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Lee Odden

How Content Curation and Tools Can Fit In Your Digital Marketing MIx

By Lee Odden on May 27th, 2014     Content Marketing, Online Marketing

content curation marketing

There are many types of content a business can create to attract, engage and convert customers: Evergreen, Repurposed, Curated and Co-Created.

Of those content types, curated content offers numerous benefits that many companies are not taking advantage of. While content curation has grown in popularity since we first started writing about it in 2010, the question remains: Does it belong in your digital marketing mix?

The practice of collecting and filtering information and then adding value to it has been around a long time. Classic blogging often follows this “oreo cookie” format of sandwiching an excerpt of someone else’s information with your own. Doing so on a continuous basis is content curation and is as old as blogging itself.

I think there are three main reasons for the increased popularity of content curation for marketing:

1. Efficiency – There are numerous content curation software providers that tout the benefits of scouring the web for themed content and pulling it into a blog where it can be curated according to how the brand wants to be known and useful to a particular audience. Doing this manually is extremely labor intensive, let along writing 100% original content on a regular basis.

2. People Filters vs. Search Engines – While search engines are superior at indexing large quantities of data, sorting and presenting the most relevant information, they do not add value outside of discovery. Curation brings the “human” into the equation in ways that algorithms are hard pressed to match in terms of filtering and especially niche organization, adding context and perspective to content.

Even search engines like Google rely on human quality raters to augment their algorithmic efforts to determine the best content. Curation is based on that type of filtering and as a result, people want it.

3. Information Overload – More information is created digitally every day than ever before and many consumers feel lost in a sea of data and content. Thoughtful curation of content stands out as readers connect with the personality and perspective of the curating source that brings them useful information from a variety of sources with context and perspective.

Curation Process

With the popularity of content curation comes tools to make the business of discovering, organizing, annotating and publishing curated content efficient and scalable.  There are many content curation software tools to choose from and many will serve most marketers’ needs. But what features should you look for in content curation software?

  • The ability to pull data from a variety of sources in real-time and the ability to pre-filter with keywords, topics and suggest related topics
  • Bringing discovered content into a queue that allows you to moderate what gets published and add your own commentary to is useful’
  • The option of auto-publishing everything that is discovered according to topical filters, specified sources (sites, people, publications)
  • Search engine friendly features like being able to have unique title tags from on-page titles and embedding author rel tags to the original content author
  • Exporting to a newsletter, syndicating to other blogs
  • Built in social scheduling and amplification by auto posting to social accounts like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+
  • Integration with short url services for customized URLs and tracking
  • Web analytics for curated content performance tracking - ideally through a dashboard

Besides sourcing, filtering, scheduling and publishing, content curation software should also make it easy to promote content, interact with readers via comments, feature top content, top engagers and social shares. Amplification of content is essential to extend reach.

Measurement in terms of subscribers, engagement, distribution, inbound links, social shares and a tie-in to analytics like Google Analytics makes curation software useful as well.

To my knowledge, no content curation service does all of these things, so I am looking forward to seeing suggestions in the comments. But here are some tools to start with:

Free tools: Storify, paper.li, pearltrees, list.ly and scoop.it

Paid tools: Curata, Curationsoft and publishthis

Content CurationOriginal or Curated Content Isn’t the Question – It’s About Thought Leadership

Neither curation or original content will become all things to all people. Original content to be curated needs to come form somewhere and for companies that want to take a leadership position in their industry, a commitment to creating original content is a necessity. Leaders have opinions. They have interesting things to say. Market Leaders do not have a problem with creating original content.

That said, augmenting original content with curated content is perfectly effective. Getting the most out of content curation means understanding what’s possible and best practices. You can be super sophisticated with a multi-channel scheme, or basic. For example, with Online Marketing Blog’s original content published 3-4 times a week, we curate industry news each Friday. People love to see what stories we’ve picked as worth reading and our commentary about those stories.

With thought leadership goals in mind, it’s reasonable to start out by curating industry news and resources to become the “go to source” for all things relevant to the topics your target audience cares about. As the community grows, an evolution into a original content and curated content mix will provide the quality, leadership and efficiency that brands need to succeed.

Content Curation Skills & Integration

Curation tools are powerful and essential for social content sourcing and creation. Curation is also very useful for surfacing real-time trends and the appearance of topics across multiple media, channels and platforms.

A human curator definitely brings the skills needed for modern content editing, but obviously, there’s more to editing than sourcing, annotating and promoting content. Storytelling and connecting brand narrative along with creative execution is increasingly important for the corporate editorial function. Those are skills not always present with curators, but maybe they should be. Integration between original and curated content is essential for optimizing customer experience.

How are you using content curation in your digital marketing? What are your favorite content curation software, platforms or tools?


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