Boulder SEO Marketing recently teamed up with inbound.li, a new and exciting content curation platform for social media. We invited Gene Sobolev, social media expert and Co-Founder at inbound.li, to share tips and best practices on how to achieve content curation success and we’re excited to share his expertise with you on our blog. We would like to thank Gene for sharing his vast knowledge and hope that you’ll enjoy reading his guest blog post:
Curate This – 12 Impactful Principles for Content Curation Success
By Gene Sobolev, Co-Founder of inboundli
86% of organizations use content marketing and see it as an integral element for building presence and winning customers online—indeed content is king. The reason for that is that a solid content strategy helps to build long lasting assets with more predictable outcomes as opposed to short spikes in business surrounding paid acquisition campaigns. Some of the most vivid benefits are brand awareness, thought leadership, lead generation and various tactics to target audiences based on buying stage.
However, content marketing requires dedication, continuity and, most notably, a lot of high quality content to compete in the modern online landscape. This is illustrated by the fact that 57% of marketers say that they should share at least 10 pieces of content per day to properly engage with their customers. The problem is that most companies cannot afford a small newsroom to facilitate the creation of 10 pieces of original, relevant, high quality content. This is where content curation comes in as a powerful tactic to drive content marketing success.
Although content curation has many definitions, it can be shortly described as the practice of collecting, organizing and displaying information relevant to a certain topic. 82% of marketers curate content—and for a good reason: curation delivers the most important benefits of content marketing for a fraction of the cost and time associated with content creation. When done correctly, it drives traffic, helps to establish relationships, builds authority for your brand or company along other benefits.
It is important to notice that curation doesn’t rule out content creation, but comes in as a supplementary tactic. Successful implementation delivers value to an audience by creating channels of relevant information where the noise and saturation of the internet have been filtered out and made easy for consumption. This implies creating content distribution assets to use with created content and increasing its reach.
There are 5 types of content curation as laid down by Rohit Bhargava:
- Aggregation – Curating the most relevant information about a topic in a single place.
- Distillation – Simplifying information by keeping only the core concepts.
- Elevation – Identifying trends or insights from multiple subsets of information.
- Mashup – Merging existing content to create a new point of view.
- Chronology – Creating a timeline to give a topic a historical perspective.
You may come across more granular concepts which can usually be nested under one of the above categories.
The usual suspects to apply content curation to are the company blog and social media. Curation on owned domains helps to elevate SEO and to keep your blog active at all times, while social media curation allows a wider reach and helps to establish engaging channels to increase visibility for your brand.
As there are many definitions to content curation, there are also multiple workflows and misunderstandings regarding this powerful, and in fact crucial, tactic. The companies who get it right get great returns for little investment and keep ahead of competition. The good news are that it isn’t that hard to learn and having a framework goes a long way. So, it’s time to get practical. Here I will lay out the most impactful principles with a focus on Twitter, but if you filter out Twitter specific concepts, it applies to other social networks as well.
12 Effective Content Curation Practices:
- Have a content curation strategy. This seems trivial, but I’ve seen companies sharing content that is not aligned with their values and expertise, which can cause more harm than good. Making sure that content is relevant to your audience and meets minimum quality criteria is the first step to success with curation.
- Research your audience. Many companies started using personas in their marketing, which is good but mostly not enough. Live interviews will help shaping content marketing and a winning curation strategy. Similar to customer research and agile product development, talking to real people will generate enormous amounts of actionable knowledge and rid you of assumptions.
- Keep the right content proportions. There is plenty of debate on this topic, but I found that the 10-4-1 rule, where 10 posts are curated, 4 are created and one is promotional, works quite well. In many use cases, I’ve seen successful application of the 6-3-1 rule, where 6 posts are curated, 3 owned and 1 promotional. However, in terms of curation ratio both strategies are very similar.
- Mix current and evergreen content. Current content such as product launch announcements is relatively easy to find and delivers engagement based on its merit of being new. On the other hand, evergreen content can deliver more value since it is usually long (over a 1000 words) better researched and more informative. In addition, it allows to plan ahead and automate much of the curation process. A healthy mix of the two provides your audience with both insightful and exciting content.
- Mix media types. The exact proportions depend on your industry but as a rule of thumb B2C business benefit from shorter articles, memes, viral videos and music tracks, whereas B2B companies gain more by sharing longer articles, infographics, webinars, slide decks and podcasts.
- Mention or credit sources. By doing so you not only comply with ethical codes but also open the door to start conversations with figures of authority in your field. As a bonus, there is a minor increase to engagement, too.
- Use hashtags. Posts with hashtags get double the engagement than those without so finding relevant trending hashtags is key to visibility. 1-3 well chosen hashtags will certainly give your post a boost. However, too many hashtags make your post look spammy and lead to a decrease in interactions.
- Retweet less. Retweets are attributed only to the original source of the tweet and don’t allow you to contextualize the content. This creates noise without visibility or added value. If your strategy calls for retweets and you can’t avoid them, I suggest using the original RT format. This format requires you to append the letters “RT” at the beginning of your post and twitter will recognize it as a retweet but will track engagement back to you (the location of the “RT” has to be at the very beginning for twitter to recognize it as such).
- Add value and keep a consistent tone. Not adhering to this principle, similar to retweets, creates noise with no substance and waters down your brand image. Providing your opinion and drawing the relation to your product or service lets you create your own unique voice and retain consistency. The context is new content and is mentally associated with you from the audience’s perspective. If you find it hard to create good annotations just try to answer the question “why am I sharing this content?”.
- Look at social signals. Determining how much and at which velocity a piece of content is shared helps you derive more insightful conclusions about it. The context is important and depending on your industry will grant different meaning. For example, if you sell phone cases and an image with a new Apple gadget gets a lot of shares, it’s probably going to work well for you. However, if you are a into bridge engineering and have a well defined audience of experts, an article with many shares should raise questions. Such an article will most likely have little value for experts if it is written in a way accessible for the masses.
- Create measurable metrics to benchmark your performance. Few marketers are able to measure the impact of content curation as a whole and some don’t even bother measuring it at all. When you attempt to isolate and track the impact of content curation alone, the problem gets amplified and creating tangible goals with attribution models is critical. Being able to tie curation to other content marketing efforts, or better yet, to higher level metrics involving revenue will allow to align strategy with goals. The exact nuances of how to implement this will be a topic for a separate blog post.
- Automate as much as possible without losing integrity. Competition for attention online requires a high degree of automation, but should only be allowed to the point where it isn’t obvious that there is no human involved. After all the value of curation is in the fact that a person took the time to analyze content and to make a decision whether it’s worth sharing. Full automation will get quick wins across vanity metrics, but deliver little tangible value to your audience and hence your organization.
The above tactics combined with an accurate following strategy and the right set of tools are certain to yield good results. Our content curation tool, inboundli, provides you with a personalized stream of relevant content and lets you publish it efficiently to the major social networks.
I hope I was able to provide a rounded overview of content curation and put it into a practical context. If you had a different experience, have more ideas or feel like I missed anything, just let me know in comments.
About the Author
Gene Sobolev is the Co-founder of inboundli, a content curation platform from Berlin, Germany. The platform helps marketers discover and publish better third-party content to social media. Gene has worked in four countries and has experience in marketing, sales, frontend development and project management. Find and connect with Gene on LinkedIn.