Don’t Just Curate, Create

A picture of a typewriter and a coffee mug, in preparation for content creation.

You can't be seen a 'thought leader' if you spend all your time serving as a window to someone else's words.

On Monday, I talked about the need for medical centres to take a role in providing the community with salient, trusted content to counter the myriad of half-truths and messages delivered with vested interests. I said the following:

"To provide customers with value, hospitals must focus on lifestyle management, proactive care, community support and networking, and curating information."

Unfortunately, for many businesses that run social networks, they focus too much on the curation when the true value is in the creation.

When working with companies and trying to help define a content strategy, one of my first questions is always, "How much time are you willing to invest?" And that's often followed by the clarification question of, "Realistically?"

Most people enter into Web design/redesign, social media, and rebranding efforts with the best intentions. And sometimes those intentions are exploited by less-than-scrupulous SEO Wizards/Gurus/Shysters who sell people a bill of goods (often with tools and services that will remain woefully underused).

To give your customers true value (and to get realistic benefit from any SEO efforts), you have to be more than just a middleman. You have to be willing to curate AND create.

The current buzzword is 'thought leader,' but I prefer to say things like trusted resource or expert. If you want to position yourself as a business, brand, or person that is a destination for people looking for quality, informative content/products relating to an issue, then you have to do more than just retweet other people's thoughts. After all, if you spend all your time pointing in another direction, eventually people are going to bypass you. If the quickest route to Point B doesn't include your Point C, then why would anyone keep making that detour?

The only reason is if you add some value at Point C.

Realistically (there's that word again), not everyone has the time, people, or resources available to dedicate to a comprehensive content-creation project. But even if you can't go in wholeheartedly, you can at least put some of your personality into your content.

Ideally, you find a balance. You can write your own blogs and share them on social networks in addition to relevant links from other experts in your field. You can share content from other experts, but introduce it with relevant personal experience (for example, if someone writes a blog post about a topic with which you've had personal experience, you could link to it in a blog of your own, and share your story, resolution, and findings) or provide a local frame of reference to help your readers put the content in a more familiar context.

You have to give your customers – both existing and potential – a reason to come to you. If your Twitter feed or Facebook page is filled only with links to other sources, then I'm going elsewhere. I can curate my own content, thank you very much, and I can do so without worrying about what you may be leaving out (organizational biases, political leanings, etc.).

But if your Tweets take me not only to other people's information, but also offer me an insight into who you are, for what you stand, and provides me a window into what you think, then I'm going to be far more interested.

Content comes in many forms: blogs, unique Tweets/Facebook posts, Pinterest photos, videos, images... In the end, most people want a window into your world; not a route to somewhere else.

And if that's all you're going to be, don't be surprised when traffic starts bypassing you.

So how do you find the balance between content creation and curation? Or do you? Are you a serial retweeter, or do you try to add something to other people's conversations? Comments are open.

Questions Answered

How often should I Tweet for my business?

Should I just retweet other people's content?

How much time should I budget for content creation?

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