Content marketing is the Holy Grail for B2B marketers these days. No longer do marketers write purely promotional material and blast it out across every channel, they now take the time to research and craft quality and valuable content for their target market to consume. The goal of today's content marketers is to establish thought leadership, so that when the times come for a prospect to make a purchasing decision, their company will be at the top of their mind.
Along with pumping out tons of original content, a diverse marketing mix also requires a content curation strategy. Content curation, in the context of content marketing, is when a marketer distributes outside content with the goal of bringing more value to their social connections. While the content they are sharing may not be their own, the fact that they are sharing it will remain in the mind of the person who consumes the content.
Many marketers get content curation confused with "auto-blogging" - a very unfortunate mix-up, since auto-blogging can often be counterproductive. Auto-blogging requires a plug-in that scours the web for certain keywords, regardless of the value of the actual content, and automatically publishes it on your own blog. Often times "auto-blog" bots will pull content and automatically reword it to make it seem "original," essentially providing a backhanded SEO tool.
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Content curation need not be a time consuming practice, but it should also not be based on a "spray and pray" strategy. The content that a marketer curates may not be his or her own, but the "social content" - meaning the messaging included when sharing this content, should be unique and provide value.
Social content marketing, the next step in the evolution of content marketing, is the concept that a 20-page white paper is considered o be content in the exact same way that a 140-character tweet is.
There are two main channels for content curation that are available to marketers:
The types of content that can be curated are not limited to blogs, nor is the channel for curation limited to social. While social media is the easiest and most popular conduit for content curation, a marketer could use his or her own blog for curation. In order to differentiate this practice from auto-blogging, it's important not to automate this process, but put real thought and effort into identifying the right content for your target market. In addition, you should present it in a way that lets the reader know that it's been curated from an outside source.
When using a blog for curation, it's vital to understand that this practice may have negative SEO consequences, as search engines such as Google look for sites that create unique content, and rewritten and unoriginal content may rob your blog of badly needed "SEO juice."
One of the most important things to do when using your blog as a content curation channel is to prominently display a link to the original article. Even if you have rewritten the content, if the gist of the article is the same, you have to link back to it. This is not only for SEO purposes, but ethical purposes as well.
There are several blogs that are expressly focused on content curation. Within the social media space the two most prominent ones are Social Media Today and Business2Community. These two blogs provide readers with fantastic content - both original, as well as syndicated from elsewhere. Often times, syndicated content reaches a far higher level of virality on one of these sites than from its original source.
Social Media Today and Business2Community serve as examples of how content curation through a blog can be done in a way that provides immense value, and help create a community of content marketers.
Social media is the most popular, and powerful, way to share curated content. The benefits of utilizing social channels for content curation is that it is immediate, widespread, targeted, and can be enriched by your own "social content" input.
The world of social media networks is seeing a period of significant proliferation -what was once a field dominated by Facebook and Twitter, is now seeing niche focused networks like Pinterest popping up - not to mention the business focused LinkedIn.
Each social network provides its own benefits in terms of content curation. While the list of social networks is continuously growing, here are some tips for curating content on a few of the "larger" social networks.
Facebook is the largest and most active social network on the planet; it is also the first one that really "took off." Having an active and engaging Facebook community is an absolute must for any company or business, and content curation is one of the best ways to accomplish this.
One of the biggest struggles that social media marketers face is growing their Facebook communities. Posting valuable content is extremely important, but without an active community, there will be no one to consume that content. Getting those first hundred or so followers can be the hardest part, but once this is accomplished, growing your community gets easier. If done correctly, curating content this will cause your community to share your status updates, subsequently creating a viral effect.
Unlike Twitter, Facebook posting should be done in moderation. Updating your Company Page more than once or twice a day will be seen as overkill by your community. Additionally, curating irrelevant, and clickbait-y content will cause your community to unlike your Page. The best way to gauge the interest of your community is to watch what kind of curated content gets the most likes, shares, and comments. By keeping an eye on what's working, you will be able to curate content that is more appealing to your community.
After Facebook, Twitter is the most active social network, and the most popular channel for content curation. The acceptance of large-scale posting over the course of a single day, visibility of posts beyond your own community, and direct access to thought leaders makes Twitter one of the best places to really establish yourself as a valuable source for curated content.
While there are many tools out there that will automatically tweet out blog posts when they are published, I find these tools spammy at best. If someone on Twitter wanted an RSS feed, they would use an RSS feed. It's important that when curating content on Twitter, you put real effort into researching what kind of content your target demographic finds interesting. This also requires intuition and gut feeling that no RSS feed has.
There are tools, however, that allow you to easily curate content across Twitter, while still including your own unique social content within the Tweet. When looking for a tool like this, it's important to find something that is easy to use, as well as helps you identify quality content to share.
Twitter's 140-character limit can sometimes prove to be a barrier for content marketers to add value to their curated content when tweeting. These types of marketers generally just include the actual title of the blog post they are tweeting, without adding any value to it. In the age of social content marketing, being able to create value-adding content within a curation tweet is a skill all marketers need. Given the propensity for marketers to put quantity before quality, this can be a difficult task.
If I had more time, I would have made this letter shorter
- Mark Twain
Though it may seem counterintuitive, a marketer may need to spend more time preparing a tweet than writing a blog post. While this may be an extreme example, it's actually a lot harder to fit great content into 140 characters then it is into a 1,000-word blog post.
Along with choosing the right content and creating the best social content, using hashtags will bring your curated content to the attention of your ideal audience - if you choose your hashtags carefully. Try to see what's trending and what types of hashtags thought leaders in your industry are using. -This will help you gain insight into the types of hashtags your target demographic is following.
Twitter's tagging feature truly sets it apart from other social networks. This often-overlooked option allows a content marketer to directly engage with a thought leader, company, or business, unhindered. For this reason, Twitter has broken down barriers that exist in Facebook. There is no other social network in which an average person could tag someone such as Marc Cuban - and actually get a response.
When curating content, the tagging option needs to be fully leveraged. Not only does it behoove you to tag the source of the content you are curating, you should also tag relevant people or companies mentioned in the article you are sharing. This will not only get your Tweet seen by them, but also their own communities.
Depending on whom you ask, Google+ is either the best thing since sliced bread or a cheap knock-off of Facebook that is on its last legs. Still, there's no doubt that it is a social channel that needs to be leveraged - particularly for content curation.
Similar to Twitter, Google+ has a hashtag feature that allows you to attach a "topic" to the content you are sharing. Additionally, Google+ Groups are a great place for curating content and getting it in front of a hyper-focused demographic.
LinkedIn, more than any other social network, should be the major focus of business marketers - particularly B2B marketers. LinkedIn is a great place for networking, but what many marketers may not know is that LinkedIn is the single largest contributor to leads generated from social media for B2B marketers. How are leads generated from LinkedIn? By distributing content - both original and curated.
LinkedIn provides several channels for curated content distribution.
Any company should be leveraging the power of its employees' LinkedIn profiles. Creating evangelism within the company gives significant social proof to the business, while reaching a larger audience. Profiles that are used for content curation should prominently display their association with a specific brand in order to make the connection clear.
If your business does not yet have a LinkedIn Company Page, stop what you are doing and go create one now. Run, don't walk. A strong Company Page on LinkedIn will establish your business as a respected company, and give you visibility in a social network that is frequented by your target market.
Many people will look at the number of followers that you have on your LinkedIn Company Page as proof of the respectability, or lack thereof, of your company. In this way, it's vital to follow a similar strategy as one for Facebook Company Pages. Namely, once you build a small community of followers, start curating valuable content that they are likely to share. As a result, there's a chance that your follwers' social connections will see the content being shared and be encouraged to check out your Company Page.
LinkedIn Discussion Groups are the most powerful tool that any professional marketer has in his or her tool belt - bar none. There are nearly 2 million LinkedIn Discussion Groups, each one with a specific focus on an industry, product type, or professional position. The explicit focus of these gGroups, makes curating quality content to the most relevant audiences possible.
When curating content in Discussion Groups, make sure to follow certain guidelines, lest you be slapped with the dreaded SWAM.
- Don't just use Groups for content distribution, make sure you are an active member in discussions as well - or else you will be seen as someone who brings no value to the group
- Do not post promotional content. This cannot be stressed enough. Content marketing is about providing valuable content to your target audience and establishing thought leadership - and as a result, convert leads. The same rules apply to curated content. Make sure the content you post is not a pure sales promotion of your company, but rather appeals to your target market and makes them aware of the problems that your product or service solves.
- Since each Group has its own unique focus, you should curate the right content to the right Groups. Before curating content, do some research. Most groups have information about the focus of the Group, and some have rules as well. Reach both to make sure that you're "allowed"" to post content, since some Groups forbid this. You should also peruse the Group itself to see what type of content is being shared, and how members are reacting to it.
- When reviewing on-going conversations within a Group, take note of the type of content that is most engaging. This will give you insight into the curated content that will have the best effect.
Content is no longer just written, it is can also be an image, video, or audio file. What was once written off as a passing fad, exclusively geared towards people who wanted to share pictures of food and wedding dresses, Pinterest is fast becoming a real player in the marketing world.
It is widely accepted that posting visual content has the greatest chance of creating engagement on social. Whether it's infographics or cute kittens, visual content has a powerful affect.
When it comes to professional marketing, a bit more tact is required. Visual content, like other forms of content, needs to be relevant and something that you would be comfortable having people associate your company with.
Pinterest is a social network that is almost exclusively focused on curating content. The Pinterest browser plugin lets users "pin" any visual content they come across while surfing the web. Creating a "board" on Pinterest that is focused on various aspects of your company's offering will ensure that the type of person discovering your curated visual content will be relevant to your offering.