Social Media Marketing

Rise Of The Dark Side Of Content Curators. Or, Stealing People’s Stuff For Profit

It's all about MEME. Photo provided via flickr and imamon

First off, we are all guilty. We all share content we find on social media. We send them to friends, post them on our wall, and share them in exchange for, we hope, likes and comments. This practice, called content curation, is partially what has made social media so fun.

For the most part, when done for the sake of fun, I don’t have a problem with sharing meme’s on social media. I would imagine the people that make them want them to be shared. Isn’t it the new American Dream to go “viral” and gain popularity?

Also, I will admit that content curation is a good thing for the most part, and that sharing approved content, infographics, and business practices is GREAT for gaining customer’s trust and establishing your business as a source for informative  content. Businesses should work together to help customer’s stay informed, and sharing quality content that other’s make and approve to be shared is essential in today’s business environment. Keyword being approved.

But where content curation becomes disturbing, is when people do it shadily for profit.

Shady people and businesses have been stealing other’s intellectual property and using content curation as a way to rationalize their actions. Now, as previously prefaced, I have no problems with people sharing photos for the sake of fun, or having a good laugh with others. But, this new found trend of using people’s property and, ESPECIALLY, likeness, for profit is not viral “content curation,” but stealing.

on Twitter, the content curators call themselves “parody accounts.” They use someone’s likeness, see @Bill_Murray and @FooGDave, to gain instant popularity and fame. Then STEAL quotes and jokes from the internet to gain RT’s and followers. Once their parody account get’s 50k or so followers, they post in their Twitter profiles “for sponsorship, business, email me.” And shady websites, mostly “content curation websites,” pay these people to mix in tweets about their sites. You’ve seen them before, they’re hashtagged #sp, or sponsors.

But it gets worse, these people frequently gain follows and RT’s through false promises of “celebrity apparel,” or even worse (see: @bill_murray) promises of donations to troops that they never pay. Disgusting!

The same scam runs on Facebook, but with a different twist. Facebook “curators” use meme’s and pictures, instead of stolen jokes and quotes, to gain followers and sell sponsorship on their pages and websites.

Same game, different style.

I bring this post up because content curation is a disturbing trend that is really taking off in social media. The curators are rising in popularity, and sites, accounts, and pages are springing up every minute and giving people the idea that content curation is the key to success in social media. It’s not.

If you take one thing from this article, it is that content curation done wrongly is bad business. Profiting off other’s likeness and content without approval is stealing, and it will eventually get your business or yourself in more trouble than it’s worth. And,  as obvious as it seems for me to be typing this, I do so because I see way too many clever and creative people enticed by the prospect of easy work and quick popularity.

There is no substitute in social media for fresh, original content, long-term commitment to your goals, and hard work. Be original. Be yourself. And success will eventually come.