The social media revolution was a huge equalizer among the publishing industry by giving anyone and everyone the tools to be their own publisher. Several years later, content curation is poised to do the same thing for thought leaders: Those who are able to curate the “best of the best” of content in their niche and share it socially will reap the benefits of thought leadership and trusted authority. This isn’t just about thought leadership for authors and individuals, though: The concept is equally applicable to companies and their key executives and employees in any given industry. This is why content curation best practices are so important.
Want to be among the leaders in your industry? Then put into play these 11 content curation best practices.
1. Align your content curation best practices with your social media strategy
Everything begins with your social media strategy, even content curation.
Content curation is a powerful content marketing tool, but it only has value if you are strategically doing so to help you achieve a business objective. What are you trying to achieve with your content curation? Thought leadership? Brand awareness? Influencer outreach? Lead generation? Content curation can help with all of these, but without understanding your specific objectives first, you’ll never understand the ROI of your efforts and will also be unable to further optimize them using my recommended PDCA approach to social media strategy.
2. Identify what content matters to your audience
In order to get good at the content sharing game, you must know what type of content will appeal to your audience. This is where social news platform Upworthy excels. Odds are, you’ve heard of Upworthy because they are so good at content curation. Well, Upworthy scours social channels looking for unique, shareable content likely to evoke an emotion, be it outrage that will fuel political actions, or happiness.
Yet here’s what Upworthy doesn’t look for: Breaking news. Upworthy realized that breaking news per se didn’t matter to their audience, that what mattered was the emotional aspect of the content. So start your content curation strategy by finding what matters to your audience and developing sharing rules around that.
3. Create an internal database of curation sources
Now that you’ve reconfirmed what matters to your audience, it’s time to create a database of curation sources that will serve a variety of purposes, from allowing your content curation to become a team effort to being able to measure which sources of content provide the biggest business value to your curation efforts.
When creating such a list of sources, think in terms of fleshing it out with the following and developing a truly holistic approach to your daily content curation efforts:
- URLs of industry associations, partners, and customers
- Blogs and social media accounts of thought leaders, companies executives, partners, and customers
- Newsletters from industry associations, partners, and customers
- A list of keywords to use for web alerts (Google Alerts, Mention) as well as to directly search in social media (LinkedIn Pulse, LinkedIn Groups, Slideshare, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram [using hashtags], and YouTube)
- RSS fields of any or all of the above
You don’t have to include all of the above sources in your content curation efforts, but by organizing your efforts around company names, people names, and keywords, over time you will find the right combination of sources that work for each type of company/people/keyword and will be able to optimize your efforts.
4. Include content curation best practices as part of your employee advocacy efforts
I’ve blogged and written an ebook about how to create an employee advocacy program, written a preface for another ebook on the future of work and employee advocacy, as well as introduced you to employee advocacy tools like GaggleAMP, rFactr, and PostBeyond. One thing about employee advocacy is that, with the advent of social selling, content is needed to bridge the gap between marketing and sales. Most companies will need to curate content not just for their own marketing, but also for their employees as well.
Companies that are ahead of the curve in their employee advocacy programs already realize this and have opened up their programs to allow employees to also contribute content through curation to their social media program. This can give you another powerful source of content outside of the internal database outlined above that is provided to you without having to extend any effort.
5. Share reputable content and add value
The Huffington Post is one of the Top 100 websites per Alexa, and it has gotten to be such a trusted authority for two reasons: First, it offers content by both professionals and amateurs. Second, it shares only reputable content so has a high degree of reader trust.
If you share content that is not reputable, it could backfire and cause negative PR. As you look for content to share, evaluate its authority and trustworthiness by looking for an author biography, sources for statistics, and content that is well-written and not riddled with spelling or grammar mistakes.
When you share content, take an extra minute to call out why you find this content interesting or important. By adding value to shared content, you build brand trust and authority while demonstrating thought leadership.
Take a look at this framework for a curated post to see how and where to add this extra value.
6. Play the headline game
Upworthy also excels at creating headlines that you want to click on because they evoke the curiosity factor. Yes, it’s clickbait – but it works, and it’s even influencing the way the New York Times and other news agencies create headlines.
Distil your shared content down to its emotional essence and come up with several unique and compelling headlines that will generate interest. Then, try sharing the story using your headlines and determine which headline generates the most click-throughs. After a few weeks or months of doing this, you’ll have an idea of what type of headline generates curiosity in your audience and you will be able to replicate what’s working to get more click-throughs with less effort. This intelligence will also pay dividend for the headlines of your own content.
7. Take advantage of trending keywords and hashtags in your content curation best practices
Many folks share content without taking the extra step of keyword optimizing it. However, if you want to get more attention to your website or blog when curating content, you must use SEO tactics similar to blogging for SEO purposes. Use keyword tools like Wordstream to identify trending keywords, and then tailor your post and headlines to be keyword-rich. The same approach works equally well for utilizing trending and popular hashtags in your content curation when you publish.
8. Use the right tools
In order to scale your content curation, choosing the right tools will be invaluable. Did you know that there are more than 45 content curation tools that exist? From that linked list, if I was going to recommend a shortlist of tools that I have used that I recommend you check out, it would look something like this:
- Curata – The industry-leading content curation tool for enterprises. Period.
- Feedly – Aggregate your RSS feeds to help you more efficiently curate content.
- Storify – A great way of not only curating content but also publishing that curated content in a “storified” format.
- Paper.li – A Twitter-centric approach to finding and providing you content to curate.
- List.ly – The definitive list-based content curation tool.
- Scoop.it – A great tool which helps you from curation to publication.
- TagBoard – Great way to curate content centered around hashtags.
- Pocket – When you don’t have time to sift through the content you curated, simply save it in Pocket for further reading.
- Newsle – Great way to find the latest news on people you want to keep an eye on.
- PostPlanner – See how using PostPlanner to curate content for Facebook contributed to a 173% increase of website traffic from Facebook
9. Incorporate guest blogs
In addition to curating thoughtful content from around the web, accept guest posts on your blog. This can be a great way to offer new and interesting content from the best of the web bloggers while also targeting your niche. When done well, guest blogging benefits all sides – and can be an important part of your content curation strategy.
When niche bloggers with their own following do a guest post for your blog as part of a guest blogging program, they’ll share and promote it to their audience. This gets you more eyeballs on your blog, and increases your ROI while showcasing your authority and network to your own audience.
10. Make use of lists and roundups
When you share great content regularly, your audience will naturally grow. One downside of this is that new audience members may miss some of the amazing content you shared before you came onto their radar. Use roundup posts to share old content by topic, or try list posts like your “5 best” tips or favorite apps. This way, you can continue to get mileage out of the great content you’ve already created and shared while making the most of your expertise.
In a similar vein, get niche experts to contribute a blurb to your list or roundup posts when you link out to content they created. This is another win-win: You get traffic and authority by sharing great content that others created, while other people benefit from your audience and from renewed exposure to their content. Plus, the new blurb fulfills the best practice of adding value.
To ensure your content curation efforts are paying off, just like anything else in social media, you need to measure and optimize your efforts as part of the Deming Circle (PDCA). As you continue in your efforts you’re bound to find that certain authors and subjects do better than others. Use this insight to help you get more out of your content curation.
But don’t stop there at measuring just for improving your content curation game. In 6. Play the headline game, I hinted at how content curation can provide you invaluable feedback that you can loop back into your content creation. Headlines are just the beginning: Smart companies use content curation as a way to test the waters for not only content that helps them reach their audience, but also feedback that they can loop back into their own content curation.
If you’re confused about how to measure all of this, check out this Comprehensive Guide to Content Marketing Analytics and Metrics.
Further Reading on Content Curation Best Practices
Social is always changing, and with that content marketing – and content curation – needs to learn to adapt. With that in mind, here are some additional resources to give you broader perspective as to how to improve upon your content curation:
- The Definitive Guide to Content Curation – Read this to make sure you have a solid foundation for your content curation efforts.
- The Open and Shut Case for Content Curation – An in-depth overview of the six biggest benefits of curation.
- 5 Simple Steps to Becoming a Content Curation Rockstar – Ready to take your content curation to the next level? Read this!
Did we leave out any of your favorite tips or tools for content curation best practices? Let us know in the comments what works for you.
For a quick visual guide on good versus bad curation, check out this infographic from Beth’s Blog: