Companies struggle to create enough content to meet the demand placed on them. In my Content Marketing Institute Post, “Is Time Really the Problem? Breaking the Bottlenecks in Content Production,” I talked about breaking bottlenecks to produce higher throughput. I’d like to offer another technique that marketers should be using for satisfying content demands among their target markets.
That technique is curating content.
Now, some marketers shrink back at the thought of sharing other leaders’ content. But those who dive into content curation have found that the effects are quite positive.
Why Do Content Marketers Find It Such A Powerful Tool?
Like museum curators, content curators sift through oodles of content to pick out the gems. The hope is that these gems will delight the curator’s audience. Admittedly, it is time-consuming, yet the process has a surprising effect of breaking many constraints for the marketer. Here are a few constraints that seasoned marketers can easily break just by curating content and then using it strategically.
• Curating content breaks content demand constraints: Many, if not all, marketers feel the pressure to generate enough content to meet target market demand. It’s overwhelming. With Twitter audiences paying attention to each post for an average of only 18 minutes, if we want to remain in the industry spotlight, we must learn to produce large volumes quickly and continuously. This can be costly. But, though time-consuming, content curation can break this constraint. And it’s not nearly the time commitment as generating a post from scratch. In curating content, content marketers can delight their audiences with the expertise they seek in a fraction of the time it takes to generate an original post.
• Curating content breaks through the constraints of pitch-wary audiences: Now, in this discussion, it’s important to remember that curated content cannot, under any circumstances, replace original and branded content. Instead, it should serve to make your branded content far more appealing than if it were left to stand alone before audiences. This is because most marketers struggle with another content constraint: Heidi Cohen points out that customers are virtually deaf to branded content. They are so accustomed to promotions that they can now spot them a mile away, even before clicking on them.
But, when surrounded by other curated content, branded content doesn’t appear so pitchy. Instead, it can be positioned to be just another source of valuable insight, just as the content around it is. But, the trick is, branded content must be written like the curated content that accompanies it. That is, instead of sounding like a pitch, it must be educational and focused on creating a great user experience. In this way, through a high ratio of curated-content-to-branded-content, marketers can offer their customers the answers they seek with branded content without scaring them away.
• Curating content helps to break through the noise as the top runner to meet customer needs: Jeff Bullas correctly assessed content consumers’ attitudes when he wrote, “Potential customers want to feel that you can provide them with valuable content, regardless of the source.” When you provide expert industry insights for your audience, whether original or curated, you send a message to your audience that you can meet their needs.
But this goes a step further. It establishes you as an expert in meeting their needs. By providing the latest and best industry content for your audiences, you prove that you have a pulse on the market. As such, you not only know the basics of your market’s needs, but you can likely foresee their emerging needs as well. After all, you’re keeping up on all the latest developments for them and so are more likely to be able to offer them cutting-edge solutions. This type of customer response helps to bypass the constraint that a noisy environment affords.
• Curating content proves your sincerity before audiences that are often wary of advertisers: Though most entrepreneurs break into their markets with a service heart, many consumers view businesses as solely a money-making endeavor. Your content has the potential to break this stereotype, offering you a competitive edge in customer service. By creating valuable content for your consumers, you help to meet their needs as industry customers. But, as we’ve discussed, to answer all of your industry questions with original content is a huge time and financial commitment. With curated content, however, you can not only meet your customers’ needs by answering their questions, but you can prove once and for all, that your primary goal is to meet a need with your products.
For this reason, many brands actually commit to providing far more curated than branded content for their audiences. In doing so, they prove that their service intentions are sincere. In turn, consumers trust those brands that sincerely seek to serve them.
• Curating content breaks creativity constraints: Inc.com contributor Ann Guerrero writes that “creativity is connecting things we have seen, heard, or learned in new and original ways.” The goal of content curation should be that of identifying industry content that will resonate with our target audiences. As you curate content, you must do a lot of reading about industry topics. And as you read, you will pick up on the latest trends and developments and get new takes on old industry topics, all of which will resonate with your audiences. In doing so, you build a deep knowledge base in industry topics.
Why is this relevant? Well, as the amount of industry content grows each year, content marketers must work too hard to be creative and, thereby, stand out from the crowd. After all, let’s face it, a good deal of industry topics have already been covered. So we must find new takes and make innovative connections. By curating content, we absorb a wealth of new ideas. Then, when we must create uniquely valuable branded content, we have many, many ideas from which to choose when we go to “connect things we’ve seen, heard or learned in new and original ways.” Simply put, the more you keep up industry reading, the more creative you will be in creating content that will be uniquely valuable to your audiences.
• You can break through the noisy audience before influencers: Breaking into the influencer realm is often seemingly impossible for aspiring industry influencers. Curating the content of industry influencers and using it to shine the light on them is a great way to win hearts among influencers. This is because, when you highlight influencer content, the influencer to whom it belongs is often immediately notified. On the Twitter platform, for example, a simple inclusion of the influencer’s Twitter handle can potentially accomplish four valuable steps toward becoming an accepted influencer:
- It will alert the content originator of your presence and appreciation of his or her content.
- Your tweet will show up when that influencer’s name is searched, exposing your brand to wider audiences.
- It will familiarize the influencers with your name and brand, making it more likely they will share your valuable content before their audiencess in return.
- When your content is shared by influencers, you receive a proverbial stamp of approval from that industry influencer before his or her audiences. Such approval can quickly usher you into the realm of influence-dom.
For many, this principle seems too simple to be true. But, though it may require persistence and a dedication to quality to accomplish, it happens often. I encourage you simply to give it a try. You’ll be surprised by how many new followers you get when a respected influencer mentions your name as a source of legitimate industry expertise.
Large content demand, pitch-wary audiences, creativity block, a need to create outstanding customer service in a saturated market space, and the need for public influencer approval are all constraints that keep brands from growing their customer bases and brand awareness. And, yes, curated content means shining the light on others. But, though often counterintuitive for marketers, it works to sift brands to the top of their industries. Instead of making it harder to shine, by shining the light on others, businesses can shine the light on themselves as well.
And, in doing so, they can meet their customers’ needs like never before, creating a domino effect of positive brand exposure.
See what the Twitterverse is saying about content marketing: