Content curation is an amazing way to engage your audience and increase your social media presence without big investments in content creation.
In this massive 8,000 words guide you’re gonna learn how to start curating content for your company in a successful way!
19. Play on Emotions
Let’s take a step back for a minute.
There are 2 million blog posts published each day. The rise of the Long Tail, coupled with simple publishing tools like Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and WordPress, has turned everyone into a content creator. For better or worse.
Curation helps people cut through the clutter.
And some of the most cutting edge media platforms are using it to augment (or replace) their content.
Inside.com is a news application built on curating the top news stories for people within specific content verticals.
Twitter just released Moments, originally dubbed Project Lightning, which puts a greater focus on live events.
The problem today isn’t having a method to reach your customer. The problem is that there’s too many. There are countless examples of content curation from great companies!
The solution is (a) getting and then (b) keeping your customer’s attention long enough to build trust and get your point across.
That doesn’t happen in a single website visit. Or a single tweet.
Rather it takes many website visits, and many tweets, for someone to eventually build up enough interest and trust to purchase something from you.
Content is one of the best ways to do that. Which can be everything from the headline on your ad that makes people click. The copy on your pages that cause people to stick around. And the content in your emails that inspire repurchases and referrals.
Trouble is, original content is tough.
However, original content is tough to produce. It’s time consuming, and expensive (if not impossible) to hire out.
Curation provides many of the benefits, including customer relationship building and industry networking, without the high costs and time to create. It’s a staple of most modern marketing playbooks, up to 85% according to one research report.
There’s a few reasons why:
It’s faster and easier to curate content than produce original content. That means your cost to execute, and timeline, just shrunk dramatically.
But it also provides most of the upside. That means you stand to gain the same benefits, whether that’s intangible (like increased thought leadership) or quantifiable (like visits or shares).
While that sounds great in theory, there’s still a learning curve before you can put it to work.
It’s not brain surgery, but it does require that you know what successful content looks like and how to create it. You’ll need to understand how to set-up and manage a successful workflow from capture to distribution. And then it helps to know a few tricks that can make all the difference.
So before getting into the tactics of how to do it, let’s start what it looks like, and how you can identify it.
SEO sucks. Honestly.
It’s incredibly important. But also insanely confusing and complicated.
A difficult topic to learn, especially when you need to be careful of where that information is coming from.
Thankfully, HubSpot reached out to some of the most well known people in the industry to put together their “Learning SEO from the Experts” ebook.
Long, in-depth pieces of content are notoriously difficult to create (you don’t want to know the number of coffees it took to complete this).
But rounding up the expert opinions of others helps cut down this time dramatically, while also providing new exposure for these influencers to a new audience (who might be interested in what they have to sell).
In this case, HubSpot also does a great job of using one unified narrative to bring everything together and keep it all on point.
Utilizing influencers like this also provides a ton of extra credibility, because they’re able to “piggyback” on their expertise. HubSpot no doesn’t have to be an expert in SEO if they can find others who are.
This also gives you a built-in distribution network once it’s time to go live. It gives you a (reason) to reach out to other influencers or people in your niche.
Think they’d give you the time of day otherwise if you asked them to share something? Probably not. But if you’re offering to help and highlight them, then it’s a totally different conversation.
Another form of detailed, in-depth content is a webinar. And the Kissmetrics Webinars are a perfect example, bringing in experts to help supply their knowledge.
Kissmetrics benefits by gaining the valuable content. While the content creator (or presenter in this case) benefits by getting a HUGE platform to share their insight.
Another example along the same lines are the “Mozinars”, who does webinars twice a month.
These high value, in-depth guides are a perfect way to start generating leads and the nurturing them over time.
But how do you get started?
Where do even you begin finding a topic to talk about?
Ideally, with your customer personas.
What content should you create?
Go ask your audience.
Everything starts with their ideas, their quirks, and their behaviors. The best way to uncover these, and shortcut your path to generating endless content ideas, is through some basic customer research.
Customer personas, or “fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers”, are the ideal end result of your research – giving you someone specific to speak to when sitting down to brainstorm new content ideas.
Here are some ways to create effective customer personas and do some basic research so you’ll know what your audience is interested in (and what they’re not).
Yes, this first one sounds dumb.
We’re off to a great start.
But it’s amazing how many companies try to do research without actually ever engaging their customers and asking in-depth, open-ended questions.
For example, you probably know your customer’s basic demographic information off the top of your head. Most do.
But what’s more important is their motivations. What makes them tick? Why do they buy? What makes them choose one brand over another?
These are the things you need to elicit with one-on-one customer interviews, with open ended questions, the Five Why’s, and more.
Even a simple emailed survey will do. Just make sure to keep it simple and actionable. Too many surveys contain complex questions in confusing formats (like, WTF is a “Likert” scale?). Nobody wants to answer those. Garbage in, garbage out.
Instead, get to the root of the issue by starting (a) with their goals and aspirations, (b) address the challenges holding them back from reaching these things, and then (c) how they personally might want to overcome them.
(That last bit is where your product or service might come in, so listen closely to their preferences to reverse-engineer your own messaging).
Interested in learning more about customer research? Here are five ways to get started.
Most online Q&A sites are nice in theory. Except that most customer-generated content ends up being crap in reality.
On these sites you can “listen in” on people from your target market having conversations related to your business. It’s an easy, effective way to learn what people like or don’t like, while also seeing what they’re personally struggling with.
No good Q&A site in your industry?
One tip from Joanna at Copyhackers is to reference Amazon customer reviews. Look up books that relate to the problem your product or service (i.e. the solution) fixes, and see exactly how customers are talking about these issues or pain points.
This is especially good for “sensitive” topics that people don’t like discussing, or would feel uncomfortable answering in a traditional survey or interview.
For example, Joanna used this technique when writing copy for a rehabilitation center in Florida. Because the subject of drug and alcohol recovery is such a sensitive one, Joanna had a hard time getting the personalized information she needed.
This is when she decided to turn to Amazon. She looked up books on recovering from addiction and then read the book reviews. From the hundreds of reviews she read, she was able to put together a true-to-life customer persona. She even used a direct quote from a review for the headline on the center’s website. (Quite successfully, in fact! It brought in 400% more clicks than the previous headline!)
Amazon review mining takes a little extra work, but is a great way to get to know your audience’s needs and desires.
Keyword research isn’t just some dumb SEO tactic. In fact, it can tell you a lot about who your customers are and what they’re interested in.
While volume estimates of keyword traffic are notoriously unreliable, what you’re after is general topic ideas based on relevant queries.
For example, you can drop a few simple ideas into the Google AdWords Keyword Planner, and it will return a HUGE number of recommended, similar keyphrases (while also giving you at least some insight into how popular those topics are).
You can also use Google Trends to get a view of currently trending topics that you can piggyback on top of and ride the wave. The good news about these types of phrases is that the competition (or other content being created that’s going to compete with yours for views and attention) is typically lower.
You can use this information to benchmark the possible competition’s content and discover – before you even start – which topic ideas might be ripe for opportunities or too competitive to even start.
BUT it also gives you a head start into using quantitative data to back-up your claims. Which brings us to the next point.
Qualitative data is great because it gives you ideas straight from the customer’s mouth.
However, what about all the stuff your customer’s are interested in, but won’t (or don’t like to) talk about?
Here’s where you can use quantitative data to glean insight from real trends you’re seeing develop or “common threads” linking current customers.
For example, you can fire up your own Google Analytics right now, head over to Popular Content, and get a quick run down of the best performing stuff on your site. This should give you a few ideas not only of possible topics to continue exploring, but also the format or style of content that gets the most views, keeps people on site the longest, and more.
You can refer to the graph search and Audience Insights tactic covered in detail here to discover what your users are reading (as well as some additional demographic data).
Another tool that will go deeper into competitive data is the Moz Keyword Difficulty tool. After submitting a few keyphrases, you’ll get a quick snapshot of the top search results currently ranking for each page.
A final quick tip is to use Open Site Explorer (yes, another “SEO” tool), enter your competition or a big, relevant blog or media site, and then search by their “Top Content”.
You should have a nice list of topic ideas after running through the first few tips.
But the way you frame each (i.e. the “angle” or interesting hook you use) will ultimately have a huge impact on whether that post succeeds (or doesn’t).
Here’s where empathy comes in. You know, “feelings” and “emotions”. Because ultimately each content piece needs to fit your customer’s worldview. Otherwise it’ll fall flat.
Plotting these along an Empathy Map can help you get started by identifying (or helping to answer) WHY your customer or client needs XYZ. Here’s an example of what an Empathy Map would look like:
You can’t fake good content.
“Bad” content might be hard to define, but it’s easy to spot.
And it’s usually the result of a mismatch between the way you (and your company) sees the world with how your customers do.
Once you have the research part down, with topic ideas in hand, the next step is to go out and find what might be appealing or relevant to these people.
Here’s how to get started.
Most companies know what their products or services GIVE to customers (in other words, the benefits received from using them).
But negative messaging is a better approach for grabbing attention initially and getting people interested.
Shining the spotlight on the problems customers are facing (or the pain points they’re experiencing) can help you cut through all of the other noise faster.
There are basically two ways to do that:
Step 1. Protect them from external threats. There’s a lot of danger, pain and sadness out there in the world. A lot of things that could potentially harm your customers if they didn’t have someone (or something) to protect them. Go on, be their savior.
Step 2. Help them fix the internal mistakes they’re already making. People don’t like looking stupid. Or doing things to themselves (knowingly, or unknowingly) that will hurt their chances of reaching goals or aspirations. Pointing these out can help raise attention and get you on the same page.
Only when people understand WHY they should be afraid can you properly position yourself as the solution to their troubles.
And if you do it right, you can frame it as a “must have” (as opposed to a “nice to have”).
That means in every piece of content, you can subtly position yourself as the “expert” or the “answer”, without having to overtly push the hard sell.
Facts tell. Stories sell.
In the same vein, nobody cares about your product or service features. Except for you.
The benefits those features provide are a nice start. But still not enough.
The real magic happens when you can translate those features into benefits, and then benefits into verifiable outcomes or concrete end results.
That’s why you should show, not tell.
Whenever and wherever possible, use statistics and anecdotes to support the narrative. Incorporate graphs and charts to paint a picture.
Use examples and screenshots to show exactly what you’re talking about. And utilize diagrams, infographics or tools (like the Rent or Buy calculator from The New York Times) if they help make something that is complex more simple and easily digestible.
Content length and complexity usually relates to your audience.
That’s why you won’t find many 2000+ word narratives on celebrity gossip.
But besides length or complexity, there’s “memorability” (which probably isn’t a word). The point is, if your stuff isn’t memorable, nobody will remember it (duh).
Soundbites – regardless of how trite you personally think they are – help provide simple and digestible ways for people to remember (and share) your content.
For example, nobody ever forgets (or confuses) what, “We’re not in Kansas anymore,” is from.
“Key takeaways” are also as important as soundbites. After reading, watching, or listening to your content…what is your customer supposed to DO with that information?
If you can get people to take action on something and see (even the slightest) success, you will be a genius in their eyes.
“Content” doesn’t stop at blog posts.
The more you can incorporate interaction between prospects and your stuff, the better.
Interactive-based content, like tools, contests, or quizzes, can help you to engage people longer (giving you a better chance at eventually selling them something). These types of content are commonly more “shareable” and memorable as well.
Random elves dancing? Meh.
But you and your friends dancing as elf cartoons? Hysterical. And most importantly, shareable. Meaning MORE people will see it and engage with it themselves.
The most successful content strategies are documented and specific. They’re engineered to succeed, and should hit on various themes methodically and strategically.
Edelman Vice President Michael Brito recommends considering these questions while assembling your own:
1. Brand positioning and voice.
What are the most important issues to your brand? For example, do you care about sustainability or “green” living?
Don’t worry, we don’t judge.
But the media might! How do their perceptions matter? How would you like for them to think (and write!) about you when referencing?
For some companies this might be a huge deal. For others, not so much.
2. Community perceptions of the brand.
What does the “community” at-large (could be any type of stakeholders, from employees to fans to customers) think, or how do they engage?
Do they have other interests that you haven’t (or aren’t) addressing – even if it’s “indirect” or unrelated?
3. Historical content performance.
What’s worked in the past, and what has completely failed? It’s always difficult to gauge or judge what type of content will (or won’t) resonate, so pulling from past performance can serve as a roadmap.
You can also look at search behavior by identifying what people are searching for before eventually finding your products and services.
Either way, every single piece of content needs to consistently reference or support these main themes in order to present a unified brand “voice”.
Curating blog posts provides many of the same benefits as a larger guide, but in a more condensed, easier to share version.
That means “expert round-ups” that frequently feature have built-in virality, and make it significantly easier to promote.
Having such a nice feature undoubtedly makes it easy to then ask Brian to share with their immense network of followers, fans, subscribers and customers.
Even Microsoft gets in on the curated blog post that’s tailor made for Twitter sharing (each tip comes in under 140 characters).
After going through the last section, you should have a good idea of how to come up with topic ideas to begin curating.
But… how do you find it?
And then how should you assemble it to get the best bang for your buck?
Start with your workflow.
Your workflow is an orchestrated and repeated pattern of business operations enabled by the organization of resources.
Wow, that was a mouthful.
Basically, it’s the tried-and-true process of how you get work done – efficiently and effectively.
Drucker said: “Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.”.
And while both are important, neither happen without optimizing (or improving) each little step along the way.
The first third of this book was designed to help you differentiate between what good content looks like and…everything else.
The trick is now taking that understanding and applying it to large blogs in your own field or industry.
Typically you’ll want at least one news related site, but don’t overdo it. Everyone (and anyone) can (and will) share the news.
But the best stuff, is the unique perspectives or opinions that get people thinking and talking. Many times these might come from obscure sources or single-author sites that don’t get a ton of buzz.
Besides Googling, Alltop.com is an easy place to find some top blogs in your niche. Otherwise, Twitter (almost no matter the industry) is another great one because it tends to be popular among most journalists and other media aficionados.
When you’re ready, grab as many RSS feeds as possible (hey – aren’t those things dead?!) and get ready to organize everything in one place.
The key to content curation is constantly scanning for new stuff. That starts with having a unified place to capture all of your sources in one place.
Feedly is a perfect example, because it compiles all of your online sources into a single “news feed” that updates as your sources do. Instead of getting this information from your email and other already-clogged channels, have one simple tool that houses everything when you’re ready for it.
From there, you’ll want to start processing this source consistently by batching your time.
According to Michael Hyatt, “Batching is simply a form of time management that allows a person to maximize concentration and decrease distraction”.
In other words, batching is doing all of the same tasks in one setting.
For example, instead of answering your phone every time it rings (which is an interruption to your workflow) you check your voicemails twice a day. Or, instead of responding to an email every time you get one, you check your email once a day.
In this case, you can “batch” all time spent finding and reviewing new content, and organize it all at once. For more ways to “batch” your projects for optimum workflow, check out this article.
First and foremost – why is content curation important to you?
“Thought leadership” is nice, but not quantifiable. So what does that mean to you? How will it look? Maybe it will be a certain amount of email subscribers, website page views, or Facebook engagement (just don’t over prioritize “fans”).
The point is, beyond ensuring that you meet deadlines and continue to publish on time, SMART goals will help you make sure that the content you’re curating and sharing matches the campaign or product you’re about to unveil. For example:
- Specific. Your goals should include the answers to what, why, and how.
- Measurable. Your goals should have a deadline and a way to measure success.
- Achievable. Your goals should be challenging, but not out of reach.
- Results-focused. Your goals should be driven something you want to achieve.
- Time-Bound. Your goals should be time-sensitive.
Check out Hubspot’s article on creating SMART goals. Bonus, it comes with a free downloadable SMART goal template!
Now you that you have an end goal in mind, it’s time to reverse engineer.
What steps do you need to take to get there? Specifically, on a monthly, weekly, and daily basis?
For example, want 10,000 pageviews or 1,000 people “talking about this”?
How many of each do you currently get for each blog post or status update created? Your end goal (10,000 pageviews), divided by your current haul (1000 pageviews per post), gives you an answer (you need 10 posts per month).
Now you can align content needs (output) with your daily habit of scanning inputs, to easily determine the ideal channel frequency. For example:
- Blog: 3x / week
- Email – 1x / week
- Facebook – 1x day
- Twitter – 2x day
All excuses (and guesswork) have now been removed.
Wine snobs are going to hate this, but it’s ALL about the packaging.
You can take the worst wine imaginable, put it in a playful bottle with a beautiful label and clever name, and it’s Yellowtail (err, I mean, popular).
The same applies to content.
The best topic, with dense 10+ sentence paragraphs, no images, and a terrible headline will fail.
If God is in the details, here’s how to avoid an awkward confession.
It literally does not matter how good your content is if the headline doesn’t grab readers (because they’ll never stop, click, and stick around long enough to find out).
Your headline is your first impression with potential readers. It is your opportunity to draw someone in…or push them away. You decide.
Your goal? Entice them to move on to the first sentence.
Neil Patel and Joseph Putman put together a great headline infographic that highlights four “rules of thumb” of headline writing. They claim that a good headline should:
- be unique
- be ultra specific
- convey a sense of urgency
- be useful
Take thirty minutes. Sit at your desk with a piece of paper. Write down as many headlines as it takes until you find the one that is unique, specific, urgent and useful enough to pull readers into that first line.
After your headline, the hook or lead is the most important part of your article or post. It’s the very first section of content that draws a reader in and gets them interested (before hitting the “back” button).
Every sentence you write should be so enticing that your readers have to read the next one. Your headline should make readers want to read your first line, your first line should make them want to read the second, and so on.
Here are three ways to do this:
- Hook your reader with empathy.
Jon Morrow of boostblogtraffic.com is the king of empathy-driven hooks.
His claim is that you can make a powerful connection with a reader when you speak to what keeps them up at night.
Case in point, a recent headline reads, “An Open Letter to Bloggers Struggling to Get More Blog Traffic”. But wait, his hook is even better. It reads, “It hurts me to write this.” Which means you have to stick around long enough to figure out what hurts him.
- Start a conversation with a question.
Asking a question at the outset of an article or post is a great way to pull a reader in. You’re not broadcasting, you’re interacting.
Think about your article or post as a conversation. Have you ever been in a conversation where the other person does all of the talking? Was it any fun for you? Probably not.
When you start with a question, you are telling the reader that you want to know what they think about a topic, making them more likely to enter the conversation to hear what you have to say.
Quick tip on leading with a question: be relevant. Only ask questions that your readers are desperate to know the answer to.
- Shock your reader.
Opening with a shocking fact, cliffhanger, or seemingly contradictory statement is a great way to get readers to keep reading.
If they are conflicted about whether or not what you’ve written is true, or if you’ve left them on the edge of their seat, they’ll feel they have to keep reading.
Second only to an engaging headline and hook is the copy – the little bit of an article that entices readers to “click” to read the rest.
In high school, you were likely taught a very specific set of formatting. For example – never were start a sentence with “and” or “but”. Or to write complex sentences. And paragraphs had to have at least 4 or 5 sentences each.
The good news? You can throw all of that out the window.
You’re not in high school anymore. Nobody has time to read confusing dialogue or complex prose.Your audience no longer consists of the teachers on the humanities board.
Short sentences are easier to read and therefore more engaging. They also improve the rhythmic quality. For example, check out Apple’s sales copy for the newest iPhone.
Their headline reads, “iPhone 6s: The only thing that’s changed everything.”
And the description of the design: “A breakthrough in design. Pushed even further.”
Apple’s sales copy is a great example of how to break the writing rules to engage with customers in a personal, human-sounding way.
Even the driest, B2B environments buy on emotion.
Not only that, but 69% of people who see personal value in a product or service are willing to pay a higher price for it.
Do people make purchases based on logic? Yes…but accordingly to many studies (like these from Psychology Today), we choose to buy something based on emotions. Then logic plays a role by helping us justify spending the money on it.
Did you read that? Most buyers choose to buy based on emotion.
Use this to your advantage, by starting with upgrading your visuals.
Visuals (not just photos) are key to helping viewers engage with (and remember) your content.
Don’t believe me? Take a look at these stats on the importance of visuals:
- Posts that include visuals are 150% more likely to get shared (based on Twitter reshares).
- Of the top 10% of most shared posts on Facebook, 87% where posts that contained photos.
- Based on a Social Media study, people are 44% more likely to engage if your posts are visual.
- Most importantly, 40-60% of the population are visual learners. And if your goal is to know and reach your readers, you have to “teach” them in the way they learn best.
This is where infographics shine. If you have a good amount of information (or raw data) to give your readers, an infographic is a great way to wrap a narrative around everything and increase the engagement significantly.
Two final tips on visual engagement:
- Make sure the visuals you use are relevant. We are nearing the death of the stock photo. No one believes a photo of a group of three colleagues sitting around a coffee table, “crunching” the numbers and laughing. Those photos often feel fake. Give viewers something that is more relevant and relatable.
- Make sure your visuals are up-to-date. This one is simple. If you are trying to convey a message about modern technology, or the rise of mobile phone usage, don’t use a photo of someone on a flip phone. Just don’t.
All of the content in the world won’t help you if there’s no promotion.
Actively promoting through
But who said email or social content needs to be original?
A great email example
Moz Top Ten is a monthly email rounding up some of the best SEO and inbound marketing content.
How meta is this:
First up, a curated community of curators on Instagram.
And a curated Pinterest board of content curation examples.
But where can you find the content to use?
Start by repurposing what you’re already working on.
Repurposing content is one of the best ways to leverage your past work to generate future results (all while making your life simpler, too).
But it’s not just a way to save time. Repurposing content opens up opportunities you wouldn’t have otherwise had. It allows you to reach a new audience, to update old ideas, and to expand on or reinforce a topic.
The good news, is you already have everything you need to get started. Here are some techniques, tools and tactics to repurpose the content you’ve saved.
A perfect example? The Moz Top 10 we just recently mentioned, which they also use to create blog content:
One of the best techniques for repurposing content is to turn “A” into “B”.
Say you’ve written a blogpost series on social media engagement. You’ve covered everything from how to grow an audience to the biggest social media brand fails.
With this series, you’ve reached a specific crowd, like the long-post readers who are taking time to learn how to better engage their own audience.
But when you take your blog post series and turn it into one, short-and-sweet “Guide to Social Media Engagement”, you reach the audience that wants the important details stat.
New audience. Same content.
Most old powerpoint presentations retreat into the dark abyss (aka called your harddrive), rarely seeing the light of day ever again.
But you put a lot of effort into those powerpoint presentations, right?
Well, here’s some good news: dust off your old presentations, update the design and story with new information, and set-up SlideShare to give it new life.
Everyone loves to hear what other people think about a topic. Especially topic experts and other “influencers”.
Interviews are great because they add variety to your site and give you more authority on a subject by having a well-rounded information base.
More than that, though, interviews can be turned into blog posts, ebooks, or even downloadable visuals very easily — giving you the ability to expand on a topic while also adding your own opinion and information.
Everyone loves a good quote. They are easy to remember and remind people of the content they had been engaging with. Having a visual to go with a quote will only reinforce this.
One of the easiest ways to quickly spin off tons of content is to take one in-depth piece, and then put together follow-ups, new stats or anecdotes and topical summaries that all reference the original.
When you think of each content piece as a different “variable”, you’re able to mix-and-match things to help (a) reinforce your original message while (b) still keeping things new, interesting and fresh.
Not only does it help you speed up new content creation and aid your curation efforts, but it also gives you a built-in excuse to continue adding new life to a story or idea that’s proved successful in the past.
Your slide deck is just waiting to be visualized, and the good news is that it can be anything from a diagram to a flowchart, and still be compelling to new readers.
People love list posts.
They promise instant results, simplifying life and generating tons of ideas.
Like, oh I dunno, the top 37 tips for content curation.
An easy way to get more mileage out of that initial list, is to now spin off each tip as it’s own stand-alone piece.
Combining some of the past tactics, you can loop in interviews, new statistics, visuals, and more to provide a seemingly unlimited amount of variations that still seem new and fresh.
Turning video and podcasts into text-based blog posts is one of the fastest translations possible at your fingertips.
You can use a transcription service like Speechpad to do the heavy lifting for you. Or you can even go the extra mile and create a brand new narrative using the same “core” idea and message.
This tip is especially helpful for those who find writing clunky and time consuming, but can easily talk or explain their thoughts. You can literally record anytime and anywhere, like in the car while sitting in traffic, capturing the stream-of-consciousness as they pop up.
The marketing mix – or the 4P’s – was first developed in the 1960’s. But they still hold true today.
The one easily forgotten one, Place (or Distribution), is about getting your product, message, or whatever, to the right person, at the right time, in the most efficient way possible. That means showing up, where they are, and making it easy to find.
Distribution for content curation gets tricky when you’re working across so many channels, where each needs to be personalized for best results.
Here’s how to simplify and get the most from your efforts.
SMART goals were discussed ad nauseam earlier, so we won’t rehash everything.
But suffice it to say, these SMART goals will guide your distribution efforts (like posting frequency) and relate back to your original (quantifiable) objectives.
While you can’t always control the outcome, you can manage the process. Then you can apply additional tactics each time you go to distribute something. For example:
- Earned: Always ping the author of the curated content to get extra attention (+ shares).
- Owned: Cross-promote messages from one channel to another to help “seed” an audience.
- Paid: Retarget share-ers (see #36 below).
There’s already enough work involved trying to get your “inputs” (from Feedly or other sources) translated into “outputs” (published on content channels). Thankfully, there’s a ton of tools that can help you manage the tough stuff.
You could use something simple, like Evernote or Google docs, to help collaborate on the creation and management process. But sometimes it’s nice to have an automated tool that also helps you schedule and track everything.
One such example is CoSchedule, which acts as a single editorial calendar to get everyone on the same page:
While repurposing helps, it still will take some time. Especially when translating text (like blog posts) into visuals (like presentations or infographics).
If these take a few weeks to complete, then you better make sure your other inputs (the sites you found earlier in #18) will make up for it.
Nobody likes the friend who only talks about themselves. (Maybe you like them, but they probably drive you nuts).
Same is true online. Of course you’ll want to share your own stuff, but you’ll also need to supplement and give credit where credit’s due.
Ideally, sticking to a 1:3 ratio of your stuff vs. others helps keep the audience engaged.
That means you’re going to need at least… 3 times as much content as you’ll probably need. Make sure to get some in the queue prior to focusing on distribution for your own content so there’s no downtime.
The best content, shared at random, will provide sporadic results.
Sure, frequency is important. But possibly more so, is sequencing.
- What messages, in order, are shared and why?
- When will you post each phase of repurposed content?
- How much time will there be between posts of the same content?
- How do these, in sequence, help you hit an objective?
For example, say there’s a new product launch happening in four weeks. Every piece of content – including the curated ones – should slowly help build attention, interest, and desire for that new product debuting four weeks from now.
This will help you reinforce messaging to make sure what you have to say is heard. But more importantly, it will help get everyone to realize they have a need for your product before it exists.
People won’t act if they aren’t aware that they have a problem your product solves in the first place.
Check out this post from Buffer for more detailed information on social scheduling.
You can’t hack and optimize results (foreshadowing), until you know what is (or is not) working.
Gut feelings are important. But data can help you definitively determine which topics work best, or what styles pay off the most.
Ultimately, effective tracking will make sure that your efforts aren’t wasted. For example, are people engaging with what you’re sharing?
Google’s own UTM parameters will help you align messages within each of your campaigns.
But otherwise, it’s tough to tell if the content being shared isn’t hosted on one of your own sites.
We’ll cover an advanced tactic (in #35) to solve this, but otherwise, there’s a few simple tools and services to help you answer this question.
Some tools already mentioned (like Hootsuite and Buffer) incorporate these services front-and-center. Otherwise, you can use something simple like Bitly.com to provide basic data like Total Clicks, and Clicks by Location or Time. Recently, we also discovered Effinamazing UTM builder, that includes a more detailed description than Google’s.
However, looking at this type of information without any context isn’t very helpful. Instead, it’s better to connect the dots. Take this raw data (e.g. how total clicks for your latest post compares to the average total clicks for all posts) and match it with your objectives to tell a story about what’s working (and what’s not).
Analyzing the direct ROI of content-based efforts is always a challenge.
But there’s a few ways to simplify and get close.
The first is looking at alternatives. For example, what would the cost be to get the same type of exposure from print media? Or radio. Or Google AdWords?
The second, is to look at the “cost” of your own internal inputs.
Nobody values time anymore. So let’s do a quick exercise: say you (and your team) spend roughly 2 hours a day on distributing or sharing content.
How much is your time worth? Take all salaries, divide by your standard 40-hour work week, and then add it all up.
What you’ll quickly discover, is that contrary to popular belief, social media is NOT free. And being able to identify the best uses of your time, will help you scale results FAST.
The Pareto Principle (or the “law of the vital few”) was named after economist Vilfredo Pareto, who centuries ago spotted an unequal relationship between inputs and outputs.
What it all boils down to: 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.
This brings us back to tracking.
When you track your input and output, you can look for the “big wins” that deliver the biggest bang for your buck, and optimize those to scale fast.
Here are some practical ways to do that.
In today’s dynamic world that evolves so quickly, it’s impossible to know what’s going to work before you try it.
Running simple A/B tests on shared content can help give you an idea, and a direction for which to proceed. Manually implementing this can get a little clunky, having to re-write and run different statuses or CTA’s to the same audience, at different times. Leaving yourself subject to other variables (like the different times for starters).
Or enter a tool like Snip.ly, which helps you generate leads just by sharing content. You can use their A/B testing tool to see which CTA’s work best. There’s also the benefit of you getting recognized while sharing other’s stuff.
Create a centralized knowledge hub to record good ideas and “templates”.
Online sites that help you (a) bookmark and (b) collaborate – like Evernote – are tailor-made for swipe files.
Put anything and everything that inspires you into your swipe file – blog posts, news article, quotes, infographics, photos, etc
“Anytime you see a great subject line, a good offer, a beautiful design or great copy, just add the message to your swipe file. Pretty soon, you’ll have a repository of inspiration that you can tap into when you are working…” Jimmy Daly, head of content at Vero
Swipe files will inspire you and help you generate new ideas for content (or repurposed content).
But don’t copy. What worked for a competitor won’t work exactly for you.
There is a tendency to copy something that works without knowing or understanding why it works. When you see an ad, article, or visual that you are considering swiping, take a moment to dig deeper.
Again, online tools can help. Swipe Worthy will not just compile your swiped files, it will also compare and scrutinize them, allowing you to determine what is working and why.
Many times, the best inspiration can be found outside of your industry because it will be fresh or new. And you’ll be forced to adapt the approach (instead of lazily copying the final product).
You can only scale human effort and your personal workflow so far. But incorporating automation, even for the smallest activities initially, will change your life.
For example, one great tip when sharing external content on social networks, you can create a redirect on your server that will fire a “Website Custom Audience Pixel” before redirecting the user to the final content. That way you can retarget those people that are interested on a specific topic with your own Ads (and content). Doing this manually is almost impossible.
You’re probably already familiar with many of the already popular native integrations the top applications (like MailChimp or HubSpot) have.
These tools help you connect two applications that don’t already communicate, and create interesting actions (in one app) based on a number of triggers (from the other).
One of the most obvious hacks is to use a tool to help you cross promote content.
For example, instead of creating a blog post, and then logging into Facebook to promote it, you can use a trigger like this to automate the entire process.
Just be careful not to blindly send the same update to every single channel. Not only does that look dumb, but it will also detract from your results and engagement because you’re not using each individual channel to it’s fullest extent.
A huge part of building a following is engaging with people who comment on posts or mention you on social channels.
However keeping track of everyone after a certain point (150 according to some studies) becomes almost impossible. Thankfully, automation can help.
For example, if someone comments then send them a welcome email. If someone opts-in, then automatically send them a Connect Introduction on LinkedIn.
By using automation to engage right away, you can delete the time consuming “next step” required in beginning a relationship with each engaged person.
Another tip is to record people engaging with your brand, including the context, in a live Google spreadsheet. Once you have information recorded in a spreadsheet, you can literally do almost anything with it.
For example, you can also take this information from spreadsheets and add to almost ANY CRM so you’re able to keep track of relationships with brand ambassadors. Or you can use it to help address (and prevent) customer service issues across departments.
Digital marketing can’t exist without content.
But crafting original content is a difficult, time consuming and expensive process.
Curation can help you supplement your efforts and provide many of the same benefits – but only if you do it effectively.
It all starts with knowing how successful content looks, sounds, and performs. Then you can use this knowledge to set-up, manage and optimize a workflow that continually pumps out interesting stuff. Finally, running through the last few steps from distribution through automation can help you successfully create a feedback loop.
This not only highlights your progress over time, but it also informs how to carry these results through the rest of your organization.
Because too often, marketing efforts (like content curation) sound nice in theory while rarely delivering any real value.
But implementing these 37 tips will help you create a sustainable content curation machine that delivers value beyond shares – creating true brand awareness, thought leadership, and revenue – all in only a few minutes each day.