As Joe Pulizzi emphasized in a recent article describing the 5 essentials involved in creating content perfection, success involves both the creation and curation of helpful, relevant content.
Yet, in our era of limited time and budget resources, how do you measure the quality of your day-to-day and week-to-week content curation efforts? As Joe writes, “Your job, like that of a museum curator, is to unearth the best content on the planet in your niche, so that your museum doesn’t close down for a lack of visitors.”
To help you gauge the quality and consistency of your content curation efforts, I’ve created the simple worksheet below. Here, find out how you can use it to score your ability to discover, share, and improve your efforts to create “the best content marketing on the planet” on an ongoing basis.
Successful content curation
As with most tasks, asking the right questions is the surest way to plan for content curation success. Here are some things you might want to ask yourself at regular intervals (e.g., weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.) to make sure you are on the right track — and a summary of what each question may reveal about the effectiveness of your curation strategy:
Are you selecting topics based on your market’s informational needs? Myopia — putting your interests ahead of your market’s informational needs — is something all content marketers have to be constantly aware of. Preparing and updating your buyer personas is the best way to avoid wasting your time curating content on topics your market doesn’t care about.
Are you recommending content your market might otherwise overlook? Content curation suffers from the “low-hanging fruit” syndrome, where the same high-visibility resources are being recommended over and over again. A better alternative is to cultivate fresh, lesser-known content resources that you can bring to your market’s attention. This will help demonstrate to your readers that you can provide them with insight that they might not otherwise have access to.
Are you using comments to provide a context for the content you curate? In the competitive world of content marketing world, it’s no longer enough to deliver relevant content to your audience. To distinguish yourself in the market, add your own thoughts and interpretations of the information you choose to share, including explanations on why you think a particular topic is relevant, and how your audience may be able to profit from this knowledge. Taking the time to discuss curated content from your business’ point of view also provides an opportunity for you to build influence through your unique brand voice and industry insight.
4. Adding value
Are you posting comments that summarize key ideas and lessons? In addition to pointing out the relevance of the content you choose to curate, you can also enhance the value of the content by adding your own perspective on the site where it originated. You can do this by highlighting and summarizing the most important ideas and providing examples of how your market can put the ideas to work.
You can also add value and provide a deeper content experience by cross-referencing curated topics to other online resources or perspectives. What do other experts on the topic have to say?
Are your comments as concisely communicated as possible? One of the most important services your content curation efforts provide is to save your market time. You have to balance your goal of adding value through your comments with the goal of keeping your comments as brief and easy to digest as possible. Unless you’re bringing a new depth to the original curated content, your comments should be significantly shorter than the original posting!
6. Visual engagement
Are you using graphics to enhance the value of your comments? As Debra Kaye, author of “Red Thread Thinking,” wrote in a recent blog post, visual communication has become a habitual way people share information.
If all you do in your content curation efforts is replicate the images found in the original content, you’re probably shortchanging yourself. For example, I like to create a mind map of any book that I review. This adds my personal touch to the content and provides a visual shortcut to the main ideas I’m writing about.
Have you organized your curated content into categories? Transparently categorizing the content you curate is another way you can add value. Stephanie Diamond’s Visual Marketing Articles Blog is a great example of how a clear and visually appealing organizational structure can add value to curated content. Her blog visitors can see at a glance which category each recommendation relates to.
Do you curate on a regular basis, and recycle your recommendations? As always, habit — or frequent execution — plays a major role in the success of your efforts. The more frequently you curate, the more likely you’ll be to increase your efficiency and get more done in less time. (Using tools like my editorial calendar template can help you schedule your curation efforts.)
Another way to increase your content curation efficiency is to recycle your recommendations by consolidating them into resource sheets or quarterly “Top 10″ roundups.
Are you analyzing the popularity of the various topics you curate? Tracking offers an excellent reality check to ensure that your content curation focuses on the topics your market will be most interested in. By impartially tracking click-throughs and referrals, you can increase the likelihood that your content curation consistently serves your market’s needs.
Do you occasionally curate surprising or provocative content? I’m delighted when a trusted resource introduces me to a new topic or interesting voice I was previously unaware of. Your audience probably experiences that same joy of discovery when you share a fresh, unexpected resource with them!
One of the best examples I can offer of serendipity in action is Chelsi Nakano’s Super Friday Fun Time Links feature that appears each week on Mindjet’s Conspire blog. The best part about it — other than the strange, but relevant content she turns up — is the unpredictability of her choices.
What have you done lately to surprise your market?
Content curation scorecard tips
Here are a few bonus tips for making the most of your use of the content curation scorecard:
- Use three-hole paper: It may be a bit of an analog technique, but I recommend you start by printing several copies of the scorecard and storing them for easy reference in a three-ring binder.
- Scoring : Rate your curated content on a continuum from 1 to 5, with 1 indicating Unsatisfactory, 3 Average, and 5 Very Good.
- Binders and divider tabs: You might also want to invest in a three-ring binder you can use exclusively for tracking your content curation efforts, as well as some divider tabs to organize your filled-out scorecards by month.
- Commit to consistency: Ideally, you should schedule your tracking activities to take place once a week, at a regularly scheduled time.If you commit to your weekly schedule, it shouldn’t take more than 15 to 20 minutes to score your efforts.
- Make it a group effort: Get others involved. Use the content curation scorecard as a kick-off exercise for weekly content marketing meetings, or rotate scorecard responsibilities among your staff, your channel partners, or your board of directors.
- Comments: Use the Comments column to reference examples of your best efforts each week. You can also choose to use this column to identify examples that require more attention.
Share your experiences
How do you track the success of your content curation efforts? Do you leave it to chance, or are there other tools you find helpful? More importantly, is there anything you feel I have overlooked in creating the scorecard? Please share your experiences, questions, and tips, below, as comments!
Join Roger C. Parker as he shares more tips for successful content marketing in his presentation at Content Marketing World 2013. And for more assistance with common content marketing tasks, read CMI’s post on 17 Essential Content Templates and Checklists.