By Mike Murray published October 24, 2013

Content Curation: Key Tips and Ideas for Brands

curator desk-content curationContent curation certainly has its supporters and detractors. Some suggest that it’s no different than aggregation, while advocates contend that it’s another way to share timely information and insights that support a brand and its corporate marketing goals.

Content Marketing Institute has covered the topic extensively from a number of angles. The following (curated!) collection is designed to give brands one-stop access to a diverse range of ideas and information to help them manage their content curation efforts. 

The essentials

In his article, Create Content Perfection with These 5 Essential Ingredients, Joe Pulizzi describes the task of content curation thusly: “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 that end, here is an assortment of advice to consider:

Calls to action

In his recent post, 5 Tips Every Content Curator Needs to Write Better Calls-To-Action, Curata’s Pawan Deshpande cites calls-to-actions (CTAs) as an underrated component of content marketing that can help take your content curation efforts from good to great.

By adding some simple and targeted phrases, such as “download” or “share it,” content curators can instruct their followers on how to take the next steps that lead toward their ultimate content marketing goals. In your curation efforts, CTAs like these can be incorporated in your own commentary, which helps to frame the conversation in a context that is relevant to your brand. When using CTAs, Deshpande also advises marketers to:

  • Make sure every CTA has a measurable goal
  • Keep the context in mind, including your target audience’s current location in your sales cycle
  • Keep CTAs short and actionable
  • Avoid settling for “click here” when using “register for our free webinar” might be more impactful
  • Continually evaluate whether your CTAs are working, and what you can do to improve them

Measurement

In another recent post, Roger C. Parker provides a handy scorecard that can be used to measure content curation success. Here are a few of his recommended considerations: 

Visual engagement: Are you using graphics to enhance the value of your comments? 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.” 

Efficiency: “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.”

Another of Roger’s recommendations for increasing your content curation efficiency is to recycle your recommendations by consolidating them into resource sheets or quarterly “Top 10″ roundups.

Tracking: “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.”

Parker also recommends that content curators:

  • Strive for uniqueness, including cultivating resources that are fresher and not as well known
  • Determine whether comments are in context for the content that you’re curating
  • Add value with your perspectives, such as examples of how your market can put ideas to work
  • Be concise, ensuring that your comments don’t exceed the length of the original piece

Adding brand credibility

In another post he has written on the topic, Deshpande points out that, “Curation can add credibility to your corporation’s perspective on an issue by demonstrating that others who have no vested interest in your company still share your views. With curation, you are not republishing the content; rather, you’re providing additional sources and commentary on why these other publishers are in agreement with your position.”

Curation inspiration

Creating a documented process and carefully selecting topics are essential considerations for content curators. To create this plan, marketers must first determine the sources they will rely on to inspire their content curation efforts in a relevant and professional way. Here are a few third-party sources Deshpande recommends:

  • News feeds
  • Social media
  • Archive databases
  • Google blog search
  • Email newsletters

Organization

Organizing your content effectively can bring older content back to the surface and give it a longer shelf life online (allowing the audience to discover more materials). With the sheer volume of content that’s published, content curation and organization must go hand in hand. The article, 7 Ways to Organize Your Content for Curation, explores organization principles in greater depth, including:

  • Tagging (non-hierarchical content taxonomy)
  • Grouping, which reduces screen clutter and allows readers to find different perspectives quickly
  • Recommendations
  • Topic pages
  • Topic maps

More content curation advice

In addition to CMI’s coverage of the topic, there are plenty of other resources available to help guide your content curation efforts: Content Curation Has Gone Mainstream: This Forbes article references a Curata 2012 Content Curation Adoption Survey of more than 400 marketers:

Quite simply, providing fresh and relevant content in an organized way, improves SEO for the site it lives on — which is likely why 65 percent of respondents… cited boosting SEO as one of their main content curation objectives.

If You’re On the Web, You’re a Curator: This Mashable post notes,

As much as the term gets criticized, curation requires patience, resourcefulness and a keen editing eye. It means becoming fluent in one particular dialect of the web, versus trying to speak its entire language.

5 Content Curation Tools To Get You Started: DigitalSherpa’s post offers additional perspective:

The goal of content curation is not to create new content, but to find the most relevant content pertaining to a specific category and funneling this information to readers in a very targeted way.

We hope these recommendations help your business get a handle on the content you assemble through curation. What tools and techniques work best for you?

Looking for more advice on content curation? Check out what the experts had to say at Content Marketing World 2013. Access to a wide range of presentations is available through our Video on Demand portal.

Cover image via Bigstock

Author: Mike Murray

Mike Murray has shaped online marketing strategies for hundreds of businesses since 1997, including Fortune 500 companies. A former journalist, he has led SEO studies and spoken at regional and national Internet conferences. Founder of Online Marketing Coach, Mike is passionate about helping clients identify their best opportunities for online marketing success based on their strengths, his advice and industry trends. You can find him at his blog, Online Marketing Matters or on Twitter @mikeonlinecoach.

Other posts by Mike Murray

  • http://www.it-sales-leads.com/ Barbara Mckinney

    By using calls to action in a purposeful way, you’ll greatly increase your repeat visitors and active participators. And remember: You don’t need to be heavy-handed with your calls to action. There are very subtle language choices you can use to make strong calls to action. By giving one direct instruction instead of multiple options or wishy-washy offers, you can better build your online platform.

  • Pawan Deshpande

    Thanks a lot Mike for quoting and citing my work so extensively.

    For further reading, I think the steps to get started are best summarized in our popular eBook: 5 Simple Steps to Becoming a Content Curation Rockstar:
    http://www.curata.com/resources/ebooks/5-simple-steps-to-becoming-a-content-curation-rockstar/

  • RandyBowden

    An excellent post of how “curation of content” should be handled Mike. A great outline. My ill is with the copy, past, blast that so many seem to think brings some form of value. Even when the article may fit the niche or vertical it is simply a regurgitated link with little enticing quality. Spend the time and do not rely on an automated process.

  • http://www.internetbillboards.net/ Tom George

    Hi Mike, very nice job on explaining how curation can benefit marketers if done properly. As the founder of a curation site, with a growing community of content curator’s, I have watched the craft of curation for over three years now. I believe it is ready to go mainstream, but it’s just super beneficial to have well thought out articles like this one you have written here, to give people the right take on what curation is and what it can do for brands, again if done properly. Thanks again Mike!

  • Alex Bisset

    These are great tips. I like to use Opentopic (http://opentopic.com ) to help with this process. I can discover, create, publish, and track my content using Opentopic.