One of the hot topics in content marketing is content curation. It can play a role in achieving various goals, depending on how, where and why you use it.
Whereas content marketing in the strict sense mainly revolves around identifying, creating and sharing content in order to meet business goals and what audiences want across the customer life cycle, content curation is about aggregating/discovering/gathering relevant content and then sharing or presenting it to audiences in a targeted and optimized way.
Content curation is not just sharing all kinds of content you stumble upon or source. It’s most of all about doing it in a smart and audience-centric way, by focusing on specific topics you want to curate content about. Some curation platforms even clearly revolve around community marketing purposes. There are many reasons why you might want to curate content. Unless you do it for the sake of sharing or for fun, content curation – when used – is part of an overall content marketing strategy. Let’s start with more details about what content curations is and what goals it can serve.
Some goals of content curation
- Try to be of service. Create something that might help your target audiences and is relevant for your goals too. It doesn’t have to be filtering the noise as is often said. An example: when doing an event on a specific topic (such as…content marketing) as we do, you can offer more resources to attendees but also use it to put your event on the map, like we try to do with this list of ‘top content marketing blogs‘, made with List.ly. People come to learn something – among others – so why not point then to more resources?
- Become a trusted filter and source of valuable and relevant information and thus in a sense, whatever channels you use, become the media by turning these channels into reliable information sources. They key to succeed: focus and audience-centricity. The challenge: avoid getting into a traffic-only mindset, putting too much emphasis on curation when the essential content and strategy are lacking.
- Display thought leadership. Thought leadership, a very broad concept, nowadays is typically associated with being an influencer, blogger, content creator or well-known person. However, it’s not about that. Real thought leaders are subject matter experts sharing their real experiences and expertise, and answering to questions their target groups and buyer personas have. Knowing where the good information sits can be as valuable as creating it sometimes if you use it to provide value to others. But of course, in practice, thought leadership will be confused with popularity and influence in the eye of the beholder in practice for quite some time.
- Inside-out and internal purposes (often with a social focus). By having a content curation activity in place internally you can keep your knowledge workers informed and also provide your internal teams (mainly social but also others) to selectively enhance some social media marketing business goals. The link between social media and content curation is becoming more important and social content curation is an often used practice as you can see in the Slideshare presentation from marketing automation vendor Marketo. It’s not a coiincidence Marketo made the presentation as de facto we see content curation being used in lead generation as well.
- Other marketing goals. Essentially, content curation can be used for virtually all marketing goals: from branding and acquisition to even lead generation or customer service. It all depends. However, in our opinion, content curation cannot be an excuse for not creating the content your buyers must find and not the primary way to achieve any of the mentioned goals. Everyone can create content when answering to questions their core audiences have and providing these answers in the form of content simply is good business and customer-centric marketing. This doesn’t mean content curation can’t play a role in this regard as well but it can never replace it, although in practice (according to research by Curata), it seems that creating original content is the main content marketing challenge for content curators so it seems many don’t share that opinion. And that’s too bad because as a brand you need to serve your audiences and focus on what makes you different. The core challenge is to use content curation as a way to create value among well-defined segments and for clear purposes. It’s never about adding to the noise, it’s about providing value through creating sense within the noise.
Content curation processes
The content curation process also requires some strategic and tactical steps as in most activities, including (not exhaustive):
- Defining the reasons and target audiences or: why do you want to use content curation and why would anyone care?
- Integrating content curation in a broader strategy and defining metrics.
- Analyzing the best ways to source and identifying the content regarding topics that matter to your goals and audiences.
- Filtering, classifying, adding value and preparing for sharing with your target audiences. It’s essential to make a difference, as said earlier.
- Identifying the proper channels and tools to share. These channels depend on your goals and the preferred channels your audiences use.
Content curation, when taken seriously, requires you to watch over the quality over the content you curate. Your brand and reputation are at stake, but most of all you don’t want to disappoint your target audiences.
That’s why it’s called curation: an art museum curator picks the works for his next exhibition carefully as well. If he doesn’t, the audiences visiting that exhibition and knowing the quality standards of the museum and curator will not come back or voice their dissatisfaction.
What makes content curation stand out?
Below are some general success factors and effects of content curation.
Content curation provides context and convenience
Much online content may not be well explained and in some cases, is used incorrectly. And there is a lot of content. Content curators take the time and effort to filter, reword or explain the information to their audiences. In that sense, the aim of content curation is to make information more useful to audiences for specific reasons. It’s all about context and convenience.
Content curation does not overwhelm
The Internet has a great deal of informative content on various subjects, especially now. In fact, there is so much information and content that it often leads to information overload. On the other hand, curation reuses content on the internet to create content that will also be online (although content curation can also be used offline). However, content curation creates value by making the content better suited for the goals and target audiences.
Content curation can build authority
Content curators can build a more authoritative voice by locating and reformatting content in a way that it remains relevant to the readers. The authority arises from the fact that curators help people gain a better understanding of issues that confuse them. So, it’s not the act of content curation as such alone, it’s also about how you use curated content to inform, educate, entertain and engage target audiences.
Content curation: disconnected, connected and hybrid
Ideally content curation is integrated in an overall content marketing – and often social media marketing – approach. However, sometimes it makes sense to create a brand around curated content regarding a specific topic. You can also use it in a hybrid way, as an addition but somewhat disconnected from your own content. An example: this blog has a specific view and mission so we don’t cover everything about content marketing. However, we know what our target audiences value and use specific platforms and channels to link to other content as well. This can result in a specific channel, such as your Twitter account, becoming a medium as such. That’s not bad, the only challenge is that if it’s not an owned channel, such as a Twitter account, it doesn’t belong to you but to Twitter’s policy and you have no control over Twitter whatsoever.
Content curation and search engine optimization
Content curation, when well done, can positively impact search engine optimization. You can also embed curated content, within your own content, to make the experience of the audience more valuable. While content curation is often used for SEO purposes, we believe that it’s not the best thing to do (or better: not the main purpose to use it). What matters in search engine marketing is relevance and when using content curation just for SEO, you’ll end up hunting links instead of hunting value and that’s increasingly a bad idea. Curation means being open and sharing content of others. It’s an open Web.
There is much more to be said about content curation from a marketing goals and target audiences perspective and there are dozens of tactical tips we can share. Instead of summing them all up now, below you can find some links on the content curation topic. But let’s first look at some tools and platforms.
Content curation tools
There is an extremely wide range of content curation platforms and some of them have a specific goal. They range from open and free tools, sometimes with a very narrow scope, to full-fledged corporate content curation platforms. Content curation features are also present in many content marketing software platforms.
The offer of content curation tools, and certainly the social content sourcing and curation tool niche is growing fast. Several platforms have a specific scope or background (lists, social, email, corporate, small business, personal, B2B, etc.).
Below is a list of some content curation tools for all kinds of purposes, goals and usage circumstances. Do you need such a tool? It depends. You can also build your own content curation engine and use free tools to curate content. In general, when you want to do content curation, you might want to consider some (or more) of the platforms below (in alphabetical order, with each tool having a different approach and focus).
- Atomic Reach
- B2B ContentEngine
- EditorEye (email focus)
- Mass Relevance
- Swayy (social focus)
There are literally dozens (if in the mean time not hundreds) more platforms to discover, source, organize and curate content and we haven’t mention popular tools many people use but you’ll find many of those in the sources below. We try to limit ourselves – for now – to curation platforms for content marketing instead of personal use.
Content curation: some basic tips
In the infographic by Curata below you find some easy but essential tips in case you decide to use content curation for personal or business reasons. Most relevant according to us:
- Watch the length of the excerpt.
- Add your own voice and provide context.
- Make sure you pass SEO credit to the content creator.
- Don’t use the same title and too much content from the creator: you don’t want to compete with the people who created the content and you don’t want to confuse search engine users in their quest for relevant content.
J-P De Clerck is a Belgium-based but internationally active digital marketing and business analyst with global experience and proven results in consulting and business. As a 360° digital business customer and business value creator, he’s active on the crossroads where marketing, business, customer experience, digital technologies, IT and media meet since 1992. You can follow him on Twitter via @conversionation or via Google+ +J-P De Clerck.