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What is Content Curation?

Updated on February 21, 2019
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Heidi Thorne is a self-publishing advocate and author of nonfiction books, eBooks, and audiobooks. She is a former trade newspaper editor.


Content Curation Definition

The best way to describe content curation is to compare it to a museum. Museum curators gather collections of related items to exhibit to visitors. Similarly, content curators gather collections of related content to share with their audiences either online, offline or both. Content can include:

  • Articles
  • Links
  • Reports
  • News
  • Videos
  • Photos or Graphics
  • Music or Other Audio Recordings

Further, like a museum curator, content curators do the following with these collections:

  • Organize. Content is selected based on a theme, subject or category.
  • Show. Online, content would be displayed or linked on a website or blog. Offline, content may be included in a book, magazine or other printed media.
  • Promote... or Not. Curated content collections are created for sharing with the world. This can promote both the curator and the original content creators. However, curation could also be done for organizing one's own content cache for future reference.
  • Critique and Comment. Content curators often also critique or comment on the materials they bring together. For example, they could create a Top Ten, Best/Worst or Hot list (which is really a judgment call based on their personal criteria or some other evaluative standard). Others may choose to offer additional insight or debate about the materials they collect.

What Content Curation is NOT

Big word of caution! Curation is NOT the same as copying! Do not copy others' work or used unauthorized materials in the name of curating.

While officially syndicated or public domain materials may be available for sharing or embedding, if they are not, get written permission from the creator or copyright holder. And always—ALWAYS!—give attribution, including active hyperlinks, for whatever materials are being shared!

Online curation typically includes links back to the original content with a preview or description of what will be found at the link. For example, if the post is This Week's Top Ten Articles on Human Resources, the titles could be listed with active hyperlinks back to the original posts or sites.

Pinterest IS Content Curation

Probably the most popular content curation tool today is Pinterest. On this site, users can collect and organize web content they find interesting on categorized "boards." Photographs and other visual content is exceptionally well suited to this platform since a preview image from the original source is included.

But the sharing is one of the biggest reasons for marketers' interest in Pinterest. Say that a user gathers and tags a collection, Shoes I Gotta Have. Since like attracts like, her followers might also want these kicks on their "gotta have" list. They can pin the collection (or part of it) to their own boards, click through for more info or even click to buy. Even better is that users can share their boards on other social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus, as well as email.

Using Content Curation to Become an Expert

Today's audiences are time and attention starved due to the overwhelming flood of information that they must deal with daily both online and offline. So they're looking for help in filtering out what is irrelevant so they can focus on what is relevant to them. Content curators to the rescue!

Essentially, a content curators are editors. Many curators are also experts in their particular fields of interest and may even have their own following. Being included in their blogs, websites, Pinterest boards or other publications can give the original content creators and providers a virtual vote of confidence.

Content curation can be one of the easiest and quickest ways to establish a reputation as a trusted expert in a field or interest area. And it's a content marketing strategy that doesn't always require a lot of writing!

As in marketing, narrowing the focus to niche areas can be a successful curation strategy. For example, a blog or Pinterest board on "toys" might be interesting. But one on "antique teddy bears" could tap into more rabid—and profitable—fan bases.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2014 Heidi Thorne


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