Content Curation: How to Win in the Content Marketing War

Content Curation: How to Win in the Content Marketing War

It’s no secret that digital marketers need to write content – and a lot of it. From landing pages to blog posts, social media posts to white papers, infographics to listicles (articles presented in the form of a numbered or bullet-pointed lists), content is the backbone of many SEO, inbound marketing and digital marketing strategies.

In fact, research shows that we’ve been busier than ever writing content in the last 12 months. A study by Beckon calculates that brands have created an average of three times more content pieces for both owned and paid-for channels in the last year, compared with the amount created in the previous year. It says, “One consumer brand saw 29,000 pieces of original content created in one region alone—more than triple the previous year. Another retailer created 50,000 original content assets for the US market—way up over previous years.”

However, despite this flurry of content creation and intense effort to win the content war, consumer engagement hasn’t tracked up at the same rate. According to the research, content engagement was flat, with just 5% of the brand content accounting for 90% of consumer engagement. In other words, around 95% of the content generates no engagement.

So is it Worthwhile to Pour So Much Time and Effort Into Content Creation if it Isn’t Hitting the Target? Is There Another Way?

Step forward content curation. Social media agency Kruse Control says content curation is the art of unearthing quality content (produced by others) that adds value to people’s lives. Content marketing software, Kudani adds that content creation takes many forms, including the popular Top 5 / 10 style posts, commentary and round-up posts. Lots of sites use this technique because it’s an easy way to add a fresh new post without actually having to create a ton of new content. If you’ve ever read a ‘Top 10 digital marketing statistics post for…’ article or a ‘The 7 biggest brand fails’ style piece, that’s what we’re talking about.

Of course, while these style of posts are great for the consumer, they can also have sound business benefits, too. Kruse Control’s Kathy Kruse says, “Done right, [content curation] leads to a more influential position online and accelerates invaluable relationships and referrals.”

One of the often cited benefits of content curation is the fact that it’s a time saver. If you’re a blogger or content marketer, you’ll be all too familiar with the amount of man hours needed for ideation, writing content, proof reading, uploading and scheduling. While curating content will most definitely cut down some of that workload and free up time in the process, it shouldn’t be approached as a quick fix or something that can be completed in just a few moments once a week or so. If you’re serious about winning the content marketing war, you’ll need to invest time and energy in getting the basics right and developing a fruitful content curation strategy. Here’s how to go about it…

Step 1: Find your 80/20 ratio

If, like many brands, you have stepped up your blogging output over the last 12 months, you might be a little reluctant to take your foot off the gas pedal now. But, if you’ve also found that overall consumer engagement with your content hasn’t stepped up at the same rate, you could just be creating content for the sake of it. While you will still need to create your own unique content, adding content curation into the mix can be beneficial and cost effective. The trick is to determine your ratio and find a nice balance between the amount of content you create and the amount of curated content introduced. You’ll need to do some experimentation here and keep close tabs on which content is driving more interactions and traffic.

As Kudani says, “Some marketers recommend following the 80/20 rule, meaning that 80% of the content you post is curated and only 20% comes from your brand. This might work for some industries, but it may totally be content curation overload for others. The best way to really find a content creation rhythm is to gauge both your audience’s reaction, along with the amount of content you are physically able to produce.”

Some marketers recommend following the 80/20 rule: 80% of the content is curated and 20% original.

Step 2: Pick Your Topic(s)

As we’ve noted, curating content doesn’t mean hanging up your keyboard and turning in your reporter’s notepad for good. It works best when you have a mix of your own branded creations and carefully selected curated materials to share.

Setting out to find awesome content created by third parties across your entire field of specialisms is a monumental task. Work smarter by taking the time to define which topic(s) you’re going to focus on in your content curation sessions.

Step 3: Test Your Tools and Build Your Sources

Now that you know what type of content you’re looking for, you’ll need to create an extensive pool of reliable, trustworthy sources. Having just one or two outlets to draw content from is all well and good but, it’s likely that competitors also turn to those same experts for their own curated content.

To create a big network, you’ll need to be constantly on the hunt for great content such as news items, infographics, blogs and listicles. You can make this process somewhat easier by enlisting a curation tool to take the legwork out of content discovery for you. Take a look at our ultimate list of digital and search marketing tools to get started.

Step 4: Add Your Own Spin

Even though most of the actual blogging or writing work has been done for you when curating content, you’ll still need to add your own spin. That might come in the form of simply writing an introduction and then sharing your curated gems. You might want to give an opinion before leading into your curated piece or, you may take it a step further and develop an entirely new article with your third-party content woven into the narrative.

However you approach it, be sure to carefully attribute content to its owner and be mindful of copyright laws.

What Do You Think?

How have you approached content curation? Do you favor it over content creation? What sources do you use to gather third-party posts? We love hearing about your experiences so leave your comments below!

Sherry Bonelli
About the author
Sherry is the former Local Search Evangelist at BrightLocal. She led BrightLocal's Research and Content programs and championed the needs of their SEO Agency and SMB customers. Having worked in digital marketing since 1998, Sherry has a Master’s Degree in Internet Marketing along with numerous digital marketing certifications.