If you’re responsible for training people and keeping them smart, you already know that formal training courses are not enough. Only 10% of what we learn is covered through formal learning. The rest comes through us finding relevant content through different sources.
But that’s not easy. There’s too much content to track. We need trusted guides to source and share the really good content. That’s where Content Curation comes in.
Content Curation is a powerful addition to the learning toolkit. If you’re not convinced, here are 10 Reasons Why Learning Professionals Should Become Content Curation Heroes.
But how do you go about curating content for an internal audience that they’ll want to keep coming back for?
Here’s a 10 step process to curate content that will hit the mark for any team.
1. Focus on a specific audience
Curation works best when you focus on a specific audience. This is likely to be people with common roles and objectives: teams and groups. So it may be the front line sales team, or all line managers, or developers working on a specific project.
Tip: Think training audiences. It’s likely to be groups who you’ve designed or implemented learning solutions for before. It’s a natural extension from those solutions into curated, always relevant content that supports modern workplace learning.
2. Find out what staying smart looks like for them
You’re curating for a purpose: to help teams stay informed. So you need to know what being informed means for them. To do that, walk through their daily activities and uncover where timely, relevant content would help in their workflow.
For a sales team, for example you could ask:
- What type of content would help you the most when (prospecting, pitching, negotiating, account managing)
- How important is it to actively monitor industry/sector trends? Which trends/sectors?
- How important is it to actively monitor competitors? Which ones?
- Would your team benefit from regular updates on best practices in
- Social Selling
…and so on, to uncover the appetite for constantly updating information for this group.
Tip: Follow on from formal. If you’ve been working on learning programmes or solutions for this audience, use your insights from scoping these programmes to help identify their ongoing needs. If you recently implemented a training programme on negotiation, it’s a good bet that ongoing tips and best practice on negotiation is going to be useful.
3. Ask how it’s working right now
Once you have a sense of the areas where there’s a need for relevant, recent content, you can establish a baseline by asking:
- How do you currently stay on top of this information? Which sources do you use?
- Do you subscribe to industry newsletters? Follow blogs? Look at key sites and publications? Which ones?
- Do you follow industry influencers on LinkedIn or Twitter? Who?
- Are you a member of industry groups? Which ones?
- Do colleagues share links with you? Who shares them?
- How much time do you currently spend searching and reading this type of content?
- How much of it is relevant?
- Do you feel you get too much information, not enough, the right amount?
- Can you give me some examples of the types of content that you’ve acted on, learned from, used to help achieve a goal?
You can ask a section of team members these questions to get a sense of what current behaviour is in terms of seeking out relevant content, what the popular sources are, and where the real need is.
You’re likely to find a situation where there’s too much irrelevant content, coming through disparate sources. Your role as a content curator is to make sure that quality and relevance of content increases, but time and effort to find that content decreases. That delivers a productivity gain by default. And timely, relevant content comes at close to zero cost if you’re using a good set of tools to surface it.
4. Find The “Seekers”- the people in the know
In most organisations and teams you’ll find people are natural seekers of new information, to use Harold Jarche’s term (or JK Rowling’s, if you’re more of a Quidditch fan). They look outside the organisation. They read industry blog posts. They’re active on social networks, following influencers on Twitter and LinkedIn. They may regularly share links to articles with other members of the team. They’re well connected and naturally curious.
They might also be the more senior members of the team, or people recognised internally as Subject Matter Experts, but one doesn’t necessarily follow the other.
Finding these seekers can help you immensely in scaling curation, as they’re effectively doing it for themselves. You want them to take on the seek/sense/share activities we’ll come to later.
Tip: Find them on Twitter! They’ll be the ones with the most comprehensive answer to your questions on sources and time spent reviewing and sharing content. People will recommend them as the ones in the know. You’ll find them on Twitter and LinkedIn already sharing insights about your business.
5. Seek the right content: Aggregate your sources
By now you should know
- What types of content will resonate best with your audience
- What sources the most informed team members use
- Where the gaps are
Now it’s time to put those together and create your curation sources. Think of this as the long list of aggregated content from multiple sources. Aggregation is not curation. We’re big fans of the seek / sense / share model and at this stage, we’re seeking out content from this combined set of sources. Next we’ll you’ll need to sift and filter to identify the most relevant content, make sense of it and share it.
So now it’s time to work with your seekers/SMEs to pull all of the information sources together.
You could do this using a range of different tools – for example, you could
- Create a Twitter List that includes the influencers recommended by seekers in your team and monitor it for relevant content (bearing in mind they might Tweet on anything, not just their professional topics)
- Create Google Alerts for key terms e.g. competitor names
- Monitor RSS feeds from key industry blogs and publications using an RSS Reader
- Do a daily check of the recommended websites
- Choose the most relevant content from all of these sources
- Filter that content into a shared resource for your colleagues
But that’s a lot of work, and you’d need to do it every day to keep it up to date. Curation at scale needs more automated solutions.
Tip: Use the right tools. You need tools can can aggregrate efficiently from multiple information sources. You can look at tools like ours at Anders Pink. With our tool you can create briefings, which are collections of articles based on sources you specify. You can
- Specify keywords and additional terms, e.g. SaaS pricing + best practices + tips – jobs
- Add Influencers from Twitter, or use our suggested Influencers
- Add any Domain or URL, e.g. industry blogs, competitor sites, preferred publications
- Add any RSS feed
- Filter all of your sources to only display content when it features your key terms – so you’d only see content from Twitter influencers when it’s about Leadership for example.
You can work with a seeker/SME to put a briefing together in just a few minutes.
Here’s one on Pricing Strategy for example. It takes content from keywords on pricing, Twitter Experts, Domains and RSS feeds and updates constantly.
This means you and your colleagues see very specific content based on their information needs. They update with new content every few hours. It makes the next step a lot easier.
6. Make Sense of Content: Filter
The previous step, aggregating and seeking, uses algorithms to filter content and give you a set of aggregated and focused content. But machines aggregate – only humans can curate. So now it’s time to review the flow of aggregated content and make sense of it.
This means way more than just flicking on a link to time-pressed teams. This is about adding commentary, context and insights, removing irrelevant content, so only the highest quality makes it through. As Robin Good says, good curators are trusted guides. You need to be continually uncovering new content, and discerning about what you share.
This is where your seekers and SMEs are your new best friends. Together, you can add value and make sense of content. Here’s how:
- Highlight an article as relevant or a must-read to colleagues
- Explain why you highlighted it, e.g. “Last month we were all talking about how to reduce the sales cycle, this article talks about specific ways of doing it in our industry”.
- Save an article: Saving articles to boards or lists for future reference to build a knowledge base, e.g. all articles about discounting are in one place
- Delete articles that aren’t relevant, you might notice sources you want to filter out (e.g. with Anders Pink you can block a domain or keyword)
Our app enables all of these ways for teams make sense and share content in a private team.
Tip: Get your Seekers to Lead. Your Seekers/SMEs are going to be the most natural sense-makers given their domain expertise, and their authority with their colleagues, so you want encourage them to lead on this. It’s good for their profile too, and L&D can support with some insights on stats and engagement.
7. Share: Spark conversations and get engagement
Curation is about conversations, not just broadcasting. You want to build a community around curated content, where the whole team is making sense of the content, and sharing their thoughts.
Again, work with seekers and SMEs to engage your audience and get feedback. You can
- Direct an article at a specific colleague, e.g. @Matt – you were asking about steps for raising prices, this article has some good ideas, this on the mark?
- Ask a question and spark a conversation, e.g. “So it looks like competitor X is moving into services. Should we follow, or is it a distraction?”
Tip: Avoid using email for this. Everyone’s already drowning, you’ll quickly get into a reply all multi-thread mess. For our app we keep the conversations in the tool, and use notifications to alert people when something’s been flagged. We send one daily email digest every morning on the top articles for a quick update – everything else is in the app.
Tip: Encourage everyone. While you might see that it’s mainly SMEs, seekers and you driving the discussion, make sure you use tools (like Anders Pink) that enable anyone to take part in the discussion, and encourage people by asking them for their thoughts. Remind them this isn’t Twitter, it’s private – only your internal team can see comments.
8. Build habits: 10 minutes every day
Curation is a long and winding road, as Jay Baer put it. But it’s made up of lots of short sprints. You want to encourage good practice and habits with your internal teams. Think short check-ins on what’s new every day, not catch up sessions at the end of the month, when most of it is old news.
If we all invest 10 minutes a day to keep on top of what’s trending, it can make an enormous difference. If you can convince the whole team to do this, you’re building collective intelligence – a team looking out for trends, and looking out for each other, some factors that are known to contribute to high performance.
Tip: You’ve got to lead by example. Curate content on learning trends for yourself first and commit to 10 minutes a day. Here’s a briefing on Content Curation to get your started. You can’t look your colleagues in the eye and ask them to invest 10 minutes a day in staying up to speed, unless you’re doing it yourself.
A great way to form new habits is to displace older, less beneficial ones. Another technique is attach it to an existing habit. So here’s a few pitches you can use:
- Instead of spending your train journey flicking through Twitter and LinkedIn looking for sales tips, check our sales skills briefing – you’ll see more relevant content in less time.
- Instead of visiting 5 client websites to see what they’re doing, check our client monitoring briefing – it’s all here for you
- Don’t waste 30 minutes looking at our top 3 competitors’ blogs – we’ve curated all the relevant content, spend 5 minutes looking at our competitor tracker instead
- Before you dive into your email, check your summary briefing to see what your team are talking about today
9. Check in regularly
Like any personal coach, you want to make sure that the new habit of checking updates and staying informed is sticking. So check in with the target audience regularly, ask them:
- Are they finding 10 minutes a day to run through latest trends and updates? When?
- Is it saving time and helping them stay smart?
- What types of content would they want to see more of / less off?
Tip: Check the stats. With some tools, like ours, you can review team stats and see who the most active team members are, and what briefings get most traffic. You’ll likely see that some people comment and share a lot, others are more passive consumers. That’s natural – you want to hear from the quieter people that they’re getting value from what they’re seeing.
10. Tweak and refine your sources
Curation is a continuous activity. Your original set of sources will need updating: New experts will emerge on Twitter, New Publications to follow. Your internal clients’ needs will change too – they’ll want to track new competitors or tweak the source content.
Set aside some time every week to review your sources. Check in with your seekers and SMEs to ask
- Are we finding the right content?
- What are people most engaged with? Do we need more of / less of any type of content?
- Are there any new information needs we should curate for?
- Are there new audiences we need to support?
Tip: Handover to Seekers now. Now is a great time to handover to the Seeker / SME to actively manage the briefings and teams going forward. They’re in a better position to refine curation sources over time.It’s easy in Anders Pink to edit a briefing. At any stage you can add or remove keywords, Twitter influencers, Domains or RSS feeds to keep briefings current.
Final tip: Pick a team and try it! The great thing about content curation is that it’s very low cost to pilot (if you’re using tools to reduce the seeking and sharing effort). Compared to the cost of building a course, and the time it takes from an SME, it’s close to zero.
Why not get started by focusing on an audience in your business that needs regular updates? Sales, product knowledge, marketing, compliance, services, R&D – these are all good candidates. Help them in a different way from creating training. Bring them fresh content every day. You add value, they stay smart. Nice place to be if you’re in Learning & Development.
And if you need more inspiration, here are 23 More Tips from Content Curation Experts.
Anders Pink, a new tool for content curation, is free in beta.
Sign up here and create your first team and briefings.