Content curation can be a critical part of a larger social media strategy. Instead of only focusing on creating great original content, there are big advantages to sharing content from outside sources, especially when you can add value to it.
What is content curation and why is it important?
The word “curate” means “to select, organize, and present, typically using professional or expert knowledge.” When applied to content, you become the expert in finding, evaluating, and sharing outside content in a compelling way. This usually manifests in the form of a blog post roundup, social media shares, or a newsletter of favorite links that support your own original content.
This approach may seem a little backwards: how can your audience pay attention and care about you if you’re sharing other people’s work? Simply put, there’s too much content out there to sift through. Instead, readers turn to sources they can count on to share quality, relevant content. And then they reward those sources with their gratitude and trust—and often, their business.
Why you should add value to the content you curate
There are numerous methods and tools that can help you curate content. But what is most important is recognizing the difference between passive and active curation.
Passive content curation is typically an automated or impulsive process that uses content aggregators to post on social media. For example, someone might connect an RSS feed to a social media scheduling tool and allow it to post links at scheduled intervals. This method helps you maintain a consistent posting schedule and may indeed share good quality content.
But curating just to have regular content often comes off as robotic or disingenuous. The challenge with this passive approach is that you are removed from the process, which means curation is simply pumping out content rather than build a relationship with your audience.
To make a stronger impact, think of curation differently: it is not a replacement for interaction, but rather a tool to spark conversations. #HootChat regular, Martin Lieberman, puts it this way:
If all you do is push content, all you're going to get is retweets. If you engage, you'll get a whole lot more replies. Which do YOU want?
— Martin Lieberman (@martinlieberman) June 14, 2016
Thinking about curation as an active process inserts your brand into the equation. It’s okay to use tools to automate the process so long as you are involved before and after content is shared. Remember, good curation doesn’t end with a shared link—take it one step further and engage.
5 tips for better content curation
Being involved in curation will help you maintain a strong presence in your industry. Here are five ways you can take curation a step further:
1. Spark conversations with your audience
Use curation as a springboard for discussions with your audience. When sharing outside content, include your own commentary alongside the link that will encourage a response. You can ask a question, provide feedback by addressing any questions posed by the author, or add additional insight. And don’t forget to reply to any responses you get.
Ramit Sethi, creator of “I Will Teach You,” demonstrated this perfectly on Facebook when he shared a New York Times article and asked his followers to reply with the specific techniques the interviewee used to stand out:
This encouraged participation and reinforced his own content that discusses those techniques.
2. Insert yourself into relevant conversations
There are plenty of opportunities where you and your brand could provide the perfect solution, answer a question, or simply engage with people who care, but you just haven’t found those conversations yet. Content discovery allows you to keep up with what’s happening in your industry so you can jump in on the conversations that would benefit from your insight.
If you’ve ever visited Quora, a popular platform where users ask and answer questions, you get the idea. You can apply this same concept by answering the “questions” that are posed throughout discovered content through comments or on social media.
Hootsuite found a perfect opportunity to tweet a clever response about a trending topic (in this case, Pokemon Go) while also reinforcing the importance and ease of completing their certification:
Why not do both? https://t.co/natINip5AU
— Hootsuite (@hootsuite) July 13, 2016
Now Hootsuite can stay top-of-mind, even while “catching them all.”
3. Build a connection with an influencer
When sharing outside content, it’s important to give credit to the original author by tagging them when possible. Take advantage of curation by establishing a relationship with influencers you admire. When sharing a particularly valuable piece of content, offer feedback, express your gratitude, or ask a question. This can lead to a response from the author that can easily turn into a longer conversation—so long as you are being sincere.
Pat Flynn of “Smart Passive Income” showed his support of teenage entrepreneur Eva Baker in a Facebook post:
It’s clear that he has taken the time to get to know her and really foster that relationship. And that could lead to some very cool collaborations in the future.
4. Become an early adopter of a new technology or methodology
Often times, curation tends to mean sharing viral content that everybody is already sharing. By taking a different approach and focusing on unearthing the hidden gems, you may find new topics that are worth looking into further.
If you find a product or a concept that works, start using it and then make it known. You may be an early adopter of the next big thing, which is a powerful position for a brand to be in.
For example, popular retail brand Everlane made a bold statement in November 2014 when they claimed Snapchat to be The “de facto social media channel” for their brand, even though the platform was largely untapped at the time. Needless to say, their early adoption paid off.
5. Inform the development of original content
Knowing what is already being addressed in your industry helps to illuminate the gaps where you and your brand can step in with your own created content. While searching for relevant content, take notice of the topics that are already being covered, how they are being covered, the mediums others are using, and what areas could use more development or a unique perspective.
Additionally, use discovered content to support your original content as citations and examples. This helps to build your credibility and hopefully garners those sources’ attentions and support.
Inbound Buzz podcast host Moby Siddique uses content discovery tool UpContent for ideation. He explains this process in an episode covering the Ultimate Content Creation Tools Used by Agencies and Pros.
With numerous ways to stay active with curation, there’s no reason to resort to passive methods that merely push content. Instead, be involved in the process and you will reap the many benefits of a loyal, engaged audience.
You can now add the content storage solutions you already use—including UpContent—directly to your Hootsuite dashboard.