As consumers increasingly crave more meaningful and relevant content amid the deluge of digital information, content curation has given marketers a new way to engage with customers.
Curation is by no means new, however. Curators at museums and galleries have long been carefully selecting items for collection and display; DJs have made an art out of mixing music; and festivals have curated films, bands, vendors, and more...
Curation is a long-practiced means of helping audiences that may not have the time or expertise on a particular subject to find the best and most interesting content on their own.
More recently, savvy marketers have started adopting curation as a cost-effective way to engage consumers. They already recognize the growing need for timely, relevant content, but developing original content on a consistent basis can be too costly and too time-consuming for many marketers.
By finding and sharing relevant, third-party content, marketers can more cost-effectively engage target audiences.
1. Discovering Content
You have to determine which are the key topics for you and you have to establish a strategy around frequency and distribution, before you decide what kind of content you should look for.
Once you have your content strategy in place (a topic for a different article), you can start looking for third-party content.
Here are a few recommendations regarding the types of content to curate:
- Content should be reliable and trustworthy. Consider what sources you use to find content. Stories must be accurate and timely, and their quality should be high. It may be worth conducting an internal poll: What are your employees reading? What does your sales team read?
- Content should elevate your brand. Finding thought-provoking topics and sources (e.g., credible journalists, thought leaders) will be immensely valuable in positioning your organization as an authority.
- Content should be relevant. So, think what your target audience would think: "Would I find this article, video, or image interesting?" "What would make the reader stop what they're doing to read this article or watch this video?"
- And, speaking of video, content should come in different formats. Articles are great, but imagery is eye-catching and easy to consume and share. Likewise, video is tremendously popular online. By using different formats, you can keep your content marketing interesting and fresh.
To find the right content, marketers have a couple of approaches to content curation:
- The occasional content curator might rely on passive curation, sharing content when it comes their way via their regular consumption of news and information, or content that's shared internally. The challenge with passive curation is that it is inconsistent. Because you're not regularly engaging your customers, you're not getting the full, long-term benefits of the content relationship.
- Others practice active curation, which means they are actively seeking out articles to engage customers on a regular basis. "Active curators" might use free tools to discover content by conducting searches on various platforms, such as Google and Twitter, and then copying and pasting results into various distribution channels. It's a cost-effective approach for the occasional content curator, but it can present a challenge for marketers who need content regularly to fuel a consistent, scaled program.
Those who are fully committed to creating an effective and operationally efficient content curation program can choose to invest in paid tools that specialize in content discovery for the purposes of content curation.
2. Curating Your Content
You've found awesome content—great! But your job isn't done. Now, you must select from the most meaningful content to share with your audiences. But effective content curation doesn't mean you simply select and push out a series of links to content from third parties. Rather, you want to contribute insight to the content.
Adding your educated perspective, comments, or anecdotes is the key to separating curation from simple aggregation.
There are a few approaches. A simple curated article might be presented on a blog with a summary of highlights from the piece. But it's better to go beyond a summary and bring more to the conversation by adding insight or commentary to the post. To that end, here are a few questions to consider:
- Do you agree with the key points in the content? Why or why not?
- Is there anything that was omitted that should be considered?
- Are there current trends in your business that this particular content impacts or relates to that aren't directly addressed?
And, as noted earlier, your responsibility as a content curator is to appropriately credit your sources. You'll find that most content writers, creators, and producers want their content to be shared, but standard curating practice includes crediting and linking back to the original source.
3. Sharing Your Content
Now that you've gathered your content and determined your distribution vehicles, what marketing channels should you use?
The benefits of content curation can be derived via all of your digital channels:
- Social media
At this stage, it's important to know what type, format, and length of insight is needed for each channel. For example, the content you post on Twitter is more limited than what you can include in a blog or newsletter.
Likewise, it's important to understand best-practices for each distribution channel, such as using hashtags on Twitter and Facebook to help audiences find your content.
4. Measuring Your Success
As with any marketing campaign, you can't determine whether you have a successful content curation program until you measure your results.
Tracking metrics for clicks, pageviews, shares, and comments, or conversions to leads or sales, are critical for not only getting buy-in from your organization but also showing where you need to make adjustments to your program.
Pay close attention to performance, feedback, the evolving marketplace, and customer needs, as well as seasonality. All of those factors influence the success of your program and need to be adjusted and refined as needed.
The most important thing to remember is that content curation is a long-term, relationship-building process that should not be expected to achieve overnight success.
The benefits and results can be substantial, but a certain amount of patience is required to succeed with content curation—as well as content marketing in general.
You're growing relationships, and that takes time.
* * *
Marketers have long been trying to find ways to differentiate themselves and vie for the attention of knowledgeable—yet increasingly time-crunched—consumers. To add to this pressure, marketers are now faced with the task of "feeding the content beast" and using it effectively to help improve their business as well as their customer relationships.
With 90% of B2C marketers now using content marketing, and 58% of B2B marketers planning to increase their content marketing budgets over the next 12 months (according to MarketingProfs and the Content Marketing Institute), it's only going to get more difficult for marketers to break through the noise.
That is where content curation becomes uniquely useful—by providing a way to effectively navigate through the noise, and even using it to your advantage—to generate meaningful customer engagement.
Though it may take some time to see the fruits of your labor, the benefits of content curation—if done correctly—will be substantial.