Content Curation vs. Thought Leadership: What’s the Difference?

I came across a Forbes post by Pawan Deshpande, CEO of Curata, published last month. 

In it he offers 4 interesting reasons why he sees content curation heading mainstream.  In a nutshell, Deshpande finds:

1) The explosion of content on the Internet from online and social publishers has created vast quantity at the cost of quality.  Buyers/searchers need help sorting the wheat from the chaff.

2) Curating content creates trust because you aren’t only talking about yourself.

3) Good, relevant content helps win the battle for first-page results on Google.

4) People rely on social media as a resource for the most timely and relevant information. (However, see #1 above.)

Of course, as recent MIT-grad turned chief executive of a start-up focused on content aggregation tools, he would like us to believe that 400 marketers can’t be wrong, and content curation is the next big thing in marketing.  Growing interest in destinations like Pinterest certainly support his view that finding, organizing and sharing online content is an important component of any content marketing strategy.

Many B2B marketers look at content curation as a way to develop a bounty of information that attracts potential buyers like flies. They justify the effort by saying “we curate content to help establish us as thought leaders in… <Fill in the blank.>”  The research Deshpande promotes reinforces this objective by explaining, “85 percent of the survey group said that establishing thought leadership was their main content curation objective.”

However, I found it more interesting that two people commented on the post — Craig Badings and Dr. Liz Alexander – and argued that, while collecting content may be a necessary step to establishing thought leadership, the activity becomes irrelevant if the curator does not apply some interesting or meaningful insight to the work.  A good librarian can point you to the right book, document, etc.  A great curator can tell you the story behind each item and why you should care about it.

This is an important lesson for B2B marketers to learn: content curation is not a substitute for an interesting or provocative point of view. If you need to grow content volume by sharing relevant information in demand generation and marketing programs, start by narrowing your target audience and focusing on the content that helps prospects and clients solve a particular, meaningful problem. 

How do you do this?  Here are some ideas: Get your internal experts — customer support, professional services, consultants, etc. — to share tips and secrets-to-success in a blog, video, or article.  Develop stories that help buyers learn something interesting about who your company is, and what you stand for, without “selling” to them. Bottomline: turning content curation into thought leadership requires focus and being thoughtful about what you choose to feature. It also requires you to engage your internal thought leaders — real or manufactured — in the conversation.

At Xerox, I am part of a group that plans to take our first steps in the direction of using content curation to forge a shared belief — with our customers, partners and industry authorities — that Xerox can be your trusted partner in the health care industry. We want to use this activity to help spread the word about the many things we do to help providers, hospitals, health insurers, employers and state/local governments deal with the rising cost of healthcare and the lack of accessibilty for many.  We will take cues from American Express OPEN Forum for small businesses, the GE Healthy Outlook Blog (part of GE’s Healthymagination program), and Nokia with Nokia Connects. I hope to share what we learn from our journey as we endeavor to expand awareness around Xerox’s role in the world of health and medicine.

3 Responses to “Content Curation vs. Thought Leadership: What’s the Difference?”

  1. Content Curation vs. Thought Leadership: What’s the Difference? :: Target Info Says:

    […] Click here to view the original article at Categories : Content Curation […]

  2. Laura Ramos Says:

    Barry, thank you for the very thoughtful comment. Your perspective is spot-on. I, too, see marketers trying to pass off link gathering as something more by calling it “curation” or “thought leadership”. I agree with my former Forrester colleague, Jeff Ernst, when he says thought-leadership marketing is “The process of formulating big ideas and insightful points of view on the issues your buyers face, capturing those ideas in multiple content vehicles and sharing the ideas with prospects and customers to enlighten them, engage them in a dialogue, and position your company as a trusted resource.” I think marketers are a little too focused on the “capturing” part and not enough on the “insightful points of view” — particularly those points of view that show your company can be interested in more than trying to acquire leads through online means. Gathering a bunch of links and publishing them in a blog, Web page, or Twitter post amounts to little more than a glorified news feed.

    I hope the folks writing the content curation marketing blog see your comments as well. They seem to be walking a fine line between content as adverstising versus content as thought leadership — and they need to get back to the TL roots. Thanks again, Barry.

  3. Barry Deutsch Says:


    You raise a very interesting point about content curation. I find that many marketers jumping on this bandwagon are simply sharing links. I agree that real content curation requires an personal perspective or insight on the content being shared – otherwise it’s just passing links along.

    I get a sense that everyone wants to “automate” the process of content curation by pulling articles together on their website from google alerts, feeds, and other forms of searches, sharing that info on their website, and pretending to call it content curation. The best content is shares with the author’s personal perspective and this then adds to both reinforcing original thought leadership content and bringing new perspectives to thought leadership.

    A good example is the website on which I found your article – the content curation marketing blog. They do a terrible job of adding their perspective (I could find the same content through other tools) – purely passing along links with a summary of the article. What caught my interest was the title of your article, not the element of curated content.

    Barry Deutsch
    IMPACT Hiring Solutions

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 46 other followers

%d bloggers like this: