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: Cultivate 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 connect this description with the word content, then content curation means nothing more than the compilation of content and its distribution. My very esteemed colleague Falk Hedemann defines the discipline in his article on content curation as follows:
Content from different sources is compiled, put into context and sorted.
How does content curation 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 work with content curation fairly often. Specifically, for example, in the article On the myth of 1,000 words. In it, I addressed my colleague Vladislav Melnik's statement that a blog article MUST have at least 1,000 words. I disagreed and still disagree. In the post, I argued this accordingly to make my position clear. The article subsequently generated a lot of discussion on his blog and on mine. That, in turn, brought us a lot of traffic and attention on the web - which 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 Weller shows what this looks like in concrete terms. On his blog toushenne, he writes about content strategy. He has just published an article entitled "The ultimate brand monitoring and social media listig guide". In it, he works with an extremely large number of external sources to formulate his listing and explanation:
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.
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 or Nuzzel offer the service of curating different articles into a kind of newspaper or article compilation. Bundling good professional articles for the target group can be a very good way for the reputation.
Infographics are quick and easy to create visually. With tools like Infogram or Pictochart, you can create good infographics quickly and easily in the respective basic version. They are a real eye-catcher, because not everyone always offers such a graphic. One example is the infographic from Raidboxes "Fun facts of our year 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 this way and thus gain unique insights. On the other hand, the expert contact complements and strengthens your network. Christa Goede published a very readable interview with the expert for content marketing Carsten Rossi from the agency Kamann Rossi. Her example shows how well such interviews can work.
The presentation and discussion of an authentic case study from practice is a very good way to practice content curation. Especially the discourse of a case, the presentation of the pros and cons of actions and the evaluation of results show how much one knows about the subject matter. A case study can in turn be supplemented with sources from other experts, so that a detailed and qualitative discussion can be created. This can further enhance one's own reputation. You can find case studies in content marketing at textbroker.de, for example.
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 from Raidboxes\. In a kind of internal content curation, the collected knowledge of the team was used - including references to suitable 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 being clear about who your target audiences are and what information they need. That's why you should think about the topics you want to curate content for in advance. In my case, for example, it relates to social media and blogging.
Consider a system for sifting through and archiving sources. I use Pocket and Evernote for this. With Pocket, I save articles I want to read later and don't want to lose. Pocket itself also offers the possibility to follow other users and their content, as the example of content expert Klaus Eck shows:
I make notes on certain content and save the source information in Evernote.
As already mentioned: Make sure your sources are reputable - read the content carefully. You have the impression that the source is not quite "clean"? Or you can't understand the content? Then leave it alone. If the latter is the case, you can of course deal with it critically. The question is, however, whether you might trigger a shitstorm and get caught in the crossfire yourself.
Save time and use planning tools to share content. For example, you can use Buffer or Hootsuite (free in the basic version). With them, you can schedule your content in advance and publish it automatically.
I recommend you always add an accompanying and introductory text when you curate content. This shows that you have actually read the content, can classify it and which aspects/points you agree or disagree with. By the way, this is also one of the central tasks of serious journalism: the classification of events. If you curate content without commentary, then your target groups/fans/followers cannot classify the content.
However, I have to confess one thing: I sometimes share tweets on Twitter from sources I trust unconditionally, for example because the headline speaks for itself. And because I know that my community can classify the content. Then I sometimes rely on feedback from my contacts. You learn something new every day and "look out for 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 discussion with other points of view and approaches offers you the opportunity to create your own content that builds on this or considers a counter thesis. Content that represents a counter-opinion and deals critically 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.
Contributed image: Andrew Neel @Unsplash