By Pawan Deshpande published September 24, 2013

Content Curation: 6 Strategies to Add Value With Your Own Commentary

quote cloud - content curationWhen curating content as part of your content marketing strategy, it’s crucial to add your own commentary — or annotation — to differentiate your content from that of other sources, comply with fair use requirements, and boost the overall SEO value of all your content offerings.

For example, content curation is a great tactic for promoting your thought leadership — but only if the audience can clearly distinguish your insight from that of your source material. This is particularly relevant when you are excerpting curated content, rather than syndicating it outright. In fact, when excerpting a piece of content, my recommendation is that the perspective you add must be at least half as long (in terms of word count) as the original content itself, and should include brand-appropriate keywords in order to optimally position you as an expert on the subject.

In addition to excerpting, there are many other methods for using annotation in your content curation efforts. To illustrate some best practices for working with these options, let’s take a few recent articles from BloombergBusinessweek and Social Media Examiner and see how they might be successfully curated using six different approaches.

1. Abstracting: It’s typical for those new to curation to simply excerpt a portion of the original article by reposting the title, the first few sentences, and perhaps an image from the article. Unfortunately, this approach can put the curator at risk for allegations of copyright infringement if they share too much of the original content. Search engines could also penalize the website for duplicate content. (I suggest using a thumbnail instead of a full image out of respect to the original content creator. You can also use your own image.) Abstracting is low-effort because you’re essentially just copying and pasting, which is easy to automate. However, with abstracting, there’s basically no original content on your site, so there’s also very little SEO value — and you are creating little value for your readers because you aren’t giving them any original insight or information.

Example:

Pulled from Why Jeff Bezos Bought The Washington Post:

“Over the past two decades, Jeff Bezos has assembled what appears to be an inexplicable collection of unrelated businesses. There’s Amazon.com’s (AMZN) traditional retail website and its 50 massive fulfillment centers around the U.S., designed to get books, clothes, garden gnomes — whatever — to customers within days or even hours; the Kindle; movie streaming; music streaming; and Amazon Web Services, a rapidly growing enterprise business that runs the computer operations of other companies.”

2. Summarizing: In summarizing the original piece, the curator crafts a short summary of the article, which requires a bit more effort than simply abstracting. If done correctly, the summary will be completely original content that isn’t available anywhere else online, so it’s unique content as far as search engines are concerned. A well-crafted summary can also incorporate additional keywords that can help the brand. This gives the reader a moderate amount of value, since the reader can get the gist of the article by reading just a few sentences or paragraphs instead of reading the full piece. However, as with abstracting, the reader likely isn’t gaining anything new that he or she couldn’t get from the original piece.

Example:

Based on Gmail Tabs: A Game Plan for Marketers:

The launch of Gmail tabs means that Gmail is now auto-filtering all emails for all users. Unless marketers take action, they’re likely to notice a drop in the effectiveness of their email campaigns. Social Media Examiner recommends creating a video to educate Gmail users, promote the video on their social media channels, embed the video on their ‘thank you for signing up for our email’ page, alter their subscription follow-up email, and segment Gmail users and send them the video.

3. Quoting: Excerpting, or quoting, is a popular approach to annotating third-party content. Sites like The Daring Fireball and Slashdot make frequent use of the <blockquote> html tag for this purpose. Here, the curator finds interesting blocks of text (similar to pull quotes in a print magazine) and wraps their commentary around it. This requires a medium amount of effort because the curator first has to read the article to choose a thought-provoking section and create commentary to go around the quote. The SEO value in a quoted curation piece is relatively high because there’s a reasonable amount of original content mixed with a quote from the original article. This approach is of higher value for readers as well, because it allows them to focus on an especially interesting portion of the article and grasp the curator’s perspective before diving into the full article (or deciding they don’t need to read the full article).

Example:

Commentary on Why Jeff Bezos Bought The Washington Post:

Soon after Red Sox owner John Henry bought the Boston Globe, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post, leaving media insiders to wonder how these two business moguls might revitalize the print newspaper business.

“…It’s likely he’ll bring some Amazon management techniques to the Post (get ready for those six-page documents) and encourage experimentation without regard for short-term profits and losses. Bezos abhors anything that inconveniences his customers, so the paywall that washingtonpost.com instituted this spring might crumble. And if any of these moves undermine the Post’s teetering revenue sources, such as print ad pages, Bezos probably won’t care much … His overarching goal will be to create a thriving new media species on the digital frontier.”

Bezos has made Amazon hugely successful, but then he built Amazon from the ground up, while the Washington Post is an established brand in a struggling industry. Will his innovative approach to business and his deep pockets turn things around for the paper? Only time will tell.

4. Retitling: Retitling means the curator creates a provocative new title that conveys a point of view and may attract lots of click-throughs. This approach is particularly effective when sharing on social media or on mobile content curation sites, since space is at a premium and readers are often skimming for interesting content. When used on its own, retitling is very low effort because all you have to do is change the title. Of course, this also provides little value to readers because there isn’t much space for the curator to share an original point of view.

Yet, retitling brings a moderate amount of SEO value because the curator is able to incorporate additional keywords and avoid competing with the original article in search engine indexes. Retitling can also be used in conjunction with other annotation techniques listed in this article but sometimes may be enough by itself. The Drudge Report is a great example of a curation site that retitles content with its own editorial spin.

Example:

Original: Gmail Tabs: A Game Plan for Marketers

Retitled: Email Open Rates Falling? 5 Ways Email Marketers Can Adapt to Gmail Tabs

5. Storyboarding: In storyboarding, the curator weaves together multiple pieces of content — possibly including tweets, videos, article abstracts, videos, and audio clips — to craft a narrative interspersed with the curator’s own commentary. This requires a lot of effort because the curator needs to hunt down multiple pieces of content and create a cohesive commentary to tie it all together. Of course, this effort can pay off in higher value for the reader and higher SEO value, since storyboards can be great linkbait.

Example:

Here’s an example of PBS MediaShift’s storyboarding on The Washington Post acquisition.

6. Parallelizing: A curator parallelizes by taking a piece of content that is seemingly unrelated to the topical focus and drawing connections between the topic and the article being curated. Parallelizing enables the curator to tie his or her point of view to a much larger topic or issue — a concept that’s sometimes called newsjacking.

This approach takes a moderate amount of effort to write a new summary and draw parallels between topics. The payoff is high value in terms of SEO and value to readers, because the curator is building off of the original piece to create new content with a unique point of view. This approach makes a lot of sense for topics where there isn’t a lot of directly relevant content to begin with.

Example:

Instead of curating the Social Media Examiner piece for other marketers, a fashion blog could write a post from the consumer perspective, like this:

Never Miss a Sale! 5 Ways to Refashion Gmail Tabs
As you’ve probably heard, Gmail recently unveiled tabs, which means it now auto-filters all emails for all users. What does this mean for all you Gmail users? Unless you spend a few minutes to fix your filters, you’re about to miss out on emails with promotions from Kate Spade, Coach, and all your other favorite retailers. Here’s what you need to do to continue getting your fashion fix and make sure this doesn’t happen…

Do you use any of these approaches in your own content curation efforts? Which have you found to be most effective?

For more content curation inspiration, read CMI’s Ultimate eBook: 100 Content Marketing Examples. 

Cover image via Bigstock

Author: Pawan Deshpande

Pawan Deshpande is the CEO and visionary behind Curata, a CMI benefactor. Curata is an easy-to-use marketing solution for content curation and content marketing. Pawan has spoken at leading events including Content Marketing World, SXSW Interactive, Online Media Summit, Social Media Breakfast and multiple AMA webinars. Prior to founding Curata, Pawan held positions at both Microsoft and Google. Pawan attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for both his graduate and undergraduate degrees in Computer Science. You can contact Pawan via Twitter @getcurata or on LinkedIn, or Google+. If you're getting started with content curation, Pawan would recommend downloading 5 Simple Steps to Becoming a Content Curation Rockstar, which includes tactical tips so you can get started curating today.

Other posts by Pawan Deshpande

  • rhonda hurwitz

    I love curation for thought leadership, What’s your view of for syndication, vs. curation? If you republish syndicate content, ie share icontent in its entirety vs an excerpt, can you still add your own context for your readers?

    • Pawan Deshpande

      Typically, when you syndicate content, you don’t always have rights to modify the syndicated content. However, in many cases you can add your commentary around of the syndicated content without compromising the integrity of the actual syndicated content.

      As compared to curation, it’s quite different than having the ability to intersperse your commentary. Commenting around syndicated content is akin to making a mix tape, where as interspersing your commentary is akin to making a remix. They both have different merits, but ultimately being able to intersperse your own commentary allows more creative freedoms.

      Syndicated content could be free, but typically it’s licensed. I have outlined some of the consideration around licensed content here:
      http://www.curata.com/blog/the-downsides-of-licensed-content-for-curation/

  • http://www.mynotetakingnerd.com/blog Lewis LaLanne – NoteTakingNerd

    I’ve only used #2 out of these six for my content and I’m grateful to you Pawan for revealing five more ways adding more depth to my content marketing efforts. Glad fate brought me by the site today. :)

  • SEO Socratic

    Great point of view! very informative blog post, It is very helpful tips that you have shared here in your blog.

  • http://www.whitepoint.mobi/ Whitepoint

    Good point about storyboarding. Unfortunately, acquiring, editing, and managing content for this format has been too time consuming in the past for most content management teams. Still . . . it can be done!

  • http://www.godotmedia.com/ Professional Writing Service

    Agreed Pawan, parallelizing is bit difficult in the sense needs more effort to draw a relation between unrelated topics. But, this one of the great tact to use in content writing. And about others, quoting and summary works fine always. Great post, with exampled loved reading!

    Kevin

  • Michael Neuendorff

    Honestly I didn’t know there were so many ways to curate content. I believe I’ve read different types in the past and didn’t realize how unique they were. Thank you for laying it out so clearly.

  • Phillip Crum

    I’ve been looking for a good answer to, “what constitutes properly curated content” for a while. Guess I have it now!

    In your first paragraph you mention, “fair use requirements”. Is that just a literary phrase or is there a list of do’s and don’t somewhere that I don’t know about?

  • Patti Ryan

    A real eye-opener. I didn’t realize there were so many approaches to curating content. Something to ponder. Do I use o mix of techniques? or focus on one or two?