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Three Big Reasons Why Marketers Should Annotate Their Curated Content

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Finding and sharing relevant content is quick and easy, but what will take your content curation to the next level is annotation.

Annotating is adding your own commentary or insights to third-party content so that you’re adding value or context and demonstrating your authority on the topic. That added value is a fundamental part of high-quality curation.

In some ways, annotation harkens back to curation in the offline world, which predates online content curation. One of the primary functions of the art curator in a museum is not only to select works of art for display and decide where and how to display them but also to annotate the art with narratives that describes the source and significance of the piece.

In the online world, it’s the difference between simply hitting the retweet button on Twitter and taking a few minutes to craft a tweet of your own that incorporates your opinion. Tweeters often use MT to indicate “modified tweet,” but annotation is also important when you’re curating content as part of an email newsletter or blog.

Here are three reasons why annotation is a crucial part of your curated content.

1. Differentiation

A Curata survey shows that the popularity of content curation is growing at a rapid pace from year to year (and given how time-intensive original content is compared to curation, it’s easy to see why). Of course, that means there are plenty of other sources where your audience could potentially read the same or similar curated content. Thought-provoking commentary can help your curation stand out from the noise online and share your subject matter expertise. Annotation separates the retweet bots from the emerging thought leaders.

2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Google’s Panda and Penguin updates have put a greater emphasis on high-quality content. As a result, curators need to be mindful of how much content they excerpt from a third-party article and avoid duplicate content. If you quote a large portion of the original article without proper link attribution, you could potentially get penalized by the search engines. I encourage curators to make sure that their own original commentary is at least as long (or longer) than any content they excerpt. If you use quotes sparingly, add meaningful, well-written commentary, and retitle your content so it doesn’t compete with the original piece in search results, Google will recognize your curation efforts as an original content. The other benefit of annotation from a search engine standpoint is that it allows you to incorporate keywords that may not have appeared in the original piece.

3. Fair Use and Ethics

Whenever you’re using someone else’s content, you need to be attentive to fair use and copyright law. That includes providing proper attribution and a link to anything you’re citing or quoting and adding additional commentary so you’re not simply summarizing or quoting what someone else has already written. Limiting the amount of third-party material that you quote also helps you comply with fair use.

Your turn! Do you annotate your curated content? If not, why? If so, what are your reasons for doing so and your strategies for adding value? Leave a comment and let us know!

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Pawan Deshpande is the founder and CEO of Curata, a leading provider of content marketing software. He is an accomplished entrepreneur, marketer, and technologist.

LinkedIn: Pawan Deshpande

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  • by Lee Odden Thu Oct 3, 2013 via blog

    Great advice Pawan. My favorite form of curated content annotation is the Oreo Cookie :)

  • by Wendy Soucie Thu Oct 3, 2013 via blog

    As the B2B manufacturers move to blogs and begin curating, they are repurposing existing company authored content. That content originally appeared as articles in trade publications and now those publications are putting that online. What are the negatives to re posting the article in its entirety as a blog post on the company blog (assuming its the right length for a blog) when the content might first have appeared in the online magazine? Even though the company is the author, will it be considered duplicate content? If you get dinged for duplicate content, should we curate the article instead and add enhanced commentary on our own abbreviated link back to the magazine.


  • by Emily @ The Boom Works Thu Oct 3, 2013 via blog

    We always try to put our own spin on it for just those very reasons. Being able to copy and paste is not that large of a skill, but being able to comment on it and offer your own opinion, or little bits of insight that enhances the post -- that's part of the magic. To be sure, this is some great advice, definitely makes me think about the curation of our blog's content.

  • by Pawan Deshpande Thu Oct 3, 2013 via blog

    And I oreo-cookie'd your oreo cookie post earlier today!

  • by Pawan Deshpande Thu Oct 3, 2013 via blog

    That's right, Emily. Adding your insight rather than just cut and pasting is the difference between curation and regurgitation.

  • by Todd@BigBlogOfGardening Thu Oct 3, 2013 via blog

    I quote authoritative sources frequently and always link back to the original source. Besides the obvious SEO, it's juts the right thing to do.

  • by Sara Thu Oct 3, 2013 via blog

    Very interesting article, I have never really given much thought to curation until lately, your article helps to motivate me to do the right thing, Thanks so much!

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