Our last post introduced you to the concept of content curation and included some examples of curation in action. Now that you have a feel for what curation is all about and how it fits into your marketing mix, let’s dive into some tips and tricks for effective and ethical curation.
1. Identify your topic(s)
Before you start curating, zero in on the topic or topics you’d like to focus on. A few questions to consider: Is this topic relevant to your product or service? Is it helpful to your audience? Is it an area in which you have expertise and opinions? Define your topic too narrowly and you may find that only a handful of people are interested in the topic. Go too broad and the content won’t consistently meet your audience’s needs because they won’t know what to expect. Hitting that sweet spot in the middle will help you attract and maintain a loyal audience of readers who are engaged with your topic and your brand. Think about your thought leader strategy curated topic and developing a thought leadership strategy to achieve it. As Craig Badings of Thought Leadership Strategy states, “identify whether anyone else already occupies the space. If so, you may be two steps behind already.”
2. Follow the key voices
Find the people or brands that are already publishing useful, well-written content in your niche. If your audience cares about social media and tech startups, you’ll want to read Mashable. If you focus on marketing, then consider subscribing to MarketingProfs. Curators who care about personal finance might check out CNNMoney. Sign up for emails or RSS feeds to ensure that you’re staying current on thought leaders in your industry.
3. Curate content from a variety of sources
If you consistently curate content from one or two sources, then readers may just go straight to those sources instead of coming to you. The value you bring as a curator is in identifying relevant content from a variety of reputable sources, some readers have likely heard of and some that may be brand new to them. Read widely to ensure that you’re sharing the best of the best.
4. Add your own commentary
Simply republishing content from third-party sources is called aggregation. Good content curation takes that extra step of putting the idea into context, explaining why it’s relevant to readers, or otherwise inserting your brand’s opinion on the topic. For instance, each Friday, freelance writer Michelle Rafter curates news and trends that are relevant to the publishing industry and weaves in her own commentary:
5. Retitle everything you curate
Try to never use the same headline as the original piece of content, because this means you’ll be competing with the original author in SEO results. Retitling content also gives you the chance to work in your own voice and any brand keywords. In the example below, the original article was called “B2B Content Marketing Report – Need To Focus On The Basics” but when it was curated, the title became “Survey says marketers continue to struggle with Content Marketing.” This incorporates the keyword phrase “content marketing” and highlights one of the report’s key findings.
6. Quote short excerpts only
Including a quote or two from the original piece can help capture the flavor of the original piece. But in keeping with fair use, you should only quote a short excerpt of the original piece and only republish a thumbnail image rather than a full-sized image unless you have permission from the original content creator. Try to make your own commentary at least as long as the sections you’re quoting, like in the example above.
7. Credit and link to the original source
Out of respect for the original content creator, make sure you’re giving them credit and a link. Linking to other sources increases the likelihood that they might link back to you in the future. The Learnvest.com article below on tax-free shopping includes information from a Chase survey and a CNN Money article. These sources are clearly credited and given a prominent link in a contrasting color. Burying links at the bottom, hiding them in a color that matches the rest of the text, or failing to include links at all are not considered best practices for content curators.
8. Encourage sharing
If at all possible, enable commenting and social media shares on your curated content. This will boost the likelihood of your content going viral and making it dead-simple for readers to share and engage with your content. Tools like ShareThis’ Share Bar can help facilitate easy sharing, but if you’re using a share bar or iFrame, give the reader the option view your content without it if they prefer.
There you have it. These are the basics of content curation to get you started. If you’d like to learn more about it, check out our ebook, 5 Simple Steps to Becoming a Content Curation Rockstar.
Want to learn more about content curation, and how to incorporate it into your marketing strategy? Watch this webinar with Cameron Uganec, Director of Marketing and Communications for HootSuite: 6 Tips for Successful Content Curation.