6 expert content curators talk about curation - Cendrine Marrouat Photography

I am honored to feature the top content curators in the world on the blog today! They will answer four questions about curation...

From left to right (top to bottom): Karen Dietz, Martin W. Smith, Robin Good, Brian Yanish, Mandy Edwards, Jeff Domansky

Karen Dietz is a folklorist, trained storyteller, and author. In her 25 years as a business consultant, facilitator, and trainer, she has worked with  many personal and corporate brands.

Martin Smith is not just one of my favorite content curators. The founder of Curagami and Story of Cancer is also a very hard-working entrepreneur with an infectious dream: "Use technology to cure cancer, connect with people all around the world, and buy and sell things in new and exciting ways."

Robin Good is an online independent publisher, passionate explorer of new media technologies, and the founder of MasterNewMedia, an e-magazine for professional web publishers.  He is also one of the reasons why I am in the field myself.

Brian Yanish has more than 15 years of experience as an online marketer and entrepreneur. He is also the founder of MarketingHits, a company that offers website design and digital marketing services.

Mandy Edwards has more than a decade of experience in sales, event planning, local store marketing, advertising, and social media. She is also the founder of ME Marketing Services, a social marketing company, and one of the most grounded female social media pros I know.

Jeff Domansky specializes in social marketing and integrated PR. A former PR agency CEO, he knows his way around agency management, business profitability, client service, and managing staff and operations. He also blogs at ThePRCoach.com.

Why did you decide to become a curator? 


Karen Dietz:


Several things were happening all at once in my world:

  • I was re-establishing my consulting/training/coaching business after leaving my position as Executive Director of the National Storytelling Network.
  • I had been a player in business storytelling from early on, had a lot of experience and knowledge under my belt.
  • I was pretty much invisible to the larger world.
  • I wanted an easy way to stay up on all the latest developments in business storytelling.
  • Business storytelling was now popular and so many people were jumping on the bandwagon, but knowledge and experience were getting thin.
  • I was continually frustrated with all the junk articles I was finding on the Internet about business storytelling. I found lots of misinformation.
  • I kept worrying about the quality of work in business storytelling degrading because of the quality of articles I was coming across.
  • I saw the potential danger of business hiring business story practitioners and not having a good experience because they themselves did not have access to quality information.
  • No one was guiding people through this mess. I thought, “Why not me?”
  • I wanted to point people to information they could actually use and apply, along with pointing out cutting edge advances.
  • I saw other fields like gaming and neuroscience doing fascinating work in storytelling that most people would miss. So I also wanted to connect different professions and projects together.
  • I thought maybe, just maybe, curating content on the Scoop.it platform might help all of this.
  • I knew I had the ability to scan vast amounts of far-flung material and find the gold. So I was less scared about the task.
  • It was in beta, so I decided to try it – not knowing if I would like curating, if I would be successful, or if it would make a difference in my business and the field. Overall, it was a gamble. One I’m happy I took, though.

  • Martin W. Smith:


    Two things influenced my becoming a content curator: getting cancer and helping others. Getting cancer was worrisome (for a lot of reasons lol). One big worry was that I didn't have much of a support system. Support systems are how and why "cancer survivors" happen. I instinctively knew survival depended on friends and family.

    I remember reviewing my life up to that point. Things that seemed important BEFORE diagnosis felt much less so now (money, career). The thing that only felt marginally important now became life itself (family, friends). Sharing was another pillar left standing.

    The times I'd helped, shared, or encouraged seemed real, valuable and worthy. It felt like the only way to win was to be "all in" and be "all in together", so I used content curation as a way to create a support system - friends who knew me, knew how I thought and wanted to contribute and help. I earned my way by helping first and worrying about everything else second - an easy thing to write but a hard thing to do since financial, health and other worries can easily push such a guiding principle aside.

    Keeping me on the beam associated with the "give first, worry second" idea was another unexpected benefit of an expanding network thanks to content curation. My new "curator friends" reinforced the principle since they live by the same code.

    When I started curating, my Klout score was low (below 40), I had fewer than 200 LinkedIn connections and may have had a few hundred regular readers. Now, I have more than 50,000 followers across all social networks.

    Robin Good:


    I really never decided to become a content curator. I started collecting and organizing things since I was a kid. I got the highest grade awarded in my high school by making a poster with the full taxonomic index of the universe of insects.

    As a teenager I spent many years first as a private-party DJ and then as an FM radio personality, which required me to keep myself very updated on new music releases and in finding new and original ways to mix them.

    As an independent online publisher, even before I started my own site at MasterNewMedia.org, my first outlet was the newsletter, at the time called MasterMind Explorer, which collected, organized and curated my own reviews and insights into new tools and methods to communicate more effectively with technology.

    Around 2003-2004, I realized and envisioned the potential for what we now call content curation, and started to curate a breaking news feed containing the very best content for my readers by picking and selecting the most relevant news coming from other relevant news sites and blogs.

    I mostly owe to Robert Scoble's and Stephen Downes' writings my realization that curating news and content had a potentially huge value, much earlier than when the word content curation was officially brought onto the stage by Rohit Barghava in 2009.

    Brian Yanish:


    For me, content curation is about self-education and trying to keep up with topics that I find interesting. As the founder of a digital marketing company, it was important for me to stay up to date with the latest trends and relay this information to my clients.

    Being someone who enjoys social media, this also gave me the opportunity to share my findings on a global scale with my followers.

    Mandy Edwards:


    I decided to become a curator because I love to help others. I have found people appreciate it more when you point them to great content and not shove your own articles down their throats.

    Curating great content helps start the relationship-building process, which in turn helps you as a business owner.

    Jeff Domansky:


    I first became interested in curation when I was editor for the Public Relations topic on About.com in 1999 – 2000. It was like the Stone Age – “blogging” hadn’t been invented yet and curation was something that people did at the Smithsonian. We Googled and gathered and shared it in a rather crude email newsletters and online.

    That led to me launching ThePRCoach in 2006, where I’ve curated more than 8,500 articles on topics of interest to PR and social media pros. This year my site will undergo a whole new redesign and presentation of content, so stay tuned.

    What benefits has curation brought you?


    Karen Dietz:


    Many, and some I don’t even know about, I’m sure. Here are the benefits I do know:

  • An amazing and large group of followers.
  • Comments and stimulating discussions about various aspects of business storytelling that allows all of us to continually learn from each other.
  • Friends, colleagues and connections all over the world that I never thought possible.
  • My book deal with John Wiley & Sons publishers for Business Storytelling For Dummies.
  • My TEDx talk.
  • Colleagues and educational institutions using my curation for research, and as a body of knowledge.
  • Visibility and expert status.
  • Being able to give kudos and acknowledgement to fabulous folks writing about business storytelling that I never would have known about (my favorite part of curating).
  • Being at the forefront of developments in my field.
  • Connecting with – and learning from – an amazing group of highly respected curators like yourself.
  • More marketing power with less cost for my business.
  • Leads and sales.

  • Now what’s not to love about all of that?

    Martin W. Smith:


    Beyond the numbers, content curation creates connection and learning. I've learned more from Ana Cristina Pratas, Brian Yanish, Jan Gordon, You, Kelly Hungerford, Karen Dietz, Malek and others than attending expensive conferences, reading preaching white papers or listening to self-serving podcasts.

    Being a member of the "curator community" is one of the biggest perks.

    Membership, mostly earned with the curation support of others, means I can ask friends what they think and they will TELL ME.

    Membership means that if I'm in a tough spot, friends will find ways to help. Nothing like having the Big C to discover your TRUE friends. The ones left standing and asking how they can help are amazing people to be cherished and appreciated.

    I have a handful of those kinds of amazing friends I've NEVER MET in person. That is the power of content curation. That is the value of membership in this unique, intelligent and generous community.

    Robin Good:


    By curating content, my key benefit is that I create information spaces where I myself can find what I am looking for, rapidly and efficiently, and at the same time I have something of real value to share with those who have my same interests.

    There is so much information out there that if I didn’t save and organize what is relevant to me, it would be impossible for me to find the resources, concepts and references that I often need for my work.

    Another key benefit that curating content has brought me is that I have learned, made sense and comprehended a lot more about what I have read, studied and reviewed/tested than if I had just done these tasks as I see most of my colleagues and competitors do.

    Brian Yanish:


    Once I started curating, I was hooked. I was learning more daily with all the new content I was being introduced to.

    Another benefit was how curation started to build my social community. Like-minded people from around the world started to follow me and openly discuss the topics I curated.

    Mandy Edwards:


    One of the biggest benefits I’ve gotten from curating content is the people I’ve met and the friendships that have come from there. I wouldn’t have met you or many of my other social media peers/friends.

    When you share someone’s content, it’s the starting part of a conversation and that is where those relationships have come from.

    Jeff Domansky:


    Curation forces you to get deep into your topics of interest. You learn how to search, find, and share quickly and ultimately how to find the highest quality sources.

    The most exciting thing is to see the new tools that are available to help us find and publish with such speed. The biggest benefit is that it helped me establish my influence as a PR and social media resource in addition to building significant website traffic from followers.

    Traffic on my Scoop.it pages continues to grow and has now passed 230,000 page views as well. So curation is an important part of building influence, creating business opportunities, and enjoying a community.

    What are your top tips for great curation?


    Karen Dietz:


    Don’t curate a piece unless it adds value to your readers.

    Don’t curate a piece just because you know it will bump up your numbers.

    Have clearly defined editorial principles and stick to them.

    Stay fresh -- take a break when you need to.

    Martin W. Smith:


    Content curation is a strange brew of ART and SCIENCE.

    Look at Maria Popova's work at Brain Pickings or Brian Yanish's curation at Marketing Hits for examples of how to knit art and science together in different ways. Maria throws a wide net and then creates content snippets (blog posts) to tie seemingly disparate content together. Brian places emphasis on WHAT makes it through his filter. He reviews hundreds of posts, content, and sources to share ten or twenty. Brian's sharing = his curation.

    I lean more towards the Popova school. I like to use curation to spark creation. I like to toss a wide net and then challenge my brain or my friends' brains to find connection and synergy.

    At first, I thought of Brian's form of curation as "wrong" and that thought was wrong. Curation, as you've pointed out, takes many forms. The only "right" idea is to combine art and science, emotion and logic, experience and comment.

    Robin Good:


    Look where others are not looking. That’s where gems are.

    Dig deep, explore, and be open to be surprised. But, be disciplined and focused or you will be swept away inside the information rabbit hole.

    Brian Yanish:


    Set your content curation goals.

    One of my main goals was to drive more traffic to my company’s website and to my social networks. Using a third-party curation tool, I’m able to curate content and generate more leads to my website.

    Mandy Edwards:


    Be picky. Don’t share something just because it’s a great topic or has a great headline.

    When you share something, you are putting your seal of approval on it, saying “I approve of this and think you need to read it.”

    If you are careless in your choosing and start sharing poor quality articles (even your own), it’s only going to turn people away.

    Jeff Domansky:


    Experiment with a few curation tools or technologies. Pick your favorite curation channel and be patient for your payoff. I’ve tried various tools starting with Paper.li, List.ly, Storify and Rebel Mouse.

    Publish your content, then share on Twitter, Facebook, or your favorite other social media channel to extend your reach. For the past three years, I have really enjoyed Scoop.it. It’s a powerful way to showcase content, publish it and share it on other social media.

    What's the best example of curated post you have ever read?


    Karen Dietz:


    Ahhhh – hard to say with 1,700+ articles in my curation now! The best in 2015 so far has been this one: Story Structures For Fab Presentations: 8 Classics Many Miss.

    Why? Because it was a perfect post. The author Ffion Lindsay did a bang-up job of having a clear point, illustrating each of her 8 story structures with a great visual, added a real life example to each structure, AND told us when to use each structure in a different business application.

    It was clear, concise, and provided great value. The application tips were brilliant and I rarely find these, which is one reason I found the post so exciting to curate. Too bad I couldn’t contact the author to let her know.

    Martin W. Smith:


    Maria Popova's review of Mindset by Carol Dweck rocked.

    But I don't think of "curated posts" in a zero sum way. Every post that makes it past the "should I read or not" filter helps, teaches, and changes something important.

    Curation is more of a journey than a destination for me. I read something every day I want to STOP THE WORLD and share (lol). I'm honestly all in all the time and that stance is important and why my tribe grows.

    I also make mistakes IN PUBLIC. I try to NOT defend but learn from mistakes. Our lives and marketing are slouching toward real time. Filtering and circumspection takes TIME that we may not believe we have.

    Funny how there was always more time than we realized after a train wreck. When we look back we realize OOPS and try to train our muscles so we don't make the same mistake again. If you can't OWN mistakes, making them in public isn't a great idea (lol).

    The problem is that "in public" is where the people are these days. We suggest banking lots of appreciation and support, so when you mess up, you will have help to unravel the knot. If honest appreciation isn't expressed by sharing, advocacy, and even polite and respectful disagreement, no amount of curation could plug the hole a tiny misstep creates.

    Solipsism isn't a great curation or content marketing strategy. Talking to yourself about yourself is a lonely conversation. I prefer talking to friends about our beliefs, values and ideas.

    And yes I and we make mistakes in public. We do so knowing we have help, support, and love. Life is too short to live and curate any other way :).

    Robin Good:


    I don’t have one specific post that I’d like you to look at, but I do have a number of curators that can be of inspiration and model. Start with these:

  • Maria Popova - Curiosity and culture
  • Robert Scoble - Technology and startups
  • Peter Bogaards - Information Design

  • (As a curator I don’t like to shine the lights on me. My job is the opposite -- to shine the lights on other people’s work, tools, ideas and letting others discover what may have never come across their typical path.)

    Brian Yanish:


    That’s hard to pick, but one of my favorite curators is Martin W. Smith. He offers in-depth analyses and insights into topics including startups and marketing.

    One of his best posts is titled Why Content Marketing's Future Is Boring. I like how Marty has taken the content/video and curated it adding his own spin on the video content right down to points within timeline as they relate to marketing.Why Content Marketing's Future Is Boring.

    Mandy Edwards:


    This one is hard. I really can’t say there’s been one great piece that I consider the best. I’ve seen a lot of great posts.

    I’d rather give you two people who I think are the best curators – Jenn Hermann of Jenn’s Trends and you. Jenn puts together on Google Plus her top 5 articles of the past week, spotlighting great content by other people. You are an endless resource of great content – always sharing everyone else’s before yours. I follow both of you because of the content you share. Not just your own, which is great by itself, but because I get to discover other great writers and businesses I may not have on my own.

    Jeff Domansky:


    One of my favorite curators is Baiba Svenca. She curates on Digital Presentations in Education.

    She constantly finds great presentation tips and tools with real value such as this recent share regarding a new offer from Haiku Deck: Haiku Deck Zuru - Instant Presentations

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