered at different times and on different days each week, would you? Humans love regularity, so it’s important to provide content consistently to keep your audience coming back for more.
Whether you share five links per day or publish an opinion piece every fortnight, stick to your decision so your audience knows what to expect.
Third, be proactive. Don’t just expect people to stumble upon your content by accident. Reach out to your readers using different platforms to get your content into the spotlight. Whether your audience spends their time on Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube or Instagram, you can broaden your reach by posting on social media in small bursts with links to your long-form content. If readers like the short posts you create, they’re more than likely to head to your site for more.
Of course, you can’t just avoid social media outside of when you’re making these posts. In order to truly build your following, you’ll need to engage with your online community. You can exercise this by reading other people’s content, sharing it on your own profile and getting involved with trending conversations.
Finally, a content curator must be willing to share. Include the sources of the content you share, be it links, articles or images. Stealing other people’s content definitely isn’t in the spirit of the sharing economy. So credit those who create, and they’ll credit you too!
Check out my related post: Is creativity messy?