There, I said it. I don't like content curation. If you're not sure what I'm talking about, then please, allow me to explain.
You may already be familiar with the idea of content marketing, which is a discipline that allows marketing and social selling through well-crafted content and cleverly written articles for websites and traditional advertising media. It focuses very much on story telling and visual cues to lead an audience through the story with the ultimate aim of selling your brand or product. Take for instance the recent television advert from Lynx, shot in monochrome, where they tell a story about a man eating sushi, who inadvertently eats a large piece of wasabi because his eyes are drawn to the girl behind the bar and not his plate. It has very little to do with the product, in this case men's body spray, but it tells a story that engages the viewer, is light-hearted and amusing. I like content marketing and I like that there are some incredibly skilled people out there using it to great potential and adding value to businesses with every story they tell.
Content curation relies upon those talented individuals and the almost art-like content they dream up and bring to life. Essentially, taking that well-crafted, third-party content and building it into the scheduled posts for social media clients, provided that it's relevant to that client's business, brand or story and adds value to their message. Provided that it relates to your industry and will appeal or be interesting to your audience. All well and good up to this point, you might be thinking? I can't see a problem with that so far, I can almost hear you saying. And you're right, at that very basic level content curation is a social media manager's dream. Unlimited third-party content to share on any topic you can possibly think of, or that someone else thought of first.
But here's the thing. The vast majority of social media agencies or professionals out there will tell you that on your channels curated content should outweigh the content you're creating from scratch. Initially it started as an unwritten rule, but now I'm seeing it in almost everyone's 'how to' guides. Sure, they all have varying ratios 60/40 or 70/30, whatever. But what they're all basically saying is that on your brand or business' social media channels you should be using more of someone else's content than your own. I respectfully disagree. How we as social media professionals can preach that your content has to be authentic and genuine on one hand, yet then tell you that 60 to 70 percent of it has to come from third parties doesn't sit well with me. I mean, shouldn't someone else's content be used to support yours, rather than outweigh it?
By all means share stories that interest you, or you think your audience might be interested in. But there are massive pitfalls in trying to fill that specific curated to created content ratio and they can be devastating to your credibility. You also have to consider that if everyone else is following the same rules, you run the risk of sharing the same content. For example, I have already seen on my Twitter feed this morning, no less than 12 social media professionals share the same post about 'How to increase your post reach on top social networks'. Fair enough, the content is relevant to their profession and is likely to be something that their followers are interested in. But if they're all sharing the same content, how is that authentic, genuine or adding any value? As professionals we run the risk of all saying the same thing, which means there will never be any innovation in social media, no originality and no authenticity. None of the very things that we hold up as our benchmarks.
Take as another example, a brewery company I follow on Twitter who this morning shared with us articles about hair-care, make-up tips and breakfast cereals. Does anyone expect to see these things from a brewery company? No, the context is all wrong. Not only are these posts pointless when it comes to adding value, they run the risk of turning your audience away because you're not managing your audience's expectations. The rise of applications that automatically curate content for you based on your choice of keywords has put unlimited content at the fingertips of all social media managers. But ultimately we still have to press the button to schedule that content, we still have to make the decision as to whether that content is right for our client, whether it adds value or not. So, are we doing the right thing?
For me it's a matter of pride as to what content I use for a client and I'd have a hard time justifying to myself, let alone anyone else, why I thought sharing beauty tips and breakfast cereals for a company in the brewing industry who sells alcoholic beverages was a good idea. And in that particular case, is it acceptable to share these curated posts instead of writing original content?
I wouldn't have thought so.
Or is it just me?