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Content curation: separating wheat from chaff in the content abyss

Posted by Chris King on 19th September 2016

Whether it’s blogs, guides, whitepapers, videos or the many other different forms, the world’s collective PR and marketing machine produces huge amounts of content on a daily basis. Some of it is brilliant, some is passable but a lot of it is crap. As more businesses jump on the content bandwagon, maintaining the frequency and quality of content required to differentiate and cut through becomes more and more difficult.

With time, resources, budgets and sometimes inspiration stretched, what if there was another way?

Enter content curation!

“…when an individual (or team) consistently finds, organises, annotates, and shares relevant and high-quality third-party digital content on a specific topic for their target market.”

The main benefit of adding content curation to your PR and content marketing arsenal is the SEO improvement as a result of additional indexable pages that provide Google et al with more doorways into your site, in much the same way that a regular blog is common SEO best practice. Curated content from high-quality third-party sources can also help you build a go-to online resource that improves your credibility and trustworthiness as an impartial authority on your chosen topic.

However, it’s important to clarify that content curation is not simply aggregation or ripping off other people’s content — it’s important that you, the curator, are at the centre hand-selecting which content to share and are adding context and insight to give your audience a deeper understanding of the content. Remember, your audience follows you for your voice, so as a curator, it is important to add commentary and context. Let people in on the reason why you’re sharing something. What did you get out of it?

According to content curation platform Curata there are five primary activities required for developing and maintaining an efficient, effective and ethical curation practice:

1. Define your objectives

From a marketer’s perspective, you probably want to share content to inform, educate, and influence your prospects and to build an online destination, but you could also use curation to keep your sales team up to date on your competitors and industry.

2. Find your sources

You can curate content from a wide variety of online sources. You’ll probably be drawn to those that you and your audience are familiar with, for example trade publications, Twitter lists and users, LinkedIn Pulse, industry blogs, journals, and more. However, think about other content being pushed by the PR teams of relevant companies within the relevant industry to your topic area.

3. Curate by organising and editorialising
As a curator you need to decide which of your sourced articles is worthy of your audience’s attention, so typical questions to ask yourself are:

  • Is this content relevant to my audience?
  • Is this fresh content that provides my audience with new information or insight they haven’t found elsewhere?
  • Is this content from credible source?
  • Does this content offer an alternative viewpoint or validate my point of view?

4. Share via a variety of channels and mediums

As a content curator, you need to decide which channels are best suited to sharing with your audience. You might decide to build a dedicated microsite or create an email newsletter or blog series. Alternatively, you might use curated content to enrich your social media posts or perhaps create an RSS feed. Most likely you’ll use a combination. Each of these methods has its own pros and cons and requires different levels of effort and dedication to make it worthwhile.

5. Analyse and optimise your content curation performance

Obviously after you have found, curated and shared content, it’s vital to measure its success and use the data to adjust your future curation strategy. Some of the best metrics to track are page views, visitor counts, click through rates, shares and subscribers (in the case of RSS and newsletters).

The most effective PR and marketing is no longer just about your product, service or even your customers’ needs. Strategies need to include a larger ecosystem that considers their entire market and industry. The consensus from the experts is that you should curate approximately 25% of your content.

Doing curation well though means making sure your audience feels connected with what you curate and publish. As attention spans deteriorate, it’s of utmost importance to capture the most important pieces of information and share only a select few that really hit the mark.

This blog post borrows heavily from Pawan Deshpande of Curata’s excellent Definitive Guide to Content Curation.

Chris King

Chris’s extensive experience of agency PR, ‘can-do’ attitude and track record for achieving outstanding results time after time make him a firm favourite amongst clients. His natural teaching skills make him an expert mentor and respected MD.