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Advancing Communications: Stay Connected

Content Curation: Your Secret Weapon in the Fight Against Information Overload

Elizabeth Weaver Engel, MA, CAE and Hilary Marsh

We are all overwhelmed by information these days. So much is coming at us from so many sources that it’s hard to know what to pay attention to, what to trust, or how to put things in context. Context is especially important for professional information.

Your members, too, are drowning in a sea of information, with no way to ensure that it comes from trustworthy sources.

Associations are in a unique position to help solve this problem for members. You are a trustworthy source of information. But rather than simply aggregating and sharing information about industry news and trends, you have a unique opportunity to become a trustworthy source of context.

Curating content is an effective strategy for adding value to your members’ lives and to your member value proposition.

“Content curation brings together people, processes, and technology in cooperation to allow associations to behave in human ways, talk in authentic, human terms, and provide real, human value.”

What is content curation?

It’s more than aggregating some links into a weekly e-newsletter. Quality content curation builds on the concept of museum curation, which refers to the art of selecting pieces from a museum’s extensive collection of artifacts and placing them in context so that a given exhibit can tell exactly the right story. 15

Museums curate artifacts. Associations, through conferences, publications, and other programs and services, curate information.

Content curation brings together people, processes, and technology in cooperation to allow associations to behave in human ways, talk in authentic, human terms, and provide real, human value.

In order to curate effectively, association executives need to incorporate both internal and external information sources, place members and their challenges and goals at the center of your thinking, hire and train for new skills, and empower member volunteers to contribute to the work of your association in meaningful ways.

Curation starts with collecting information, but you then need to weed through it to find the quality nuggets, make it easy for your members to tell you what they’re interested in, leverage AI (artificial intelligence) to match people to information according to those expressed interests, provide the context that will tell your members why this information matters to them, and add personality and analysis, speaking with a recognizable organizational voice and showing impact.

Curation should be part of your association’s larger content strategy. It combines sharing industry news, alerting members about upcoming trends, and curating the programs, products, and services your association provides. Collectively, this will position your association to meet members’ needs for valuable, validated, relevant information, which is a key reason your association exists.

Today’s information problem isn’t just about too much information. It’s really about too much raw information. Associations have the opportunity to deliver more than what Google can—to locate, distill, and analyze the information members and other audiences most need to know, right now, and to place it in context that makes it meaningful to them in ways that help them make sense of their world and operating environment.

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