Tuesday, February 14, 2012

In “Content Fried” World, Associations Content Curation Can Benefit Members

As I looked through piles of paper researching for my next SCDdaily blog post, I sighed and said “so much paper!” I realize I am – in the words of Beth Kanter – content fried. 

Newspapers, television, magazines and faxes have expanded to Facebook, YouTube, Hulu, Twitter, Pinterest and a host of other platforms to create a tsunami of information.

Are you content fried? 
Well, what about your members? Your donors? Your prospects? Is your association or nonprofit contributing to the information tsunami? Or, helping your members sort through the barrage of information.

As I reflect over 30+ years in association management, I realize that content curation (defined below) is emerging as a vital role and major benefit associations can provide their members.

What is content curation?

In her Content Curation Primer, Beth Kanter offers this definition:

  • Content curation is the process of sorting through the vast amounts of content on the web and presenting it in a meaningful and organized way around a specific theme. The work involves sifting, sorting, arranging, and publishing information. A content curator cherry picks the best content that is important and relevant to share with their community.
Think about your organization’s communications: what percentage of the information you send to members/prospects is “your stuff” ... member promotions, conference promotion, webinar registrations, etc. And, what percent is “member stuff” ... industry/profession content shared, industry/profession news alerts, general news impacting member businesses, etc.

An organization that gathers, scans, digests and shares valuable content in your industry or profession will win the attention and loyalty of your members. If not your association, it could be another nonprofit, a trade association magazine or even a for-profit “association” formed to provide this function.

Our members and potential members are feeling content fried too. Not just with the volume of inbound communications but also with thinking “Who do or can I trust?”

Saving members time is a vital member benefit now and in the future. Your goal is to find and share with your members what is relevant to them.

An association’s content curation role is similar to an hourglass.
  • At the top, the association collects content of importance to its members, profession, industry.
  • In the middle, the association evaluates and prioritizes the information/content and determines its accuracy.
  • At the bottom, the associations shares that content/information with its members. It might be in the form of a daily update to the “industry news” section of the website. Or, a weekly digest emailed to members who have requested the updates. Or, it could be a daily “tv news show” with one of the staff reviewing the top news of the day. Or, it could be a Tip of the Day featuring information of importance to the profession/industry.
By doing this, your organization becomes the trusted source for your industry/profession. Here’s a video link from Beth sharing that a good curator becomes a trusted filter for their tribe.

The formats and frequency can vary based on your staff, budget and membership. The important thing is that you provide this service to your members and industry/profession. If you don’t someone else will.


  1. Good points, Steve. I find myself looking more and more to the sources of information. If they deliver good, relevant content, I'm more likely to return. And you're right... it's not always from associations. Social media is playing a huge role in the dissemination and value of content.

  2. Thanks Jay. Agree and we as association management professionals need to be engaging our members and prospects in a way to build our audiences. And, part of that involves knowing what kind of information they seek and using content management strategies to provide that information when they want it.