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Brands Using Content Curation to Build Thought Leadership


Nearly one-half of marketing executives (48%) now use content curation—the process of continually finding, organizing, and sharing relevant online content that caters to a specific audience—according to a survey from HiveFire.

Among such content curators, most (78.9%) cite thought leadership as their primary objective in content curation, followed by elevating brand visibility and buzz (76.1%) and lead generation (60.6%).

Below, other findings from HiveFire's first annual Content Curation Adoption Survey 2011, based on a poll of 150 marketing executives.

Content Marketing Challenges

But creating original content can be a time-consuming effort: 73.6% of marketing execs cite creating original content as their biggest challenge in content marketing, while 73.0% cite finding the time to develop such content.

Over two in five marketing exes (43.0%) cite finding high-quality content to share, while over one-third (36.5%) cite difficulties with measuring results.

Looking for great digital marketing data? MarketingProfs reviewed hundreds of research sources to create our most recent Digital Marketing Factbook (May 2010), a 296-page compilation of data and 254 charts, covering email marketing, social media, search engine marketing, e-commerce, and mobile marketing. Also check out The State of Social Media Marketing, a 240-page original research report from MarketingProfs.

The Content Mix

Most content creators mix company-generated materials with third-party content: 57.5% of those who have used content curation in the previous six months say they use a combination of original and third-party content, whereas 18.3% use original content exclusively and 8.5% use only third-party content.

Social channels, however, are important to all content curators: 79% distribute curated content via social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

Curators Use a Wide Variety of Sources

When identifying online content to share, most content curators turn to industry trade publications (78.3%), industry blogs (78.3%), and online news sites (78.3%).

Roughly one-half of content creators use corporate blogs (50.7%) and press releases (47.8%) as sources of content.

Content curation has taken center stage: 69% of marketing execs say content curation is more important today than it was a year ago, while the same percentage (69%) expect it to be more important a year from now.

About the data: Findings are from a survey of 150 US marketing executives from organizations across a variety of sectors, conducted by HiveFire in February 2011.

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  • by Nick Stamoulis Wed Mar 30, 2011 via web

    I can commiserate with those whose biggest problem with content curation is finding the time to actually do it. It can sometimes be a very tedious process and often is postponed in favor of something else. But you have to make time to produce, not just content, but quality content that has real value for the reader.

  • by Melissa Cahoon Wed Mar 30, 2011 via web

    As an interactive marketing intern, my most basic task is creating original content for our clients' social media accounts. I would like to point out that on the first graph, which highlights the main objectives of content curation, our goal is to create conversation with our followers. While this may somewhat fall under "elevat[ing] brand visibility and buzz" we're not aiming for a high quantity of followers but a high quality of interactions.

    Melissa Cahoon

  • by Shelly Lucas Wed Mar 30, 2011 via web

    This data, which reveals “thought leadership” as the #1 reason for content curation, raises the question of how the study participants define “thought leadership” …and whether or not this captures the essence of the concept. “Finding, organizing and sharing online content” is inarguably important; it demonstrates that your brand is “in the know” and on top of trends and issues. But IS it thought leadership? If the curated content is preceded by a comment, perspective, or distilled insight—AND if these content pieces consistently follow a plan that leads your audience in a strategic direction—then yes, it is. Last year, Ardath Albee wrote a terrific post on what thought leadership is—and isn’t. Highly recommended reading.
    Note: The views expressed in this posting are my own; they do not necessarily represent the positions, strategies, or opinions of Hoover’s.

    Shelly Lucas
    Senior Marketing Manager

  • by Richard Turcott Wed Mar 30, 2011 via web

    Nick, I totally agree! I've been in marketing for over 20 years and content creation is always near the top of the list for "things to do" but is commonly at the bottom of the list of what actually gets done.

    Melissa, yes - driving more engagement with your brand is important. Quality and quantity are important. It's hard to get "buzz" if only one person is engaged. Conversely, buzz without engagement won't help drive more business.

    Shelly, I believe that thought leadership is in the eye of the beholder. You are not a thought leader by calling yourself one, but by being recognized as one by your industry, your peers and your prospects. The best way to be recognized is through content curation - finding, organizing and sharing content to express your innovative ideas, your vision and your perspective on a topic.

    Richard Turcott, CMO
    HiveFire, Inc

  • by Craig Badings Wed Mar 30, 2011 via web

    I have a fundamental problem with content curation being called thought leadership.

    It isn't and no brand should believe they are being a thought leader by merely curating content.

    There is content and then there is thought leadership. Thought leadership is about delivering new insights/views about a particular business issue/challenge/sector/topic - insights that are not merely opinions based on your expertise but evidence-based and backed up by research.

    The key to thought leadership is understanding these challenges/issues faced by your target audience and then being able to deliver insights that help overcome or address these or at the very least stimulate debate and discussion around them.

    Critically this is not about your product or service but rather developing deep, valued knowledge around a particular area of your business that makes your audience recognise you as the 'go to' expert in that field.

    Content and thought leadership absolutely live side by side but let's not confuse the very clear distinction between the two.

  • by Ardath Albee Thu Mar 31, 2011 via web

    I think there's a very definite distinction between original content and curated content. Both have value, but original content can position your company as a thought leader where curated content will make you a valuable resource if you curate the type of content your audience appreciates.

    Two different things. Both add value, but one is definitely distinct from the other.

    Shelly - thanks for sharing the link to my post!

  • by Achinta Mitra Thu Mar 31, 2011 via web

    I am more in agreement with Shelly, Craig and Ardath.

    I doubt very seriously that content curation by itself can make one a thought leader. To me thought leaders need to provide more original thinking, can take a contrarian position if necessary and be able to defend it against popular views and criticism.

    A curator can be seen as an expert on a topic because he/she is very good at filtering and compiling content that readers find valuable but that does not make him/her a thought leader.

    Nothing wrong with content curation per se but I think too many marketers in their rush to churn out content, are using it to increase awareness (nothing wrong with that either) and claiming thought leadership.

    Achinta Mitra
    Tiecas, Inc.

  • by Jeff Molander Thu Mar 31, 2011 via web

    Ardath and Achinta...
    Respectfully, the point is really moot. It boils down to "what looks better" or "who looks smarter." Thought leadership is simply not defined this way by end users. Rather, it's defined by the functional output of the content -- what it helps readers DO.

    Here's my point: Different ways of effectively "showing off" what you know is different than showcasing something USEFUL for end users.

    Showing end users something you're seeing, that they are not, and that reveals risk or opportunity -- now that's how I measure "thought leader." Giving people a reason to think about something in a new light -- and then take action on it. That's valuable.

  • by Craig Badings Thu Mar 31, 2011 via web

    Jeff, beautifully summed up.

  • by Crystal Higgins-Peterson Thu Mar 31, 2011 via web

    Engaging with your best customers (aka Brand Advocates) to spread positive Word of Mouth about your brand or products is another way companies can look at gaining additional authentic content about their brand.

    Advocate content is a lot easier to generate than marketers might think. Remember - these are your best customers who already Advocate for your product or services, so the major hurdle has already been won. But, are your connecting the dots?

  • by Jeff Molander Thu Mar 31, 2011 via web

    Thanks, Craig. Sheesh. I guess I echoed you. Darn. I just now read your comment :( sorry.

    But here's the thing: I am confident that nearly everyone (especially Ardath) in comments understands what I just said. I just think many of us get tempted by evil forces :) to start asking questions that really don't amount to much. They don't deserve the attention of smart people. Yet somehow very smart people end up spending a lot of time addressing them.

  • by Craig Badings Thu Mar 31, 2011 via web

    You may well have but you did a far better job than I did and if you don't mind I am going to use your comment in my next blog post.

  • by Jeff Molander Fri Apr 1, 2011 via web

    Well thanks again. Sure thing. Do me a favor and invite me to link to you on LinkedIn? I'd like to find ways to collaborate too. Are you the gent I see over in Australia? Or just hit me at via email?

  • by Victoria Bleecher Fri Apr 1, 2011 via mobile

    I'm a little lost with this thread. Someone please explain... Where in this article did it ever say that Content Curation = Thought Leadership?

  • by Craig Badings Fri Apr 1, 2011 via web

    Victoria you're right. I can't speak for the other threads in this commentary but I think this is just a healthy debateabout the distinction between content and thought leadership content.

  • by Jeff Molander Fri Apr 1, 2011 via web

    If I may be really candid... this happens a lot it seems on blogs everywhere. Frankly, I don't like it. That is, critical thought is offered outside the precise (limited) context of a post. Thoughts are expanded upon... and "issues working behind the scenes" that are directly related are discussed and suddenly called into question.


    I ask rhetorically and not "at you" Victoria but more like "at the Web." So please don't take it personally.

    I just believe that comments are just that. Comments. There are no rules. And 99.5% of all blog comments I read are all "I agree" or "well stated" and such. RARE is it where someone makes a good, related point and/or disagrees with the premise of the author. In other words, it's rare when we can LEARN in comments. I've learned more from Aradath's comments here and elsewhere than nearly any blog, for instance.

    I LIKE when this stuff happens. Again, no offense.

  • by Stacy Hartung Wed Apr 20, 2011 via web

    This survey provides more justification for the need to integrate corporate librarians/information specialists into marketing teams. We can find, discern, categorize, analyze, and strategize. As user-based content becomes more ubiquitous and trusted by our customers, it is becoming increasingly critical to curate meaningful content and make sure it's the most accurate, relevant, and timely content at that.

  • by Yinka Olaito Thu May 5, 2011 via web

    Content curation has a lot of inherent benefits for brands to build thought leadership but the energy it requires chase many away. Thanks for this

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