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What to consider when curating content

Curating content is as much about ethics as it is about sharing quality material.

There are many positives to curating content, writes Jess Goulburn. But if done incorrectly, curators could find themselves embezzled in a legal and financial calamity of epic proportions.

According to Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, “Every two days now we create just as much information as we did from the dawn of civilisation up until 2003.” That’s a lot of content to curate. With 75 per cent of content marketers admitting lack of time is a major issue, content curation seems to be the perfect fix. Not only does content curation save you loads of time, it also gives your fellow content producers a big high five for the exceptional work they’re doing.

Curation or creation?

In the simplest terms, content curation means gathering related pieces of content, giving your opinion on the content and sharing it with others. What it’s not, however, is just content aggregation. It’s about taking the content you connect with, and using it to tell a story.

Most businesses curate content as a way of increasing reach and in an attempt to become a recognisable expert in a particular field. Connect with communities, build influence and express your personal view by sharing other people’s thoughts. You may even get noticed by the big guns in your industry.

However, the true power of content curation lies in your opinions. While it can be as simple as clicking the ‘share’ button, it’s just as important to include your own opinions.

Don’t think for a second that content curation is all you have to do to give your business a great name. It’s a way to enhance your already existing strategy, not replace it. You need to show that you have original ideas of your own. Creating your own content also gives your clients an insight into your business – its personality and its character. After all, you want your content to be curated just as much as the next person.

What’s out there now?

Most people probably visit some of the best-known content curation sites without even realising that is what they are.

While Buzzfeed employs professional journalists, the site’s content is also a curation of what’s trending across the internet.

Reddit is another classic example of a content curation site. Although it can be confused for a content aggregation site, Reddit allows users to comment on every story and gives users relevant links, grouped in communities.

The Huffington Post is perhaps the most well-known example of a content curation site, bringing together a range of professional journalists with everyday bloggers to create shareable content that readers will connect with.

All of the sites not only curate the content into informative and very clear categories, but they also always credit the source.

But beware, slip up slightly in the content curating process and you may find yourself in hot water.

Legal battles

Content curation is as much about ethics as it is about sharing quality content. With the rise of content marketing, it’s quite easy to get caught in a legal stoush.

If you’re smart and ethical about your content creation, there won’t be a problem.

As long as you carefully select parts of the content, add your own commentary and always credit the source, you’ll be fine. But if you’re simply copying the content and popping it up on your own site, you’re in trouble.

Much like copyright in written essays and articles, you must always credit your source. Plus, there’s a limit to what you can actually include. In copyright law, if a ‘substantial part’ of text is included, it may be in breach. Substantial part does not mean a large amount of text, but rather looks at the meaning behind the text.

You also have to think about why you’re using the extract. Copyright doesn’t protect an idea, it protects the expression of the idea. So if you’re using the content fairly, for purposes of review or criticism and you give acknowledgment of the work that you’re reproducing, you will not infringe the owner’s copyright.

Finding content, analysing it, commenting on it and using it to tell a story, all while linking back to the original author, is curation, and it’s completely acceptable.

But taking a number of web articles from other authors and popping them in your own content is blatant theft. And there are definite implications for this. In fact, in the past 18 months, the Copyright Agency has found more than 36 copyright infringements, resulting in $70,000 worth of royalties being paid. Also, your website may actually not show up on Google if you’re found to breach copyright. In 2012, Google announced that it would start ranking sites with copyright removal notices lower in search results.

Remember, content curation is as much about kudos for the people you’re curating as it is about yourself. Give other content creators the respect of naming them and they’ll return the favour.

6 tips for curation perfection

Think about the kind of content you want to curate

Have a clear indication of the topic you’d like to discuss and find really relevant articles that you can comment on.

Use every angle you can think of to discover great content

You never know what you’ll stumble upon – Google, LinkedIn, Tumbler, Twitter and Facebook are good places to start.

There are some great websites that help with curating content

Scoop It allows users to search for topics, curate and comment on the content and then share it with their networks. Learnist uses experts in categorised fields to help you learn about specific topics. Collaborate with people and add to boards to help others learn.

Spin it

Be sure to put your own spin on the content that you find. People visiting your site want to hear your opinions and why the content you’re sharing is relevant to them – why else would they be visiting your site?

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you

If someone else curated your content, how would you want to be viewed? Always include a short snippet of the original post and the byline. And always, always, always link back to the original website.

Promote it

When you’ve written your exceptionally informative and interesting curated post, push it out via social media. Jump on Twitter and Facebook and mention the original author and their website. You’ll hopefully gain retweets and shares by mentioning them, increasing your own audience.

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