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Content Creation vs Content Curation

If you have spent any amount of time on any social network, one of the most heated and highly debated topics is content curation vs content creation. There are pros and cons to both, and I’ve found people are pretty passionate over which one they prefer. Then there are the fence people, those that refuse to pick a side so as to not to alienate anyone that disagrees with them. Stand up. Have strong opinions and don’t be afraid to share them, I say. Arguments and studies can be found showing the effectiveness of both.

So…how do you choose which is right for you? Which is right for your business?

First – let’s take a look at what each one means. (These are my own definitions)

Content Creation: The process of writing your own material to share with your audience.

Content Curation: The aggregation of previously written and shared content, to repurpose and share with your audience.

Next - let’s look at why someone might choose one over the other.

From deeply investigating, testing both options and speaking with people from all over the world, content creation easily wins when it comes to lead generation and being looked at as an authority on a topic. I would argue that when a potential customer comes to you or if your audience is looking to you for advice, they are looking for YOUR thoughts, YOUR perspective. This scores a point in the creation column. Creating your own content, relevant to your audience helps you and your brand be looked at as someone people can use as a resource for helpful, beneficial information. It contributes to thought leadership. When people realize that you are consistently sharing information created with THEM in mind, they will keep coming back for more, and bringing friends along with them, to share in the benefits of what you are creating. If someone earnestly wants to find out information on a topic, they can google the subject and find the very same information that you are probably sending out, if you are simply curating.

While the world might seem quite large, it is, in fact, extremely small. Most marketers all subscribe to the same daily digest emails, read the same blogs, and receive the same trade information. What if we were ALL curators? What original thoughts would ever be shared? If we’re all receiving the same information, wouldn’t we then just be curating the same information? Again, point in the creation column.

I’m not sure that people that vote for content curation over creation always have the best of intentions on why they have chosen curation. I think that many times, people will RT and share others’ content in hopes of being recognized by the author, mainly people they look at as “influencers.” I would venture to say that it’s a bit of manipulation on their part – “If I share ___’s writing, maybe they’ll mention or RT my post, and then I’ll get more followers from people that see what!” Don’t misunderstand this – having worked with “influencers” and in “influencer marketing” for more than 15 years, I understand the point and the advantages to sharing and supporting and amplifying other people’s content. If you look at it as a conversation, no one would continue conversing with you if you only talked about yourself and didn’t respond or share their thoughts. Hence, curation does help develop relationships – I acknowledge that. I am simply pointing out that there is a difference and often a disconnect between intentions and actions.

People will often cheer for curation in brand marketing by saying things like, “People don’t like to be sold to. You shouldn’t always send out information solely about your brand.” Marketing friends, if you are only writing about your own product each time you put out original content, you have way bigger issues to take a look at before you worry about a creation vs curation strategy. If you are responsible for your company blog, I am hoping we’re going into this already assuming that you already recognize you can write about whatever you want there – IF it is relevant to your audience. For example, I wrote a company blog for a sports drink company for five years. I rarely wrote about the actual beverage. I’d write about new extreme sports that were coming out, or fun races I was hoping to one day be able to run, or fun Q&A sessions of up and coming athletes, so people could get a behind the scenes glimpse into who they were when they weren’t competing.

A benefit of content curation occurs when people see content you are sharing with them and recognize that you are able to have a broader view on topics, above what you, yourself might feel or believe. It shows awareness of industry trends. Here’s the caveat – if you are simply reposting what others have said/written, there’s no relevance to your specific audience. In my opinion, curation solely “works” if you add even a sentence or two as to WHY you are sharing this content.

Content creation is much more time-consuming than content curation. Does that mean that curators are inherently lazy? Perhaps, but not necessarily. The best case scenario would be for you to have the time and resources available to you for content creation, with perhaps a bit of curation sprinkled in to augment your strategy.

If you want to create or curate, it’s not as hard as it may seem to find topics relevant to you. If you are consistent in your social media engagements, you will find a wealth of information from the people in your chosen communities as to what is important to them, what they want to learn more about or simply what’s currently on their minds. Your competitors are also a great source of content – what are THEY talking about? What are THEY sharing? If you have a similar product, your customers are probably also interested in those same topics. Take time to actually read (or at least skim through) the myriad of daily digests and emails and apps that curate content for you. I receive tons of them, and admittedly probably read less than half. I am a big fan of the information curated daily by Sway and the information that can be found on the Buffer blog.

So? Which IS best for you? Your business?

Not to be a fence person, but the honest answer is: it depends.

What works for me, might not work for you. You know your audience and goals better than anyone else. What will work best for you is what is best for your audience, community and customer. Remember, you are writing for THEM, not for yourself. Also, in social media and in marketing and in LIFE, things are very rarely black or white. The gray is what makes life so full – curation and creation works much the same way. To come back to the relationship and conversation metaphor, you don’t have to pick one over and pledge allegiance to them solely forever. Find the gray area, and settle down there, with both of them by your side. The best advice I can give you is test each out, try using one more than the other for a week – measure the results. THEN make an educated determination as to what resonates with your audience best.

Hopefully I have brought up some ideas that help you develop your own ideas on why one might be better than the other. I urge you to really look at the benefits of both with an honest and open mind, and share your thoughts with ME! I love discussions on hot topics – tweet me @lucyrk78 and let’s talk!

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