What is content curation?
Ok, so if you look up the definition of fancy, er, um, I mean “curation” in the dictionary, it’s described as the process of selecting, organizing and keeping items in order. That feels less fancy and more functional. When applied in the context of content, the definition holds true. A content curation strategy has evolved beyond being a simple approach to sharing content -- it has become a strategy for marketers to select relevant, on-brand material, organized across different platforms for different audiences.
The simple act of sharing content has been challenged by the art of content curation. The rise of personalization means users demand more from curators - mindless sharing, click-bait and misinformation are intolerable practices erode trust and damage reputations. According to one study, 85% of marketers say establishing their voice as a thought leader is their number one objective when it comes to content curation. With great goals comes great responsibility. In this blog, we explore some fresh, yet delightfully tactical ways marketers can harness content curation as a strategy to drive business and share relevant, thoughtful information across their networks.
Want better content curation? Understanding your own content better.
Content curation can be a powerful tool for driving business. You know this stat, but maybe it’s been a minute: 70% of the buyer’s journey is completed without sales being actively involved. Marketers are leveraging content curation as a tool for passively feeding information to potential customers. As consumers take greater responsibility for their purchasing decisions, marketers are curating content pieces that speak to different milestones along the sales funnel. A ‘self-guided’ buyer’s journey is mutually beneficial in that it provides the consumer with autonomy and the marketer with valuable insights.
Understanding which pieces of content your buyer interacted with leading up to purchase can help inform a brand’s content curation strategy. Below are some of the data points marketers pay attention to when it comes to using content curation for driving business:
Collecting data around content performance can be a powerful way to understand why certain pieces fare better than others from a curation standpoint. Chucking content into the cue without direction or strategy are sure ways to lose both trust and credibility. Thoughtful, data-driven content curation speaks for itself -- cut the fluff and serve up helpful content that’s been crafted to make an impact.
No copycats! Strive for original content curation for best results
Not too long ago I came across a quote by Herman Melville that stuck:
It is better to fail in originality, than to succeed in imitation.
Just as Mary from Downton Abbey wouldn’t be caught dead at a party in the same dress as another (scandal!), you don’t have to share what everyone else is sharing either. Keeping your content curation mix relevant to your audience and representative of your brand should be the number one priority, always. However, building and curating original content does not necessarily guarantee viral, overnight success. With 64% of marketers looking to build a better content strategy, patience is required to dig deep and understand what your audience values most.
The many faces of your content curation strategy
Marketing wizard and Wall Street Journal bestseller Rohit Bhargava was the first to segment the different types of content curation: Aggregation, Distillation, Elevation, Mashups and Chronology. His descriptions of each segment are listed below, along with some examples we’ve ‘curated’ (it’s so meta!) to illustrate just how diverse the art of curation can really be. As you read, think of ways you can apply these different forms of curation to your current content cadence.
Aggregation: The act of curating the most relevant information about a particular topic into a single location.
Squarespace Circle is a members-only community for Squarespace ‘super-users’ - many of whom build Squarespace websites for a living. Users have access to private forums curated by Squarespace employees where they can ask questions and exchange ideas with other users, as well as a comprehensive resource library for all things Squarespace design and development.
Distillation: The act of curating information into a more simplistic format where only the most important or relevant ideas are shared.
Daily newsletters like The Morning Brew that delivers bite sized newsworthy synopses about world events including politics, economic trade and entertainment. Email newsletters are still an effective way to reach a wide audience, and content creators are opting for a simplistic, easy-to-read format in knowing that their window to capture a reader’s attention is small.
Elevation: Refers to curation with a mission of identifying a larger trend or insight from smaller daily musings posted online.
Buffer summarized the top 5 data-backed social media trends for 2019 in an audio blog, similar to a weekly podcast. These trends were identified by looking at patterns and trends across social media to inform predictions for 2019. From in-the-moment content and AI-driven customer experiences, to social media TV and omni channel marketing, Buffer picked up on big insights from careful observation. We also did this recently with Content Marketing Institute's Agency Report.
Mashups: Unique curated juxtapositions where merging existing content is used to create a new point of view.
Before and after visuals are especially popular in the beauty industry, as illustrated in this Youtube video with over 10 million views. The stark juxtaposition between a before and after photo both delights and surprises viewers, who marvel at the transformation from a new point of view - a view that shows both sides.
Chronology: A form of curation that brings together historical information organized based on time to show an evolving understanding of a particular topic.
An oldie but a goodie: Hubspot’s chronological infographic detailing the history of marketing. Infographics an effective way to visualize the evolution of a topic in an easy-to-follow format. Because infographics are often designed vertically, they’re optimal to use for timeline-focused pieces of content, such as the History of Marketing.
Darwinian Content Curation: the survival of the fittest
According to a study by the Content Marketing Institute, 52% of B2B marketers attribute ‘lack of time’ to their stagnant success in content marketing. Yes, content marketing is a time consuming practice. It’s even more of an uphill battle if the brand has not one sweet clue about how content is performing or who their target demographic is (and what they like to read). Blissful ignorance is, unfortunately, no longer an option - consumers alike expect A LOT from brands and content creators nowadays. It’s sink or swim. Understanding the different forms of content curation can help marketers open their imagination and find new ways to leverage data and reach their consumers with unique, relevant content. Remember, Downton Abbey wasn’t built in a day - nor was a content curation strategy of consistent, interesting, and relevant content. Content curation is a thoughtful process, but when executed properly, a little can go a long way.
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