content curation

Content curation is going to explode onto the SMB scene in the next 12-18 months. How do we know this? Because global Fortune 500 brands are finding huge success with it right now. Marketing trends typically start with global brands and can take six months to two years to reach smaller brands (not unlike the fashion industry where trends are shaped on the coasts and slowly make their way inland). So, we know what’s coming. Which means we know what your competitors will be doing next.

And what’s next is content curation. 

Why? Because content curation:

  • Increases engagement, impressions and earned media value
  • Helps to establish your brand in the marketplace
  • Positions your brand as an industry thought leader
  • Provides your employees with content to share (talent retention!)
  • Offers inspiration for future content creation
  • Makes use of the millions of articles already published.

More importantly, it works.

For the past eight weeks, I’ve been curating content for a Fortune 500 brand. In that time, they’ve earned:

  • 94k shares
  • 76M reach
  • 16.04k engagements.

For a total earned media value of $42,077

Diving deeper, the curated articles have received:

  • 8,937 clicks
  • 6,543 likes
  • 164 comments
  • 395 re-shares

This brand, like many other corporations, has an internal team and an external agency working solely on content curation. They see the value in the reach and earned media they’ve been able to generate so far. Case in point: In the 8 weeks before I was on-boarded, the company’s content curation efforts garnered thema total earned media value of $5,738.00

The numbers are compelling for small businesses, to be sure. But, it’s the percentage of increase that’s staggering. In 8 weeks we saw a:

  • 350% increase in shares and reach
  • 600% increase in engagements
  • 725% increase in earned media value

Bottom line: content curation gets results.

So how much content should be curated vs. created? Great question. Conventional social media wisdom suggests that brands should avoid being overly self-promotional. One thing we know for sure is that you don’t want your brand to be that guy on social media. Whether you’re on a first date or meeting new people at a party, it’s never a good idea to go on and on about yourself.

One source says that brands should create 65% of the content they share, and curate 35%. We’ve talked about the 80/20 rule where 80% of the content you share should come from outside credible sources or your own top-of-funnel content and 20% can be your own promotional content.

A click and convert study found that:

  1. Posts linking to third-party sites generate 33% more clicks than posts linking to owned sites.
  2. Posts that link to your website have a 54% higher click-to-conversion rate than posts that link to third-party websites.

As the post explains, companies that include a balanced mix of created and curated content achieve the best results overall. They generate 20% fewer clicks per post than curating alone, but their conversion rate is 10X higher. And we’ve seen just how powerful content curation can be (in the above example) in earning greater reach and higher engagements.

The trick is to find a strategy that allows curation and creation to complement one another. The truth is, content curation is often overlooked in social media strategies. In fact, we overlooked it here at alpha | BRAVO for a long time. Content curation was included as part of our social media management package but without taking into account the time and effort it takes to do it well. We were losing money by giving away a service for free. And as my friend Marie Hale likes to say, “The minute you give it away, you’ve determined its value.”

Here’s the thing. It’s really tough to get your content seen and heard. Global brands curate content for their employees to share, but they all have strict rules about only sharing content from highly credible sources. That means, even if you’ve got something super brilliant to say, the best idea anywhere, and the stats and research to back it up, the chances of a company sharing your content with their followers is tiny – like size-of-Earth-from-the-moon, tiny.

What’s a content creator to do? Use curated content to help establish yourself in the marketplace! When you begin sharing credible, useful content with your followers, they begin to see you as credible and useful. And the more you share, the faster you’ll grow your brand.

Sharing content that isn’t your own isn’t just smart, it’s necessary.

Why should your agency add content curation as a service? Because it takes strategy, insight, and writing skills – not to mention time – to do well.

5 Rules for Successful Content Curation

  1. Make a list of credible, relevant sources. Don’t rely on the same few over and over again or it’ll look like you’re just promoting that brand. Choose magazines, websites, blogs and newspapers you typically look to for up to the minute information on your own industry (or that of your client).
  2. Be sure that what you’re curating and promoting meaningfully adds to the conversation. Add your unique perspective, share a stat that backs up a claim, or expand on a topic in the piece that is only mentioned in passing.
  3. Add strategic hashtags to optimize reach
  4. Tag authors and companies where appropriate
  5. Be consistent and follow your editorial calendar. If you’re going to focus on social selling all month, focus your content curation around the same or a closely related topic.

There are tools out there that can make content curation easier and faster, and help to keep your brand guidelines intact. Sprout Social’s curate content option was in beta for more than a year before finally becoming a regular tab in the dashboard. They also have a separate dashboard – Bambu by Sprout – strictly for employee advocacy and sharing both created and curated content.

LinkedIn has its own content curation platform – Elevate – that allows employees to curate content they find valuable and easily share it with their own LinkedIn connections.

And as more platforms become available and more brands begin taking advantage of the millions of articles on the web, content curation, too, will become table stakes. Until then, you’re ahead of the game. What are you waiting for?

(Seriously, if you’re waiting for help because you simply have zero time, reach out!)

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