How to Curate Content the Right Way

Carmen Rane HudsonSmall Business Websites & Blogs

how-to-curate-content

how-to-curate-contentContent curation is getting a lot of attention lately. It’s not new – people have been doing it for a long time. I just feel like it’s getting way more attention lately.

Perhaps this is because “content marketing” seems to be the phrase of the year. Even organizations that were not too impressed with the idea in the past really seem to be taking the concept far more seriously.

So the pressing need to stay on the content treadmill is definitely there. But as I can attest, it’s just not easy to come up with post after post. Or at least, it’s not easy to do so in a vacuum.

The need to unselfishly reach out to others is also becoming more than apparent to anyone who is paying attention. It’s getting all but impossible to “game Google.”

It’s not that SEO is no longer a factor. It still is.

It’s more that you now have to earn relevance before you earn rankings. Sharing is an effective way to do that – as long as you are effective about the way that you share.

Don’t Just Curate: Annotate!

I actually had this “lightbulb” moment pretty recently. It was the moment that I realized that I could actually start a conversation with other bloggers.

Not just sort of mention a post in passing. But actually taking the time to think about it, analyze it, and share my own take on it.

The results, the first time I did that, were pretty amazing. I didn’t just get some engagement and comments on the post (I did) and I didn’t just form a new relationship (I did). I also got a request to connect on LinkedIn and a gracious invitation to become a regular guest contributor. I was blown away, because I’d had no idea how much power was truly locked up in that one little technique.

Deep in my mind I had this notion that I was a Writer. We all know that Writers sit alone in dark rooms, pulling words out of their own mind.

But content marketing isn’t about being a Writer. It’s about being a Blogger, and that means diving right in and actually participating. It was a major mindset shift, let me tell you.

This annotation thing is important on social media too, though for different reasons. On a social media post your own commentary will necessarily be shorter, but it’s just not always effective to mindlessly hit the Share button.

You build a lot more value when you provide some context for the share. Why did you feel your followers needed to see what you were sharing? Why is this content particularly relevant to them?

This tip about providing context is also important when you’re doing a blog round-up. Take the time to discuss why you’re including each link and what you liked about them. It makes a more interesting post and it helps your readers decide whether they will like those blog posts as much as you did.

What About Content Curation Platforms?

There’s plenty of buzz about Scoop.it and Paper.li. I have not used them myself, but I have watched Paper.li used to great effect on Twitter.

Here’s what happens. People create their newspaper and then get on Twitter with a link, mentioning each person whose content appeared in the paper.

I know that I feel pretty pleased when someone adds some of my content to their “top stories.” I know it’s passing me some traffic. I always thank those who have included me – which means they get a mention from me just as I got a mention from them.

So I think as a social media tool these platforms are pretty awesome. And the sensation of creating your own newspaper looks like a lot of fun.

However, I do not think that these sites should become the sum total of your content marketing strategy. Somewhere around all of this curation you’ve got to produce your own content in your own voice. Otherwise, there’s just nothing for your customers to connect with, and you’re not really building your own expertise.

Curate With Your Readers in Mind

It’s absolutely awesome to get some love from a thought leader in your field or industry. But you can’t keep your eyes on these superstars when you curate content.

Because ultimately, courting superbloggers isn’t the point of the exercise. Courting customers is.

So you should only curate content after asking yourself two questions:

  1. Would my readers want to know about this stuff?
  2. Why would my readers want to know about this stuff?
  3. If you don’t have a good answer to those questions, don’t curate the content. Comment on the superstar’s blog if you loved the post, but then come back to your own website and create something that your customers will like.

    With millions of pieces of content hitting the web every day, it’s a sure bet that there will be something awesome for you to curate another day.