Content marketing is the marketing buzz word for 2013 and with good reason. The convergence of Google updates that penalise spammy content (and reward sites with a good stockpile of quality stuff) alongside the exploding popularity of social media means that more and more organisations are starting to behave like publishers.
The quality of your content has become one of the key things that differentiates you from your peers in the online world and it's therefore unsurprising that there's a growing amount of competition for the attention of prospects. However, not everyone has the time to churn out eye-turning content, nor the budget to outsource their efforts. And here's where the strategy of content curation can come in handy.
What is Content Curation?
Curating content simply means selecting and organising the content of others then pointing your audience towards it. If done ethically, this can be a boon to those looking to enhance their online profile and if implemented badly, it amounts to little more than plagiarism.
By setting yourself up as a hub for information relevant to your field, you can keep your audience entertained and engaged without having to produce reams of content yourself. It's particularly useful for those who rely heavily on social channels - although by no means restricted to this group.
While it sounds simple enough, there are a range of pitfalls that beset beginners and a number of good practices that will serve your curation campaign well in the long-run.
How to Curate Content Like a Boss
The way you go about curating content can range from a simple retweet or share to producing a full-blown article examining the best types of content in a certain area. Aggregation sites have been popular for years, but relatively recent success stories like the Huffington Post and Buzzfeed have thrust the practice into the limelight.
So what are the best ways to track down, arrange and distribute content that positions you as a thought leader?
Before you put virtual pen to paper, you'll need to find something worth sharing. Your first stop should probably be your search engine of choice - check out news and web results for terms related to your field and discover what's popular. Google even has a blog search facility, which can be an invaluable tool for coming across fresh, relevant content that won't have been regurgitated to death by those in your field.
Twitter's user interface may appear outdated to some, but the use of hashtags, trending topics and the sturdy search function means it's a doddle to find stuff worthy of curation on the microblogging site. Tools like Followerwonk and Social Bro can also be invaluable in tracking down influential users to follow, as well as providing in-depth data to help you develop social growth strategies.
If you're not using Google+ - you should be. Not only is this burgeoning network one of the fastest growing and most active, it's also a curator's paradise.Its 'communities' feature allows you to join groups related to your industry and delivers curatable content straight into your profile's feed.
LinkedIn is also a great place to find groups related to your field - and if none currently exist, why not have a go at creating one yourself? However, be wary of lacklustre groups with low member counts that exist solely as content promotion outlets.
- Ask and Answer Questions
Now you've tactically positioned yourself in several relevant communities, it's time to begin interacting and boosting your social capital. Don't be afraid to weigh in on conversations or answer queries when you've got something relevant to add to the discussion. Posing your own questions can also be a good route, as long they're insightful.
Similarly, when you do start curating - instead of mindlessly hitting the share button, ask for the views of your social congregation. This is a surprisingly effective way of boosting engagement and positioning your page or profile as a hub for relevant discussions.
Another way to step beyond simple sharing is to organise curated content to make up a bigger post. This straddles the line between creation and curation, but typically involves a lot less work than writing your own article from scratch.
List content is a staple of curators, in part because articles set out in this way are inherently skim-able. Not only will this cater to your audience's ever-dwindling attention spans, it'll also provide a great opportunity to provoke discussion.
Infographics are also a great option for boosting social shares and as long as you've got a modicum of design ability (and the necessary software), they're relatively easy to put together. In the course of your research, try and make a note of relevant findings or statistics on certain topics - then present these in a palatable way and distribute to your key demographic.
- Notes on Newsjacking
If you want to be at the top of your curation game, you'll need to keep abreast of breaking news related to your field and ruthlessly capitalise when the opportunity presents itself. Simply put together a short - hopefully insightful - paragraph or two on the news story, study or research results - ask your audience for their thoughts and share away.
The effectiveness of this tactic wanes as time goes on, so make sure you've got resources to hand that will keep you at the cutting edge of developments in your industry. A daily visit to relevant industry news sites (or perhaps just Google News if you're pressed for time) is highly recommended and setting up Google Alerts for your key areas of discussion can be a great asset.
There's no doubt that content curation is more of an art than a science, but by approaching it in an empirical manner and nurturing your audience - it can be a highly effective tactic that reduces the time you spend slaving over social, while still delivering effective engagement.
What are your thoughts on the practice of curating content? Do you have any dos and don'ts you'd like to see added to this list or do you disagree with the technique altogether? We're always keen to hear from you - so don't be a stranger and hit us up in the comments.
We've also released a new content marketing eBook, which is packed full of tips and tricks specifically for SMEs, so be sure to check it out for free today:
Images used courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and Tim Parkinson on Flickr.