The Who Cares Test

CuratorPeople who find good content are likely to come back to the same place again when they want more.

At first, they may unintentionally discover that they are finding good content repeatedly at the same source. This is usually a nice discovery, but in the days of search engines, the fact that the content is readily discoverable it is not automatically important. We get more and more used to the idea that the next needed content may easily come from an entirely different place, even if we need it for the same reasons as before.

Instead, what makes the source important it is the idea that there is an editorial presence there, intentionally making the content effective. When that influence is clearly evident, Users are drawn to its presence just as strongly as they are to the content. Their experience builds trust in the source and confidence in their own use of the content. Confidence is a powerful sensation helping to create preference.

We might forget that because it seems only ordinary. We know that users like to use the same stores, the same channels, and the same brokers or agents, to help make getting things fast and easy with low risk of a disappointment. It’s much more noticeable when this is not possible for them. In fact, what people really prefer is to get what they want without having to search for it. Users trust a preferred content provider to keep them connected to the best content.

Each successful source, meanwhile, has someone specializing in understanding who the audience will be and how the content should be provided specifically to address what is on their minds when they arrive.

The best way to become the trusted source of good content is to be a good curator. A good curator is selective about not just the content, but about the audience to be addressed.

To act as curators, we take the steps to be knowledgeable about what is most relevant to our chosen audience; and we take the further steps to provide only the best examples of content for each type of idea included in a catalog of what is relevant. In effect, for the selected audience, a content provider’s catalog is a portfolio of the provider’s collection.

The role of curator is at the core of managing the utility and value of the content collection. Making the collection’s content discoverable is important, but from the user’s point of view that is a requirement, not an advantage. And there are many reasons why users may not do anything to improve the collection even when they find and use it. One of those reasons is that it gets easier and easier for them to just go somewhere else.

So, who really cares about curating? There are at least three kinds of content collectors who care.

One is the collector who is also the primary (or even exclusive!)  user of the content over an extended period of time. Curating content nearly always takes the aging of content seriously, as age is part of a context that gives the content the kind of value that it has. This person is usually (generically speaking) a researcher, student, connoisseur or historian.

A second is any collector who is trying to create an effective knowledge base about a subject. This is usually an expert or an instructor, concerned with the practical correctness of the content’s information.

And a third is any person who collects content, either original or acquired, specifically in order to gain and keep the attention of a particular audience. This is usually (at least generically) a publisher, exhibitor, marketer, or artist.