Content Curation: The Definitive Resource for Growing Small Businesses
When it comes to marketing your business online, there are almost too many options. It’s easy to get distracted by the next new shiny tactic that everyone is fussing about.
But at the end of the day, you just want to know what will proliferate your brand and deliver growth to your business. So, where do you spend your budget, allocate human resources, and focus your energy?
There’s certainly no black-and-white answer to that question. It depends on your industry, target customers, available resources, and a number of other factors that are impossible for us to determine by simply writing a blog post.
But one thing is for sure - content is integral to every successful digital marketing strategy. To gain attention from prospects that are sincerely interested in your product or service, you need to provide value to them above and beyond a transaction. While every prospect that you market to is not ready to buy, they are definitely ready to listen and learn about how to solve their problems.
The concept of content has a diverse meaning, but here's our definition:
Content, in a digital sense, is any form of information that is made available to your ideal customers as a way to generate awareness for your brand, educate them about your solution, and persuade them to become a customer.
Given this broad definition, content can take a number of different forms:
- Blog posts, videos, or podcasts
- Marketing, sales, and customer service emails
- Brochures and sales collateral
- Whitepapers, eBooks, or downloadable resources
- Webinars and online training courses
- Content curation from other reputable sources
All of these content forms have their place in the buyer’s journey and prospect education ecosystem, but for the most part, they are time-intensive and expensive to create. That’s why it’s the last point in that list which we’d like to focus on today - content curation - one method of offering value to your prospects that doesn’t require intensive resources to build.
What is Content Curation?
Content curation is the process of collecting, storing, and then distributing content on a specific topic that is relevant to your personal interests or business objectives.
From a business perspective, content curation focuses on finding content from reputable sources that are likely to be interesting to your ideal prospects. By collecting, storing, and distributing this content - likely on social media - you build credibility with prospects by association.
What are the Benefits of Content Curation?
The benefits of leveraging curated content depend on your context, but here are some of the most prominent ones:
- Credibility - By sharing expert advice from other thought leaders in your industry you start to build credibility and trust with your prospects by association.
- Time - By including curated content as part of your strategy you can publish more content with less work, which saves you time and resources. For example, research by Orbit Media found that the average blog post takes almost 3.5 hours to write, curating an article can take only a few moments:
- Follower Growth - Sharing consistent content is critical to your growth on social media and curated content lessens the burden on your team to always create fresh original pieces. For example, below is an example of social media influencer Jeff Bullas sharing content from Lewis Howes, a credible source for his audience. Jeff has over 550K followers on Twitter, so I’m sure he knows a thing or two about what works!
- Value - Curated content adds another layer of value to your prospects and customers. You can share the best of the best from your industry with them, which they will greatly appreciate. It also balances the mix of your content so that everything isn’t self-promotional. For example, one study conducted by Sprout Social found that 60% of followers are annoyed by overly-promotional content.
- Relevance - Actively curating content keeps you abreast of the latest industry news and trends, which sustains relevance with your audience. Staying relevant in your industry will ensure you are aware of new product opportunities or threats as they present themselves.
- Inspiration - Curating the content of other experts in your space will give you fresh content ideas and inspiration for discussion points you can use in the future.
- Education - On top of all of these marketing-related benefits of content curation, it also helps you maintain a learning mindset so that you can stay at the forefront of your industry when new trends pop up.
What are the Challenges with Content Curation?
As you can see, there is a long list of benefits to curating valuable content for your audience as part of your digital strategy, but it also comes with its challenges. Here are a few of them:
- Quality Assurance - When you are sharing the content of others there is always a chance that it doesn’t meet your own quality standards. You will need controls in place to ensure anything that is curated and shared under your brand name is aligned with your messaging.
- Consistency - Even though you are not creating the content yourself there is still a research process that needs to happen to maintain a consistent stream of quality curated content. So, consistency isn’t easy.
- Skills Gap - There is a strong likelihood that you don’t have the internal team or skill set to handle content curation effectively. Or even if you do, it may be a secondary priority for these individuals. Documenting workflow processes and guidelines for key stakeholders can help bridge this gap, but sometimes you will need to get outside help from agencies or automation tools.
- Diversity - Much like the other challenges this one comes back to how good your processes are for curating content. If you rely heavily on a small number of publications then your strategy may lack diversity, and tapping into new sources of curated content can be time-consuming if you don’t know where to look.
- Budget - As with everything to do with your marketing strategy, curated content comes with budgetary concerns. What resources are you able to commit to curated content? Whether that is hiring someone to execute or adopting a paid automation tool.
Content Curation vs. Content Creation
Content creation is the process of developing original pieces of information yourself. It involves researching a topic, then writing an article, making a video, recording a podcast, or designing an image with the purpose of distributing it as marketing collateral.
Typically content is created by marketers or specialist creators (writers, filmmakers, photographers) to educate a prospect or customer. Companies create content for websites, social media, industry newsletters, commercials, sales material, ads, and mobile apps.
Is this battle between creation and curation a fight for attention or a partnership? We believe that for any successful content strategy, this needs to be a partnership.
Curated content alone will not establish a brand of authority and thought leadership. But relying solely on originally created content is a drain on resources and risks the implication of prospects thinking you just talk about yourself all the time. So there needs to be a balance.
Yes, create original content that will shine a light on your team, personalize the brand, and develop a perception of leadership. Then curate content from other sources by aggregating it, selecting the best of the aggregated content, and sharing it with your followers, subscribers, and customers.
Content Curation Strategy
When finding content, you’ll search through the reams of online noise for high-quality, valuable snippets of information that will help your prospects learn about your industry or understand the problems you solve.
But the internet pumps out content constantly (There are over 4 million blogs published every day).
Some of the content is carefully researched and created. Other content is just slapped together as "clickbait," so people will click on the headline. To give your customers value that will engage them on a consistent basis, you need to choose your content curation strategy carefully. Here are some things to consider:
- Be Goal-Oriented: Curate content according to specific, measurable goals. You can easily adjust your goals as you go along to better match your needs or prospects’ interests. Periodically update your goals to match industry dynamics and changes.
- Target Specific Buyer Personas: All of your marketing should focus on your defined buyer personas. By understanding where your prospects are coming from, you can anticipate their questions, needs and potential stumbling blocks. If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to create a buyer persona, HubSpot’s Make My Persona tool is a good start.
- Collect Quality Over Quantity: Your prospects are busy people, just like you are. Give them the meaty content that offers them answers that they can digest as they go about their day. If you give them too much content, they will dismiss it all. It’s better to share just one article that actually helps them, than 10 with little to offer.
- Provide Value: Value is in the eye of the beholder, so you need to tell your followers why you think this content is important. Preface curated content with a reason they should read or view it.
- Add Your Personal Touch: Most content curation can be automated. In fact, automation does the bulk of the aggregating and selecting. But in the end, your own personal touch is what customers prefer. Let them know why you selected the content, and if they should pay attention to a certain section.
- Brand Your Curation: Like other branding, branding your content makes it recognizable. If your prospects see your logo or header, they will know the content is coming from you and take a few moments to scan it before making a decision on what they should read or view. The more you can create a connection with your audience, the more likely they will return to you for further information. One cool feature of Upflow is our branded promotion bar. You can drive traffic to your website by displaying a promotion bar on top of the articles you share.
- Create a Community: Especially if you are sharing content via social media then creating a community is helpful in building a dedicated audience. Social media allows followers to comment on, share and like the content. This type of engagement will put your content in front of a wider audience and get important feedback from your targeted audience. You can use this feedback to better define what they find valuable. To create a community; create polls, Twitter hashtag chats, and discussion boards related to your content where your audience can engage not only with the content but with each other. SEMrush is an example of a brand that uses Twitter Chats really well to engage followers and curate user content under a branded hashtag:
- Schedule Consistently: Your prospects and audience will begin to anticipate your content shares when you have a regular schedule. By setting up a reasonable schedule that you can adhere to, your audience will expect new information at a certain day and time and prepare themselves for active interaction.
- Credit the Creator: Make sure to give credit where it is due, by linking back to the original post or visual content. Plagiarizing is bad form in any medium, plus they may share your curated content with their followers and expand your reach.
- Less is More: Keep in mind that no one has loads of time to view lots of content. Share short snippets which link to the longer posts. Readers can decide whether to dig further. Below is a good example of curated content on LinkedIn from Edward Dennis of Coredna where he has included commentary of his own to support the share:
Most busy marketers don't have enough time to manually read, aggregate and collect their own content for curation every day. In fact, content curation would be a full-time job if it was done this way. Instead, savvy marketers use automation tools to help them organize and curate their content.
If you are looking for a way to engage your prospects and customers with helpful content, curation is an essential ingredient in your strategy. Because unless you have a team of content creators on hand publishing new content regularly, it’s simply too time-consuming to maintain. You wouldn’t get anything else done!
Look to combine the speed and efficiency of automation with your unique personal touch to keep people interested in what you have to offer. Many content curation tools are free to get started (including Upflow). Discover what works best for your ideal audience and get started with content curation today.