The Difference Between Content Curation and Content Creation

A few weeks ago, I was participating on the #prwebchat when someone posed the question, “what’s the difference between content creation and content curation.”

I responded, “Creators write, curators collect & aggregate. Anyone can curate, not everyone can create.” Apparently this struck a chord, because a lot of people were responding and retweeting to what was just a throwaway line which made me realize there’s a lot more to this idea than I originally thought.

Tania Said Schuler

That's my friend Tania (R). She's a curator at the Ball State Museum of Art. She's the only curator I know.

Thanks to the blog tools and plug-ins (like Zemanta, which lets you link to related articles), Twitter lists, and RSS readers, anyone can compile a list of the interesting stuff. It’s a matter of identifying the most interesting articles from very popular or esoteric sources, and sharing them with your network.

But I don’t think content curation is that valuable. It’s important, to be sure. With a semi-decent RSS reader, anyone can be a content curator. But it’s not that valuable. Think of what the curators are actually collecting: content that someone else created.

Truman Capote once said of Jack Kerouac’s literary efforts, “That’s not writing. That’s typing.”

A stinging rebuttal to be sure, but it’s one that explains the difference between creation and curation.

Think of the effort that goes into creating a single blog post. There’s research to be read, surveys to be compiled, and opinions to be formed. And then you have to be able to present it in a way that not only flows logically, but is compelling to readers.

Still, curators cannot exist without creators to provide them with material to share; creators rely on curators to make sure their stuff is shared. So I can’t entirely bag on the curators, since 1) I rely on them, and 2) I’m trying to be one myself too.

Occasionally you’ll get creators who can handle their own curation — and that’s what social media has done for us — but we always get a boost when other people do some curation for us. For example, I always see a huge traffic spike whenever Jason Falls shares my blog posts with his readers. And Jason is a great example of someone who both curates and creates in order to provide value to his network.

So which are you? Are you creating, curating, or doing both? Is one more important than the other, or are they equally necessary? Can content creation actually live without curation? Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

My book, Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), is available on, as well as at Barnes & Noble and Borders bookstores. I wrote it with my good friend, Kyle Lacy.

Success Isn’t Showing Up, It’s Sticking Around

“80% of success is just showing up.”

I’ve been thinking about Woody Allen’s quote for the last few hours, after a rousing night at the relaunch of Social Media Club Indy. We heard Jason Falls speak, and I got a chance to hang out with him and a few other people at Yats Cajun Creole restaurant afterward.

Jason Falls in Indianapolis

Jason Falls models his new t-shirt. That’s me behind him.

I think Woody only got it half right. You can show up all you want, but if you don’t stick around, you’re missing out.

It was a lot of fun to just sit and talk about connections, past relationships, families, search engine optimization secrets, and food. I learned where the New York and Boston accent comes from. I learned a secret about Twitter lists. And I got a nice big plate of chili cheese etouffee with crawfish thanks to Duncan Alney and Joe Vuskovich (owner of Yats).

I’ve been writing and talking about the importance of face-to-face networking as a part of personal branding a lot lately. And last night, I realized that success isn’t just showing up, it’s sticking around.

It’s sticking around for dinner or drinks after the main event. Not to pick someone’s brain, but to share ideas, talk about family, tell stories, and learn more about each other. (Keith Ferrazzi talks about this a lot in Never Eat Alone (affiliate link). It’s my new networking bible.)

If I want to build solid relationships with people I trust and who trust me, I need to spend time with them after special events, not during.

If I want to build solid relationships, I can’t do it in a crowded room with people who only have a few minutes to talk.

If I want to be a valuable resource, I can’t shout advice over a loud crowd and louder music.

I need to hang out with people in a quiet place. The best place to do it is when everyone is happy, excited, and talkative. The best time to do it is after the big event that got people talking excitedly.

Unfortunately for those who didn’t stick around, they missed out on this opportunity. By not sticking around, they missed the chance for deepening relationships that lead to bigger success.

Now, I completely understand why people had to go. They have families to see and take care of. They have work that needs to get done. They have personal lives that mean they can’t stay out until 10:30. I don’t blame them, because 9 times out of 10, I do too. I don’t stick around because I haven’t seen my family since the night before, or I’ve got a client deadline the next day. I couldn’t even stick past 10:30 for drinks, because I had to finish a presentation.

However, there are times that I get to do it, because my family understands my insatiable need to talk with people about things I’m passionate about. And those are the times that I see my personal brand and my relationships leap ahead. (Of course, my family couldn’t care less about whether I’m a big deal to other people. I’m a big deal to them, and that’s who gets most of my attention. So for those who had to leave, I totally support you.)

But if you can arrange it once or twice, stick around. Be the last one out the door, and talk to the event organizers who are sticking around to hang out with the Big Name From Out Of Town. Stick around, and join them for drinks or dinner. You’d be amazed at what will come your way as a result.

So success does come from showing up. Anyone who came and met someone new last night was successful (and will be moreso if they can follow up with some one-on-one networking). But the bigger success, for me, came from sticking around just a little while longer.

Photo credit: Andy Huston

My Favorite Moment from BlogIndiana 2010 Is Not What You Think

My favorite moment from BlogIndiana 2010 is not what you think? You might think it was the talk I gave on Saturday. But it wasn—okay, that was pretty awesome. It’s always an honor to speak there.

No, my favorite moment was when a few of us snuck out to lunch, and John Uhri (of the Sketch Notes) I introduced Jason Falls and Jay Baer to MacNiven’s, a Scottish restaurant in downtown Indianapolis.

MacNiven’s makes a pretty decent hamburger, but what’s unusual about it is that it’s 1/4 pound of beef, smashed to 8″ around. You have to fold it up to eat it. I explained it to Jay, and then Jay — having never practiced before, mind you — showed the rest of the world how to eat it. Now that is a quick study.

Why Are There So Few Trend Setters in Social Media?

I noticed an interesting trend, and I’m ashamed to say I’m part of it.

There are very few trend setters in social media. Very few pioneers. We’re mostly settlers.

We all try to be as cutting edge as we can, but we’re sometimes at the mercy of what everyone else is talking about. We pay close attention to luminaries like Chris Brogan, Jason Falls, Jeremiah Owyang, and Gary Vaynerchuk. We wait to see what they’re talking about, and we talk about that. And we all hold up their discarded sandals, like that great scene from Monty Python’s Life of Brian.

I do it too. I see an interesting article on Jason’s blog, and decide I’ll comment on that. Or I’ll see something Doug Karr wrote in the Marketing Technology blog, and piggyback off that. But it’s rare that I write about issues that those guys didn’t write about first.

I’ve done it a few times — crisis communication, entre-commuting, or getting spanked by the Canadian Council of PR Firms — but I’ve also jumped solidly on the bandwagon, pushing women and children out of the way so I could get a comfy seat.

Unfortunately, this is a rather centralized industry. We only have a few tools we use with any regularity — Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google — and so we all talk about how we use them, and the great things we’ve learned, or the trends coming our way.

I want to stop doing that. I want to be that one guy in the crowd who says, “Hold up the sandal!”

I can’t say I won’t keep doing following the pioneers, but I’m going to make a conscious effort to do it less. That’s one reason I didn’t post anything on the blog for a couple of weeks. (Yeah, yeah, that’s the reason.)

So it may mean I post fewer times per week on the blog. It may mean shorter posts, and fewer how-to posts. But we’re going to try to make our own path as much as possible, even if it runs adjacent to someone else’s. We’re just going to quit following the well-worn path that some people have meandered down.