When building a content marketing strategy, it’s easy to fall into the trap of only talking about yourself. But that won’t win you any friends, followers or subscribers. Your readers will slowly grow tired from what amounts to a blow horn of self promotion.
Curating third-party content allows you to increase content production through subject matter expertise, showcase other industry experts’ wisdom and leverage their social media following — all the while boosting your credibility as an unbiased thought leader.
So, how do you get started curating content? Understand your audience, make sure you’re using the right sources, and fine tune the balance with your original content.
Here are five tips to get you rolling.
1. Know (or get to know) your audience
You may know who your target audience is as a demographic segment — age, education, occupation — but have you really thought about what makes them tick?
There are tools — like Demographics Pro, for example — that can give you a running start on this, but it would be wise to spend some time talking to members of the different teams in your company to understand where they see actual leads come in.
For example: Let’s say that you work at a company selling AR and IoT solutions designed to aid technicians repair machinery in factories.
You might be working under the assumption that the people making the purchasing decisions are at the executive level. In drilling down with your team, you find that the majority of sales are coming through business unit managers implementing smaller pilots in their divisions to start.
The content that you share to engage with this audience is going to be quite different than what you’d consider sharing with executives.
You might not want to take a macro focus on how AR is impacting the enterprise at a financial level. Rather, smaller case studies around saved workforce hours, or exciting new uses for AR across a wide variety of industries that showcases the “wow” factor of the technology could better align with this audience’s interests.
This approach is just as valid with B2C clients.
At DJG, working with a luxury car dealership in Toronto, our research led us to understand that their customers were active participants in all that the city had to offer — sports, culture, food, fashion, design and more.
By creating content that provides a resource for all the last and greatest in the city, we are able to keep the audience engaged, drive visits to the dealership’s website, and directly contribute to sales of high end vehicles.
2. Choose reliable sources
When you’re wading your way through potential reams of content to share, it can be hard to make the call on what is valuable and what isn’t.
With backgrounds in journalism, many of us at DJG have developed a finely tuned gut instinct as to what makes a reliable and credible source of information and what is ultimately a sales pitch for another company.
Columbia University Libraries has a checklist here that can help you in this process, but also, here’s one quick hint from us: Check the byline.
If you see “contributor” next to an author’s name, it’s time to do some more digging. Often, a quick LinkedIn search can turn up more about the author’s background.
If you don’t have a background in journalism, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have a similar gut instinct to tap into. Your organization is made up of SMEs who have the business, technological and operational experience to validate the content you’re considering. Use the resources at your disposal to make sure that your messaging is accurate and on brand.
3. Let the tools help you
There’s a world beyond Google: Don’t limit yourself to a simple news search while hunting down third-party content to share.
Here a few ways you can expand your search:
- Tools like Buzzsumo can help you find content that is being highly shared and trending. You can easily save your searches, creating a constantly refreshed treasure trove of resources to take advantage of.
- Once you’ve discovered a few authors and publishers sharing consistently high quality content, you can start adding them to Twitter lists. Organize these by subject matter for a free and easy source of curation.
- Simply plugging “augmented reality” into a search engine will return a generalist nightmare of results. With a tool like Answer the Public, you can get help refining your search terms based on what people are actually looking for, organized by questions, prepositions and comparisons.
4. Get the balance right
At this point in the process, you might find yourself asking the question “how much third-party content do I need?”
A good starting point is a ratio of 50/50. In our testing of this ratio — particularly in the B2B space — we have found that this balance generates the highest number of clicks on both curated and original content. And really, that’s what you’re aiming for, isn’t it?
Of course, this is not a hard and fast rule. You will need to measure your audience’s threshold on a regular basis to find the ideal mix. More on that in the next tip …
5. Test and refine
Now that you’ve started publishing some third-party content that’s relevant to your audience and curated from reliable sources, please don’t think that your job is done.
The most important thing you can do is measure your results and refine your approach. And not just once — this is a continual process.
Here are a few questions you can ask yourself as you look at performance:
- Is there a particular tone or voice that is resonating with your audience? Do you need to speak more casually, with more authority, or have a sense of humour from time to time?
- Does structuring your content in different ways generate different results? Is your audience looking for an executive summary in the form of a bulleted list, a direct quote from an SME, or an easy to digest stat?
- Is content exploring the nitty gritty technical details performing well, or is your audience looking for broader statements?
- Is there a publication or author performing better in your content mix — does an article from WIRED tend to perform better than a deep dive from Harvard Business Review?
- Do you need to adjust the ratio of original to curated content? Play with balance a bit at first and track the results week over week. Your ideal mix might be 70/30 rather than the 50/50 starting point we suggested above
Once you’ve had a little time to try out some of these ideas, get in touch and let us know how it’s going. You can find us at @djournalgroup.