Every hour thousands of new videos are uploaded online. Blog posts are written and published. Millions of tweets and other short messages are shared. To say there is a flood of content being created online now seems like a serious understatement. Until now, the interesting thing is that there are relatively few technologies or tools that have been adopted in a widespread way to manage this deluge. We pretty much just have algorithmic search, with Google (and other search engines) as the most obvious example. Social bookmarking and social news have been around for some time (ie – sites like Digg or delicious), and new models of aggregation like Alltop are springing up to help us navigate all this content as well.
The real question is whether solutions like these will be enough. By some estimates in just a few years we will reach a point where all the information on the Internet will double every 72 hours. Double. I'm running out of metaphors to describe the magnitude of this content creation. The predictable result of this is that brands are beginning to focus on content creation when they start to look at social media. What are we going to create, or what are we going to get our customers/patients/fans/audience/victims to create? Is that really the best question we could be asking?
What if you were to ask about the person that makes sense of it all? The one who sifts through all the content and picks out the best and most worthy. This person is missing from most corporate communications teams. It's not a commonly defined role on any ebusiness teams. In fact, there are few jobs like this at all. The closest comparative role may be contained within the rising Library 2.0 movement (one I wrote about some time ago), but this is not frequently linked to business communication or marketing. If this role did exist, what would it be called?
The name I would give it is Content Curator. A Content Curator is someone who continually finds, groups, organizes and shares the best and most relevant content on a specific issue online. The most important component of this job is the word "continually." In the real time world of the Internet, this is critical. If you look at how many individuals are currently using their Twitter account to highlight interesting bits of content they locate or how del.icio.us users have tagged and shared content on that site for years, you'll understand that this idea has been steadily growing organically.
In an attempt to offer more of a vision for someone who might fill this role, here is my crack at a short manifesto for someone who might take on this job:
MANIFESTO/JOB DESCRIPTION: CONTENT CURATOR
In the near future, experts predict that content on the web will double every 72 hours. The detached analysis of an algorithm will no longer be enough to find what we are looking for. To satisfy the people's hunger for great content on any topic imaginable, there will need to be a new category of individual working online. Someone whose job it is not to create more content, but to make sense of all the content that others are creating. To find the best and most relevant content and bring it forward. The people who choose to take on this role will be known as Content Curators. The future of the social web will be driven by these Content Curators, who take it upon themselves to collect and share the best content online for others to consume and take on the role of citizen editors, publishing highly valuable compilations of content created by others. In time, these curators will bring more utility and order to the social web. In doing so, they will help to add a voice and point of view to organizations and companies that can connect them with customers – creating an entirely new dialogue based on valued content rather than just brand created marketing messages.
After writing this, I can't help but wonder if there might already be people out there with this title. Let's find out: the first person to send me a scan or photo of a business card with this title on it will get a free signed copy of Personality Not Included … (UPDATE 04/14/11 – This competition is now over!)
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Additional Posts About Content Curation:
- The 5 Models Of Content Curation
- Why The Future Of Travel & Destination Marketing Is All About Curation