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Curation vs. Creation: Should Your Online Content Be Original?

Posted by Caitlin Connors on Thursday July 12, 2012
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In the world of social media, one of the current debates taking place circulates around the idea of content curation. Whether it’s links to articles or infographics that were made by a separate party, it has become one of the main aspects of content development over the past few years and this trend seems to be far from over.

CURATION
Articles and blog posts are infused with links to different sites which possess more information which can add fuel to an articles fire. Here’s what you need to know about this curation phenomenon?

1. It’s easy: With countless amounts of great information circulating on the Internet, you can find information on almost any topic. With a simple Google search, you can find hundreds of pieces of information that will add some sustenance to your content.

2. Everybody’s doing it: A study was done by social media marketing software provider, Argyle Social, which showed that 30% of the companies that were involved in the study were focused mainly on content curation. Of that 30%, 75% of their content was curation based and linked to third-party websites.

3. Make new friends: The beauty of content curation is that if you play your cards right, you can make some friends on the way. People love having their work mentioned in an article, especially if it referred to as a reliable source. So, every link added can be considered a mini favor which can grow into a good professional relationship (hopefully with perks).

4. Drives conversation: When you add these new pieces of information to your article or post, it encourages people to continue reading about your topic and voice their opinions on it in your comment field. This can leave them with a great impression of you and keep them coming back for more.

5. Popularity is on the rise: Curation is a growing field that is constantly taking on new shapes. It has grown from simple link and article integration to entire websites dedicated to letting their users release their own commerce. And, in some cases, purchase what they curate.

CREATION
One important thing to remember is that although content curation is a great tool for social media, there needs to be a balance between curation and creation. You are representing yourself/your company and your readers want to see what you’re capable of. And collecting information can hinder you from writing your own great content. But in this ADD, information-overload era of instant-information, it may be hard for you to sit and create your own information, right? Here are some easy ways to get started.

1. Use Experts: Asking your audience is helpful, but every now and then your audience is looking for some authority in the matter. There are tons of experts out there on every subject, and most are happy enough to respond to a few questions via e-mail in return for having their name and company linked in your article. Use their quotes to help guide your content and back-up your opinions.

2. Media: Take a moment to troll Flickr’s Creative Commons, RichChartLive or Visual.ly to make or find some graphs or images that will inspire you or substantiate your point. Use these in your article with reference, of course.

3. Polls: Ask your audience for the information you need. Setting up un-biased multiple choice questions can help you create charts and those ever-popular infographics (more on that later). Here are some great ways to poll your audience.

  • Google Docs: Believe it or not, you can survey people using Google Docs (it’s a hidden generator). When you are creating a new form, simply add responses to each row you add and when you are done Google Docs will generate a code that you can embed in a page. You’ll be able to track the results from a spreadsheet, visualize the data in Google Docs and you’ll have unlimited space for surveys and more than 1,000 responses.
  • Facebook: You all know how to do this. Or you should.
  • Twitter: Use Pollowers so that users can share the survey with their followers.
  • Google+: Here we have to use a little trick as G+ doesn’t have the ability to do surveys yet (well, they do of course, but they haven’t given us that ability). Simply write your question in your post, quickly comment with with possible answers and even more quickly disable the comments. Now people will +1 their favorite answer choice!
  • Misc: Of the thousands of other “free online quiz” creators, we have a few favorites. Quipol is the prettiest, but allows only a “like” or “dislike.” Wufoo is a great simple and customizable option and can even integrate with PayPal or Google Checkout to collect donations or payments. And the best of the rest (if you have money to spend on better plans, even better) is SurveyMonkey, SurveyGizmo and Surveyz.

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