A Beginner’s Guide To Content Curation: Examples, Benefits, And Steps To Get You Started
- 1 First things first, what is content curation?
- 2 Content curation examples – let’s breath more sense into the process
- 3 So why are we doing this again? – Content curation benefits
- 3.1 1. Curated content brightens your content feed
- 3.2 2. Curated content creates an impression of your business
- 3.3 3. It helps you grow your network
- 3.4 4. Curated content keeps the conversations going
- 3.5 5. The shared content sets you up as a thought leader
- 3.6 6. Curated content also helps you stay on top of the industry trends
- 3.7 7. Curated content helps improve your ranking too
- 4 And finally – how to curate content? The steps to follow
- 4.1 1. Start with setting your objectives
- 4.2 2. Select what you can share
- 4.3 3. Up next, pick your sources
- 4.4 4. Filter the content
- 4.5 5. Add value to the content you’re aiming to share
- 4.6 6. Decide the channel the curated piece will be shared on
- 4.7 7. Add to the aesthetics
- 4.8 8. Analyze your content to optimize it
- 4.9 Bonus – Think about how you can involve the community
- 5 Wrapping up
Whether you’re on your first date or your relationship is a decade old, Its never a good idea to keep yammering on about yourself all the time. Content marketing is the same except, your prospects are your dates, and you’ve to make them feel special. Of course, that won’t happen if you talk about your brand only. But it would if you curate relevant content for them and keep them engaged.
You talk to your leads but without having to talk about yourself. That’s 50 points to content curation. Essentially, content curation relates to finding, filtering, and sharing relevant content with your audience.
On the other hand, content creation is what it sounds – creating content for your audience. However, at the center of this content is your product or service and how it can help solve your audience’s problems. 60% of marketers are devoted to creating at least one piece of content daily.
In this post, let’s dive into the nuts and bolts of content curation, what it is, what benefits it brings to the table, and the steps to take to curate content for your brand.
First things first, what is content curation?
Content curation revolves around finding, organizing, annotating, and sharing valuable and relevant content with your readers that benefits them. Heidi Cohen, a global marketing influencer, writing in Content Marketing Institute, defines content curation as,
“To meet your audience’s information needs, content curation is the assembly, selection, categorization, commentary, and presentation of the most relevant quality information.”
A word of caution here, content curation isn’t just gathering content and sharing it on social. It’s far more elaborate than that.
Besides, it’s important to bust this common content curation myth – the process isn’t a time-saving alternative to content creation.
However, it is:
- Sharing of relevant content that interests your audience
- Sharing content that drives engagement and keeps conversations going
- Adding your opinion to the shared content along with a visual makeover
You’ll understand each of these pointers in-depth as we proceed. For now, let’s dissect Heidi’s definition of content curation.
She starts with “to meet your audience’s information needs…” Undeniably, you can’t meet all of your audience’s (massive) content needs. But you can always substitute their hunger for new content by sharing relevant content with them.
Next up, the definition reads “…content curation is the assembly, selection, categorization, commentary, and presentation…”
Note that there are multiple steps to the process. Let’s chop it further:
i. Assembly: Gathering content for your audience that lies within your field and interests your readers.
ii. Selection: Not all sourced content is relevant or share-worthy enough. Here’s where you set up filters and wear the approve-this-disapprove-that hat.
iii. Categorization: Content comes in different formats including blog posts, infographics, eBook, and more. It also goes out to different distribution channels such as social media, newsletter, your blog, and so on. At this point, you decide which content will go where for optimal engagement.
iv. Commentary: Like we just discussed, curation is not copy-pasting and posting a link to your social media. Instead, it’s adding your take on the matter as well. Like here:
v. Presentation: Giving the content you share a visual makeover. For instance, you share data that someone else has churned out but put it in a graphic. Example CoSchedule took data from Convince & Convert and put it in a graphic that represents their brand style:
Heidi finally wraps up the definition with “…of the most relevant quality information.” In other words, you are to curate and share content that offers both relevant and quality insights.
Content curation examples – let’s breath more sense into the process
With the definition out of the way, you’d probably be wondering ‘so where can I use curated content?’ Answer: On every channel where you connect with your audience.
So that’s newsletters, podcasts, blog posts, social media, even your eBook. Hard to believe? Let’s weave in some examples:
1. The Five Things on Friday Newsletter by James Whatley
Whatley shares the news with his readers but also adds content that he has read and found interesting alongside sharing his opinion on the matter.
Here’s a section of one of his newsletters:
See how the curated link is tucked into James’s opinion – he doesn’t like the “ugly-chic shoe” but finds the stories/interviews “a gold mine of excellence.” There you go! A perfect example of content curation.
There are more links + James’ insight at the end of this newsletter:
2. Our curated blog post
We gathered advice from content marketing influencers and put it all into one mighty piece. Note how we brushed up the content’s presentation too.
3. Content Marketing Academy’s lessons from an eBook
In this post, Melissa Coombs curates lessons that she learned from Marcus Sheridan’s eBook, Inbound and Content Marketing.
4. Social Media Today curating relevant content from across the web
Social Media Today is a leading source for social media news, tips, and trends. Head over to their site and you’d see it is dedicated to curated news.
Each post gives bites of industry news with the author’s quick take on the matter. Here’s the fifth one from the list:
This piece curates an infographic from Animoto and offers it to their audience with their personal opinion as shown on the screen. Most important of all, the information is presented in Social Media Today’s style.
So why are we doing this again? – Content curation benefits
Some of the benefits of content curation are obvious. You get to supplement the content that you create with the content you curate. Other benefits, however, go deeper.
Let’s explore each:
1. Curated content brightens your content feed
There are two ways gathered content can brighten your content feed, whether it’s your social media or blog feed:
- Firstly, curated content adds variety by switching the self-centered tone with a community-based one. So you’re not the child in the neighborhood who only natters about himself but the child who is friends with everyone, following the ‘sharing is caring’ agenda
- Secondly, you can add a variety of opinions and voices to your content. This variety can help diversify your content mix such as how we noted in the Social Media Today post where they added an infographic in their content
2. Curated content creates an impression of your business
The content that you serve your audience tells them what your business covers. For instance, it doesn’t make sense for a stationary brand to share a post on essentials to take on your trip to XYZ country.
Therefore, by sharing relevant content, you give your target audience a quick idea of what you talk about.
3. It helps you grow your network
There are two ways you go about doing that:
- One, you write a post by curating opinions from influencers in the industry. Example, LeadTail reached out to 11 social media practitioners for their opinion on what would happen if social removed the like button and put it in their blog post – a classic example of curated content
While the reader gets to read opinions from others, the behind-the-scenes case is different. Imagine this with me, for a second:
Step 1: The curator reaches out to influencers and asks for their quotes.
Step 2: The influencers feel honored and share their insights.
Step 3: The curator publishes the post and tags all the influencers who, in turn, also share the post
See what happened there? The post got a good reach, several shares, and the curator also developed a relationship with the influencers. At some point, these influencers will also return the favor and ask the curator for a quote or so (hint: the law of reciprocity is at work here).
- Two, you share someone else’s post, say on your social channel, and tag them. Like this:
Of course, when you tag the author for crediting him for his content, it’s likely that he would respond to you. This gives you another chance for nurturing relationships in your field. Besides, there are odds that the person you tagged shares your content in return.
4. Curated content keeps the conversations going
Content is a way to converse with your audience, engage with them while delivering value. That’s how content converts and turns leads into customers. However, there’s an extent to how much original content you can create.
So you need to add relevant curated content in the mix to keep the party going. It will encourage communication and make sure your content calendar isn’t empty at any point. Choose the content that sparks conversations, so your audience jumps in and engages with you.
Here’s an example of curated content in RescueTime’s newsletter.
The letter adds curated content at its end. Each of these pieces is valuable to their audience that wants to sharpen its productivity. So they’re relevant, helpful, and can prompt a conversation if their readers read and discuss any one of the articles.
There’s another undercover advantage here – you can learn what excites your audience. A topic that attracts lots of reads and engagement is a topic that interests your audience. If you find any holes in it, you can create content around it.
When you add your point of view, you’re putting yourself forward as a thought leader. Done consistently, your readers will start anticipating your opinion on the matter, which pitches you forward as a voice in your industry.
6. Curated content also helps you stay on top of the industry trends
Here’s another incredible plus, content curation gives you a scoop of what’s going on in the industry. For instance, if you’re targeting a keyword and gathering content on it, let’s say, ‘content marketing,’ you’d note what other people in your industry are publishing.
In addition to staying well-informed and abreast of the trends, you can identify gaps in the information stream. With all the influx of content, spot blind spots, and create content in to fill these blanks.
7. Curated content helps improve your ranking too
Remember, content curation is not copy + paste. It’s adding value. And when you do so, you can improve your ranking in the search engine too. Hard to swallow? Folks over at Bruce Clay Inc. were equally curious, so they ran a test.
They learned that when they shared curated content minus any value from their side, the ranking dipped from the fourth place to the tenth. However, the good news is when they published excerpts with their links and summary, their ranking shot to the first spot on the browser.
And finally – how to curate content? The steps to follow
With over 4 million blog posts going out every day, it’s your responsibility to only offer content that is:
- Offers a topping of extra value
But the question is, how should you get started? The simple answer is with a plan. Keep in mind that without a strategy, your efforts will be all over the place, which wouldn’t be any help in reaping the merits of content curation.
1. Start with setting your objectives
First off, you need to be clear about how much-curated content you want to add to your feed. There’s no hard and fast rule to observe, but you’ll have to be clear about the ratio before you start curating.
For instance, try a ratio of 75% of original content and 25% of curated content. You will have to set these ratios are per the sharing channel. So you may add more curated content to your Twitter account as compared to your blog.
Before you go about sourcing content, you need to be clear what content format you’re looking for. It’s one thing to know your target keyword(s), but it’s another to be sure of the type of content that you want to add to your content mix.
You have a variety to choose from:
- eBooks and guides
- Research, reports, and white papers
- Slideshare presentations
- Videos, diagrams, and infographics
- Lists, how-to guides, and tips
3. Up next, pick your sources
The content that you are looking for won’t come magically to you. You’ll have to pick your binoculars and look far and wide. Alas, the internet is a vast expanse, and you can’t possibly look for everything all by yourself.
The following sources can help you:
- Social media, particularly, Twitter lists
Following your favorite social media channels to get a steady stream of their content updates is an effective way to curate content. However, keeping track of all the accounts that you follow can quickly become tedious. It is here that Twitter lists can come to your rescue.
Create a list of accounts whose content you don’t want to miss such as how Brian Fanzo does below. Visit your lists regularly to cherry-pick content to share with your audience.
This is as simple as subscribing to your industry’s newsletters and gathering content from there to share with your audience.
- Google alerts
You can also set up Google alerts for getting a hold of the specific content that you want to curate. Setting alerts begins with entering a search term in your browser and narrowing your search to a specific language, source, and/or region.
- Industry blogs and magazines
Subscribe to industry blogs and magazines or add them to your RSS feed to get a sea of relevant content for your target readers.
This entails adding keywords to Flipboard and letting it regurgitate relevant content for you. Here’s a screen showing Flipboard delivering results for multiple keywords including small business marketing, blogging, video marketing, and so on.
Shortcut: Use a curation tool such as ContentStudio. Start with entering your keyword in the query box. You can also lookup authors, hashtags, and domains.
Add other details so that you are specific about the content you need to curate. Next, get the results with a trending score.
4. Filter the content
Naturally, all the content that you collect won’t be a good fit for your audience. Some pieces may not be relevant to their interests. Other pieces may not drive any engagement.
At this step, ask yourself the following questions before nodding yes in favor of a content piece:
- How would this content help my audience?
- Is it unique and share-worthy?
- Does it come from a trustworthy source?
- Would it encourage the reader to engage with me?
You can also prepare a checklist of these pointers and only admit content into your curated folder once it checks off all the points.
We’ve talked about this before but let’s refocus on this point again for a bit: content curation is not copy + paste. If anything, it’s offering value to your audience. Therefore, you are going to be adding value or adding your personal spin to the content you share here.
The pieces that Databox creates are an incredible example. Here’s one of the posts:
It asks 40 email experts for the email marketing metrics (as discussed in the post) that they track but distills the curated answers into 22 KPIs (as mentioned in the headline) alongside great insights from the writer.
In addition to this method of adding originality, you can try the following steps:
- Pack the information into an infographic
- Extract information from videos
- Add additional information on the topic
- Share the major takeaways from a book or video and give your opinion on it
How you add your spin to the content you share depends on the medium on which you share it. The Databox example above is best when you’re curating content for your blog or eBook.
Similarly, you can pull out quotes or statistics from the piece you share on social media. This goes without saying but you can share curated content on your:
- Social media channels
7. Add to the aesthetics
The work that goes into this step also depends on the channel you are sharing your curated content on. A newsletter, for instance, demands a complete aesthetics makeover. You can prepare new graphics for sharing curated content on social or your blog.
The Brain Pickings newsletter, for instance, has a bright look and shares curated content if you look closely in the screengrab:
8. Analyze your content to optimize it
Lastly, just as with any other content you create, curated content also needs to be analyzed. This helps you see how it is performing. Put simply, you need to keep your eyeballs on how well your audience is responding to the content you share and optimize your efforts accordingly.
To this end, check your social media and blog analytics to see how your curated content is doing. If there’s a post that doesn’t perform well, you’ll know that it doesn’t resonate with your audience. Use this data to curate further.
Bonus – Think about how you can involve the community
A crucial aim of content curation is engaging the community as Clay Shirky, NYU professor, shared with the Fast Company, curation “isn’t just about information seeking, it’s also about synchronizing a community.”
i. You share content from others so you involve a part of the community.
ii. The content that you share encourages others to engage with you, helping nurture relationships with the community you’re building.
iii. You can take this further and involve the community in content curation
Not only does this strategy help cut short the content curation cycle, but it also curates content that appeals to your community and involves them too.
Curating content adds variety to your content mix while satisfying your target audience’s content appetite. With all the information that we’ve covered in this blog post, you should be all set to gather and share valuable content that resonates with your audience. One last parting tip – make sure your curation efforts are consistent and relevant.