Curating content for blogs, websites, social media accounts, and newsletters can add value to your sites and your marketing efforts, and functions in a variety of ways. In addition to adding to your existing unique media, curated content allows you to demonstrate more versatility, an ability to work with others, and industry awareness that simply creating unique information does not. Getting started with curation can be intimidating, but once you get started, it can benefit nearly any platform.
Content curation is the process of gathering, creating, and compiling information on a specific subject and presenting it to readers. In fact, content curation is found almost everywhere on the Internet, on social media pages, RSS feeds, and even social bookmarking sites like Digg. It's also an extremely useful tool for marketers, who can use curated content to increase the value whether for B2C or B2B marketing.
Importantly, content curation isn’t just about using other people's content, as curation is often used to source topics, industry news, and ideas for creating unique content. Content curation applies to many parts of the Internet including social media platforms like Twitter, blogs, company websites, newsletters, and even picture sharing sites like Instagram.
Content curation is a relatively simple process once you figure it out, but it can be complicated and even intimidating when you first get started. There is a lot of information on the web, in fact, WordPress statistics show that WordPress blogs alone get some 52.8 million new posts every month. That's a lot to sort through. You'll need a strategy, some sort of selection criteria, and you will have to keep testing your content to tweak it in order to adjust to the best content for your readers.
Creating a Theme - A theme is usually the easiest part of content curation. You decide what you want your content to be about, and you narrow your options down based on that. But, you can narrow it down further. If you have a specific niche, and you're providing marketing for window washing companies, then you can narrow your topic down to content surrounding window washing. This is a significantly smaller niche, so you'll have less content, and less to sort through. Your theme is important because it has to appeal to your clients rather than to you. It’s also important because it has to be extremely relevant to them and to you.
Choosing Selection Criteria – Your selection criteria is important for quality control. If you're sharing or linking to other people's content, it's important that you read every post to ensure that it holds up to the standards you want to offer to your readers. Some other points should apply whether you're writing your own content or not.
- Value - Each piece has to offer value in exchange for the time spent reading it
- Relevance - Will your readers benefit from this topic?
- Interest - Is it exciting? Clickable? Interesting to read?
- Quality - You don't want click bait titles, poor writing quality, or something that everyone and their figurative mother will be sharing.
These points are especially important on Twitter, where data shows that many people will Retweet a link without reading it first. Content aggregation, especially automated programs that share content based on hashtags can be dangerous, because the content you're sharing might be very bad. Taking the time to read through everything you share or post is important for quality assurance.
Research - Part of content curation is research, which includes researching your own topics, keywords, search terms, where to find quality content, and what your readers want to see. Ideas include keywords on your website, common industry questions, industry news, tips, how-to's, and so on in your niche. If you're curating content to create unique content, then you should definitely consider researching your own unique angles and approaches to other topics so that your ideas are unique.
You also have to integrate ongoing research for market testing. No marketing campaign, including content, is valuable without analytics, A/B testing to improve, and tracking the value you get from your time spent on it. If you're spending four hours a week creating a high-quality curated newsletter and you're only getting 50 clicks from it, you're obviously doing something wrong. Integrating analytics into your content curation allows you to test headlines, text content topics, and different types of organization and attribution.
Presenting Curated Content - Presentation is key to any curated content. Not only do you have to properly attribute and reference any material you share or quote, you have to present your material in an order and style that is not only useful to readers, but interesting as well. It's not enough to simply share content based on what's popular, as this won't get you anywhere. Howard Rheingold suggests that fine tuning your topic and creating a niche based on what people want to see is a valuable service, because the Internet alone does not do that. If you sift through content and present information in a specific way, you are offering value.
- Plan your content. Planned content allows users to make informed decisions on when to come back. For example, knowing that you share an industry article on Monday's, followed by a how-to on the topic on Tuesdays, and an expert interview on Wednesday will keep many people coming back for more.
- Decide which types of posts to put up, and when
- Integrate different types of media, but don't feel the need to balance them evenly.
Tools for Content Curation
There are hundreds of tools you can use for content curation, and some of them are more helpful than others. Some are also free, while others cost a great deal.
- Google Alerts - One of the most powerful free tools available, Google Alerts will send you emails based on specific keywords and topics. You can also follow companies, Google Plus pages, and YouTube accounts in your Alerts.
- Google News Feeds - You can sign up for Google Feeds for email updates on specific topics. Just click the RSS button on the bottom of any topic page and sign up.
- RSS - Most blogs offer some form of RSS, and signing up is easy. But, you still need an RSS reader. Options like Feedly, Digg Reader, Fever (not free, but shows 'hot' or popular content), and Feedbin all offer varying features, apps, and value.
- Lists - Facebook and Twitter have options to create and use lists of people to follow their content. You can also add page and companies. This allows you to follow industry experts, other curators, and influencers to see what's happening on social in your niche.
- It - Content curation, sharing, and publishing in one app. Options range from free to Enterprise. The tool is extremely sophisticated and offers RSS, social media integration, news, and much more.
- Storify by LiveFyre - Free to enterprise content curation and sharing, including blogs and social media, with sophisticated search and tools.
- HooteSuite - HooteSuite is a valuable sharing and scheduling tool, but you can also use it to view and curate keywords and content from around the web, and then share it immediately with your followers in app.
- FlipBoard - Flipboard is an app that curates content for you on your phone based on topics you pick. It also offers previews, so you can decide if you want to share it without dedicating a great deal of time.
- Microsoft Sway - Microsoft Sway is free to Outlook.com users and allows you to create pages and presentation like web-based content using a mix of self-created and curated content. It also integrates directly with web media, so you can add in snippets and full articles from around the web, playable videos and podcasts, and much more. It's not widely adopted yet, but it offers a more interactive version of a newsletter, that doesn’t have to be hosted on your own website.
Content curation is a valuable tool for marketers of any kind because you can use it to add value to your social media, newsletter, blog, or any other shared content. Because experts like Kristina Cisnero of HootSuite and Gary Vaynerchuk of VaynerMedia (in his book Jab Jab Jab Right Hook) suggest that about one-third of your content should be interacting with your niche, your readers, and your influencers, it can also boost your social media marketing efforts.
Sharing content shows your readers, other industry experts, and potential clients that you're familiar with your industry, interested in it, and are willing to work with others. Over time, adding content into your social media, blog, and newsletter will also draw the people who want to read that content. If you've chosen your niche and topics correctly, those readers will be your client demographic.
Do you utilize content curation for your social media, blog, or newsletter? Which tools or methods are most valuable to you?