By Heidi Cohen published December 8, 2014

How To Curate Content Like A Pro: 8 Lessons (Examples Included)

curate content imageEditor’s note: A new version of this post is now available.

Content curation taps into the power of existing owned, social, and third-party media to enhance and extend your content marketing resources.

This does NOT mean content curation is free. Rather, it’s more cost-effective than brand-spanking-new content and maximizes the full potential of your existing content.

To ensure we’re on the same page, here’s my content curation definition:

Content curation assembles, selects, categorizes, comments on, and presents the most relevant, highest quality information to meet your audience’s needs on a specific subject.

Curated content is neither an aggregation of existing content nor references or links to supporting information. While content aggregation looks LIKE content curation, it lacks unique commentary.

Content curation adds editorial value through a personal perspective and commentary that integrate your 360-degree brand.

Curated content isn’t just sharing or aggregating other people’s content. Content curation can be totally new, original content that you publish for the first time.

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3 reasons for content curation

Based on research data, the three key reasons to add content curation to your content marketing plans are:

1. Marketers lack content-related resources. Content marketers are constrained by the inability to create sufficient content, people resources, and budget.

2. Customers seek purchase-related information on their own. This often happens before marketers realize the customers are in market. This is true for both B2B and B2C customers.

3. Promotion by itself doesn’t yield great results. You can’t keep promoting your own information and hope to break through the clutter.

8 examples of how to curate like a pro

To help you curate content that breaks through the clutter and supports your business objectives, here are eight examples of content curation selected by attendees of my Content Marketing World workshop.

1. Curate other people’s research

Example: The Ideal Length of Everything Online by Kevan Lee of Buffer

Selected by: Stine Andersen, Brand Movers (Denmark)

Lee creates a great piece of curated content in which he collected the best of other people’s research. He organizes the information to give readers an overview of the most relevant research. Further, as a good content curator, Lee adds extra value to the content by including his own commentary.

Lee offers link love to all sources. He goes one step further to provide a roundup in the form of an infographic.

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Actionable tips:

  • Collect relevant research on a key topic for your readers. Become the go-to expert by sharing other people’s research.
  • Add your own commentary. Don’t just leave the information dangling for your audience to understand.
  • Augment curated content with useful visuals. Lee added an infographic to attract more attention. Consider the array of vehicles you can use such as photographs, videos, and presentations.

2. Spotlight the best images in your niche

Example: World’s Coolest Offices from Inc. curated via Huffington Post

Selected by: Jennifer Ristic of Point To Point

World’s Coolest Offices is a great example of how to curate images and make them your own. Use vibrant and engaging photos to draw in readers. In this case, the images are put together so that readers must keep clicking.

Of further value from a curation point of view is that this article was curated on Huffington Post where it gave full credit for the piece and linked to the original.

In Ristic’s words, “The Huffington Post has mastered the art of content curation as an integral part of providing newsworthy and appealing content at an incredibly fast rate every day. While Huffington Post’s editorial staff generates a large volume of unique content, it curates existing content aligned to human-interest topics.”

Actionable tips:

  • Leverage the power of images. Draw in your audience with images to encourage further engagement.
  • Add a curation section to your ongoing content. Think like a publisher and choose some of the best stuff on the web for your readers.

3. Curate your comment section for new insights

Example: Simon Dumenco’s Six More Media and Marketing Buzzwords That Must Die from Ad Age

Selected by: Kim Adams, Vitamix

Dumenco curates commentary from a previous column of his that received a ton of social shares and comments. He drives new traffic to his older column by referencing and linking to it. He utilizes user-generated content and gives credit where credit is due. It’s an easy-to-read, shareable piece of great content.

Actionable tips:

  • Mine your highly shared and commented posts, talks, and other social media activity for high-quality information in which your target audience is interested.
  • Cross-link to older content. Don’t forget to go back and link to the new column in the original post. This helps your search optimization and keeps your content fresh.

4. Get influencers to help curate epic content

Example: How 10 Winning Salespeople Spend 15 Minutes Before a Sales Call on the Salesforce blog

Selected by: Jennifer Tribe, Auvik Networks Inc.

This is a classic list post that collects input from 10 sales influencers. It’s great content that makes the readers feel like they’re getting the inside scoop from a bunch of pros.

The words “winning salespeople” in the headline add a juicy appeal to the target readership while giving these influencers extra incentive to share the post with their followers.

This is an example of original curated content. Further, apart from the brief introduction and conclusion, this post is 100% contributor written.

Actionable tips:

  • Get the influencers in your niche to help you create curated content. Take a page from Lee Odden’s Epic Curated Content playbook. Set up a theme and ask influencers.
  • Sweat writing an amazing title. Titles count. Make sure your curated content pulls in readers.

5. Make the boring and mundane universal and fun

Example: You may not realize how important trucking is to our daily lives

Selected by: Alison Turner, Ryder System Inc.

This example should be in every content marketing playbook. Heck – it’s on BuzzFeed. It shows how to connect a boring business, namely trucking and transportation, to the average reader.

In Turner’s words, BuzzFeed tells how the trucking and transportation industry impacts the average person’s life in many ways every single day in a digestible, easy-to-understand format. While transportation may not be sexy, it’s a component to nearly every other industry.

Actionable tips:

  • Draw product connections for readers. Don’t assume that your readers have your wealth of knowledge. Make connections simple and obvious.
  • Get your readers to have fun. Not everyone is a stand-up comic. Take a page from BuzzFeed and find amusing GIFs that connect to your products and company. It even uses Tim Gunn from Project Runway.

6. Get your audience involved

Example: 20 Amazing Examples of Brand Content Marketing Hubs from B2B Marketing Insider

Selected by: Erin Winker, Aetna

B2B Insider Michael Brenner encouraged members of his audience to share their favorite brand content marketing hubs. It’s a useful example of content curation. You don’t have to do all of the work yourself. The objective is to extend your relationship with your target audience.

Actionable tip:

  • Ask your audience directly for input. Brenner made it easy for members of his audience to participate. They just needed to supply the names. Basically, he outsourced the research phase of his content.
  • Make it easy for people to participate. Understand that under 10% of your audience will contribute to your efforts. Streamline the work involved to increase involvement.

7. Create a regular curation column

Example: Unverified Voracity Says Let’s Win Football on MGoBlog

Selected by: T.J. Basalla, HP

MGoBlog, one of the most successful and funniest college football blogs, posts a regular feature called Unverified Voracity. Curated content makes for a useful way to build your thought leadership in a specific niche.

Like any good piece of curated content, Unverified Voracity is more than just a collection of links on college football. MGoBlog proprietor Brian Cook adds strong doses of his unique humor and commentary.

Actionable tip:

  • Be the tastemaker in your niche. Comment on the news in your category. Take a tip from Cook: Add some humor and personality.
  • Gather and organize the information. Curation is more than just a dump of links. Add value for your audience.

8. Gather other people’s ideas

Example: 5 Amazing Things I Learned at #CMWorld That You Can Use in Your Content Marketing Efforts on The Connecticut Innovations Blog

Selected by: Brandon Gearing, Connecticut Innovations

This curated roundup should be a staple of every conference producer and attendee. It’s a great way to show your love for the people who presented.

Where possible, get a photo of the presenter or some special commentary that everyone else isn’t already sharing on Twitter.

Actionable tip:

  • Extend the reach of live events with post-event wrap-ups. Curate the highlights or data from a conference or presentation. Of course, it’s critical to add your own commentary so that you’re not just copying other people’s content.
  • Add context for your target audience. This is a key aspect of content curation that many marketers miss. You must answer: “Why is this content important for me?”

Bottom line

Content curation done well extends the life of your existing content and enables you to add commentary and context to other people’s content.

Take these eight content curation lessons and add a unique piece of content for each to your ongoing content marketing plans by involving influencers and your audience.

The best part about these eight content curation lessons is that they can be used by any type of business, B2B or B2C, sexy or boring.

What other ways have you used content curation in your content marketing mix?

Need more ideas on how to create killer curated content? Download our latest collection of amazing brand examples: Get Inspired: 75 (More) Content Marketing Examples

Image courtesy of Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Author: Heidi Cohen

Heidi Cohen is an actionable marketing expert. As president of Riverside Marketing Strategies, Heidi works with online media companies and e-tailers to increase profitability with innovative marketing programs based on solid analytics. During the course of 20 years, Heidi has obtained deep experience in direct and digital marketing across a broad array of products including soft goods, financial services, entertainment, media entities and crafts-oriented goods. Heidi shares her actionable marketing insights on her blog. Find Heidi Cohen online at Twitter @heidicohen, LinkedIn and Facebook.

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