You might be excited to read the rest of this post. After all, 7 “can’t-lose” tips for content curation! If you’re doing paper.li or Pinterest, but not seeing a whole lot of results, you want to know what you have to do to turn those things into faucets of money.
Actually, I don’t have 7 can’t lose tips. I have but one observation:
You see, on this Black Friday, since I have less than zero desire to be within 5 miles of a shopping mall, I idly clicked on some tweet telling me that “XYZ Real Estate Daily Is Out!” It was one of those “personal newspapers” from paper.li put out by a Realtor.
What You Call Something Matters
I’m not looking to embarrass anybody, so I won’t link to it — or to the other dozen similar “Such-and-such Real Estate Daily” content curation strategies I’ve looked at since then. Suffice to say, however, that the “XYZ” in “XYZ Real Estate Daily” is a major American city with its own newspaper. And you too can google to your heart’s content and find a hundred similar things.
But here are the stories contained in this example “XYZ Real Estate Daily”:
- Finding startup funds (WSJ)
- US Stock Market Report (CNBC)
- Beyonce & Jay-Z Wishing People Happy Thanksgiving (Twitter)
- Mobile App Innovation Challenge (Twitter)
- Bunch of videos, including four music videos and something about birth control
- Holiday gifts for unemployed people in your life
- A story about snow in Hawaii
Not one story about real estate. Or about XYZ City.
You know what? I felt gypped. I felt like this Realtor had just wasted five minutes of my life, which I’ll never get back.
I felt a little bit like you’re feeling right now, if you clicked on this post thinking that you’re going to learn 7 can’t-lose tips on content curation. If the only post you’ve ever read on Notorious is this one, I’m betting that you’re not likely to return, because you feel cheated somehow.
If You’re Going to Do It, Then Do It
What you call something matters. Titles matter. They set the expectations of readers and consumers. Failing to deliver on those expectations will actually harm you.
If I were ever moving to XYZ, the one Realtor I would never call and refuse to hire if she called me is the woman who publishes “XYZ Real Estate Daily”. Because now, my perception of this woman (whom I’ve never met) is that she knows nothing about real estate and nothing about XYZ City either. Otherwise, why is her “newspaper” on XYZ Real Estate filled with junk about Beyonce and the stock market?
If the paper.li I had read was entitled, “Realtor Smith’s Personal Interests Daily” then I wouldn’t have been disappointed. It’s a curation of what she finds interesting — good for her. Of course, I probably wouldn’t have clicked on the link either, but at least I won’t be vowing never to hire that particular Realtor.
And the other examples I actually googled and looked at after “XYZ Real Estate Daily” are all the same. Nothing about the city, and precious little about real estate. Instead, “article” after “article” about random ass crap that floats around the Internet.
Curation done this way is not a branding strategy. It’s an anti-branding strategy. It actually makes you look like an idiot. Fire whoever marketing guru recommended this particular piece of marketing genius to you. It probably cost you a few potential customers.
Curation Done Right
There are plenty of examples, but I’ll cite two.
The grandmaster is Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit, who curates/aggregates center-right political stories from all over multiple times a day. Of course, he doesn’t just do political stories. His interests include aging research, nanotechnology, and photography and you’ll see those stories once in a while. But most of his curated content is center-right politics.
Another guy who does it right is Barry Ritholtz at The Big Picture. He does a list of articles he’s read that morning, like this one: 10 Black Friday AM Reads. He’s a finance/econ blogger, so most of his stuff is related to finance and economics. But he’s got a link in there about Thanksgiving touch football, and 75 top pictures of 2012.
A more focused, less chit-chatty approach might be Zerohedge with its Frontrunning series, like this post.
All three — and other approaches — reinforces the idea that they know more than you about their chosen topics. I’ve never met any of these people, but I suspect that Reynolds knows more than I do about politics, that Barry Ritzholtz knows more than I do about finance and economics, and Zerohedge knows mores than I do about global creeping doom.
If you’re going to curate as a branding/marketing strategy, then actually curate something that would tend to reinforce the notion that you know something or another more than the reader.
In the case of Realtors, that something or another should probably be real estate, your local housing market, and your local market area. Unless you think buyers and sellers are out there searching like crazy for a Realtor who really understands Beyonce and Jay-Z. In which case, you should become an expert in Beyonce and Jay-Z.
If you have one of these little curation online newspaper thingamajigs, and you recognize yourself in the kind of information-free content curation strategies I described above… do yourself a favor, really. Stop doing that “XYZ Real Estate” that’s actually about Beyonce. It’s hurting you. Really.
Do. Or Do not. There is no fake-it with curation.