The last few years have seen lots of talk about curation being something that more and more people are doing. We’re curating links on our blogs, we’re curating the best stories of the day on Twitter and Facebook and so on. Most of this talk seems to hinge on the notion that this sort of activity is in some way new behavior that has only recently been enabled by the rise of social media platforms.
But of course this isn’t really anything new. Curation has been part of human behavior ever since the first time there was more news that an individual was aware of than absolutely needed to be shared with others to insure survival. Oral histories were curated by a village elder and then transmitted. The days news was curated by newspaper editors with the best and most important (or most likely to be read) disseminated to the public.
Individuals continue to curate the news, information, gossip and more that crosses their path every day. We remember something we read so we can tell our spouse about it at the dinner table. We collect stories to tell when we go over to a friend’s house for dinner. We collect stories about our experiences at this, that or the other store to discuss with our friends who might ask our opinions on shopping there. In short
Curation is the beginning of word-of-mouth
Yes, there are social media tools at the beck and call of just about everyone that can be used to amplify this curation and distribution to a broader audience than that one friend who asked or the five people we’re holding court over in someone’s dining room. The action of collecting those stories and sharing them with others, though, is an old one. We all want to have the best anecdotes and online curation taps in to that same instinct.
That means that, once again, we’re not really talking about anything drastically new here. Just as it always has been the point of communicating and interacting with customers is to break through the clutter of their lives and become that one interesting story they feel compelled to share with their networks, either online or off.
Give people a great story – whether it’s an official message or one that results from a positive interaction – and they’ll share it with others. That’s been true since time began and always will be.