“the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care” – Merriam Webster
Recently, a lot has been made of content curation. It’s a dead sexy term and it’s getting a lot of attention from those who love it and those who think it’s the next pile of dung from the content strategy brethren. The jury’s out for me. I neither love it nor hate it, but I do think arguing about its usage is a tremendous waste of time. I’d rather be caring for content than arguing about it.
Perhaps this is where I call it content stewardship so I can get a lot of seo hits. (oops) Truth is, I have always thought of myself as a steward of content. Whether I am meeting with a client for the first time or engaging in a project I’ve worked on for years, I constantly reiterate I’m the one person who will care about the content during the project’s lifecycle.
More importantly, I make sure the content is poised for a successful future once I leave the project.
Therein lies the biggest delineation between curation and stewardship. Where curation implies you are part of the process from beginning to end, stewardship, implies you are neither at the beginning of the content lifecycle or the end, but you will do you best to ensure the content is cared for while entrusted with it.
Customer Service is Dead
Every day we bemoan eroding customer service. From the listless BestBuy employee to self involved waitstaff, we’ve almost convinced ourselves that customer service is dead. The same thing is happening with the content we read daily. Too many, copywriters, web editors, business analysts and project managers shuffle content throughout a project with little care. They know next week it’s on to another project, another deadline and another blob of content.
Too many people who produce content don’t care about the content they are producing. After all, if you know you are merely writing for seo hits, why should you care about what is written? If you know you’re a cog what’s your impetus to care about the content?
Are you flipping content?
A few years ago, in the midst of predatory loans, flipping houses was all the rage. The concept was simple. If you had enough capital (or borrowed capital) you could purchase a home, do the bare minimum in repairs and renovations and sell it for a profit. From there, you were free to buy the house of your dreams. But what about when you were living there, fixing the house up? Did you really care about what happened to the house/condo/yurt after you left? What about the person who bought the house? How do they feel about living in a house that was simply a means to a profitable end? This concept was so widely embraced, TV shows exploited it (imagine that).
It’s not the easiest question to ask, but are you flipping content? Admittedly, I have flipped content. I’m not proud of it, but I have. I was not a very good steward. I just wanted it off my desk. I really didn’t care who inherited it and what condition it was in.
Looking back on those projects, it was easy to see why I wasn’t motivated. I felt like a cog. Cogs and content don’t mix.
The Legacy of Content Stewardship
The more you think of shepherding content and the less you think of flipping it, the more you can embrace stewardship and feeling entrusted with the responsibility of caring for the content you work with.
You don’t have to write content to be it’s steward. Tracking, storing, touching up and speaking on its behalf are all ways you can become a content steward. It’s not complicated, but the legacy of quality content can always be attributed to your stewardship while it was entrusted to you.