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From the Trenches

Your Quick-Start Guide to Content Curation

Right Source | March 10, 2017
Your Quick-Start Guide to Content Curation

You’ve heard time and again that you should curate content as part of your content marketing strategy. But why should you put time and effort toward sharing someone else’s content? While it may seem counterintuitive, content curation can actually pay off big for your company’s marketing in several ways.

First, posting content from other sources gives the impression that your company pays attention to industry news happening beyond your own office (which is true, right?). Furthermore, if you post a ton on social media, but every post points back to your website, followers will start to feel spammed and may even unfollow you. Readers are usually more forgiving if you only champion your own content on your website or newsletter, but sharing others’ quality content through these mediums can win you some extra brownie points as well.

In addition, curating content can also take a load off the content creation team. If you’re trying to share a lot online but only use your own content, one of two things will happen: 1) you’ll end up linking to the same stuff over and over again, which decreases followers’ incentive to check your website, newsletter, or social media properties; or 2) your content creation team will have to churn out a bunch of new content on a tight timeline, which will probably cause the quality of said content to plummet and seriously overwhelm the team.

Clearly, neither of these scenarios is ideal — but there’s good news: Curating content can help you avoid both of them. Here’s how to do it right:

1. Decide how much you’re going to share

Curata claims that “enlightened” content marketers curate 25 percent of their content, and here at Right Source, we recommend a similar 80/20 rule — that is, sharing 80 percent of your own original content and 20 percent of curated content. This isn’t a universal rule, but it’s a good starting point when figuring out how much curated content you should share. By sharing good content, you’ll become a trusted source of information and complement your original content creation efforts.

Some companies aim for a higher ratio depending on their marketing goals, what their audience prefers, or the content distribution channels they’re using. For instance, you may share more curated content on Twitter than on LinkedIn.

But overall, we’ve found that trying to share one piece of curated content for every four or five original posts is a realistic and achievable goal for most of our clients. Starting small — such as posting one curated “article of the week,” or giving one of your four monthly newsletter slots to a curated story — can set you up for greater successes in the future.

2. Identify your themes

When you develop an overall content strategy, you should identify themes to guide your topic choices. These apply to original and curated content; the content you curate should align with your target audiences’ interests and needs, as well as reinforce your company’s overall messaging. By focusing on the themes you identified in your strategy, you can ensure that all of your content works together seamlessly.

Curating content that aligns with your themes will also allow you to add value to the content you share. Good curation goes beyond summarizing — to be most effective, you should include original commentary that demonstrates your take or expertise on the issue.

3. Vet the content as if it’s your own

Even if you didn’t write the content, the articles you share reflect on your company. So before you post anything, read everything the whole way through. The value of content curation (as opposed to aggregation) is that a human being, and not an algorithm, has read the article and used his or her good judgement to determine that it’s worth sharing and reading. If you’re not doing this, then there is no difference between your content curation and an automatic aggregator (and that completely defeats the purpose of content curation).

On a related note, double check the date to make sure it’s still current — how will it look if you share an article that was published when people were still worried about the Y2K virus? Not good. Also make sure the article is from a reputable source and website that won’t negatively impact your brand or your SEO. In addition, figure out if you need approval from anyone else further up the marketing chain of command before you share a curated article. To make this process easier, create a list of criteria that will help you judge whether it’s quality content and relevant to your audience.

4. Determine where you’re going to share the content

Before you start looking for articles to share, you have to determine how and where you are going to share it. This decision should be closely tied to your motivation for sharing curated content. For example, are you trying to encourage more social engagement and increase your follower count? Then sharing curated content on social media is a good strategy.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to build your website’s link profile, you can include curated content on your own website by posting a summary (or the first few paragraphs) of the piece, and then linking to the original article. However, if you link to untrustworthy websites or content, this strategy can backfire and actually lower your website’s profile — so proceed with caution.

Other companies try to keep their followers informed of breaking industry news, but don’t have the bandwidth to write an article on every news items themselves. In this case, they might reserve a spot in their newsletter for a piece of curated content, or feature curated articles in a separate sidebar with a headline such as “other stories from around the web.”

5. Choose how you will share the content

This decision will be influenced by where you decide you share your curated content. For example, Twitter is great for simple retweeting and sharing, while Facebook’s greater character count gives you room to offer more in-depth commentary on the content you have curated — allowing you to add value and demonstrate your thought leadership. If you decide to include a curated article in your newsletter or link to one on your website, you should also plan to craft some sort of summary and/or commentary on it, just as you would do for one of your own articles.

You can also use content curation to create meatier content for your website or blog, like a roundup or top 10 list on a particular topic. To do this, collect several helpful links or quotes that all focus on the same topic, add a short summary for each item, and you’ll have a blog post before you know it. For an example of this, check out “Content Curation Tools: The Ultimate List,” a (rather meta) list compiled by Curata, a content curation software company (more on Curata below). Longer-form curated content like this is valuable to readers because you are doing all the legwork for them — rather than having to spend hours Googling a topic, readers can simply skim your single blog post.

6. Select a point person (or software)

Ideally, one person (even if that person is an intern) should be given the main responsibility of curating content so it’s clear who is in charge of finding articles. If you have the budget for it, you can also purchase software such as Curata or PublishThis to automate the first step of finding content.

Even if you don’t use dedicated content curation software, you can still use online tools such as Pocket to find and save content for later as you browse the web. You can also set up alerts through BuzzSumo or Google News to automatically notify you when articles about relevant topics are published. Feedly, Scoop.it, and other curation tools can also assist you in your quest to become a content curation ninja.

Curating content is just one piece of a successful content marketing and social media strategy — but it’s an important one. Curating content the right way can boost your company’s brand and ease some of the burden off the content team, all while exposing your audience to more industry news than ever before.

Need help with content curation, or any other part of content marketing? Reach out for help.

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About Right Source:

The Marketing Trenches blog provides thought leadership from actual marketing practitioners, not from professional thought leaders. Designed to help business leaders make more educated marketing decisions, our insights come directly from our experience in the trenches. You can find more from Right Source on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), and LinkedIn.