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Content curation: How online marketers are learning from museums

A phrase still valid in online marketing: content is king. In today’s age, it is no longer necessary for you or your employees to create content yourself. Marketing experts and self-employed people are increasingly turning towards the field of curation. As in a museum, content is carefully presented it to a crowd, followers or fans.

Initially, this sounds contradictory: how is broadcasting external content supposed to improve your own marketing value? Does it not make more sense to distribute your own posts or material on the internet? Well, it depends on how you use content curation.

What is content curation?

Social media has been using content curation for a while now, even before it existed as a concept: the entire internet liking and sharing content is a key element of social media. On Facebook alone, users assign several million “likes” per minute and share several billion posts daily. The online platform Pinterest has made this idea a business model: it is not intended for users to share their own content there, instead, users create specific boards to collect websites, blog articles or pictures they have discovered on the internet for themselves or the community.

Content curation works in the same way: by doing this, marketers themselves are becoming distributors. They share articles, infographics or videos that interest that target the audience on different channels. To return to the idea of the art history curator: those interested in art attend museums or galleries, they do not show up outside the artists’ front door. In a museum, you will find a selection of the works on a particular theme or simply the finest the museum has to offer. In addition, visitors receive extra information: e.g. reasons for selection, facts about how the works were created and information about the artist. This means, according to a marketing strategy, that content should not only be redistributed but also reworked. A possible content creation definition could be: an author selects content, which he then gives his comments and opinions on, and then presents it to his audience. Just like a curator in a museum.

On the internet, however, it is important to filter content. The overabundance of information means that properly curated content is sometimes worth more than an additional contribution about the same topic.

Why should you use content curation?

Is creating content still important? Content curation is not about giving up creating your own content completely, but rather by adapting and expanding your online marketing offer and content marketing strategy. Instead of providing your customers with your own expertise, you can expand your information offer with content curation. This is why there are many reasons in favor of carefully conducted curation of content, and very few against it.

Strengthening your channels: many companies use social media to broadcast their content. That also makes sense: if Facebook fans are only getting the newest blog posts, then there is less reason for them to pay attention to this channel: regular visits to the company blog, a subscription to the newsletters or RSS feed provides the same thing. However, if you use your social media channels for content curation, then your followers get direct benefits.

Pro

  • Increasing content: In order to successfully market online, you must regularly publish good content. However, especially for small and medium sized enterprises or self-employed workers, one problem becomes quickly evident: the struggle between quality and quantity.  Those who are panicking because the deadline has nearly passed cannot be expected to pay attention to the quality of their texts, pictures or videos. Content curation solves this dilemma. You buy more time for your own contributions and can provide your customers and followers with additional content from other sources simultaneously.
  • Strengthening of channels: Many companies use social media to distribute their content. It makes sense: if fans are only getting access to the latest blog posts on Facebook, there is little reason for them to continue following that social media platform: regular visits to company blogs, subscriptions to newsletters or RSS feeds have the same benefits. However, if you use your social media channels for content curation, your followers get added value. Make your Facebook page, Twitter account of Google+ page an important point of entry for anyone looking for theme-specific information.
  • Presenting expertise: With your own informative article, you can make it clear to the reader that you are well versed in a specific subject area. However, content curators can prove that they have a sense of the material: their carefully selected articles show that they are always up-to-date and that they know what’s important or interesting to their readers. You can also assert an opinion through a comment: a clear and comprehensible position or opinion proves that you have engaged thoroughly with the topic. 
  • Timely responses to trends, developments, and events: This has to do with the quantity of content, as well as showing your expertise.  In some areas, there is a high turnover of news. If however, you are “asleep” for these new developments because you are still writing an article about old news, your readers and customers will quickly lose interest and disregard you as a news source. Content curation gives you the opportunity to react quickly to trends.
  • Increase your credibility: Those who describe and evaluate things from their own perspective will quickly seem unbelievable or biased. A one-sided view of a complex topic is rarely a good one: valuable discussions often only arise when different opinions collide. In this instance, content curators kill two birds with one stone: they prove that they can look beyond their own boundaries, and stimulate user involvement through content from different authors at the same time. Many users like to voice their own opinions in the comment section of shared content.
  • Extending thematic areas: Nobody can know everything- and they should not have to. On the internet – as a place of knowledge and exchange – community collaboration has always been more important than the knowledge of the individual. Create compelling content about your specialty and expand your theme by curating your colleagues’ content.
  • Addressing influencers: When you share content, it is imperative to specify the source. Demand good tone and copyright. Informing authors about the distribution of their work also strengthens their own network and portfolio. Since you should only use reputable sources anyway, influencers will be made aware of you through tags and mentions. This kind of content distribution is also profitable for them because the range of their contributions also increases the range of their readership. In the best case scenario, they will return the favor to you and share your posts.
  • Improving SEO:Content curation can be good for search engine rankings. Google evaluates the spread of high-quality links and high-frequency content production positively, which often results in a better search engine ranking. On the other hand, search engine rankings punish duplicated content. Therefore, you shouldn’t focus only on shared content but also make comments and have a unique perspective.

Contra

  • Increased effort: Nobody should stop producing their own content. If you are disorganized, it can be easy to find yourself with no time left to create your own content once you are finished curating the content of others. But remember that when you create content, you usually search for relevant media anyway. By continuing to post high-quality content that has been found during your research, the amount of content you are creating should remain manageable.
  • Strengthening your competition: Many entrepreneurs and marketers are concerned that when they share external content, they are promoting their competition. There is no guarantee that your competitors will reciprocate and distribute your content in return. In general, however, it is sensible to make the target group the focus of your efforts – and this applies to all aspects of marketing.  In terms of readers and customers, distributing valuable content is always a good thing. That is why channels using content curation will be more successful in the long run than those competitors without a coaching strategy.
  • Traffic redirection: Content curation involves linking to external content, meaning you will be redirecting traffic to a different website than your own. That is never the purpose of online marketing: the goal is to attract as many people as possible to your own website.  However, follower satisfaction is also an important factor.

How does content curation work?

In principle, content curation is child’s play: everyone has pressed the Share button or retweeted something on Twitter before. That is not enough for professional online marketing: to help readers benefit from your efforts as a curator, you should follow some guidelines when sharing content.

What to share?

You want to establish yourself as an expert on content curation. Relevant information will make you the number one stop for those interested. In order to achieve this, you must convince your followers of the following:

  • A theme or topic area should be tailored to specific target groups and not be deviated from. The most important principle: what interests the reader? It can be easy to get carried away quickly and put your own interests above those of the readers. However, the interest of the target group should be the decisive element for each contribution. In this way, you attract committed members to the discussion, which ensures lively communication in the channels.
  • Share content because it is compelling, controversial or unusual. Just like when writing texts, you should share content because it is good, not because it’s time to post something.  Followers lose interest quickly if you inundate them with insignificant posts.
  • Stay up to date! Content curators act like a news agency. The goal should be to share content with everyone else. If you are regularly behind the times with news, readers will switch to another source.
Note

A content curator does not just share everything they encounter in their research. In the face of an unmanageable flood of information, carefully curated material provides extra value and does not get lost in the plethora of web information.

Become a discoverer: the quoted sources within a curative strategy play a decisive role. A Wikipedia article on the topic may offer abundantly relevant information- but most readers already know this famous online lexicon, so a link does not give them any added value.  Blogs by unknown or untrustworthy authors are just as inappropriate. The goal is to find high-quality content creators and introduce them to their own audience. Share something everyone will like, and which will benefit the author – perfect!

A variety of sources is also important. Always sharing content from the same authors and media outlets will quickly come back and bite you. Readers then lose interest in the distributor and prefer to go directly to the creator. That’s why you need to be careful to cover a wide range of good sources.

How to share?

An important aspect to remember is that anyone who decides to participate in content curation must do it consistently. An outlet that shares information infrequently, irregularly, or that is out of date, will not generate new readers. Readers want comprehensive information. Therefore, a curator must continually expand the information they have on offer and also prepare sources for reader-friendly or commenting.

Edit rather than cite

Curation also means preparation, not just collation. There are two reasons for this: on the one hand, readers get more than just a simple link on the screen. In principle, anyone can do this with the help of an engine. The curators’ commentaries, counter-representations, and opinions create added value. On the other hand, adding your own content is important for the ranking on Google and other search engines. Try to separate the valuable contributions from the unnecessary contributions: double content does not provide anyone anything. It is important to always mark content as “unique”.

The 5 types of content curation.

There are many ways to process and edit external content. The easiest way is to share and comment on an information unit (website, blog post, infographic, video). However, it is also possible to create your own longer contributions where several shared contents play a role. Content curation is commonly divided into 5 different types of curating:

  • Aggregation: Here you summarize the most important content on a topic in a contribution. Top 10 lists are perfect examples of aggregations.
  • Distillation: In the distillation process, you reduce split content to its core statements. The goal is to prepare content so that readers will understand it easily.
  • Elevation: Curators like to represent trends this way. It consists of a steady stream of curated content, with a regularly updated link list.
  • Mashup: Mashup blurs the lines between content curation and content creation. Many different perspectives and contributions are used to create new content. This creates a mix of text, quotations, and paraphrases.
  • Chronology: This describes the chronological treatment of a topic. The goal is to reflect the course of opinions, developments, and ideas. A separate text is also created here, which is strongly based on quotations and references.

Like most online marketing strategies, the best idea is to try and use all of these methods to keep your readers informed and entertained.

Citation versus plagiarism.

With all the possibilities that content curation can offer, there can still be an aftertaste: black sheep feel validated when they steal content and ideas, plagiarizing their way through the internet. A real curator is different. For ethical and data protection reasons, stealing content is not advisable. But marketing is also about securing sources: reaching out to authors, photographers, graphic designers, and video bloggers is highly recommended. The online community values transparency. Readers are happy about clear sources because it gives them the opportunity to find exciting new input.

Added to this is the fact that other content creators can cite important networks. It is best to contact authors whom you wish to quote and ask for permission. This is not always possible (due to time constraints), and also not always necessary - citation is also allowed without permission – provided the source is clearly named, the citations are not too long and the content is not reproduced in an incorrect context. However, hardly any author says no to building a reputation and backlinks. Social media makes it easy to notify original authors about sharing their content, on Facebook or Twitter, you can link people on the day and inform them at the same time. Chances are good that the relevant authors act as disseminators and in return distribute, like or comment on other curated contributions. In the best case scenario, they themselves become followers and begin to share unique content with you, ensuring high-quality backlinks.

Note

Copyright is also valid on the internet and the written word. Anyone copying content illegally, instead of legitimately citing it, is liable to punishment.

Where to share?

In principle, content curation can take place wherever content creation is carried out. Just like your own content, the topic must be relevant to your channel. While it is perfect for Twitter to send a link paired with a few words, this is insufficient for a blog post.

  • Social Media: Social Media makes it easy to spread content. Interesting links are provided quickly with a comment and the built-in commentary enhances user engagement.
  • Corporate Blog: Your own blog is the perfect medium to run content curation, either in the form of lists or detailed contributions. Mashup or chronology is very suitable for blogs.
  • Content curation tools: In the meantime, there are many powerful tools that support curating using algorithms. These often also offer their own presentation possibilities, through which users can access content.
  • Newsletter: New content can also be spread via the company newsroom. Several links to unique content, provided with conclusive comments, can inform your readers about previously defined topics. However, even if this is a semi-public contribution, you must comply with the rules of content curation.
Conclusion

Content curation is easy to implement and is used in a small framework by many online users. This is particularly pleasing for start-ups and freelancers because they do not need a large marketing department for content curation. Individuals can also curate a compelling feed that informs and activates a crowd at the same time. However, for professional online marketing experts, content curation is a good opportunity to strengthen their scope and engagement levels. It is important to adhere to a serious, consistent curative process, whether small or large in style. To return to the museum comparison for the last time, the interests of the visitors must be at the forefront of the exhibition, and at the same time, the artist must be respected. If you stick to these principles, content curation can be a huge boost for your content marketing.

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