You might not know it, but you do the work of content curators every time you share a story or photo you like with friends on Facebook, tout new bands or books online or in conversation, and prepare a list of useful resources at the end of a school paper. Continue to do these things to gain experience, but take this a step further by creating a stand-alone Web site or e-mail newsletter that covers one of your favorite topics such as baseball, indie bands, or your love of cooking.
Talk with Internet content curators about their work. Ask them for tips on breaking into the field and what types of Web resources and tools they use to do their jobs. Spend time in your school’s library talking to librarians about how they choose resources for circulation.
The amount of content on the Web is daunting for anyone trying to find trusted information on a particular topic. A visit to InternetLiveStats.com reinforces the massive amount of information available. For example, on May 8, 2020, there were more than 1.7 trillion Web sites, 5.6 million+ blog posts written, 644 million+ Tweets sent, 122 million+ Tumblr posts, and 71 million+ photos uploaded to Instagram. These stats don’t even include all of the magazine issues published; videos uploaded to YouTube, TikTok, and other video-sharing sites; content published on personal and organizational Web sites; and other sources of content. Internet content curators identify quality content and present it to their audiences.
Some Internet content curators have their own businesses, curating content for various organizations or for presentation at their own Web sites (and earning a living through user subscriptions and/or earning revenue from advertisements at their sites). Others are employed directly by companies, nonprofits, and government agencies interested in gathering industry- or topic-specific content to draw more visitors to their Web sites, fuel the sales of their products or services, establish a reputation for thought leadership, or just help people. For example, a content curator who works for a restaurant association would be tasked with searching the Internet for the best online articles and books, podcasts, photos, videos, blog posts, etc. on food trends, popular chefs, restaurants, and other culinary-related topics.
To locate the best content, curators join many social networking communities—such as Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Twitter. They read online publications, subscribe to RSS (Rich Site Summary) feeds and e-mail lists, and frequently visit the Web sites of companies and other organizations in their focus area. They sign up for Google Alerts to receive updates on postings in their specialty and use bookmarking tools such as Pinterest.
After the content curator gathers a collection of interesting content, he or she formulates a list of the resources (always providing proper attribution to their sources) and provides extra value by writing a short, but attention-grabbing, headline and summary that offers an overview of the content and how it is valuable to readers. In some instances, they write longer descriptions that introduce entirely new ideas or perspectives about the information. Then, the curator either posts it to the Web or sends it in an e-mail newsletter.
Content curation is not just about surfing the Web and scooping up the highest-ranked returns on search engines. After viewing hundreds of resources on a particular topic (such as fly fishing in Montana), they must select only the best 1 to 10 percent of the resources based on the goals of their assignment. They need to have knowledge of their respective field (such as popular and emerging tourist destinations in Mexico, bike racing in Europe, or the traditional music of West Africa) and an instinctive understanding of what people will think is interesting.