As I discussed in my first post, it can be a real challenge to maintain the pace of content needed to succeed in today’s busy social media environment. Forrester’s famous Social Technographics report revealed that most of us are not natural content creators. And there are so many media choices today, making it harder to break through and make an impression.
Content curation can open the floodgates by providing a rich source of third party info for sharing and commentary. It helps to ensure a steady stream of topics by avoiding over-reliance on 100% original content, and is a great way to keep the channels brimming with SEO-friendly posts.
It is a word that I used to hate because it sounded so grandiose. But “content curation” as an approach and phrase seems to have stuck and is growing, driven by our online collection sharing and impulses.
Having said that, it may not be obvious how and why to use curation for content marketing. How can someone else’s information benefit your campaign? What good can third party content be in helping to promote your products and services?
Well it makes a lot of sense, especially when using social media to achieve your objectives:
- Marketing teams and the brands they represent can benefit by sharing content that is relevant and interesting to customers;
- Executives show thought leadership when they offer insight and analysis on third party content;
- The social media effort benefits through materials that can be used in place of or in addition to completely original content, as it is generally easier to add commentary and provide excerpts than write an entire blog post from scratch.
The news digest-style website is one obvious application for content marketing (see these examples: Green Data Center News and Tech Marketing Scoop), but there are many others. Junta 42 has an exhaustive list of content marketing vehicles in their online eBook Content Marketing Playbook – curation can be used to enhance a good many of these.
In this article, I’ll explore content curation and show how you can use it to lead social conversations and boost content marketing efforts.
Content Curation: What it is and Why it is Hot
As defined by Wikipedia, “curation is generally the selection of, care for and presentation of the objects entered into a collection, whether that collection is physical (such as items in a museum) or digital (such as entries in Wikipedia). Digital curation is generally referred to as the process of establishing and developing long term repositories of digital assets for current and future reference.”
There are many types of curation. Museum and art curators select the items that make their collections stand out; fashion retailers curate by selecting the best merchandise; digital content curators select from the wealth of online topics for nuggets that they can share across social communities.
Its importance can be seen in the popularity of everything from Twitter to Tumblr and Pinterest. Twitter is a curation tool masquerading as a place to broadcast updates; as most use it to discover, describe and share great articles; Tumblr has been touted as a curation and rich-media friendly blogging platform; and Pinterest is all about discovery, collection and sharing, activities that are central to curation.
Most of all, if you are in marketing, you should care about content curation because it just works! There are a range of tools, as you will see, that can help you transcend casual efforts to help boost organizational social media and content marketing efforts.
Curation to Boost Social Media Presence and Engagement
Before embarking on a program, it is important to understand what will be involved, in terms of time, process, technology and methods.
While the benefits and applications can be similar across industries, the challenges and tools needed to support your efforts can vary quite a bit; for example tracking down relevant topics in areas where there’s much social media chatter for well-known consumer brands represents a much different effort than doing the same in niche B2B areas.
Discovery and selection are at the heart of the curation process, also, there are a growing number of applications that offer publishing and auto-posting options for curated content. The tools range from free content discovery (Google search alerts, and social search from Social Mention and Twilert) to publishing and posting solutions like Clipboard and Storify.
Industrial strength, fee-based solutions like CIThread and Curata were designed specifically to support the content curation needs of marketers and publishers. They can be particularly helpful for companies that are in noisy spaces and publishing across a number of properties.
Once you select the tools, it is important to get them set up, train the people involved, design a process and assign roles. You might find it helpful to start out on a small scale, maybe as an adjunct to social media monitoring, before rolling out a more ambitious effort.
Tips for Effective Content Curation
Great content curation is part science and art. To do a good job, you need to have an understanding of your market space and how to make best use of the search and publishing tools. It requires a keen eye and instinct for topics that align with the expertise of executives, brand attributes and customer interests.
Tom Riddle, CEO of CIThread, a hosted content curation platform, says great content curation happens when three elements come together: subject matter expertise, a focused objective and a strong voice in response to an article, tweet or post that happens to be at the nexus of your expertise and the objective. If this happens, you will find yourself writing the right words.
It can help to take a look at how the pros do it. E.g., many point to Huffington Post and Drudge Report as examples of successful news sites that employ content curation. My post What Marketers and Social Media Teams can Learn from Drudge Report explains more.
How do you know when it is working? In the early stages, look at trends, as time goes on, focus on absolute numbers. Select a good analytics system and measure on behavioral metrics that meet your objective (e.g., a call to action, an increase in an influence metric, etc.). An effective process will offer feedback, to continually improve the content selection, writing, and site/social publication processes.
With the non-stop, rapid fire pace of news and information, it’s imperative to stay ahead of the competition by maximizing the quality and quantity of communications and content.
Content curation gives marketing and social media teams the tools they need to turbo charge social media publishing and engagement efforts; it is an increasingly critical function, and an area that should be understood and mastered.
How has your business leveraged content curation to help you meet your social media marketing goals?