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Forget Digital Overload: Get Your Association To Stand Out With Content Curation

We are living in an information age. I’ve got more professional news and information delivered to my inbox every day than I can keep up on, and I’m looking to social media for information before I even check my email. There is way too much information to pay attention to all of it. And I’m just talking about what I subscribe to. Sound familiar?

We are living in an information age. I’ve got more professional news and information delivered to my inbox every day than I can keep up on, and I’m looking to social media for information before I even check my email. There is way too much information to pay attention to all of it. And I’m just talking about what I subscribe to. Sound familiar?

I belong to a professional organization; they create original content, but, full disclosure, I don’t read their newsletter or blogs; I don’t even open them most of the time. If I were to pick the top 10 sources I value for industry information, the association I belong to doesn’t make the list.

Does yours?

If you don’t want your association to fall into the category of content that’s getting tuned out, you need to start curating the best content out there for your members; become a go-to spot to keep up to date without having to weed through any noise.

Maybe your association has been creating content for as long as you can remember, but the way we share information has changed, and you need to take a good look and understand if the best content for your members–what they’re most interested in–is coming from you or somewhere else. Your members, and the rest of the world, has easy access to tons of great information sources. If they’re not going to you, to remain a useful resource for information, focus on curating the best of what’s already out there.


If you can filter out the noise for members and become the one place they can count on to provide up to date relevant content, you’re association will be adding value to members who are probably suffering from digital overload.

Curating content takes less time and energy than creating it yourself, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Some things you’ll want to keep in mind while curating content:

  • Have a plan. Know what type of content your association members are looking for and need; create a content strategy for curating that content, otherwise, you’re just adding to the noise.
  • Make it clear what content is curated and who the original source is. You aren’t stealing the content, you’re curating it!
  • Give your take on the shared information. It’s not your content, but you can comment on the curated content. Let your members know why they should care or what you can add to the information given.

Curating content specific to your members’ needs will keep you up to date on industry news, help you publish more often, helps establish you as an expert in your field and an active member of the community. On top of all that, providing great content curation will make you a go-to spot for your members to keep up on industry news. It will help your association stand out.


The mix of curated and original information will vary from association to association depending on your goals and which channels you’re using. If you are trying to establish yourself as a thought leader in the industry, curating will show that you are keeping up to date on the latest news and trends, but creating more than you curate will show you are adding value to the community and leading it. If your goal is to be a resource, curating as much as 75% of content should work for you.

Breaking through the noise and standing out in this information dense digital environment will certainly make you more valuable to your current members, but it will also help you attract future members. It’s not just the Millennials who are floundering in digital overload in this information age. Your members, association, and industry at large stands to benefit from your association breaking through the noise and standing out as a great source, even their ONE source, for curated industry information.

Zs came of age in an era of disruption

In many ways, it’s symbolic that Generation Z is named after the last letter in the alphabet because their arrival marks the end of clearly defined roles, traditions, and experiences. After all, Gen Z is coming of age on the heels of what has been referred to as the most disruptive decade of the last century. America has become an increasingly changing and complex place.

For example:

  • ‍Zs were born into a “modern family era” in which highly involved dads help out at home, and the nuclear family model (two parents, married, with children) represent only 46% of American households.
  • ‍Zs are the first generation to be born into a world where everything physical, from people to places to pennies, has a digital equivalent.
  • From the time they were infants, Zs had access to mobile technology. As a result, their brains have been trained to absorb large amounts of information, and Zs are especially adept at shifting between skills and subject matter.
  • Zs tend to have crystal-clear memories of sitting up for the first time at six months old because they can easily and quickly reference the photos and videos their parents shared on social media or saved in the “cloud”. 

Members of this generation have undoubtedly been shaped by crisis and disruption. This generation will largely be responsible for confronting the aftermath of the Great Recession, high youth unemployment, the effects of climate change, terrorism, energy sustainability, and more. These dark events have undoubtedly made this generation more cautious and pragmatic, but they have also provided this generation with the inspiration to change the world – and their grit will likely allow them to do it.

Coming of age during disruption means that most Zs will be comfortable being the disruptors. While Millennials tend to be collaborative and innovative, this generation tends to be sincere, reflective, thick-skinned, and self-directed, and will likely approach work in much the same way.

Zs were raised to be competitive

In the era following World War II, Boomers (1946-1964) were born and eventually became the wealthiest, most prosperous generation in history. Raised to aspire for the American Dream, this very large generation moved into positions of power and influence, and served as the workforce majority for 34 years.

With the American Dream alive and well, Boomers had no reason to teach their children, mostly Millennials, about competition. Instead, they taught them to focus on academic achievement and to be team players because if everyone works hard, everyone can win.

Enter Generation X (1965-1981). In contrast Boomers, Xers came of age during a time when change and economic and political uncertainty began to take root. They have lived through four recessions, struggled with debt and economic decline most of their lives, and watched the best educated and accomplished generation of all time (Millennials) graduate during the Great Recession and become the most debt-ridden generation in history.

Gen Xers can be defined by their independence and anti-status quo approach to life, and they have taught their Gen Z children to be competitive, believing only the best can win. They have encouraged their children to be realists, finding something they are good at and aggressively pursuing it.

Xers have raised their Zs with an intense focus on competitiveness -- in academics, sports, and other activities. This approach to parenting has many implications, but one stands out in terms of business: Gen Z is likely to lead.

Millennials in the workplace created and aggressively advocated for collaborative work environments. In fact, their aversion to leadership has been so strong, some Millennials sought out companies that boasted boss-free or team-managed workplaces.

In contrast, Zs have been raised with an individualistic, realistic, and competitive nature. They have been taught the skills to successfully defy the norm. This means we’re going to see the pendulum shift away from collaborative workplaces towards a widespread demand for, and pursuit of, leadership development.

Zs are career-focused.

While Millennials have been criticized for their “delayed adulthood”, Gen Z is showing signs of “early adulthood”. Educators and parents often describe this generation as being more serious and contemplative about the world. Zs are thinking about their career paths and exposing themselves to career training at an earlier age than Millennials. It’s probable that some of this early onset of adulthood is caused by parents, who are pressuring their children to be competitive and successful and to avoid the debt that plagued both the Gen Xers and Millennials.

The numbers from our global research found 46% of Gen Z said they know what career to pursue and 51% have taken a class at school focused on their career interests. Forty percent joined an extracurricular program (team, club) based on their career interests.

Zs are seeking financial security. 

Zs have been shaped by the aftermath of the Great Recession. They watched Millennials become debt-ridden and are concerned about falling into the same trap. XYZ University’s survey results show 66% of Zs said financial stability is more important than doing work they enjoy, which is the exact opposite of Millennial survey results.  Also, 71% of survey-takers have a paying job.

Zs value leaders who are positive and trustworthy.

When presented a list of leadership traits, Zs ranked positive and trustworthy the highest. While Millennials and Gen Zs both value trust in a leader, Millennials usually cite collaboration and vision as most important. In other words, Millennials focus on the outcomes leaders inspire, whereas Zs are more likely to consider leaders’ attitudes and personalities. To Z, what leaders encourage others to do isn’t as valuable as how they make them feel.


Zs want to be challenged.

Both Millennials and Gen Zs place a very high value on feeling challenged and appreciated in the workplace. However, according to our survey results Millennials rank appreciation slightly higher than challenge, whereas Zs rank feeling challenged slightly higher than appreciation.

Time will tell how Zs go down in history, but we know this generation’s influence on history will be unlike any other.


Does your organization have what it takes to engage the next generation? Take this quiz to find out.


Sarah Sladek is CEO of XYZ University. Our generational intelligence can assist you with engaging and retaining young talent and members.

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