The challenge for marketers in today’s information-driven world is to generate enough relevant content to attract and hold the attention of consumers. It’s much like keeping a conversation going without the other party losing interest. Depending on the size of your business and your marketing targets, this may require generating new content multiple times weekly, or even daily!
A report by the Pew Research Center estimates that 77% of all adults go online daily, and 26% stay online. No wonder marketers are often frustrated or even overwhelmed with the prospect of creating content that keeps interest alive. The need is real however, since the latest statistics issued by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) show that content marketing is used by over 90% of B2B marketers, and that content marketing is a crucial strategy for over 85% of B2C marketers.
Frustration with the content creation process has moved marketers to try outsourcing content creation to vendors, often choosing the cheapest option to keep costs down. But this only results in increased frustration due to lax writing standards or content that misses the mark. They may feel forced to do it all themselves, embracing the age-old philosophy, “If you want something done right you have to do it yourself.” But they only succeed in running themselves ragged. What, then, is the solution? Put simply, content curation. Besides content creation, successful marketers must also factor content curation into their marketing strategy.
What Is Content Curation?
The word “curation” may bring to mind the work done by the curator of a museum. If a museum maintained the same exact displays perpetually, for all time, without ever adding new items of redesigning current displays, there would be no need to visit the museum more than once. So a curator is constantly refreshing old displays and adding new attractions to interest the public in visiting the museum time and again.
The same can be said for marketers who use content curation. They are constantly on the lookout for current, relevant, and verifiable content that they can redirect their customers or followers to in order to maximize their consumer satisfaction. The content curator sets out to find, collect, and display information that appeals to their consumer audience. Rather than relying purely on creating their own content, they recognize that there is good, properly formatted content already available that can be used to their advantage.
But content curation for an online organization is just as complex as curation for a museum. It’s not just about gathering information and selecting what you like. You must also decide how you will present it to your audience. How will it be designed? Will it be a quotation in a blog? A social media post? A link in an article or on a webpage? A portion of a newsletter? You can see that it’s the same dilemma facing a museum curator when deciding where to set up a display and how to present it. It’s not just a matter of what to select and how to present it, but also when to publish it to whatever platform you choose. However, first we must answer why content must be carefully curated.
Why Curate Content?
Creative genius is not in inexhaustible supply. No matter how successful a marketing team is, no one can simply create enough relevant and attention-grabbing information to satisfy the huge demand for digital knowledge and material. So just as an artist would study the work of others and use it to their creative advantage, industrious marketers yield to the fact that others may be just as or even more creative than they are, so why not capitalize on that.
Of course, a side effect of the information age is that one must sift through a lot of trash in order to find treasures. Content must be curated in order to avoid:
- Unintentionally redirecting to competitors. Some of the best content may be that of your competitors. Or, content may be specifically designed to redirect consumers to a viable competitor.
- Unverifiable information. Some content generators take liberty with the truth or base their “facts” on other unverified sites or articles. Sifting through the various search engine results and their respective supporting documentation and links can be time-consuming and quite wearisome.
- Conflict of style or culture. Your business or organization may have a certain “image” or “culture” associated with it, whether intentional (ie. because of a consumer-oriented strategy) or accidental (ie. because of the marketing audience targeted). Finding quality content that reflects the same image, culture, or style may be a challenge.
On the other hand, positive reasons for curating content might be:
- Building a relationship with customers. The Content Marketing Institute’s report highlights that over 70% of marketers claim increased consumer engagement is a direct result of content-based marketing. Content curation opens up the opportunity of sharing user-generated content (UGC). Customer feedback, referrals, and so forth, provide the means to build a positive relationship with your consumer base. Also, UGC can be used to place your products or services in the appropriate context to attract new consumers.
- Building trust in a brand or service. Almost 90% of consumers read customer feedback before making a decision. These statistics rose sharply during the COVID19 pandemic. Consumer trust takes time to build and can be destroyed instantly, making curated content an essential part of trust-building.
- Adding variety to your content. No matter how creative we are, we tend to build a recognizable “trademark” sound or look when we generate content. So curating additional content ensures variety, which in turn will more likely appeal to a variety of consumers.
- Benefiting from industry influencers. This is specific to the curation of social media content. Since influencers may have relevant content for your organization, you may contact them about sharing their content and building a mutually beneficial relationship.
So content curation helps to avoid pitfalls in the never-ending race to generate new content, while also providing some tangible benefits. You may ask, though, “What tools are available to help me sift and gather appropriate digital content?”
Content Curation Tools
There are many resources for gathering, sifting, and presenting new content, but much will depend on the content and presentation style you are looking for. The following are some of the best tools for the different facts of content curation.
- Relevant news. There are sites that sift through the daily headlines, both popular and obscure, and places links in an organized manner that are convenient for a targeted search. An example is NextDraft, which not only provides the links but also provides a helpful backstory for each one. Other similar tools are Flipboard, Feedly, and News360.
- Social media collation and integration. There are plenty of sites that collate social media posts according to your followers or your interests. Some examples are The Tweeted Times and Pinterest. Some social media apps allow you to create and publish “timelines” or “stories” based on your social media content. Other tools, such as TagBoard, help to form a hub for hashtag optimization. If you’re looking to integrate social media applications into your marketing strategy, check out sites like Khoros or Bundlepost.
- Research and publishing. These web-based tools help you to research and sift through content and then publish your results. An example is Scoop.it!, which has options for both personal and business use. Other examples are UpContent, elink, and Huzzaz.
- Content add-ons. Some examples of free add-ons that make the user experience more interactive are downloadable PDFs, surveys, quizzes, videos, or webinars. These are great tools for building customer bases and keeping consumers engaged, providing more USG.
Of course, your content curator(s) would need to ensure that using the above-mentioned tools or similar resources does not inadvertently lead to advertising a competitor. Explore and see which tools are right for growing your organization.
Curating for Social Media
Curating content for social media is easier than curating for other platforms. Assuming your organization has social media accounts, content curation involves searching for posts relevant to your page and reposting, in effect, filtering through the “noise” of information on social media and directing your customers to what’s relevant. While content curation on a website or blog might engage the public with information or services, content curation on social media engages them in conversation and focuses on the image of your organization. You can choose between reposting from popular industry accounts of similar nature, or user-generated posts for variety and flavor.
There are several resources for helping your organization integrate social media content into your marketing strategy. Besides the tools already mentioned, Sprout Social and BuzzSumo are examples of such resources. Choosing the social media platform to use is generally based on who is the target audience of your marketing. For example, B2B marketers might prefer a platform like LinkedIn, whereas B2C marketers might choose Pinterest or Tumblr.
So how does content curation for social media work? Here are some basic steps to follow:
- Decide how often to post curated content. According to a study by Curata, the perfect mix of content is 65% original, 25% curated, and 10% syndicated. Of course this ratio is not written in stone; you must decide what ratio is best for your organization. As far as deciding how often to post, the ideal answer differs for different social media platforms. For example, according to a report by HubSpot, unless your account has more than 10,000 followers, you shouldn’t post more than twice a day on Facebook, whereas on Twitter, you can post as often as you want.
- Analyze social media traffic. Your goals for your social media accounts should be determined by what is called social media metrics. This analytical information tells you what your audience prefers, what captures their interest and resonates with them. These insights will help you decide what to post.
- Locate content that is relevant and publish it. Having in mind how often to post, a suitable ratio for posting, and what resonates with your followers, you can now begin the search. Such tools as “mentions” and hashtags can direct your search, and there are tools and resources available to refine the parameters of your search. Once you’ve located a post that you feel is relevant to your target audience and followers, assuming you have permission (either implied or implicit), repost with a comment that shows why you believe this content is relevant to your audience.
Curating for Blogs
Curating content for blogs adds creativity and provides the audience with interesting features absent from a plain old blog. Perhaps this section can best be divided into two different forms of content curation.
Curating Content for Original Blogs
If you are generating original content, curation takes the form of searching for content, quotations, or sources relevant to the blog you’re writing. Remember that curation is more than just finding information.
A museum curator’s reputation would suffer if he featured a display of fake artifacts or forged works. So a content curator must verify the credibility and quality of sources.
A museum curator’s reputation would also suffer if he featured works from unknown artists. In a similar vein, content curators are looking for recognizable sources, known professionals that engender trust and confidence.
Or imagine a museum curator who places an ancient Greek exhibit among Native American displays. Obviously, relevance involves more than just choosing a topic or an interesting piece. Curated content should fit the style and design of your website or the face of your organization, it should enhance your image and have a sense of “belonging.”
Curating Outside Content
In addition to generating original articles, an organization with a blog site may also want to feature outside content relevant to their readers or consumers. Some refer to this as content aggregation. This may be in the form of links within a blog or content featured in a newsletter or featured videos or additional information in the margins of a blog page. Regardless of its form, the same three principles would apply. Is it from a trustworthy source? Is it from a recognizable source? And, does it reflect the same image or face your organization is presenting to the public? The curator must consider these three principles in order to succeed in using content curation as part of a marketing strategy.
When curating content, whether for a blog or for social media, it is important to avoid the serious pitfalls that can arise due to the nature of publishing someone else’s work. Here are some tips on what to avoid:
- Content aggregation. This differs from content curation in that it is automated. It uses an algorithm or filter or bot to sift through and choose content. It lacks the human touch and is absent of unique annotation or insights. Its sterility will actually discourage most consumers.
- Plagiarism. It is illegal to simply copy content from someone else’s work and present it as original. Even if no one takes you to task for it, it sullies your reputation and engenders mistrust. Make sure to either rewrite content or credit the source. Another strategy is to format excerpts as quotation blocks and provide personal, original comments as part of your article or blog.
- Diminished Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Duplicating content means that you are competing with the original to come in on top in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERP). Using the excerpt and annotation style mentioned in the previous bullet point helps make your article unique, but there are other ways to improve your rankings as well. You can start building a network with relevant sites by citing them as your source when appropriate. They, in turn, may eventually cite back to you, and this kind of relationship promotes better results for both parties. Making sure that your sources are reliable are a key to the relationship functioning in your organization’s best interests.
- Oversharing. Depending on the platform you’re using, there seem to be acceptable limits as to how many times to share or post. Oversharing actually results in loss of interest; it attacks the credibility of your brand.
- Failure to annotate. Sharing someone else’s insight or reposting someone else’s content is of no discernible benefit if you do not include your organization’s comments or views. After all, your followers or audience want you to weigh in, otherwise why would they subscribe? Never forget to annotate before you post or publish!
Making Content Curation Work for You
Plan a Strategy
Without proper planning, generating information may be like throwing darts at a dartboard. Many factors determine how many, if any, darts hit the bull’s-eye. So successful content curation starts with a clearly defined strategy.
- Set goals. Just as your organization likely has a defined marketing strategy, create a plan with tangible, accessible goals. Providing clear objectives ensures you will do more than just “fill” your site with information. Curating content with definite goals in view will determine what information you gather or generate and when and where you will publish it.
- Set a schedule. Creating a calendar for gathering, curating, and publishing content provides an organized structure for placing relevant information in the palm of your clientele. Just as other critical operations in your organization are not left to chance, impulse, or whim, content curation and dissemination of information must be purposeful and structured. Small, regularly spaced out installments of useful information are clearly more advantageous than an overwhelming flood of data released in a hail of machine-gun fire.
- Choose your audience. It may be that there is one, very specific audience for all your platforms, whether your organization’s website or social media pages. Or, you may have varied audiences for individual web pages and social media accounts. Either way, understanding your target audience is key to successfully curating content that will engage them and create a loyal following. Map out clearly who your audience or audiences are, what they want (or need), and how you will captivate their interest.
- Create context. The ideal mix of original content and curated content creates context for your organization in the minds of your followers. While a content curator may often find it necessary to focus in on details and aesthetics, they cannot forget to “zoom out” periodically and get the big picture. Does all of this create the image we want? Do the parts fit together, meshing seamlessly into the vision of our organization? Even if your clientele doesn’t view or read everything you provide, will they clearly see the context you’ve created around your products or services? The answers to these questions are key to the branding of your organization. Not to be overlooked is also the design you choose to format your content in. We’ve all heard the age-old adage, “dress for success.” The principle can be applied to how content is presented. No doubt, your brand has a certain look and feel, so the design presentation of your content needs to be consistent with this look and feel for the proper context to be maintained throughout your organization.
- Be part of a community. With the advancing information age comes an increasingly rapid swing toward an audience-centric approach to information dissemination. This means that more and more content curators are leveraging the value of UGC. Content marketing and the use of social media increasingly determine that any online organization is part of a community, whether by intention or circumstance. Therefore, a content curator’s job is to make sure their organization belongs to the right community and honors that relationship. Only by being a valued part of a community can an organization find its voice. Inclusion of UGC in the content marketing strategy and giving proper credit and recognition to the authors of curated content build strong, mutually beneficial relationships.
Make a Content Curation Calendar
With your goals in mind, it’s time to create a calendar so that you can execute your plan without being random, impulsive, or haphazard. Consider the following details for each platform you use:
- Frequency. How often you will publish content is determined mainly by the platform you use and the audience you target. For example, while you can tweet as often as you like, posting on other social media platforms may need to be more moderate so as not to give the impression of “throwing” content at your followers. Blogs, videos, and other media forms may be even less frequent but must be scheduled according to your editorial calendar.
- Ratio. Determine the ideal mix of created and curated content for your audience and calendar. Also consider the ratio of temporary, fleeting content, and lasting, more permanent content.
- Variety. Usually, the more variety you have the better it is. Besides variety in topic, you can collect a variety of formats (visual, textual, audio/video, etc.) and categories (news stories, UGC, etc.). However, for focused audiences the opposite can also be true. Too much variety might seem overly general and not specific to the needs and preferences of your clientele and followers.
Having determined the details, now you can schedule each task in the calendar and assign it to your team—gathering, sifting, selecting, and publishing. As you monitor the response you can adjust the calendar for each of the platforms you use to publish content.
In executing your new strategy or improving upon your existing content marketing plan, credibility is a major factor. An audience’s interest cannot be engaged, let alone held, if they doubt the credibility of your content or your organization.
- Credibility by relevance. Choose content that is most relevant to both your audience and your brand. Both are of equal importance. To say one takes priority over the other is like saying one of a bird’s wings is more important than the other. Both are equally important to flight. Relevance to your brand and to your audience are equally important. A success story when it comes to staying relevant to its audience and brand is the SayYes blog site. What started as a blog for moms has evolved into a brand that provides content for empowering women and has drawn millions of loyal followers.
- Credibility by value. Information needs to have value for it to resonate with the reader or viewer. Choosing content from verifiable and recognized sources adds to its value. Knowing what our audience wants and placing it within their reach is another way to establish value. As blogger Seth Godin said, “We have to dream for people who don’t have the guts or time to dream for themselves.” If people can get what they want and need without having to jump through hoops to find it, they will come back for more. An example of a success story is the site BrainPickings by Maria Popova, which started as a newsletter for seven friends and is now a site with over 5 million flowers and fans worldwide.
Image via brainpickings.org
- Credibility by exposure. The higher the exposure the greater the credibility, it seems. While there are those who capitalize on this for evil ends, the content curator knows that broadening exposure can lead to a more credible and trusted voice. Intelligent use of UGC, mutually beneficial relationships with other industry leaders and experts, and judicious use of social media and other marketing platforms are tools to maximize exposure. An example of the exposure an organization can receive through a strategy that uses all these tools is DIY & Crafts, a media company with over 3,000 partners and over 950 million views per month. Their Facebook page alone has over 24 million followers.
Grow Your Brand
As you establish your credibility and build your client base, your brand will grow as a logical result. But you can do much to accelerate the growth of your brand exponentially, and content curation is the key. Content curation is one of the main tools to drive traffic to your site, leading to:
- Increased leads. In the past, an organization would put it’s brand or message out there and wait for customers to find it, but in this day of flooded markets and fountains of information clamoring for attention, the successful organization must bring people to itself and convince them that its message, product, or service is exactly what they were looking for. Curated content is a way to generate leads and convince visitors to become customers or followers.
- Increased sales. Generating leads only has minor benefits unless it results in sales. Even if you are not selling a product or service, it takes money to keep your online presence up and running. So there are various ways to curate content to promote sales or income. Advertising, becoming an affiliate or associate of relevant industry leaders, promoting products, or selling premium content are some of the tools used for accomplishing this.
- Increased subscribers. A tried-and-true way to reap the results of good content curation is to offer subscriptions to elite membership, newsletters, exclusive offers, or other unique provisions. The success of this strategy will do much to augment your credibility, which feeds the cycle of increased traffic, lead generation, sales, and subscriptions.
Mastering the Benefits of Content Curation
Successful content curation cannot be relegated to a mere scheduled task or routine search-and-filter activity. Just as curating for a museum is both a science and an art, curating content for your organization’s online face is a unique balance of talent and knowledge.
Do Not Remove the Human Factor
Content duration is not the same as content aggregation. There are tools available that simply use an algorithm to search and filter the Internet to find and organize content. But an algorithm, or even AI, does not know your audience as humans. You do!
You and your team will need to not only sift through the results, but as curators you will need to decide how to present it, how to provide your organizations annotations and comments to the curated content, and what percentage of curated content best augment the original content you generate. You must discern your audience’s needs and reaction. You must distinguish and differentiate between content that will support and build your brand and following and content that will alienate, or even worse, estrange your audience. Only then can you master the art of being a selective curator.
Acknowledge the Way the World Has Changed
A sales strategy used to be simple. It was a matter of providing a product that met a need or demand. It was like a line from point A to point B. But the world has changed. SiriusDecisions reports that 70% of the journey from point A to point B is done without any sales assistance, meaning that buyers are doing their own research and choosing a product or service on their own. This limits how an organization makes its sales pitch and draws in the customer. In fact, many are distrustful of marketing and view advertising as biased. So content curation is the new way to generate leads and influence potential buyers, followers, or subscribers.
Diversify Your Approach
In her book The Distance Between Us, Kasie West notes, “You have as many options as you give yourself.” This principle rings true in the digital world. An organization can diversify its approach by:
- Using social media. Choose which social media platforms best resonate with your audience. Create an account that meshes well with your identity as an organization. Choose to repost content that your audience will quickly identify with your brand and create mutually beneficial relationships with other professionals and industry influencers.
- Adding outside voices. No one has a monopoly on creativity or knowledge. Take advantage of the talents and influence of other professionals. Make sure to give them credit and use their input positively and they will probably link back to your organization. This can be the beginning of a strong and advantageous partnership.
- Writing a blog or producing videos. It’s impossible to compete in any market these days solely by advertising. In fact, many buyers or clients tend to distrust advertising and rely instead on reading reviews, consulting infographics, and watching videos. They don’t want to feel pressured or manipulated, and as a result they may even resist helpful sales strategies. So providing articles, videos, and UGC may help them feel they are making an informed decision to subscribe, purchase, or otherwise avail themselves of a service.
- Boosting visibility. Careful content curation boosts visibility and affects SEO. The higher the quality of curated content, the better the rankings tend to be on SERP.
- Leveraging “underground” content. Search any topic in any search engine with varying keywords and you’ll see that many of the same results are repeated. Obviously, many sites have become mainstream sources for their respective fields. The same can be said for certain social media accounts and influencers. Do not disregard them for being mainstream; they may help your credibility. However, also explore beyond the mainstream for sources that are less known but still relevant. You may find gems that many have overlooked, providing your content with something unique.
- Maintaining relevance. Don’t fall into the trap of forgetting what you’ve posted in the past. A content curator can’t afford the “out of sight, out of mind” philosophy. A regular review can help maintain relevance in two distinct ways:
- Remove old or out-of-date information. This may require removing the post, article, or other feature completely, or it may just mean that it needs to be updated to stay current. If users find your information to be antiquated or your links to be inactive, they may get frustrated and turn elsewhere.
- Reuse relevant content. Remember that as your organization grows, so will its clientele and following. Content published before may not have been accessed by the majority of your audience, so reusing it may be an advantageous part of your curation strategy.
Analyze and Then Optimize Your Performance
There are numerous tools for analyzing and optimizing your organization’s use of original and curated content.
- Customer traffic. Tools such as Google Analytics and Piwik PRO Analytic Suite show visitor traffic and user statistics.
- Brand performance. Tools such as Mention and Chartbeat track the performance of your brand in relation to competitors.
- Audience interest and feedback. Tools such as Sprout Social and Hootsuite track audience interest or feedback.
- Social media growth. Social media platforms have their own resources for tracking growth and feedback. Information can be analyzed in different ways to determine the rate of growth and other factors.
- SEO. Tools such as Serpstat and SE Ranking help to analyze and optimize how your site and its content are ranking on SERPs.
- Keywords or hashtags. Google Keywords and Adwords are examples of tools for optimizing content. All Hashtag, TagsFinder, and others do the same thing, basically, for social media posting.
There are service providers who offer many or even all of these services as facets of an all-inclusive “suite” software as well. Use of these tools contributes to the curator having a clear view of the big picture so as to refine marketing strategies and the selection of relevant content. You may even be able to predict or foresee trends and future demand, giving your organization the opportunity to get ahead of the competition.
Become a Leader
You can become not just a leading brand but a leading voice. In a recent report from BuzzSumo, in a comparison with data from 2016, over 60% more content was published online within the last year. That translates into an environment exponentially more competitive for digital marketers. The challenge is to get attention in a world flooded with information. With all the tools at your disposal, you can turn the flood to your advantage. With content curation you can unlock access to the means of filling the gaps in your content marketing strategy while leveraging the digital information environment to your advantage. At CopyPress, we can guide you in creating and curating compelling content. Explore our knowledge base for up-to-date information on content marketing strategies, and avail yourself of our turnkey solutions to your content creation and curation needs.