Turning Content Curation Into Thought Leadership

Most companies, and specific figureheads inside a company, have the goal to be industry thought leaders. But how can you achieve thought leadership when using content creation? Some people would argue that thought leadership and content curation are incompatible.

While curation isn’t actually a word, the concept is a derivative of the word curator, or the person in charge of the collection at a museum. As a museum curator, their responsibilities include gathering pieces of art that are high quality and relevant to the museum’s collecting strategy. This is very similar to what thought leaders do with content curation. They gather and organize high-quality content that relates to their target audience, add their unique insights and put it on display for their target audience.

What Should You Curate?

There are two types of content that I recommend you curate: moments of inspiration and empathetic content.

In order to convert your customer or a potential customer, you have to create a moment of inspiration for them with your content at the beginning of the customer journey. One adage that I often use to convey a moment of inspiration comes from the quote by Ted Levitte, “Customers don’t want to buy a quarter inch drill bit, they want a quarter inch hole.”

The moment of inspiration comes by providing the idea of why someone would want a quarter inch hole in the first place. Be it a curtain rod, a book shelf or some other DIY project around the house, these projects can inspire people to drill the holes, and buy the necessary drill bit. This concept is what makes Pinterest one of the top traffic refers on the web.

The other element your curated content must have is empathy. According to Geoffry James of Inc Magazine, there are three levels of empathy in business: on-demand, solution, and transcendent.


When you have empathy, you understand your customers’ pains so you know what information they desire. Giving them that desired content helps you create a better, deeper connection with them. Google VP of Global Marketing has shared the mantra, “If we don’t make you cry, we fail.” This emotional response in content often can be the driving force in moving a prospect to act as a buyer.

Hierarchy of Content Marketing Needs

I’ve shared this hierarchy of content marketing needs in the past. But I want to bring it up again. As you are collecting curated content to “put on display,” thought leadership begins to show itself as you become more sophisticated in your usage of curated content.

CM Hierarchy Complete

When you are toward the top of this hierarchy, which is where you most likely want to be, the curated content is used to add supporting context to your ideas. An extreme example of this concept can be found in the index or appendices of a textbook or non-fiction book. Oftentimes the studies quoted in those books are used to support the authors’ main ideas. You achieve thought leadership by showing you are current in the industry; by using others’ work while making your own claims.

When you curate moments of inspiration and empathetic pieces in the museum that is your business, you become a trusted and frequented source of information. More importantly, you attract an audience that trusts your opinion about the information you provide.

Below is the slide deck I shared at Utah Business Content Marketing Bootcamp on October 28th. If you would like to learn more about how to perfect your curation process feel free to give us a call.

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