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September 14, 2015
Congratulations — You’re A Content Curator!
 
Despite an attempted ban by a former colleague of mine (looking at you, Michael S.), “content curation” is a buzzword that’s out there and seemingly here to stay.

Which got me thinking about who is actually doing content curation — and I came to the conclusion that it’s me. And you. And all of us.

“Old-school” content curation
Every few months, my mom snail-mails me an envelope full of newspaper clippings and magazine articles. Usually, it’s about advertising, comedy, writing, or baseball.

So what’s going on? Simple — she knows my interests, she reads a lot, and it only takes a few minutes to cut something out, stuff it into an envelope, throw a stamp on it, and drop it in the mail.

She’s my own personal Reader’s Digest — which I guess could be considered one of the original content curators, gathering articles from other publications (and making great bathroom reading).

Content curation on the job
So I’m cheating here. My day job is director of content marketing (please note lack of pretentious capitalization) for a software company, so I’d better have SOME insights into content curation.

My team is responsible for actually creating the content we use for our online efforts (website, email campaigns, etc.), sales materials, and pretty much anything with our logo on it.

Obviously, brand stewardship (sorry, another buzzword) is one of our top priorities. So it’s crucial that all of our content — and the content we share — reflects our “smart, friendly, slightly informal” brand voice.

And by publishing content from thought leaders (one more buzzword) both inside and outside of our company, we look smarter by both associating with these experts and sharing their ideas.

Personal content curation
Of our 168-hour week, you probably spend a good deal of it on your favorite social media channels. And although I’m not going to get all Marshall McLuhan here, what you share and where you share it is important.

That’s where your family (Facebook), friends (Twitter), and professional network (LinkedIn) are — and you’ve got a reputation to uphold. So let’s take a look at your online content curation efforts:

Email
Before we talk social, don’t forget content you send/receive via email. Pro Tip: Any message you send/get that starts with “FWD” is, most likely, completely uninteresting to the recipient/you.

If you’re going to forward something, make sure it’s worth viewing — something funny, cool, and/or memorable (in a good way).

Pro Tip #2: Don’t share stuff at work unless it’s completely relevant to what you do, and totally SFW (“Safe For Work”). It’s just not worth the aggravation and/or harassment lawsuits.

Facebook
For most of us, Facebook is a cross-section of family, friends, high school friends you haven’t seen since high school, and a select group of past and present co-workers.

Pro Tip: Don’t bother with the political stuff, the religious stuff, and 90% of the radio station memes — unless 100% of your Friends list is 100% people who agree with you on everything. But beware — those “yes men/women” may have people in their networks who don’t agree with you, and may decide to chime in to start an uncivilized debate.

Pro Tip, Summarized: Don’t post anything that you wouldn’t be proud to show to your Grandma. Especially if Grandma is on Facebook, which is increasingly likely.

Twitter
I didn’t get the hubbub about joining Twitter, but I did anyway in ’09. Most of the time, it’s just typing something that you think is funny (or retweeting) into a long, dark hotel hallway where some people have their doors cracked a bit and might even respond.

Twitter is a bit “looser” than Facebook for most. That’s probably because you don’t feel as obligated to connect as you do on FB, so your contacts on Twitter are much more aligned with your tastes, beliefs, and attitudes.

Pro Tip: Grandma’s not on Twitter, and your parents probably aren’t either. So have some fun, cut loose; say (or RT) some weird stuff.

Pro Tip #2: If you’re worried about revealing too much about yourself, you could always start an anonymous profile. I have at least two Twitter pals who do so. (Full disclosure: I have a second account, but it’s lame. Let’s just say it’s Shakespeare-related.)

LinkedIn
Be careful with this one. You can alienate your parents on FB, and annoy people on Twitter, but LinkedIn is where you’re the competent, pants-wearing professional you pretend to be 40+ hours a week.

So please, fix your hair and share only insightful, career/industry-relevant content. Make your company’s PR director happy by sharing the latest press releases. Show your boss how dedicated you are to your position, your company, and your industry by posting stuff from important publications/websites.

Pro Tip: DEFINITELY keep it SFW and free of politics, religion, and pretty much 97% of your personal life. Because when you’re applying for that next job, LinkedIn is what they’ll check for sure. And that’s basically your “first impression” nowadays — so don’t let it be that photo of you doing a keg stand.

Post, Share, and RT!
So I’ve babbled on for a bunch of paragraphs. But all of this can be summarized in three words:

Use common sense.

You should have a pretty good grasp on your social network “audiences.” And you can probably trust your gut to know what to share and where to share it.

One more Pro Tip: If you’re not sure of how your connections will react, don’t do it. Better safe than sorry — especially in the online world, where everything lives forever.

Except, hopefully, the buzzword “content curation.” 

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With 20+ years of experience — both at agencies and "on the client side" — Harley David Rubin has enjoyed many challenges and opportunities in his career. He's currently freelancing, with an eye toward starting his own creative communications company. And he loves to share the stories and "wisdom" he's accumulated over the years. (Because what writer doesn't love talking about himself?) He's truly thankful for the opportunity to write for TalentZoo.com, and he's happy to connect via LinkedIn or even on Twitter at @hdrubin.
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