Content curation requires more than a “shotgun” approach to your niche. You cannot be all things to all people. Focus is essential.
Choosing your focus — and your target audience — is a two-sided challenge. First, there’s what you’re interested in writing about, and have time and resources for. Then, there are the interests of your target audience.
Every writer in every media needs to understand the market. This may start with the level of expertise among your target readers. A blog written for a novice in the field will include information very different from the analyses and extrapolations necessary if your audience includes industry leaders. If your target is an entry-level audience, you may confuse them (or even bore them) if you use industry-specific terminology and focus on complex and subtle issues.
By contrast, if you’re writing for industry leaders, their busy schedules prevent them from wasting time on blogs that don’t include innovative and relevant news and concepts. Their assistants may read and summarize what you’ve said at your website, but the actual opinion leaders in the field… they won’t bother to sort through the blather or text added merely to increase the article’s word count.
Time can be the ruling factor as you identify your target audience.
A curated, entry-level article can be assembled in as little as 20 minutes. They’re more interested in your links as education; they aren’t ready for extrapolated predictions. In fact, part of your curation may be explaining why each link is relevant. Talking to beginners, this could be as simple as saying, “This article is important because ________.”
As those readers become more educated and proficient, they’ll start scanning (or skimming) your articles for what’s most important. In time, to maintain them as followers, you may need to add a second blog or section to your website, specifically for their rapidly-advancing information needs.
Nevertheless, when you’re writing for entry-level readers, the curation process usually takes less time.
By contrast, when you’re writing for industry leaders, a curated article can require two hours or more. You’re bypassing trite resources and conclusions that may be “old news” to your readers. Your goal is to maintain loyal followers who often say, “Interesting. I hadn’t thought of this in that context.”
For some corporate, C-level readers, it may be enough to compile a series of diverse curated references. They’re bright enough and experienced enough to connect the dots. You’re simply saving them time finding those gems of information.
For example, someone in fashion may be interested in startling trends in street fashions, plus a few references to exceptional costuming for an upcoming movie. Explaining why you made your curation choices… that may be redundant and annoying. Anyone with a solid background in current fashions can spot what’s new and exciting in the influences you’ve linked to.
For other executives, especially if the information will be filtered and delivered via an assistant, you may have a higher ratio of editorial content to curation. In other words, you may explain the trends as you see them, and use curated references as supporting information and “for further reading” asides.
In fields where intellectual property rights and copyright are taken very seriously, it may be vital to summarize the impact of the reference, followed by a simple link. Extensive quoting can be a liability if you’re stretching “fair use” protocols.
Tone of voice is also important. A readership of fans may appreciate a very personal connection to the writer. Jokes, slang, and “insider” phrases may help develop loyal readers who identify with you. (By contrast, you could develop an online persona that’s the writer fans “love to hate.” If you’re choosing that path, use a pen name as a buffer. Overzealous fans can turn a perceived insult into a personal crusade.)
Professionals may want a personal “voice” when you’re writing, but jokes can look like filler and slang can become outdated in weeks, damaging your perceived value as someone who’s not only current but forward-thinking.
If you’re writing for a global audience, especially those with limited language skills (or those who use the translate option on your website), use a more literal vocabulary and restrained tone of voice. Keep cultural nuances in mind, as well. (The book, Essential Do’s and Taboos: The Complete Guide to International Business and Leisure Travel, is a good starting point.)
As I said earlier, these decisions can be a two-sided challenge. On one hand, you must evaluate your resources, including the time you can invest in content curation as well as the availability of references. Linking to an online article is easier and faster than curating information you found in a book, or learned at a week-long seminar.
The audience you’d like to reach is equally important. There’s nothing wrong with having a “Mom blog or Dad blog.” That approach can attract a broad audience of loyal fans, followers, customers and clients.
However, if your target audience is in the “C-suite” (CEOs, COOs, and so on), you’ll need to be very sure you’re providing in-depth information and insights that are worth their time.
First, understand your own interests, expertise and resources, and those you can acquire. Then, examine the best target audience for what you can offer via content curation. Aim to deliver what they need, rather than trying to be all things to all people.