Content is king — one of the most oft-quoted, overused, and frequently misapplied phrases in Internet history was first coined by Bill Gates in 1996.
“Those who succeed will propel the Internet forward as a marketplace of ideas, experiences, and products — a marketplace of content” — Bill Gates
Despite the expectancy of that declaration over two decades ago, many online publishers have struggled to fulfill its promise.
As Ryan Skinner of global research and advisory firm Forrester Research observed: “Marketers and agencies have invested large sums to create quality content, but — in many cases — it’s not getting discovered. Audiences are neither finding nor sharing it. It’s not going viral. It’s not going anywhere.”
It’s clear that great content is not enough.
So is it time to abandon the content is king mantra?
Absolutely not; but it is time to bring the queen of content marketing into the equation and for that, we must look to content curation.
What Is Content Curation?
The internet is full of content curators, many of whom don’t even realize that they are curating.
Each time you re-tweet a memorable quote or statistic on Twitter, pin something useful on Pinterest or share an insightful post on Facebook, you are curating content.
For a more formal definition, I define content curation as the process of finding and aggregating information about a specific topic, synthesizing it to be most relevant to your audience, and sharing it in an easily digestible manner.
7 Benefits of Content Curation
1. Establishes thought leadership
By adding your own perspective to curated content, you are connecting your brand’s voice with the voices of industry experts. This helps you build your reputation in social spaces and grows your reputation as a thought leader in your field.
2. Increases visibility and credibility
Curating valuable content increases your visibility; by demonstrating that you rate the value of the content you share, you enhance your credibility among your audience.
3. Saves time
Creating original content is time and resource intensive. Curation helps you provide your audience with relevant, high-quality information on a regular basis without sacrificing your time and resources (note: this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still produce original content. Curated content is designed to complement your content creation plan — not replace it.).
4. Develops Focus
Content curation keeps you tuned into the latest developments in your industry.
5. Boosts SEO
Content that is curated from an original piece has the same ranking potential as fresh content. The rules of SEO still apply to curated content; ensure SEO value in what you curate and link back to insightful, quality websites.
6. Increases inbound links
Publishing useful and relevant content on a regular basis is still the fastest way to earn links back to your website.
7. Drives social shares
Curation can increase the volume of shares, re-tweets or blog links you get both from your audience and from the authors you curated.
So far, so simple right?
While content curation sounds simple, there’s a world of difference between simply curating content and doing it well. Read on to find out how you can excel at curation as part of your overall content strategy.
10 Golden Rules of Content Curation
#1 Determine your goals
Do you want to drive more traffic to your blog? Establish yourself as a thought leader in your field? Without clear goals from the start you won’t be able to measure your success.
Actionable Marketing Tip: Read through the 7 benefits of content curation above. Which one of these is most aligned to your business goals? Write it down and keep it to the fore each time you curate content.
#2 Know Your Audience
Google’s Avinish Kaushik, has stated that “content is anything that adds value to the reader’s life.” Choose content that is relevant and valuable to your audience.
Actionable Marketing Tip: If you are familiar with “buyer personas” for marketing campaigns, this process is similar. Do your research first to understand what your audience needs to know; the better you understand their interests and needs, the more effective you’ll be at content curation.
#3 Find your niche
Don’t cover everything. Decide on your core niche and stick to it. Your topic should be of enough interest to a niche audience, but at the same time be in an area where there is plenty of content to pull from. Remember also to choose a topic that excites you as the curator to prevent boredom setting in.
Actionable Marketing Tip: Follow the advice of Joe Pulizzi, founder Content Marketing Institute, “Find your niche, and then go even more niche”.
#4 Always attribute your sources
This should hardly need saying but always cite the original source when curating content. Not only is this a courtesy to the author, but it can result in increased networking opportunities.
Actionable Marketing Tip: Look up the original author, make an effort to reach out to them and notify them when your curated piece has been published. Quite often the original author will share the article across their social networks too, boosting its reach and traffic.
#5 Add your unique perspective
Don’t just copy and paste what you’ve read; the web is full of endlessly regurgitated content. Adding your own unique perspective is at the heart of what separates curation from mere aggregation.
Actionable Marketing Tip: Provide summaries and key takeaways of main points, add your own perspective, context and commentary on why you did (or didn’t) like the piece.
#6 Be selective
Quality is a differentiator as a curator. To quote Neicole Crepeau:
As a content curator, you are marketing yourself as a supplier of good information: a funnel that filters out the crap and promotes the gems. The more people can count on you and the quality of your content sharing, the more they will eventually support you, reshare and click on your links, and recommend you to others.
Curate from reliable, high-quality sources only, selecting the most valuable and relevant information. A good curator is one who is discerning, discriminative, and selective in only sharing the best and most relevant content.
Actionable Marketing Tip: Make sure you read (and understand) every piece of content you curate. Never share just for the sake of sharing; ask yourself if this will educate or entertain your target audience and how it fits with your own marketing goals.
#7 Strive for accuracy at all times
Spelling and grammar count. Not only can misspellings and bad grammar be perceived as a sign of disrespect and laziness to the original author, but it will also damage your credibility as a curator.
Actionable Marketing Tip: Check out my essential guide to proofreading here.
#8 Create compelling titles
Add your own twist to curated content by creating headlines that will draw more readers in. Great headlines also encourage more social sharing.
Actionable Marketing Tip: Read 15 Ways To Crack Captivating Headlines to learn how to write more compelling titles for your content.
#9 Share widely and often on your social media network
Use a variety of social media channels to share your curated content. Be mindful of which network matches your content best. Scheduling your social media updates allows you to share your content numerous times and hit multiple time zones. Try a tool like Buffer, which will also provide feedback on which content generated the most engagement, which in turn helps you plan your strategy even better.
Actionable Marketing Tip: Try reframing your original post as a question, or a statement, highlight a key statistic or different elements of the content each time you re-share it.
#10 Create a consistent content schedule
Sharing regularly and frequently gains you visibility. A burst of curated content shared with your audience one week, followed by nothing for a month, is not a strategy I would recommend. Decide on a schedule and stick to it. This can be anything from one curated piece of content a day to sharing three times a week; whatever works for you. The key is consistency.
Actionable Marketing Tip: Consider e-mailing subscribers a weekly round-up of the best content you’ve discovered during the week. Schedule it for the same day and time each week.
To Wrap Up
Content curation, supplemented by original content, is the key to a successful content marketing strategy.
Often, people think of themselves as either creators or curators as if these two things are mutually exclusive. The imperative to create helpful and relevant content is still important, but equally important is the need to curate helpful and relevant content.
However, success doesn’t happen by itself. To excel requires you to continually and consistently stay on top of your niche as a trusted resource for your audience, alongside the ability to synthesize and provide a unique perspective every time.
We’re increasingly living in a world of information overload; by providing a clear, contextually relevant voice a good content curator will separate signal from noise.
When your audience discovers in you a trustworthy source of curated content, they will be more inclined to stay for related offerings. To quote Dan Blank of We Grow Media: “Content curation is to make the whole stronger than the sum of the parts”.