With summer in full swing, many people are seeking shelter from the heat in movie theaters. I’m no exception. I was recently scanning show times online--I wanted to see “The Hangover II”—which got me thinking about the elements that make up a blockbuster film. The biggest movies usually incorporate the following: a compelling theme, fresh ideas and perspectives, and a logical plot or structure.
In that sense, a site featuring curated content is similar to a blockbuster movie. Many marketers realize they need to implement content marketing into their overall strategies, and they are searching for the most innovative and effective curation strategies to bring the best thinking to their own programs. In fact, through a February survey conducted by my company, HiveFire, we found that almost half of marketers curate content on a regular basis. Yet many still face challenges in implementing curation best practices into their programs.
With blockbuster films top of mind, I took a look at some of the curated sites on the Web and pulled together a short list highlighting four stand-out examples.
1. Cisco’s The Network
One particularly timely example is Cisco’s The Network, which was publicly unveiled in mid-June. Unified communications giant Cisco was looking to not only maintain its role as the market share leader, but also to stay ahead of the competition and emerge as a “go to” source for technology information. In an effort to do so, Cisco developed a site that hosts all of the online content it curates from other sites frequented by its target audience, and it disseminates this content through integrated social media channels.
One of the key elements of content curation is reader engagement, and Cisco has done a great job of including links to the company's social media sites into every section. This allows content to be easily shared, and it enables a spark for conversations through Facebook and Twitter. Additionally, Cisco brought on-board technology journalists to develop original, nonpromotional content for six topic centers: Data Center, Core Networks, Video, Collaboration, Cisco Culture and Social Media. By publishing original content that shares a fresh, unbiased perspective of a particular industry, The Network has emerged as the prime example of how curating both original and third-party content and publishing it on a curated site can establish a respected thought leadership position for a brand.
2. Overture Networks’ Carrier Ethernet News
Although this blockbuster pertains to more of a niche market of IT professionals, Overture Networks’ portal, Carrier Ethernet News, is an excellent example of a site that maximizes curated content. (Full disclosure: Overture Networks is a HiveFire client.) By developing Carrier Ethernet News as the home for all information on carrier ethernet services and infrastructure, Web traffic to the main Overture corporate site increased dramatically. Overture’s content curation initiatives have increased search engine optimization and online visibility--particularly due to the fact that its curation process makes excellent use of tagged categories to organize content.
In addition, Carrier Ethernet News is a stellar example of a curated site that drives traffic and visibility to the brand it supports; in this case, the Carrier Ethernet News portal ranked eighth behind search engines and social media as the referring site to the primary Overture site. In turn, director of marketing Mark Durret has begun fielding calls from leading industry analysts regarding data found through search results on the portal. Talk about brand visibility.
3. The Guardian’s Comment Network
British newspaper The Guardian recently embraced content curation and developed its own home to highlight original content from the publication, as well as third-party content from affiliated sites, including Arabist (run by freelance journalists and focusing on Egypt and broader issues in the Arab world), ConservativeHome (which provides comprehensive and independent coverage of the U.K. Conservative party), Feministe (a premier feminist outlet, designed by and run by women), and Infinite Thought (a left-wing blog on politics, philosophy, art, and activism). In my eyes, The Guardian’s Comment Network establishes credibility through content curation by publishing third-party content from a wide range of affiliated sources with varied (and sometimes conflicting) perspectives.
Although it’s more of a sleeper hit, I want to mention my own content curation portal: StartupAdvice.org. This site was intended to be the destination for entrepreneurs seeking advice and tips for getting their businesses off of the ground. As editor of StartupAdvice.org, I curate content from a wide variety of trusted sources read by both entrepreneurs and business leaders, and organize this information in one location. This is key: I’ve learned that it is vital to categorize your content so that your readers do not feel overwhelmed. In fact, I’ve created entities (notable people, organizations, and events) to organize StartupAdvice.org’s information. Not only does implementing a categorization method help keep your content manageable for your readers, but it increases the chances a curated site will be found and ranked highly in search results.
From this summer on, I encourage a little friendly competition among marketers to get their own curated sites on the “Content Curation Blockbusters” list to help secure top billing in their markets. I'll be watching.
Read Pawan Deshpande's most recent article on CMO.com, "Want To Be The 'Go-To' Brand? Create and Curate Content."