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Judging Content Curation From Your Crazy Aunt’s Attic to the Smithsonian

A big focus for content marketers is creating unique and engaging content that builds awareness for your brand and product and sets you up as a thought leader within your community. However, the success of your content curation is largely dependent on execution.

Knowing Your Curation Game
As my old calculus teacher likes to say, “You gotta know what you know, and know what you don’t know.” There are several factors to consider when trying to understand where you fall on the content curation spectrum.

  1. Amount

In order to have a collection, you need stuff. Regarding content curation for blogging, it is best to have a steady curation frequency and include enough articles in each post. Match your pace to your industry. Spheres that change constantly—like digital marketing—will have a lot of news from which to pull, so it makes sense to have “roundups” multiple times per month.

  1. Cohesion

The difference between hoarders and curators is that curators have a common thread linking items in a thoughtful collection. If you don’t have a theme, then you’re just a hoarder.

  1. Breadth

Once you have amount and cohesion, it’s time to scale—either in frequency or in terms of the different topics, or collections, you discuss. The Huffington Post is a great example of a content curation hub with multiple topics.

  1. Integrity

Always source. Don’t plagiarize.

  1. Extension

To reach the pinnacle of content curation, unique commentary is mandatory. When someone reads your commentary, he or she should understand why you curated this piece of information in the first place. Questions to consider include:

  • How does this news impact your product/industry?
  • Do you agree or disagree? Why?
  • Do you have related tips or advice to add?
  • Why is this article important? Why should you care?

Now that we know the criteria behind the different levels, let’s discuss what the levels themselves are.
The Content Curation Spectrum

  1. Crazy Aunt’s Attic: Amount

Hoarder's messy attic
Who knows what you’ll find up there. From broken Christmas ornaments to her high school yearbooks, your aunt has gathered a trove of items over the years. This is the lowest level of curation/hoarding.

  1. Wunderkammer (Curiosity Cabinet): Amount, Cohesion

 Curiosity cabinet with its doors open wide
If you’ve reach Wunderkammer level, then you’re on your way to curation nirvana because you’ve nailed amount and theme. Wunderkammers, or curiosity cabinets, were a way for the Victorian bourgeoisie to show their neighbors their most valued possessions. The best curio cabinets were created around a core theme like Beatrix Potter’s assortment of fungi, plant, and animal specimens or FDR’s stamp collection.  

  1. Car Collection: Amount, Cohesion, Breadth

Car collection
Car collectors display their passion by buying and harboring automobiles. Not only do these individuals focus on a theme, their collections also have breadth (numerous convertibles, sports cars, etc). Jay Leno has enough cars and motorcycles to fill 130 garages! Car collectors may hone in on just one type of car or accumulate multiple types. Content curators at this level are just one step away from the apex.

  1. Smithsonian: Amount, Cohesion, Breadth, Integrity, Extension

The Smithsonian
Like all major museums, the Smithsonian has multiple collections housed in one place, and each piece is ethically sourced. The difference between curation at the car connoisseur’s level and the Smithsonian level is extension. Each item has a placard that illuminates why it was procured in the first place; its importance and relevance to the collection is immediately apparent.

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