Let’s face it… there’s a reason words like “infoxication” and “infobesity” have been invented: none of us can stomach the towering piles of content shoved onto our plates.
As a result, social media users in particular have chosen one of two routes: either they’re overly discerning about who they let into their social media timelines – ruthlessly avoiding any person or brand that doesn’t bring highly valuable content frequently – or they simply follow everyone yet ignore 99% of what’s shared.
As a brand, you want to make the cut. And you don’t want to be ignored. But how can you bring any new information when it seems everything has already been covered? You don’t.
If you really want to help your followers out, step away from creating new content from scratch and guide them through what’s already there. I’m talking about content curation.
What is content curation
Content curation is the process of gathering information on a topic, sifting and sorting it, then presenting it in a meaningful and valuable way, much like the work of a museum curator, from which the name was derived.
Some get this process confused with aggregation, but the two couldn’t be more different. Aggregation is algorithmic. Curation is handpicked.
Curation isn’t about tossing all the resources you can into one massive list or compiling all the news reports on a certain topic from every outlet imaginable. It’s about compiling the best information on a particular topic that will help to make the job of your users easier. Not only does this benefit your audience, content curation has a host of other benefits for you too, including lower cost to create, greater influence and thought leadership, and more traffic. As Joshua Dorkin, CEO BiggerPockets, told me:
One of the ways we built up goodwill and traffic to BiggerPockets was to create a page dedicated to our industry news – curating content from dozens of outside sources and highlighting our favorite stories of the day.
We’ve never been afraid of linking out to other platforms, as we believe that Google and other search engines favor those platforms with a philosophy of sharing vs. hoarding ‘link juice.’
The page gives our users incredible value, offering insight in areas our own team doesn’t currently have the capacity to cover. It also demonstrates to the sources we’re sharing that we’re a giving and open part of the overall community. At the end of the day, everyone wins.
Content curation ideas
Now that we’ve established what content curation is, it’s time to get to the meat of the matter. What type of content can you curate that will resonate? Here are five of the tastiest.
Visual content dominates social media. If the rise of platforms like Pinterest, Instagram, and Snapchat have taught us anything, it’s that visual content – in the form of pictures, infographics, and especially video – is not just a fad. It’s here to stay.
One way brands capitalize on image curation is by using the photos taken by their customers while using the product. ModCloth, for example, has a whole section of its site dedicated to hand-selected, fan-submitted photos. Additionally, on each product page, you can find Instagram photos of fans wearing the item on sale. Chubbies Shorts does the same thing across their social accounts, actively soliciting and then curating user-generated content: pictures, videos and reviews from their real customers.
If this sounds complex and out of the reach, think again. Yotpo, which Chubbies uses, offers a curation tool that does just that, and a lot more. One of the functions of this tool is the ability to hand-pick and tag your favorite photos to automatically show up on product page galleries. And according to Yotpo, Instagram photos alongside reviews of the product can increase conversions by up to 180%.
Image Credit: Yotpo
Social media audiences eat up quotes. Whether they be inspirational, comedic or simply weird, quotes work because they’re short, relatable and often thought-provoking.
Quotes are a great way to showcase your brand identity and image to your fans. The language used, the topic of the quote, and the originator, all contribute to how people see you. And when used appropriately, it can help to solidify you as a lifestyle brand, rather than just a seller of products and services.
One of my own most popular posts was a curated list of 11 one-click tweetables surrounding failure and passion. Alternatively, you can curate quotes specifically on social itself. Forever 21 is a clothing retailer but their quirky, youthful, girly vibe is what really sells their brand. So it’s only fitting that they share content that fits with that image, even if it’s not about clothes. Here’s a look at their Pinterest board, aptly titled, “Words To Live By” where they combine visuals and quotes into a beautiful work of art perfectly curated for their ideal audience: teenage girls and young women.
Image Credit: Forever 21 Pinterest
You can easily create social friendly images using tools like Venngage or Piktochart to add to your original content or get the attention of specific influencers. During my presentation at Unbounce’s CTA Conference earlier this year, Sam Landa did exactly that: she curated quotes live and added visual oomph to them:
Don't be afraid to show the dark side of your business. #CTAConf #letsgetrejected @iconiContent pic.twitter.com/bfzXqY9FG2
— Sam Landa (@serinlan) June 21, 2016
Preach, @iconiContent! #CTAConf #content pic.twitter.com/Z5OldEcw2u
— Sam Landa (@serinlan) June 21, 2016
There’re few things more helpful to beginners, novices, and even advanced practitioners than guides from experts in their field. This fact was known long before social media came into play. It’s pretty much the reason the “For Dummies” series of books is still pumping out new editions.
We can’t possibly talk about helpful guides without talking about Buffer. Not only have they mastered the art of creating detailed guides for their audience of social media managers, they even go a little meta, sharing curated content about social media and blogging via their social media platforms and blog. As I write this, their pinned post on Twitter happens to be a guide about Facebook Advertising.
Wondering where to start with Facebook Advertising? https://t.co/gluLZxiH6f This A-to-Z guide will surely help 🚀📈 pic.twitter.com/az3zVYNhQu
— Buffer (@buffer) August 16, 2016
Are they the first to write a guide about Facebook Advertising? Most certainly not. Do they cover all there is to cover on the subject? I doubt it. But the one thing they have become known for is curating the most relevant information, tools and steps into an easy-to-follow guide that readers will definitely learn from and improve their skills.
For yourself, this doesn’t mean writing ultimate guides. Instead, it means being a collector and organizer of the guides already out there.
By creating round-up posts – think, “The Ultimate Guide to Ultimate Guides” – and regularly sharing them with your audience, you position yourself as a go-to source to cut through the clutter. This is especially true if your “Guide to Guides” offer insights, takeaways and critiques: all of which are the hallmarks of genuine curation.
It’s one thing to share an opinion. It’s another thing to back it up with facts. As the world moves towards deeper analytics and bigger big data, collecting and boiling down all that data becomes more valuable. Of course, collecting your own data – while incredibly valuable inside your business – is time consuming outside of it. Creating customer or marketing-facing “special reports” offers unique value to your audience, but many businesses don’t have the resources to do that.
That’s exactly why curation can be such a powerful approach when it comes to data. Mention did this masterfully in The 2016 Social Media Olympics where they curated other people’s data and presented it in infographic form:
In fact, GetResponse’s own most shared article of the past six months was itself a curated piece on data: Big Data’s Most Influential Rock Stars: 10 Must-Follow Leaders.
Last, but certainly not least, is the fun stuff. There’s no rule that social media content for brands has to be 100% on topic. The truth is your audience doesn’t want to be subjected to marketing messages day in and day out.
One clever way to get around this is to divert from “business as usual” and share entertaining content while still staying relevant to your key audience, like a car brand sharing road trip-worthy tunes via a series of threaded tweets or a hotel telling you what’s happening in its home city on any given night.
If you’ve ever seen WeRateDogs on Twitter, you’ll know just how fun they’ve managed to derive from curated content. They take photos of “puppers” and “doggos” sent in by their enthusiastic owners, add a quippy caption with a ridiculous rating, and share them with their 350,000 followers.
You might counter this example with the fact that this “isn’t a real brand,” but it is. While it started out as one guy’s fun project, it grew into a fledgling business now selling branded items through its online store.
Want another example? Check out a few of Birchboxes Pinterest boards. Instead of inundating their followers with product-related pins and tutorials, they have a handful of boards exclusively committed to fun: #BirchboxBride, Yum, and Tiny Tweaks Big Rewards:
And just in case you thought this article would end without highlighting the ruling curation champion, BuzzFeed’s entire business model is built around curation. Their second most popular post over the last year was curated content from top to bottom:
You can easily do the same thing with your own niche’s fun content. Julia Sweeten from Hooked on Houses did this with her collection of #fail worthy real-estate photos:
Social Curation… Did You Notice?
Now here’s the really great part. If you hadn’t realized, the post you just read is also curated content. While I added a structure and theme to the resources I mentioned (along with a few takeaways), the bulk of this very article is a collection of how other people are doing exactly what you should be doing.
Getting your audience to eat up your content on social doesn’t mean you have to create content. Instead, make curation a regular part of your social strategy:
So now it’s your turn. What yummy content can you compile in useful or interesting ways that your audience will appreciate… without having to make it all from scratch on your own?