This is about to get a little meta:
I’m sharing an article about curation in a newsletter about newsletters for a brand that supports curated newsletters.
We all know information overload is a problem. There are seemingly infinite amounts of content (picture: drinking water from a fire hose), and the social algorithms that filter it for us prioritize new content over really good content.
In this article, The Future is Creation via Curation, Kazuki Nakayashiki proposes that the emerging curator economy (one in which those who share genuinely informative content get paid to do so) will grow to sift through the saturation.
“Proper content creation is about understanding the limited amount of time other people have to consume content.
The best content creators absorb huge amounts of information for us and render the best of it down into genuinely interesting and entertaining highlights that communicate both the original content and their take on it.
While it’s a lot more work than simply clicking the share button, it’s also a far more valuable service. Content curation cuts through that overwhelming flood of content, rather than contributing to it.”
Nakayashiki proposes a future in which quality curation yields knowledge management and community growth. It’s very much aligned with the idea of worldbuilding.
To the curators in the crowd, do you add your take? Or do you drop a link and let the reader take it from there?
Remember when real humans chose the content we would see on social media? Today, algorithms and AI control the scroll.
“In the future, curators could be independent experts in their fields working side-by-side with AI in what Bhaskar calls a ‘blended approach.’ There certainly seems to be a demand for this kind of personal, expert recommendation – 2020 saw an email newsletter boom...”
Potential benefits to a blended approach:
Quandaries: If we’re speculating a more human social media experience, are we really just saying social media should be more like subscribing to newsletters?
I feel like I just started a “What is art? Is art art?” sort of internal debate in my mind.
Do you want the two to be more alike?
Related: Consider adopting these 5 steps for both content creation and curation.
Sure, you have your go-to sources for curation, but are you using Twitter hashtags? According to Pankaj Narang, curation can up your game on Twitter, too (insert some analogy about feeding a worm to a little bluebird here).
Narang advocates curation on Twitter helps you demonstrate versatility, show industry awareness, and cut back on your own content creation. Sounds familiar.
Tips to get started
I’m (gasp) not super on top of my Twitter game, but I’m thinking of incorporating hashtags into my process of finding content to curate (there’s a preconfigured Curated zap to add liked Tweets to my collected links), then maybe trying to be better about posting on the platform.
Related: Um, have you read this? Facebook is testing a new prompt to stop users from sharing articles they haven’t read.
In this article, Natasha Zo writes about how to get press coverage and lists three approaches that can achieve results, saying that you don’t need to be a purple cow to garner attention.
One is using content curation to pitch stories that are well-rounded and save journalists time by finding information to counter balance anything that might seem overly promotional. Use curation to do your research, find good stories to tell, and earn a writer’s appreciation by giving them a framework instead of a sound bite.
This isn't directly marketing related, but Nick Wolny has some incredible insights into the people who make these popular business newsletters, like this juicy bit:
“I felt from the beginning that building up an audience on the back of Facebook was like building a business in a rented apartment where the landlord raises the price every quarter. I knew from day one that that would be a horrible idea. I’ve always wanted to be independent.” — Sam Parr via OMR
It's great to get your mind out of marketing sometimes and take a look at what others are doing.
Here’s an interesting take on the rise in magazine subscriptions Dennis Publishing has recently experienced:
Julian Thorne explains that they’re
“...undoubtedly benefiting from the increased appetite for news curation...”
In other words, some print publications are experiencing a comeback because readers like that they offer a finite amount of content.
“To be successful, a print publisher must master the idea of finite space, creating a carefully curated edition each time they go to press. This idea is antithetical to the current state of digital affairs and its never-ending stream of content. A recent report from Journey Group points out the need for digital publishers to grasp the idea of boundaries.”
What does this suggest for newsletter creators?
Readers like publishers who pick out the best for them and stick to a set amount of content at a set cadence. That doesn’t mean you can’t change things up here and there, but it does mean that if you go overboard with more, more, more, your readers might find that overwhelming. They’re trusting you to distill things for them.
In this article, Matt Goldberg explains why Martin Scorsese advocates for human curation over algorithms. While the focus is on streaming services that use algorithms, I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to say that the same applies to curated newsletters.
If I want to know what an algorithm thinks I will enjoy reading, I’ll go check out my Facebook feed. If I want to know what a particular person or business (one that has earned my trust) thinks I will benefit from, I subscribe to their newsletter.
John O’Connell provides a solid case for using curated content in the enterprise sales process in his piece on the UpContent blog.
“There are two important stipulations to that, however. First, make sure that the content you are posting ties in some way to your company’s value proposition. Second, make sure that your commentary explains how the content connects to what you offer customers. This will let those engaging with what you share know that you have an interest in their industry, and that you have solutions to their pain points.”
The tips in this article, from sharing curated content with specific clients to build and deepen relationships to becoming a strong digital listener who understands those clients, their businesses, and their industries well enough to speak intelligently to their needs, are worth reading.
The team at UpContent recently posted some tips for curated newsletter creators. You’ll want to check it out if this is the type of newsletter you write, or if you’re considering this approach.
I’m loving their emphasis on curating inspiring content (as opposed to just content that contains a particular keyword).
“No one bothers to spend much time at all with a newsletter or other piece of content that is not engaging. Everyone has different tastes and preferences when it comes to what they want to read about, but content that is uninspiring will quickly be discarded for something else. There is a nearly limitless supply of material available to view on the Internet, so it is not at all surprising that people expect the best from the content they view.”