Mark Shaefer's content shock graph on ScentTrail Marketing

Content Shock vs. Curation

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Death By Content Shock or Life By Curation?

In an excellent post CEO Guillaume Decugis asks an important question. Will content marketers kill the content marketing golden egg laying goose? Guillaume’s post is in response to Mark Schaefer’s forecast of a coming “Content Shock” in his Business Grow blog :

Mark Schaefer's content shock chart via Scenttrail Marketing

The Attention & Klout Economy

Mark’s intelligent conclusions include:

  • Deep Pockets Win.
  • Entry Barriers Become Impossibly High.
  • Cost-Benefits Flip.

Deep Pockets Win & Are Winning & Will Win

As network researcher and author Barabasi writes in Linked: How Everything Is Connected To Everything Else hub formation inside of any content network is a mathematical certainty. We already see his “rich get richer” trend as Google and Facebook take steps to cut down content noise. Google’s algorithm changes with their new dependence on confirming social signals and author tags favor THE BIG and The Platformed.

Mark’s “content shock” post generated 310 comments and lots of backlinks, but his blog is a PageRank 4 (very good for a blog) compared to’s PR7. For the moment don’t think of PageRank as anything other than a modeled number of precisely what Mark’s post means when he says “deep pockets win” and Barabasi defines as “rich get richer”. As multi-author hubs form such as TechCrunch, Mashable or HuffingtonPost they bend the web’s “space/time” to their very distinct advantage.

In this example think of each step up the PR ladder as an order of magnitude increase in THE ABILITY TO BE HEARD!

This means Mashable’s PR7 is 300x greater than Mark’s very respectable PR4. Mark and I will eventually be writing for a Mashable, TechCrunch or Currati at least some of the time or our costs per reader will exceed our ability to pay. We will all have to pay the “hub creators” in our spaces eventually OR, as Guillaume points out, we will need to form the capital and social clout needed to join the group of “hub creators” in our business vertical:

Can & Curation Stem The Inevitable?

Guillaume’s post asks an interesting question. Can curation empower “the little guys”?

To answer that, let’s look at what happened in the media space. After all, adopting a content marketing strategy means becoming a media as Brian Solis noted a few years ago already. In the past 10 years, we’ve seen:

  • traditional media consolidate or die,

  • traditional Web 1.0 online media struggle (AOL, Yahoo)

  • new post Web 2.0 media explode (Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, UpWorthy)

Did Deep Pockets win? Not at all. Startups did.

How did they win? By reinventing the publishing model to transfer the content production externally. The common point between the Huffington Post, BuzzFeed and Upworthy (and I could add more examples like Business Insider etc…) is that none of them is producing 100% of the content they publish.

They all use a form of what we call at “publishing-by-curation”. In a world drowning in content, the value shifts from creation to curation and those examples show how you can build huge value by carefully editing and publishing other people’s content. The Huffington Post was acquired for $315M+: in just 6 years, it was valued at 20% of the market cap of the New York Times, an institution created in 1851. BuzzFeed projects to make $120M of revenue this year from its fast-growing audience of 133M monthly uniques (4x the NYTimes’ traffic – not to pick on them but hey they’re the reference…). And finally Upworthy reached 30M monthly uniques in just less than 2 years.

Guillaume’s blog post, emphasis mine’s Good News

My friend Brian Yanish is one of the most sophisticated Users. Brian’s Marketing Hits feed has a PR6 (so excellent) and Brian wrote convincingly how he used Scoop.its customization and curation tools to build his website and consulting business.

The fact Brian’s feed can pull a PR6 inside of’s PR7 is a strong curation statement for both platform and user.’s team knows SEO and how to share and Brian’s customized application of the tool is brilliant and one every content curator/creator should emulate. Brian’s use of’s customization tools is a shot across the bow of other multi-author platforms too.

Few platforms share SEO value the way does.

My feed is a PR4, but I’ve owned “Curation Revolution” on Google for years thanks to the team’s intelligent coding. Naysayers would point out the term isn’t hyper-competitive, but don’t listen to them (lol). Anytime you can pull a #1 position (absolute so without the Google float) on a term you want for years with someone’s tool it is worth using. Slideshare has much the same kind of benefits.

Brian’s success also makes Barabasi’s and Mark’s point about rich getting richer. His PR6 leads out to a PR4 website. Brian’s effective customization with Call-To-Action and subscription form on his feed is beyond brilliant. Brian is smart enough to be agnostic about converting traffic. In this case his rich Uncle shores up his website. He finds ways to modify his feed to accomplish a lot. If a lead converts off of Brian tips his hat and says thank you.

I suspect Brian’s customization is an important model for all content creators. I shocked my friend Phil Buckley’s Raleigh SEO Meetup last year when I suggested 90/10 was the right ratio for curation to creation.  I use curation so my creation doesn’t suck (lol). I use to test ideas before committing valuable blog or website space.

Remember your work exists in a modeled system. Mark’s PR4 website (I used to have one of those too lol), is valuable. I use to watch content so any creation added to a modeled system has a running start to produce shares and links ABOVE my model’s current baselines. The net effect of using curation as a testing tool is our content creation gets better.

Mark’s point about attention being a finite number X still applies, but effective use of curation can increase chances of becoming a HUB or being invited to use or contribute to a hub since your creation does what Google wants it to do – it gets better and better, faster and faster.

Shifting From Creation To Curation & Finding Rich Uncles
The world is shifting from creation to curation with a very specific platform and multi-author requirement, a requirement that makes Mark’s point at least as we “code” today. Sophisticated internal search curation of tagged content in a multi-author environment is expensive! So expensive creating such a platform makes Mark’s and Barabasi’s “rich get richer” point.

As Good as is consistently creating the kind of displacement a platform such as TechCrunch or Mashable can is a dream for most. Brian’s customization being the outlier exception proving the rule. Brian’s approach also provides a smart map for others to follow – customize the TOOL.

If that opening paragraph sounds like I’m trying to have cake and eat it too by saying Mark’s “rich get richer” point is correct as well as Guillaume’s “curation can win” you are reading me right. Hub formation remains expensive, but does provide an Applications Program Interface (API) that I’ve plugged into my new startup called CrowdFunde as a way to manage user curation (why recreate a great curation wheel).

Even with’s help creation of an effective multi-author platform capable of getting out past the breakers is expensive by blog and social content creation standards. Expense comes in three forms: code, people and “buying readers and supporters” as Mark so eloquently explains in his Content Shock post.

Mark does a great job of helping bloggers analyze their “sweat equity” in terms of money and then projected or needed return. What Mark’s numbers show is days when a lone blogger like Mark or me can generate the traffic needed to produce anything other than slave wages is drawing to a rapid close. is a great platform and is a HUGE contributor of traffic to ScentTrail Marketing making the point Mark makes in Deep Pockets Win. I understand Guillaume’s point about “startups”, but from where Mark and I sit (in the cheap seats under the basket LOL), is an example of partnering with a rich uncle.

Like Technorati (where I’ve posted), Curatti (where I post now), Mashable, TechCrunch or other “Hubs” our curation on helps drive traffic because Guillaume (my rich uncle :) pays for the multi-author overhead, sophisticated UI, data tagging and parsing, analytics and search tool required.

Could a company use’s API to cut costs down to “blogger” levels? My Triangle Startup Factory incubator application is in and, if accepted, I will be able to let you know by early summer. Are both Guillaume’s and Mark’s points correct? Yes :). Marty

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