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Creators, Curators, And Social Media: The Audience Development Team
Audience development is the heartbeat of your publication.

Creation is the heartbeat of your publication.

Creation and curation are different sides of the same content coin, and it's all about offering your audience what they want to see. Social media is the vehicle that drives curated content to the masses. As a group, these three hold an impressive amount of audience development power. Sometimes creators and curators are one and the same, especially in smaller publications, but the jobs are a bit different. Using social media, both sides of that coin reach a larger audience and increase the likelihood of the all-important shares.

Creation and Curation are Where it All Begins

Creation is that magical spark. It's the photo snapped at exactly the right moment, or the article that nails the point. It's the hours of research or perfect moment in time when everything comes together. You know it when it happens. All that wonderful content is essentially worthless if no one ever gets to see it, so curation picks up where creation leaves off. Curators are the busy bees who gather and organize content, and distribute it in a way that complements your brand. Another facet to curation is sharing someone else's content. Naturally you want your original material to reach your audience, but curation of other content gives them something more. Perhaps the curator finds an image that complements your story, or the other way around. By sharing your original content and the content of others, your audience gets a richer experience. They also learn to rely on you as an important source that's never bland.

SEE ALSO: 5 Audience Development Mistakes You Don't Know You're Making

Social Media is a Springboard

Audience development is based on content curation.

Curation and social media get more people involved.

Social media is the outlet that lets curators share everything with the world. If you've run a great article, the curator shares it on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. It doesn't end there, or at least it shouldn't. Curators can then tie in and share relevant content such as a similar story from another publication or images from other social media users. This creates a larger atmosphere around your original content and brings more people into the loop. Instead of one story about a bike race, you've got user-submitted race photos, profiles of race participants, or perhaps even a series of articles and photos from bike races around the world.

The Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project says over half of Internet users upload their own photos. If a creator has written a story about an event, chances are some of your readers where there. If they've uploaded photos, you've got a personal touch to share and add to your story, and they have a reason to comment and share with their own network. The key to successfully using social media curation is to keep the audience engaged. Social Media Examiner explains that posting content is only part of the game; you have to comment back if you want to hold their attention.

If you haven't seen great returns on your social media investment, lack of comments -- your comments -- might be the reason why. You want to know what your audience thinks about your content, and they want to know that someone is listening to what they have to say. It goes both ways. Creating and publishing the best content that you can is certainly important, but there's so much more to be done. Creation, curation, and social media work together to make it happen. Even if you only have a staff of one, you can build momentum and interest, and provide readers with a steady stream of interesting content. All it takes is a bit of magic, some selective organization, and a platform on which to share.

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Carole Oldroyd

Carole Oldroyd is a writer and graphic artist living in East Tennessee. Her work has been published in the San Francisco Chronicle, LegalZoom, and numerous other magazines, websites and blogs. When she isn’t writing, she can be found restoring her historic Victorian home piece by piece.

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