#heweb10 - Content Curation on a Budget

Georgy Cohen (@radiofreegeorgy) of Tufts University spoke at her session at the Higher Education Web Conference 2010 on the concept of content curation.

Content curation does not supplant content creation - rather it is the harnessing of content already available. Curation supplants the older model or website content, aggregation. Aggregation simply delivers too much content to the audience. Curation allows for the selection of the best content available, and then contextualizes it to make it relevant and engaging to the audience. You can’t bank your content model solely on curation, but it supplements and sharpens what you do.

Content Curation provides the following benefits:

  • Authority: By culling the best of what’s available, the institution becomes a thought leader for their brand. This is often a difficult concept for traditional communicators, who already see themselves as such. However, social media created a new level playing field where audience created content has just as much weight as institutional messages. Curation allows the institution to follow the new paradigm and build trust and usefulness with the shift in the audience.
  • Information: By curating content, you are opening new sources of information about your institution that you did not have before - for example, information about alumni you did not know about, or student organizations of groups that have flown under the radar but would have relevance to a larger group.
  • Content: It allows the institution to make use of great content being created by others than promote your brand (but take care to review the material thoroughly to make sure it fits with your image and ethos).
  • Community: Curation builds a bridge between your audiences and your brand ambassadors, those who produce content that the web has found popular and relevant.

There are a number of tools to assist in content curation. A number of commercial products are available to assist in doing so. In particular, Georgy recommended Cover it Live, a live blogging tool for pulling content from multiple sources.

Other cool tips:

  • Google Readeris your friend. Use it to look for a combination of key words for your institution. Make more refined searches for specific sites, like Flickr and Delicio.us. Popularize hashtags in Twitter for specific events or experiences - for example, incoming freshman classes or the opening of a new dormitory.
  • YouTube Direct creates a submission form that lives on your site. Users submit YouTube videos via their account that are added to an approval queue. Once approved, the videos are linked to your official feed.
  • Google Moderator provides a polling tool that can capture real time sentiment and opinions.

Finally Georgy had a few words to say about copyright. Linking to existing content is allowed, and if the content is embeddable, it’s good to go. Don’t violate DMCA, and don’t try to interfere in ads in the content you link. Finally, respect the wishes of the content creator - if they ask you to take it down, do so.

Content curation is a powerful tool. Give it a human face - don’t use an aggregator - and give in context, and you’ll create compelling content that inspires your audience.

This post was written by:

Jeff Stevens

Jeff Stevens splits his time between being the webmaster of the University of Florida College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the creative director for Union Design and Photo. He's scattered all over the internet, but your best chance to piece him together is through Do-Gooder.info or @kuratowa on Twitter.