A guide to curation in community

A guide to curation in community

👋 Hello everyone. I'm Kourosh and I will be your guide in Rosieland today.

I've been thinking a lot about curation in community recently and I wanted to share thoughts about what it means.

What is community curation?

Not everything shared in your community is gold, but once you spot it, you need to store it. That’s community curation in a nutshell.

But community curation is not just about creating a resource for your members to access. It is an exercise that creates immense value for you and your members.

The value for members often feels clear—the ability to access trusted and vetted information quickly. A source filled with hand-picked information. It could be tools. articles, directory, conversations, books, quotes or tips.

But for the community builder, the value lies in the act of curation. When we curate, we can't help but learn and understand the community we serve. This is more powerful than we give credit for.

Community curation as a learning & trend spotting exercise

When you curate, you have no other choice but to learn.

Curating forces you to process what your members are sharing. You have to decide what has value, or not. You have to go down rabbit holes of information as you jump from resource to resource.

As a community builder, it’s your job to be an expert of your people:

  • you learn what your members care about and who they are
  • you start to spot their challenges, pains and excitement.
  • curation helps you understand their needs today, and anticipate their needs for tomorrow.
  • curation is creating the dots that you’ll need to connect tomorrow, today.
  • the dots lead to being able spot trends and patterns

But let’s stick to the present for now.

While you’re curating content, you will notice new ideas popping up and spreading. Congratulations, you discovered a trend!

Being aware of trends is extremely powerful for community builders.

Your knowledge of trends helps you cater to members’ needs before they become obvious. It’s not exactly a superpower, but it’s as close as you can get to reading minds.

And let’s be clear: It’s a continuous, long-term exercise.

But here's the good thing:

While you’re learning, you can pass on the information to your community. In simpler forms this can be links, ideas, reflections, and questions. Levelling it up, you could spot opportunities for collaborations, events and project creations

Community curation as continued community discovery

Before you build your community, you research the ecosystem, aka community discovery. Part of that is learning who your members are, what conversations they’re having, and what content they’re sharing.

Just because you don’t have anyone to share those conversations with (yet), doesn’t mean you shouldn’t save them. Community curation is for you first, and your members second.

In the beginning, it might not seem like much. Maybe it's not in a shareable state. Or perhaps it's just a Google Doc with notes and sections. But it's something for you to tap into. To help you think and quickly refer to so that you can help your members better and quicker.

Saving those initial conversations, categorizing them, and coming back to them helps you structure your mind. It also helps you build the habit of curating early.

And that habit helps you to never stop discovering your community’s ecosystem. Once we start our communities, we often run out of time to continue doing research, or we forget. But our ecosystem and community are always evolving.

Creating a habit of identifying and storing gold helps us to never stop learning.

Community curation as value capture and creation

Before you save anything, you ask yourself whether it is worth saving. Essentially you’re deciding if something is valuable. If it is, you capture it.

The better you become at identifying value, the easier it will be for you to create value.

As a community builder, you’re always trying to create value for your members. This can be in the form of interesting discussions you start, events you create, and initiatives you build.

Once you know what makes something worth saving, you’ll have an easier time creating things that are worth saving.

Continued curation ensures you never run out of interesting questions to ask, content to write, and events to create.

To save or not to save - that is the question

First off, what kind of content can or should you save? Pretty much everything. It can be full blog articles, newsletter issues, questions and comments in your community or community challenges. It can even be profiles of your members.

Just look at all the different categories in Rosieland's Community Garden.

A word of caution - if everything’s special, nothing’s special.

Being selective about what you save helps you keep your mind and knowledge base structured.

Make sure you don’t fall into the trap of over-categorizing your content. While tags and categories can help you stay structured, too many tags are counterproductive and chaotic.

Over time you’ll get a feel for what is valuable, and it’s important to be selective from the very beginning.

But to start, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is this piece of content actionable?
  • Does it have interesting, novel ideas?
  • Did I learn something new from it?
  • How likely is it that I’ll want to come back to this?
  • Did it inspire me to take action?

Ask yourself who you’re curating this content for (apart from yourself). You’re definitely not curating for everyone in the world. Your members' backgrounds, goals, experiences, and needs will dictate what is worth saving.

And a secret tip: You don’t have to save entire pieces.

Let’s take this article as an example: You can save a single quote, entire paragraphs, or the full thing.

The more you do it, the better you’ll become at it. Start now and you and your members will thank you in the future.

Community curation and business goals

By now you are aware of the benefits of curation for you and your members.

You also know about the time and dedication good curation can take. With the current state of the community industry, it can often be difficult to justify big time investments into practices that don’t show a clear return on investment.

Luckily though, community curation doesn’t just serve you and your members. If done right, it can help your business achieve its goals.

Sure - a repository of [anything] can be helpful for anyone in a business. But the ability to connect the dots is where the power of curation lies.

Curating leads to dot-connecting to:

  • help the product team identify how to improve their product
  • give your customer success team enough time to prepare for questions that will come up in the future
  • share community knowledge quickly with other people in your company
  • to understand what is being talked about, or not
  • help you build a reputation of a community that cares, to curate you have to care...because it takes time and effort
  • serve as 1st class inspiration sources for your content & marketing team
  • showing the rest of the company the amount of value that we create in community

Of course, these benefits won’t be clear from the very beginning. Spotting trends and making sense takes practice and time.

It’s important that you have your business goals in mind from the very beginning. Community is about helping your people, these are your members, but also potentially every employee in your company.

Keep an open line of communication with your colleagues. Not only can you feed valuable insights back to them, but maybe they can help give information or suggest things that might be useful to collect. Community should not exist in isolation, to show our value we need prove ourselves to the rest of the business.

Curation is a new field

It's old, but it's new.

Pass by a book shop and you will see books on the window display. This is curation in action. It is done with consideration, care and expertise. Many factors are in play.

As community builders we need to learn about the potential power of curation. Being aware of it is the first step.

Congratulations. 🙌

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