By Joe Pulizzi published December 14, 2011

Forget Content Curation, Focus on Original Content in 2012

Brands and media companies have been “curating” content for centuries, but 2011 saw the phrase content curation rise near the top of the content marketing stack.

I can’t tell you how many marketers have approached me regarding their “content curation strategy” for 2012.

Let’s right the ship folks.

Content Curation is NOT a Strategy

I still use Rohit Bhargava’s 2009 definition of a content curator:

Someone whose job it is not to create more content, but to make sense of all the content that others are creating. To find the best and most relevant content and bring it forward.

In some way or another, all brands should be curating content in their industry…both to position themselves as expert resources and to help move prospects and customers through the buying cycle.  But content curation is a tactic you deploy, just like doing a webinar series or developing a custom magazine.  Smart content always employs a touch of curation (just like the best magazines have been doing for decades).

A content marketing strategy involves a number of goals (see below), of which content curation can play a part (full content marketing research here).

Content Marketing Organizational Goals

So, If Everyone is Curating…

There is no doubt, especially with the rise of Twitter, Flipboard and other tools, that more brands are employing curation techniques.  Great…but at the end of the day, we need something to curate.  Compared to the creation of valuable, relevant, long-form content, curation is simple…and that’s the differentiator for you.

The real opportunity in 2012 is for YOU to be the source material. You become the media company. With so many curators out there looking for great content to spread, the opportunities for quality, “must-have” industry content has NEVER been more in demand.

Your 2012 Checklist

  1. Yes, you can and should use content curation techniques, but this should be secondary.
  2. Focus on the true pain points of your customers and start planning content series around answering those pain points.
  3. Find the content curators in your industry and form relationships with them.  They’ll help you spread the word about your great content.
  4. Define your content marketing team and workflow now.
  5. Hire more journalists!

Author: Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi considers himself the poster boy for content marketing. Founder of the Content Marketing Institute, Joe evangelizes content marketing around the world through keynotes, articles, tweets and his books, Managing Content Marketing and Get Content Get Customers. Joe's latest book is Epic Content Marketing (McGraw-Hill). If you want to get on his good side, send him something orange. For more on Joe, check out his personal site or follow him on Twitter @JoePulizzi.

Other posts by Joe Pulizzi

  • http://polkadotimpressions.com Camille Rodriquez

    I couldn’t agree more! I tell all of my clients that to become the thought leader, they need to be blogging, writing, creating, etc., even if only on a small scale. Creating relevant material is critical!

  • http://TannerChristensen.com Tanner Christensen

    I don’t know if I necessarily agree with this standpoint.

    Creating content is undoubtedly more valuable than curation, but there’s something to be said for good, quality curation resources. Kottke.org, for example is a professional blog that simply gathers very interesting content from around the web. BoingBoing.net and booooooom.com and underconsideration.com/quipsologies are even more examples of what can be done with quality curation.

    It’s not enough to simply curate content that you think might attract visitors or potential customers. Likewise: it’s not enough to merely try creating non-stop. There has to be a middle ground, that’s a major strategy to becoming a leading resource online, I believe.

    • http://blog.junta42.com Joe Pulizzi

      Hi Tanner…thanks for the comment. Post is kind of tongue in cheek, but yes, curation and original content go in hand. One can argue that great original content almost always curates from multiple sources.

      Regarding your last paragraph, we are definitely on the same page. Thanks

  • http://www.eyeonsocialmedia.com Mike Brooks

    I am going to go ahead and curate this piece of content to add massive proof backed up by an expert that they need someone to help curate and create content for them (me).

    I love proof that helps me navigate my prospects through the buying process. Someone should create a ‘Curate’ button.

    I also think Tanner is also on to something in his comment above. At the end of the day it always comes down to quality. If the thing (whether it’s original content or other people’s) is not valuable or is put together with an obvious ulterior motive, it won’t get you very far.

    • http://blog.junta42.com Joe Pulizzi

      Excellent Mike…let’s see what you’ve got!

  • http://www.eventcorrespondent.com Andrea Cook

    Great article. Helpful. Inspired me in fact to write a new post on my new practice that I think better fits #5 for your 2012 Checklist.

    I referenced your article here in my new post… let me know if you are interested and I can share more…

  • http://www.grmwebsite.com Emily Carter

    For sure! Content, after all, is King! Creating your own content allows you to be that subject matter expert that everyone is searching for on the internet these days. Instead of reusing other’s great ideas (which is still positive for information flow), it’s a good idea to become the person who is generating all of those good thoughts.

  • http://www.optimalaccess.com Karan Bavandi

    Joe what you are calling curation I would call syndication. Many marketers are taking third party content, adding it to their site and calling this curation – My question is what is the difference between this activity and syndication?

    Curation by definition is organization and maintenance of information. The value of curation is in maintaining the context of a topic. Curation platforms focus on establishing a context around a topic. Creating and maintaining curated topics is work, and requires authoring and creativity. What most people consider curation is simply filtering and link sharing. Here is a sample curate page on and the same topic on .

    Now if your argument is that simply taking someone else’s content and using it in-lieu of creating your own content because that is easier, then I agree with you.

    • http://blog.junta42.com Joe Pulizzi

      Hi Karan…I’m definitely not talking about syndication. Syndication doesn’t add point of view, which I believe curation does in most cases.

      Honestly, marketers should be looking at all three (original, curated and syndicated) as part of their content strategies…but the core should be original. It’s almost impossible to position yourself as an expert without your own take.

      Thanks for the comment!

  • http://BasicBlogTips.com Ileane

    Hi Joe. Great article but I’m in the dark about a few things. I didn’t know that “content marketing” was a thing. What’s the difference between that and just plain old “creating valuable content”. I mean does everyone who creates good content have to be considered a marketer? Or is it just all semantics?
    Thanks for the post!

    • http://blog.junta42.com Joe Pulizzi

      Hi Ileane…content marketing is the practice of developing multi-channel content programs as part of the marketing program. Basically, brands create great content in order to attract or retain customers.

      If you are creating content just for the heck of it, or for a traditional publisher, or for your personal blog because you like to, that is not content marketing.

      Make sense?

  • http://www.3rdplanetmedia.com Scot Combs

    Good article, Joe!

    The one point I’d wrestle over is “Hire more journalists.” I spent 20 years in radio and tv broadcasting, have worked extensively with newspaper & magazine writers and I remain unconvinced that more ‘journalists’ or even traditional writers is/are the answer(s).

    My argument may hinge on how you define ‘journalists’. My take is that while they are amazing at churning out copy, they’re not particularly creative in their writing. And the ones that are good at it are well paid and don’t need me. The journalists I’m left with need a certain amount of time to develop their voice and my clients may or may not have the time to wait.

    When we built NetRadio at the beginning of the internet boom, I hired the most creative radio people I could find. Of some 25 people, only 2 could be construed as journalists. The rest were a beguiling assortment of motivated, highly intelligent, goofballs that destroyed many ivy league university Quake teams (during the lunch hour, of course) and catapulted NetRadio to 50 million unique IP listens every month. What every one of them had was a unique voice whether on the ‘air’ or in text. Authenticity was the key and they had it in spades.

    If companies are going to look for outside talent to provide content I would encourage them to look for creators with a unique point of view, a sense of humor and the ability to adapt quickly.

    Wow. Where’d this soapbox come from?

    Sorry for the rant.

    • http://blog.junta42.com Joe Pulizzi

      Thanks Scott…I see your point and I think it’s all a matter of perspective. I wouldn’t hire a journalist unless they understood how to find a tell a great story (which I believe is your point). Sounds like you are talking more about copywriters and not journalists.

      Either way, we agree that we have to hire creative and talented people to communicate great stories to our customer base.

  • http://www.CurationNation.org Steve Rosenbaum

    Hi Joe -
    Agree with the energy of this post, and the comments that follow. I’d add this thought – for many marketers, the largest untapped resource is their customers/audience. The most passionate fans and users can add content that they both create and discover into the mix.

    When we work with brands at Magnify.net, I tell them the best content strategy is a mix of Created, Collected, and Contributed content. Leveraging your knowledge with that inherent passion and curiosity of your community and the best related content from the wider web… into a unique content mix that only you can curate.

    Lots of things happening in 2012 that will make a curated content mix important, even essential to stay timely and relevant.

    Lots more on this at http://www.CurationNation.org – if your so inclined.

    Cheers,

    Steve

  • http://www.internetmarketingclarity.com/ Janus

    Hi Joe, I think that’s a great article with great insights! Whether it’s content curation or content creation, it all boils down to creating value to your audience.