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If You Want to Profit with Content Curation You Must Own the Platform by Scott Scanlon

Content Curation Commentary , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Content curation is an awesome strategy. It is a low risk, big impact marketing tactic that has the ability to convert like crazy when put into action. In order for you to use it as an effective conversion tool for you or your business, however, when it comes to monetizing the curated content, the only thing that really matters is:


Well, okay, other stuff does still matter. It is important to be a good curator and build trust and authority. These things are of prime importance in order to achieve the traffic you are looking for. But once the traffic is there, whoever controls the click ultimately determines where that traffic goes.

So, for this post, I want to ask you to join me in this bubble of thought where the only thing that matters is where the click goes, be that on a link, a product, or wherever you intend to direct the traffic. Regardless of how the user found the content, where that click goes, and who controls it, is what is most important.

Whoever Controls the Click Wins

In the content marketing game, I think this quote from Business Week is one of the most important quotes of the last 5 years:

“…the smartest people in the world are working hard to come up with ways to get you to click on ads.”

Assuming this is true, just think about it…the smartest engineers and scientists at Google, Apple (yes with SIRI), Facebook, Twitter, and Microsoft are spending billions of dollars and massive amounts of brainpower with one goal in mind: To get you to stay engaged and click.

I think it is clear what that means in the realm of marketing: Whoever controls the click controls the profit.

getting you to click on curation platform

On the other hand, if you don’t control where the click goes, you lose your opportunity to monetize. And that’s the name of the game in content marketing. That’s why you do it, after all, to monetize. If you are in it with any other motivation, then it’s really just a hobby.

That’s why you must own the platform.

It is Becoming Increasingly Important to Own the Platform

When you curate on any platform that you do not own, or even within social sites such as Twitter, Facebook, or Google+, then you have no control of where the click goes. The platform you operate on ultimately directs the traffic, not you, by controlling the click.

The recent changes to Facebook are an example of what can happen when you do not control the platform where you curate content. Currently, if you want to reach all your Facebook “friends” and “fans,” it’s going to cost you:

Facebook acknowledged it as recently as last week: messages now reach, on average, just 15 percent of an account’s fans. In a wonderful coincidence, Facebook has rolled out a solution for this problem: Pay them for better access.

As their advertising head, Gokul Rajaram, explained, if you want to speak to the other 80 to 85 percent of people who signed up to hear from you, “sponsoring posts is important.”

So, on Facebook, your intended audience sees only 15 percent of your content…unless you pay. That sure makes engaging there seem much less appealing, doesn’t it? They really should say, “You’re going to love paying us here at Facebook in order to reach your audience.” Once again, you don’t control the platform or the click, so how do you monetize that?

And if that wasn’t enough then here’s Mark Cuban via ReadWrite on Why Facebook is Driving Brands Away:

“FB is blowing it? This is the first step. The Mavs are considering moving to Tumblr or to new MySpace as primary site… The big negative for Facebook is that we will no longer push for likes or subscribers because we can’t reach them all. Why would we invest in extending our Facebook audience size if we have to pay to reach them? That’s crazy.”

They are considering moving to a platform where they have more control and they can monetize. That’s the name of the game in the content world but this isn’t a new argument in the new media. But it really boils down too…

The Who Get’s the Traffic Issue

Here’s where the issue gets heated. Content curation has the aura of being unfair because most people feel you should be directing the traffic to the producers of the original content.

As a content producer myself, I wouldn’t be completely upfront if I said that there isn’t a part of me that reacts when I see one of my posts curated, but that’s my reptilian brain taking over. When I see that someone has curated a piece and improved on our headline, a tactic we often employ, I immediately tip my hat.

I do that because I think we need to take back our social capital. We freely give this to the social networks (in addition to our privacy).

It’s Your Social Capital and Authority

You’ve worked hard to gain your social capital, but if you have done so on platforms that you have little or no control over, then everything you’ve built up is at risk. It’s the same kind of risk that you run by only using Gmail. Sure, Gmail is convenient, but that convenience carries with it the risk that you could wake up tomorrow to discover that your account has been locked or lost. It would be a nightmare to recover all the accounts, website logins, messages, etc.

This is the same type of risk that you run by curating on someone else’s platform. They make it easy to do, which is convenient, but when you use your social capital to curate on a platform you don’t control, it can be taken from you just as easily.

social capital at risk

Also, and perhaps even more critically important, you’re ultimately building the value of someone else’s assets while only marginally affecting your own. I’m a firm believer that your time and effort should be spent on building assets for yourself and your business; assets that capture traffic and have potential for continuing to payoff well into your future.

Curating on someone else’s platform doesn’t give you any of those benefits. It is temporary, it is risky, and it limits your potential.

It is Your Authority

Content curation offers the additional promise of increasing your authority, and that authority has immense value. It has value for you, that is, if it ultimately pushes toward something that can be monetized. Authority alone is not a monetizing strategy.

This is another argument for owning the platform and thus owning the click. As you gain authority on a platform that someone else owns, you have little control over monetizing that authority, and you don’t own where you put your call to actions or how you utilize it. Clearly, this limits your earning potential and does not take full advantage of the authority that you invest in building up for yourself.

The Platform is the Key

In any digital marketing plan, owning the platform is the key that allows you to monetize it to its greatest potential. When you own the platform, you own the distractions visitors see when they engage your platform. When you do not own the platform, outsiders control those distractions, most of whom have their own interest in pulling visitors away from your content.

Think about Facebook. When someone is on your page and suddenly sees a red notification, they have been trained to click away in order to go see what that is about. Suddenly, they are onto the next thing and your content is forgotten. This is an easily understood example of how difficult it is to keep visitors engaged, control the click, and monetize curated content on a platform that you do not control.

Now, I’m not naive enough to think that the content on your own platform is not at risk from distraction; just look at the numbers of those users with dual screens who are simultaneously viewing TV for proof that the internet is a world of distractions. The big question is, why build on a platform that encourages it, especially one that encourages it for their own increase, not yours?

I think the final question to ask yourself: Would you rather control the click or not control the click? If you don’t own the platform, do you really control the click?


Platform image via flickr and OiMax

8 thoughts on “If You Want to Profit with Content Curation You Must Own the Platform

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  4. Stanley P Carter

    I’m a living testament of everything you mention here, owning the platform.

    In the beginning years of twitter, I started being a content curator when I didnt know I was.

    Finding hundreds of interesting articles, videos, etc. and tweeting them everday, throughout the day through automation app.

    My twitter followers started growing by 800 to 1000 new followers per day. People loved the content I was sharing.

    And many professional speakers, writers, and other markets would request that I tweet their articles and blogs to my followers.

    And many of reported receiving thousands of article views within hours of my tweets.

    But one day, I noticed my account froze and I started loosing hundreds of followers by the hour.

    Twitter staff would not say why specifically other than they referred me to the terms of service. Eventually, it was revealed indirectly that I was using too much automation.

    But I followed there rules, Yes, I automated the tweets of content, however, I always personally replied to anyone.

    It hurt my heart to see my efforts go down the tubes before I learned how to monetize myself and get my followers to opt into my email list, something I could more control over.

    Nice article. Just wish you included the how part of building your own platform. Years later and now I’m back!!

  5. Kate Tyler

    I’m just starting out as a blogger and am very interested in content curation. Your article was great BUT like the other comment notes, where is the HOW TO build your own platform? that should have been the culmination of everything you have talked about!

  6. Curation Traffic

    I’ll do a post here by the end of the week that will explain how to build a platform and what should be included.

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