Can someone who curates content be a thought leader? A content curator by the way is someone or a company that discovers, organizes, and shares relevant content on a topic, sector or theme.
I've always maintained that content curation doesn't equate to thought leadership (TL).
Why? Because to be a TL necessitates generating original, new content or insights that address your markets' issues or challenges. By doing this you display your depth of expertise on a topic or a business sector and become the go to expert in that space.
After some good banter on one to two websites about whether content curation can make you a thought leader, I would like to share two observations on the topic.
Curated content is great support to thought leadership
The first is that curated content can play a very important role in supporting and informing a TL content program. For example, curated content feeds are a great way to keep in touch with trends which can inform your TL topics and in that sense help with the content calendar.
The clue for me lies in a definition on a content curation site called Hivefire. They define TL and content curation as:
"Thought Leadership - a primary benefit of content curation. Thought leadership status is gained when your brand is recognized, and cited, as an expert on critical industry issues. Creating a consistent stream of industry-relevant content is a key tactic supporting a thought leadership objective."
The key words for me are "...is a key tactic supporting a thought leadership objective...".
I couldn't have summed it up better and it is the neatest description of the relationship between content curation and TL I have come across.
New ideas driven by curated content could be thought leadership
However, there is a caveat and it comes in my second observation. If the person curating the content is able, through that content, to arrive at new ideas or insights which they then deliver to their audience as refreshed, new and repackaged content, then this may well be construed by their audience as thought leadership.
But I have yet to see an example of this and therefore the jury is out until some strong examples come to light.
If anyone knows of one or two examples please let me know so that I can share it with those interested in this topic.
Regurgitating content doesn't cut it
Simply regurgitating someone else's content is not going to cut it. Repurposing content is not going to cut it and neither will re-packaging it. Content curation in this form simply cannot be called thought leadership.
It is only when that curation leads to the company or the curator delivering a totally new hypothesis or insight that it can start approaching TL status. Even then when it reaches that point it can hardly be called curated content anyway, instead it is the curator's interpretation and insights that have been inspired by that content.
I don't want to take anything away from content curation. It is fantastic for a content/editorial calendar and it can be a great support to a TL campaign. Content curation allows you to monitor trends in your space and help inform better what you are planning in real-time.
Some great sites on content curation
If you are interested in reading more on content and content marketing/curation there are some great sites such the Content Marketing Institute, Junta42, Optimal Access and Get Curata.
Craig Badings is a director of Cannings Corporate Communications and the author of Brand Stand: seven steps to thought leadership and the blog http://www.thoughtleadershipstrategy.net/ you can follow him on twitter at @thoughtstrategy