Content curation is one of the best ways for freelancers and agencies to generate attention and reach on the web. You can use content curation, for example, to position yourself as an expert. Implemented strategically, it's an excellent way to build up your own brand. But what really matters when it comes to content curation and how can you implement it in your business?
Content curation: manage and organize your content!
The term "content curation" is made up of two parts. Content, of course, is content, and curating in this context means preparing and distributing your content. The term "curator" is Latin in origin and stands for someone who looks after or manages. You may have heard of curators in relation to museums where they're responsible for the archiving of exhibits. In the artistic field, they compile and exhibit material. So you can say curators are responsible for maintaining, organizing, and distributing objects.
If you bring this sense together with the term content, then content curation means nothing more than compiling and distributing content. My esteemed colleague Falk defines the discipline in his article on content curation SEO expert Dominik Stein describes the situation as follows:
Content from different sources is compiled, put into context and sorted.
How does content curation actually work?
Maybe you've carried out some academic work in the past. In this process, you'll have read sources on your topic or theory which you'll have then cited as evidence for or against your topic/thesis. This is exactly what content curation is. You take some content, a statement or a position from someone else and quote it to support or argue against your statement or thesis.
Broken down into small steps, the process looks like this: You...
- Scan sources
- Select sources
- Process them
- Publish them
This could be a tweet, post, or comment from someone else. You can record any statement made my another to process it in a blog article. It must be clear that this is somebody else's content, however. You can't just copy someone else's work. Copyright law is interpreted very strictly by some sources, such as publishers, so you must ask when in doubt.
I frequently work with content curation. An example is my article The myth of the 1,000 words. In this article, I refer to my colleague Vladislav's assertion that a blog article MUST have at least 1,000 words. I disagreed at the time of writing and still do. I gave detailed reasons for my objection in the text to make my position clear. After publication, the article sparked great debates on both of our blogs. In turn, the debate brought us a lot of traffic and attention online – and this is exactly how content curation works.
Tip: It's important to always choose a reputable source to work with. This is the only way to establish yourself as an expert. If you choose a non-reputable source, you're telling the online community you don't know how to distinguish a good source from a bad one. The community members are unlikely to forgive such an error in judgment.
Become an expert with external articles
It was considered taboo for many years to share the content of others, especially the content of your competitors. After all, people only wanted their own content to get noticed. Sure, this thinking is understandable. But it's too short sighted.
Academia shows us how it's done properly. A researcher can only show they're familiar with a topic once they've considered statements, results, and opinions of other scientists and had their own thesis verified or falsified on this basis. This person:
- Is able to assess the field
- Is aware of the current state of scientific knowledge in the field
- Can justify their own reasonable opinions
It's these points that help build and consolidate one's own status as an expert.
My colleague Robert shows what form this can take. He writes about content strategy on his blog toushenne. In a recent post entitled "The Ultimate Brand Monitoring and Social Media Listening Guide", he works with a huge number of external sources to form his structure and analysis:
Robert links to all of these sources and clearly labels them. By doing this, he shows he's well versed in the topic. He knows exactly which sources and authors he has to name to give structure and content to his article. At the same time, he compares these sources and evaluates them in his comments in order to draw conclusions.
This not only strengthens his expert status as a content strategist but also his personal brand. In addition, the links draw him attention from the people mentioned. Ideally, these people thank him publicly for the mention, reply to him or share his content on their own channels. In this way, Robert gains access to communities that he wouldn't have otherwise been able to reach or only with great difficulty.
Tip: Don't forget to tag people when you mention them in your articles, tweets, or Facebook posts. This has several advantages: The tagged people will notice you. In an ideal case, they'll let their community know they've been tagged by you.
You can expand your reach this way and more people will take notice of you. The people you mention may follow you on your channels and you'll have more chance to expand your network.
Suitable formats for content curation
Sharing content on your social media and posting blog articles are two popular ways to curate content. But there are more ways out there:
Tools like paper.li , Nuzzel allow you to curate different articles to form a kind of newspaper or compilation of articles. Putting together good professional articles in a bundle for the target group can be a very good way to enhance your reputation.
Infographics are quick and easy to capture visually. With tools like Infogram , Pictochart you can quickly and easily create good infographics using the basic version of each tool. Such images really are an eye-catcher because not everyone has them in their content. An example is an infographic from RAIDBOXES, "Fun Facts from 2018":
The only difference with content curation is you'd be using external facts. Ask the content author's in advance for permission to make an infographic using their content if the facts aren't common knowledge or if they're provided by someone else. If all goes well, these authors might also share the infographic with their contacts.
Interviews with experts have many advantages. They're perfectly suited to:
- Provide exclusive content
- Show you know who is important in the industry
- Demonstrate how you can lead a discussion
On the one hand, you can ask exclusive questions in an interview and gain valuable insights. On the other hand, the expert you're interviewing expands and strengthens your network. A very readable interview with content marketing expert Carsten Rossi from the agency Kamann Rossi was recently published by Christa Goede. Her contribution shows just how well such interviews can work.
A very good way to curate content is to present and discuss an authentic case study from real life. You show just how familiar you are with the subject matter by discussing the case, how the pros and cons of different actions are presented, and by evaluating the results. In turn, a case study can be supplemented with sources from other experts, so that a detailed and qualitative discussion can develop. This allows you to further enhance your own reputation. You can find examples of case studies on textbroker.com.
E-books are also great for content curation. If you already have several blog articles on a particular topic then publishing them together in an e-book is simple. You just need to create the introduction and transitions and add articles from other experts. The result is a collection of well-founded sources including your own texts, which are published as a "book" in your name.
As an example, take a look at the Performance E-Book by RAIDBOXES. The team's collective knowledge was pooled in a sort of internal content curation process and includes links to appropriate external sources:
Books are still THE way to be perceived as an expert. Granted, a printed book published by a publishing house will do even more for your reputation but an e-book is already a very good start.
What is important in curating?
Good content curation involves making sure you understand who your target groups are and what information they need. Therefore, think about the topics you want to curate content on before you start. In my case this is, for example, social media and blogging.
Think about a system where you can view and archive sources. Personally, I like to use Pocket and Evernote. With Pocket, I can save articles I want to read later on and don't want to lose. Pocket also allows you to follow other users and their content, as seen in the example of content expert Klaus:
I make notes on certain content and save the source information in Evernote.
As already mentioned: Make sure your sources are reputable and read through the contents very carefully. Do you get the feeling the source isn't quite legit? Or you can't see where the points are coming from? Then stay well away! Of course, if you can't understand the author's standpoint, you can still take a critical look at it. The question is, however, whether you could possibly unleash a shitstorm and get caught in the crossfire yourself.
Save time and use planning tools to share content. Good tools for this are, for example, Buffer , Hootsuite (the basic version is free). These tools allow you to plan your content in advance and publish it automatically.
I recommend that you always include introductory and accompanying texts when you curate content. Such texts show you really understand the material, know how to categorize it, and can argue for and against the different aspects. This is also one of the central tasks of serious journalism: arranging events in order. If you curate content without comment, your target groups, fans or followers won't be able to follow the content.
I have a confession to make, however: I sometimes share tweets on Twitter from sources I trust unconditionally. For example, because the headline already speaks for itself. And because I know that my community can categorize the content. Then I rely on feedback from my contacts. You learn something new every day and "take care of each other".
Content curation can be a great way to expand your reach and build your reputation as an expert - if you put in the effort. At the same time, working with external sources and statements expands your knowledge and broadens your horizons.
Especially the examination of other points of view and approaches offers you the possibility to create your own content, which builds on it or considers a counter thesis. Content that represents a counter-opinion and critically deals with a statement is read and shared with pleasure. Even if your personal goal is to strengthen your brand, the relevance of the content for your readers should always be in the foreground.
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Picture: Andrew Neel | Unsplash