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Mar 2016

Curating in a content jungle: 5 tips from a marketing professional

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Shaping the future of learning

It’s a content jungle out there. If you want to check a fact, get a video tutorial or see if someone has answered your burning question, what do you do? Just google it. Even those of us old enough to remember getting the Encyclopaedia Britannica volumes off the shelf to help with homework think nothing of googling when we’re stuck for a solution.

Content, content everywhere

For the learning and development professional this is both a blessing and a challenge. On one hand, there’s a wealth of great content available for learners. On the other hand, how do you know what’s good quality and what isn’t? And as a provider of L&D content how do you compete with the ‘noise’ of what’s available?

Our recent Learning Insights report revealed that this is on the minds of L&D professionals.  As one interviewee said “access to learning content is no longer limited to internal channels. L&D needs to embrace this challenge and work hard to remain relevant in this new world.” So what’s the answer?

Step up, content curation.

What’s curation all about?

Content curation is the process of sorting through content and presenting it in a meaningful way for your audience. Imagine museum curators – they find the best, most interesting and relevant exhibits, check the provenance and authenticity, then lay them out in the most logical way to give museum visitors the best experience.

The same can apply to learning content – you can add value for learners by sifting content and delivering it in a sensible way. That benefits the learner because the searching and contextualising has already been done for them. And it can benefit you – why re-invent the wheel if a great piece of content already exists?  You can really concentrate on what’s specific to your business while curating more generic pieces of content to complement your offering.

But, of course, this is going to require a few different skills and tactics.

What advice can a marketing professional give?

In the marketing world we’ve been talking about content curation for a while. We are constantly seeking to become a valuable source of information and entertainment to our customers. In marketing, if we did that without content curation we’d appear to be off the pace – it’d seem like we were operating in a bubble rather than keeping our finger on the industry’s pulse. Not to mention the time it takes reinventing that wheel each time!

So, content curation is bread and butter in my world. Here’s a few tips you may be able to transfer into the L&D world to get started.

5 tips for content creation

1. Understand your customer’s needs

It’s the number one rule of marketing. Once you understand what your learners need to know and how they prefer to go about learning it, you can apply this to the content you curate. Think of this as your first layer of filtering. If it isn’t relevant to your learners’ needs or isn’t in a format they’re likely to use (I’m looking at you, 10,000-word dissertation), move on.

2. Add your own take

Don’t just present content with no explanation or context – let your learners know why you’re sharing this particular item and how it’s relevant to them. Make it clear that you have validated and specifically chosen each piece of content for a particular reason. You’ll add value and also increase learners’ trust in you as a subject expert!

3. Have a content calendar

Plan what you want to share and when – there’s no need to share content immediately when you discover it. Use a calendar to create themes. Base it on what else is going on in the learners’ lives – for instance, you could release content to help managers deal with staff absence around the busy summer holiday period. Or your onboarding programme could include an article each Friday about office culture.

4. Use tools to help organise things you find

Like I said, it’s a jungle out there and you’ll drown in content if you don’t use a few tools to help you filter and organise it. A simple Twitter list is a good way to group similar content streams – it’s very easy to set one up. Pinterest boards are a great place to store visual content. Pocket is another useful tool for saving things online to look at later.

5. Do a regular round-up

Everyone’s busy and your learners are no exception. If you can ease a little of their time pressure by presenting great content in a regular format – an email newsletter or once a week post on the intranet – you’ll be helping them out. Something short and easily digestible may just fit into a gap in their day and means they don’t have to wade through heaps of content themselves. Make it regular and it could be something they build into a routine and start to trust as a content source.

Ok - you now have a few tools at your disposal to fill your museum – time to start curating.

Want to chat a bit more about developing your content curation skills? Get in touch

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Shaping the future of learning

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