Somewhere between the founding of LiveJournal in 1999 and I Can Has Cheezburger? in 2007, blogging morphed from a favorite pastime of angsty teenagers into a multi-million dollar advertising outlet. And for businesses, blogs are now an essential marketing tool rather than simply an advertising opportunity.
Content curation, the process of finding and presenting intelligent content organized around a specific industry or topic, is a large part of that shift. Content curation is what happens on HuffPost, on fashion blogs that link to new clothing finds, and in our Weekly Ping news roundup. For retailers, content curation might be about sharing news or entertaining articles related to their industry and consumer market. For instance, REI is a co-op. They might post in their blog the occasional link to external articles about co-ops for the benefit of their members and potential members. (And now that I’ve looked at the blog, they also should get it off the main site and come down from their self-referential cloud.)
Steve Rosenbaum, CEO of Magnify.net, has argued that curation is an inevitable part of digital content and a worthwhile business tool for–rather than a slap in the face to–industrious content creators. In early 2011, a HiveFive survey found nearly half of marketers were employing content curation. The CEO of HiveFive, Pawan Deshpande, explained how curation is a reliable SEO booster to Forbes last October.
If curation by online retailers doesn’t seem like an obvious next step, think about the paradox of choice. Whether you believe the theory or not, it’s clear that (too many?) options affect the consumer decision-making process. So maybe adding curation to original content creation is a worthwhile effort. An eMarketer article discussing the rise of curated e-commerce concludes:
Online retailers have the opportunity to offer a distinct point of view and re-contextualize products in more focused ways, often with a pared-down product offering and a highly visual style that immediately conveys brand values.
To me, this sounds like a recommendation to craft exceptional content and present it in an engaging way. Even if you don’t want to jump into full-fledged retail curation, the practice presents yet another way for you to build a following through your content, because you can be sure it’ll be curated somewhere else on the web.
Read more about the growth of curated e-commerce at emarketer.com.