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FredNMT 2013 Content Curation


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I was invited to speak at 5th annual New Media & Technology Conference in Frederick, MD on February 21, 2013. These are my slides and notes from a general session on content curation.

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FredNMT 2013 Content Curation

  1. 1. Get by with a little help from your friends Increasing engagement with content curation#FREDNMT · @JESSHIBB · STORIESANDIDEAS.COM
  2. 2. Jessica Hibbard Stories and Ideas LLC #FREDNMT · @JESSHIBB · STORIESANDIDEAS.COM• worked at Frederick Chamber for more than 5 years, and left last summer to start my own company.• one of the thing that prevents businesses from expanding their online outreach is an inability to produce engaging content, but it doesn’t have to be that hard.• when it’s done right, the content strategies we’re going to talk about today can make life easier, and can also build brand loyalty, no matter what type of organization you have.
  3. 3. What is curation? #FREDNMT · @JESSHIBB · STORIESANDIDEAS.COMCuration is the practice of collecting information from multiple sources, selecting the most relevant ideas and materials, and adding context to create a cohesive message or share uniqueinsight.Its more than just organizing data into categories. A curator adds value with a distinctive point of view.
  4. 4. “...curators use judgment and a refined sense of style to select and arrange art to create a narrative, evoke a response, and communicate a message.” The Content Strategist as Digital Curator A List Apart, December 2009 #FREDNMT · @JESSHIBB · STORIESANDIDEAS.COMWaaaaaaaay back in 2009, the internet was starting to buzz with talk about digital curation, and A List Apart published an article about it.This new breed of digital media curators has a lot in common with museum curators, editors, and librarians. Essential skills and responsibilities include acquisition, research, care andupkeep, selection, interpretation, and archiving.The best curators are those who are passionate subject matter experts who enjoy sharing that expertise with others.In a museum, curated collections are presented through exhibits, conferences, programs, or events; Online, curated material is published on websites, blogs, and social media platforms.
  5. 5. Why bother? #FREDNMT · @JESSHIBB · STORIESANDIDEAS.COMDo or do not, there is no try. So why should you commit to content curation?Well, for one thing, youre probably already doing it.
  6. 6. 41% of adult internet users share photos or videos they find online. 32% are curating AND creating. Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project August 2012 #FREDNMT · @JESSHIBB · STORIESANDIDEAS.COMAccording to Pew Research Centers August 2012 study:• 46% of adult internet users post original photos or videos online that they themselves have created. Pew calls them creators.• 41% of adult internet users take photos or videos that they have found online and repost them on sites designed for sharing images with many people. Pew calls them curators.• Overall, 56% of internet users do at least one of the creating or curating activities studied.• 32% of internet users do both creating and curating activities.If you care about your work or your hobbies and youre using social media, youre probably already sharing links and tidbits that you find online.Developing a strategy, with sustainable schedules and measurable goals, can help you get more out of the time you spend on Ye Olde Internet.
  7. 7. 40 million photos per day #FREDNMT · @JESSHIBB · STORIESANDIDEAS.COM40 million new photos are uploaded to Instagram each day
  8. 8. 74 million posts per day #FREDNMT · @JESSHIBB · STORIESANDIDEAS.COM74 million new posts are added to Tumblr each day
  9. 9. 100,000 hours of video per day #FREDNMT · @JESSHIBB · STORIESANDIDEAS.COM100,000 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every day
  10. 10. Your audience is overwhelmed. #FREDNMT · @JESSHIBB · STORIESANDIDEAS.COMWhen we’re not sending 144 billion emails or doing any of the other tasks that require our attention, we’re desperately trying to sift through all of this new content.The point I’m trying to make here is that we’re all bombarded with information, and it’s not humanly possible to consume everything that’s posted online.The role of the digital curator is increasingly critical. We rely on tastemakers and analysts to filter information for us, because the best algorithms in the world still cant replicate what ahuman curator can do.
  11. 11. Take me to your (thought) leader. #FREDNMT · @JESSHIBB · STORIESANDIDEAS.COMBy curating the best of the internet, you not only save your audience time, but you can also cement your brands position as a "thought leader."You should always balance curation with original content, and if you do it well, you can add variety and depth to your publishing strategy.Youll also cultivate more credibility; When curated sources support your original content, those other voices make you seem more trustworthy.
  12. 12. Expand your information diet. #FREDNMT · @JESSHIBB · STORIESANDIDEAS.COMSo, how do you add curation to your strategy?You should start with great source material.Its important to be thoughtful about the media you consume. The old "garbage in, garbage out" adage applies here. Make sure youre exposed to a diverse selection of sources withdifferent viewpoints. If your worldview is too narrow, your content will be stale.Approach every online and offline experience as an opportunity to gather sharable information. I like to refer to this as the "producer mindset." Instead of just sitting down at your computerand mindlessly surfing the internet, you should be constantly seeking connections between ideas and thinking of ways to share those findings with your audience.Develop a system for collecting links and ideas. — I use a variety of apps to save articles, quotes, and other snippets: Instapaper, Simplenote, and Readmill are all really useful. I also neverleave home without a notebook and read printed books with a pencil in hand. — These habits are easy to develop and can help you transition from a mere collector and consumer to agenuine curator and creator.Some ideas for expanding your information diet:• Setup Google Alerts with industry terms to find articles from sources outside your network.• Look for white papers, research studies, and e-books and share interesting statistics/quotes with attribution. Read case studies and reports for your industry.• Follow updates, newsletters, and blog posts from your customers, partners, suppliers, etc.• Attend presentations and seminars – in-person, webinars, and SlideShare channels. Post quotes, statistics, or visual notes that condense a longer presentation into bite-sized information snacks. You can also pull your favorite quotes and tips from a longer podcast or video.• READ BOOKS. As well as magazines, blogs, and anything else you can get your hands on. Whether it’s true or not, most people think they don’t have time to read. Save your audience time by previewing relevant information and posting summaries and reviews.• Follow the footnotes. It doesnt matter if youre reading a Wikipedia article or a well-researched book, you can often find gold in the small print. Comb through bibliographies to find sources that might offer interesting nuggets.• Whatever you do, try to look beyond the over-hyped A-listers, rock stars, ninjas, mavens, and thought-leaders. Your readers have probably already seen the most popular links ... Give them something they wouldn’t be able to find on their own.
  13. 13. #FREDNMT · @JESSHIBB · STORIESANDIDEAS.COMAttribution is absolutely critical to establishing credibility and avoiding legal issues. Always provide a credit and link to the source material. If the original author or creator doesnt explicitlyrequest or encourage sharing, contact him or her to ask permission.(If youre reposting something you found on a site like Tumblr or Pinterest, try to track it back to the original source. This is easier said than done, and usually involves diving into a wormholeof links. TinEye is a reverse image search you can use to find the original source of photos and illustrations.)Familiarize yourself with copyright, Creative Commons, public domain, and other intellectual property issues.Oh, and speaking of avoiding legal trouble: If youre linking to books or other products and use affiliate links, make sure you brush up on the FTCs disclosure rules. Youre required todisclose compensation, including commissions, review products, and other kickbacks.
  14. 14. photo: #FREDNMT · @JESSHIBB · STORIESANDIDEAS.COMYou’ll also want to be sure to add perspective.Including commentary and insight can increase the value of curated content, and also help you avoid looking like youre just copying someone elses work. Posts quotes and selections(with attribution) instead of full text.Curating on highly visual networks (i.e., Tumblr and Pinterest) can be a great opportunity to cultivate a sense of style.Just like you used to express your most heartfelt teenage emotions with a carefully crafted mixed tape, a thoughtfully curated collection of online media can say a lot about your brand.Of course, a mixed tape is a very intimate format intended for a specific audience. When youre publishing content online, youll want to make sure your tone is appropriate for the platformand audience, and your voice accurately represents your organization.
  15. 15. “Creativity is just connecting things.” Steve Jobs, 2002 #FREDNMT · @JESSHIBB · STORIESANDIDEAS.COMSpotlighting existing content is great, but usually works best when its part of a mix that includes your own original work. The good news is that curation is typically a gateway to creation.Producing your own content will come more easily when youre mindfully curating interesting content in your field of expertise.As Steve Jobs and others have pointed out, creativity often comes down to the ability to make connections between seemingly unrelated ideas. Good curators are often intensely creativepeople.
  16. 16. Please don’t do this. #FREDNMT · @JESSHIBB · STORIESANDIDEAS.COMDont forget to make your own content shareable. This is a screenshot from an email newsletter that arrived in my inbox. It’s so confusing! Do they want me to ask permission before I hit thetweet button?If you post on Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, or other platforms with built-in mechanisms for reposting, you probably dont need to add anything extra. But anything you publish becomes part ofthe depository of materials that others may wish to curate.You can use a Creative Commons license, embedded "share this" buttons and other tools to encourage sharing and let others know how you want to be credited.
  17. 17. “So, if youre ready to be a superhero, nows the time. The web needs you. Your readers need you. All you need is a web browser and a cape. The rest is up to you.” Content Curators Are The New Superheros Of The Web Fast Company, April 2012 #FREDNMT · @JESSHIBB · STORIESANDIDEAS.COMI love this quote from an article published last year in Fast Company magazine. Curators can be superheroes, which fits pretty well with the theme of this conference.Alright, now that I’ve filled your brains with theoretical information, how about we look at some examples?You can practice curation on your website, blog, email newsletter, and almost any social media platform. Ill focus on a couple of the most curator-friendly networks: Tumblr and Pinterest.They’re also the most visual, which works well for a show-and-tell situation like this.
  18. 18. veerfonts.tumblr.comIf you’re a designer or if you just happen to love fonts, you may know about Veer. They sell stock images and typefaces.They have a pretty nice Tumblr site. I wanted to start out with this example, because even though it’s perfectly fine, it’s not what I would consider curation. They’re only sharing imagesfrom their own website.
  19. 19. myfonts.tumblr.comContrast that with My Fonts, one of Veer’s competitors.They’re incorporating their own images, but also reblogging things that have already been posted on Tumblr, including an animated GIF of screen printing and a link about typography usedon Mad Men.It adds variety and shows that they understand what interests their audience
  20. 20. llbeansignature.tumblr.comWhen it comes to curation on Tumblr, Pinterest, and other visual networks, you’ll find that fashion brands and lifestyle magazines are often ahead of the curve.I want to show you a few examples of fashion brands on Tumblr, starting with this one. All three have a similar demographic and their products have similar price points, BUT they sharedifferent things on Tumblr that really help cultivate a distinct sense of style.This one, LL Bean Signature, really gives that outdoorsy hipster vibe, with pictures of classic bean boots, blueberry waffles, and pictures of rural New England.
  21. 21. cnvsblg.tumblr.comLands End Canvas is really similar to LL Bean Signature in that it’s the younger, trendier sub-brand of a classic apparel catalog.However, when you see what they’re curating on Tumblr, you instantly get a sense that they’re going for more of a funky Americana style.They have a nice mix of photos, illustrations, and videos, and they also do an excellent job of providing context with each post. They tell you the inspiration behind the animal illustrations,and give a behind-the-scenes look by posting photos of photo shoot locations.
  22. 22. tumblr.everlane.comUnlike Lands End and LL Bean, Everlane is a newcomer, and prides itself on being an innovative, modern, online alternative to traditional retail.Again, I’d imagine their target audience is demographically similar to the other fashion brands I mentioned. But they’re curated content has a totally different look -- modern, minimal, andsleek.
  23. 23. oupacademic.tumblr.comOf course, we all think it must be easy to produce interesting content when you work in the retail fashion business. But even more academic organizations can use curation as an excuse tolet their hair down.Oxford University Press publishes dictionaries and research publications and isn’t necessarily known for being edgy and hip. BUT even though they’re new to Tumblr, their posts are reallyengaging.Finding timely and trendy topics and giving readers the etymological spin makes them relevant to an entire generation that may otherwise not care about what they have to say.
  24. 24. fredcohistory.tumblr.comA bit closer to home, the Historical Society of Frederick County is doing a great job on Tumblr.They have an exhibit running right now called “We Mustache You to Consider,” about the history of facial hair and men’s fashion. They’ve been finding interesting information, often relatedto TV shows and other pop culture phenomena, and tying it together with posts that reference the exhibit.Here we see a link to a Wall Street Journal article about Downton Abbey fashion, and ...
  25. 25. they also posted about funky beards in this Portlandia clip.
  26. 26. strandbooks.tumblr.comOnline, we typically think of curating digital media, but you should also think about curating some of the printed material you find.Strand Books is an independent store in New York that sells new and used books. When used books come in, they go through the pages and scan or photograph underlined passages,photos stuck in between pages, and other paper ephemera.It’s quirky and fun, much like their store, and — bonus — it’s also a subtle and interesting way to promote the products they’re selling.
  27. 27. matter what network you use, it’s important to know what the platform’s audience wants to see.Tillamook, a cheese company based in Oregon, really has it made on Pinterest because people love posting pictures of food and links to recipes.They take advantage of this by pinning and categorizing recipes that include — of course — dairy products.
  28. 28. the same vein, Whole Foods also posts culinary eye candy on Pinterest.They also take things up a notch by curating some boards that demonstrate their company values.“We’re used to reusing” appeals to customers who shop there because they’re concerned about the environment. And “Strength” appeals to people who want to eat more healthfully.
  29. 29. often hear B2B organizations moan about how hard it is to participate on visual networks that are more lifestyle-oriented, but companies like Square show that it doesn’t have to be thecase.They’ve curated boards on Pinterest featuring merchants in different cities, as well as vendors at Renegade Craft Fairs, which helps promote businesses using Square to process payments.They also understand what might appeal to those merchants, like innovative ways to carry a card reader or display an iPad in a retail setting.No matter what type of company you have, success in curation and content marketing requires you to become hyper-aware of your audience. If your main objective is to support yourcustomers and deliver information that matters to them, you’ll be able to produce engaging content.
  30. 30. Bringing it all together #FREDNMT · @JESSHIBB · STORIESANDIDEAS.COMIf you follow me on social media, you probably know that I have a passion for instant film and polaroid cameras. The Impossible Project is a company that’s making new film for these oldcameras. They’re a really interesting brand, and they do an amazing job of combining curation and user-generated content in one cohesive strategy.
  31. 31. · @ImpossibleUSALast month, I received an email from the marketing staff at the Impossible Project, asking me to participate as a guest curator for a feature on their blog.I love this email because it gives clear instructions, shows and example to use as a template, and also provides an incentive: a coupon code for agreeing to help out.
  32. 32. · @ImpossibleUSAThe rules of the game are to choose photos from the online gallery on Impossible’s website. All of these photos are uploaded by customers and show what’s possible to create with thedifferent types of film.
  33. 33. · @ImpossibleUSAI followed all the instructions and submitted my materials by the deadline, and my “guest chef” post appeared right on schedule. Notice how they ask guest curators to provide context, soyou get to see why the different photos were chosen.They also do a couple of other clever things: At the end of the post, they encourage people to upload their own photos to the online gallery, because that’s the only way to get featured by aguest curator.Since they asked for my username in the list of materials to submit, they’re also able to promote the post on Twitter and mention me as the guest chef. All of these small details help buildloyalty and build a community.
  34. 34. Thank you! #FREDNMT · @JESSHIBB · STORIESANDIDEAS.COMThe possibilities are really limitless. I hope you’ve gotten some good ideas today.This presentation is just a sliver of what Beth Schillaci and I cover in a series of workshops called the Content & Community Ideashop. If you’re interested, you can see us for moreinformation or visit’ll also be sharing the information from our presentation in an e-book format, so if you’d like a copy of that, sign up for our email newsletter.Thanks for having me!