Curation is a long-standing tradition of collecting, saving, and organizing objects. This typically consisted of books and historical materials for museums or organizations that held historic value for culture preservation. Today it takes on a different meaning. Organizations have evolved from collecting artifacts to digital curation of media and content. While the role of curation has largely belonged to scientists and scholars, and the content from official sources, social media has tipped curation on its head. Heck, even the Library of Congress decided to begin archiving tweets in October 2010. That says a lot about how important what we the people say and post is to world history.
Today's web does not limit the act of curation to those with a doctorate degree. Anyone and everyone can, and do, curate using everything from bookmarking sites to social networks. "Social curation," as we call it, is simply the act of sharing, categorizing, and spreading content to others. The content can be your own or someone else's. And, because you are sharing content that lives in its place of origin via linking, it is not considered stealing.
Why do people spend hours online bookmarking, pinning, and reposting? The answer is different for everyone, but we can be sure that it's for the same reason a woman might show off her shoe closet to a friend to hear, "OMG, those are so cute where did you find these?!" Or, a man might sit through an entire dinner carefully talking through the history of aviation and the ins and outs of his profession. We all want to be recognized for our expertise, talents, and savvy. Posting content we care about displays our creativity, interests, opinions, and personality. Being social creatures, we naturally want to share the best of things with our circles and get recognition for the good find. On the receiving end, people enjoy discovering and exploring things that are highly relevant and interesting.
Of course, when human behavior shifts, brands are quick to follow suit. In this article, we'll discuss how marketers can get in on the social curation boom in a meaningful way.