Content curation means Quality through the essential human touch

Content curation ha been a constant discussion at Liberate Media since we first saw its expression through Brian Solis in April 2009. To be frank, the position Brian described then was inchoate.

We’ve followed and engaged in the online content curation discussions since then without feeling that we had found that unique moment when everything is revealed and made pristine.

We’ve worked with any number of online free and commercial tools over the past five years that have first measured, dissected and then sought to provide the marketing answers around online content creation and curation that businesses crave.

Wikipedia is not much help in our struggle to understand precisely the commercial goals and processes. The world of the mind, in this instance, gives little guidance but is worth a reference:

“Digital curation is the selection, preservation, maintenance, collection and archiving of digital assets. Digital curation is the process of establishing and developing long term repositories of digital assets for current and future reference by researchers, scientists, and historians, and scholars generally.”  link

Many commercial contributors feel, like Pete Codella that: “The challenge is to think of what you share online as storytelling. What story do you want to tell? What are the key messages to be conveyed? What’s the best way to tell that story, and how do you do it in such a way as to encourage others to voluntarily share your story?

“This is where the whole concept of content curation has come from. It’s like a museum curator preparing an exhibit. Careful thought and planning go into every detail from the room’s lighting and colour to the arrangement of the artwork to exhibit publicity.

“Coupled with the strategy of effective storytelling is understanding search optimisation. It’s incumbent upon business communicators (not just web developers) to understand how things like page titles, meta data, description, keyword, header and ALT tags, and RSS feeds impact search placement. Not only is developing content a strategic exercise, strategy is front-and-centre for how that content is packaged for the Web.”

Discussion with our academic and commercial partners over the past week has convinced me, finally, that online content curation equates with Quality in the commercial sphere. And the only way to add quality to content currently is through human intervention.

Curation = human intervention

In my view (and this is open space for discussion) the human touch is, and will be for some time, the crucial difference that adds social and economic worth to any online social object.

The current dominant model for content curation is: “Organising and sharing the most relevant content on a finite subject.”

Right there is the definitive problem, for me. No subject is finite, by nature. The definition fails, not only because it is, of itself, contradictory, but also because the online medium in which it sits does not recognise “finite”.

Finite is, for me, commercial shorthand for automation. The only reason for making a form of online content finite is to appease the needs of measurement companies that seek to contain the parameters for their work, to produce quantifiable results, through code, with a froth topping of human analysis.

Curation = quality. Spread is no longer a useful metric. Quality of content curation will deliver connections that are far more useful, relevant and so commercially beneficial. The only way to fulfil the equation is to have people, experienced, savvy and fully engaged who can develop these connections, reshape the content for specific audiences, monitor and respond and so maintain the social objects they curate.

If a social object curation agency delivers 10 rock-solid leads to a brand each week, then it is a winner. It has harnessed the best automated measurement processes, interpreted by humans, who also drive the engagement, conversion and delivery processes.

The human touch = lead quality.

This equation means that brands that are serious about gaining a competitive edge need to understand that full automation, and so cost reduction, is no longer available in the medium-term, if ever.

Serious brands need to allocate the cash that will give them the results they want. Humans are more expensive than robots. They are also absolutely essential.

Quality in this form is measurable and so worth the money. The other qualitative outcomes from the human touch are immeasurable.

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