Content Marketing Curation: Two Millennia in The Making

Content curation is one of the most overused buzzwords these days, with CNBC recently listing it as the #1 most overused word of the year. But in reality curation is nothing new--in fact, curation has been around for more than two millennia. The world's oldest museum dates to 530 BCE in the City of Ur (in today's Iraq), with its curator a Babylonian Princess.


Whether Impressionist paintings, dinosaur bones or vintage cars, exhibition artifacts capture a perspective and a point of view. There is a story line, and we often leave with an increased appreciation and become better educated about a particular topic.

Curation remains a powerful means of educating a mass audience, but has recently become particularly popular with marketers in the digital world.

Staging an Exhibition
Unseen but very much present is a curator's work to mount and stage an exhibition. This includes:

  • Selecting the items to be included, based on particular points of interest (such as topic, region, artist, era, or medium)
  • Organizing the artifacts into a collection by deciding how items should be juxtaposed and lit.
  • Introducing the collection by writing the narrative that highlights an exhibition's themes using didactic labels.
  • Sharing the content with a broader audience.

Note the curator's role. He, she, or a small team has the subject matter expertise to provide an in-depth understanding about the topic at hand, structure the exhibition, and produce the experience.

Curating Content for Digital Experiences
This is the art of curation. Focusing on content rather than museum artifacts alters the experience in several ways. Let's highlight three distinctions.

  • To begin with, there is a different purpose. Content curation is part of an overall content marketing initiative: building brand awareness, demonstrating solutions, and/or communicating the business value for a particular set of products and services.
  • There are different artifacts. Marketers are curating articles and rich media clips for their target audience, supplementing their own assets with third-party items.
  • Business objectives replace historical or artistic perspectives. These include leveraging content resources and engaging the target audience by collecting a range of high value assets.

A key lesson of the museum experience remains however: the importance of structuring information to communicate a point of view. Like a curator for an exhibition, a content curator has the expertise to select and organize digital artifacts related to a particular topic area and inform a target audience about key perspectives.

The Content Marketing Multiplier
For content marketers, content curation supplements original content with authoritative third party sources. It is a way to establish thought leadership, break through the clutter of disparate and disorganized online sources, raise awareness about a particular topic area, and become a trusted resource.

Content curators are comparable to their counterparts in museums in that they have an innate ability to select items intelligently and carefully. Like physical assets in an exhibition, curated digital assets are most valuable when they present a range of perspectives that both informs and delights the target audience.

Requiring fewer resources to create than original content--but serving a valuable audience need for diverse, authoritative perspectives--curated content offers a high ROI for marketers when executed with insight and integrity.

For a deeper dive, Curata's Definitive Guide to Content Curation offers a comprehensive look at how to curate content the way market leaders do it.