Not everything you publish and share online has to be yours. Another way you can grow your audience is by curating other people’s content.
If you are unfamiliar with the term content curation, a Google search will tell you it’s similar to curating the contents of a museum, only using online content which you wish to display to your audience.
Collecting, sifting and choosing items around themes and sharing them with the public, is indeed a good analogy.
The difference between the relatively simple task of displaying a collection of antiquities in a museum, and the very complex one of displaying your content collection to the public, is one of location.
Location, location, location
Perhaps we should extend the metaphor a little more. Unlike the internet, a museum doesn’t move – it has several different buildings housing different artefacts, which some visitors adamantly refuse to visit on one day, but which will become overwhelmed with visitors the next day.
A museum doesn’t generally need to persuade people to visit. They visit because they want to see what’s there.
The key to curating online content successfully is to manage your target audience in a way that makes their experience as straightforward as a visit to the British Museum – lots of big signposts and a plan.
Where you locate your content is the key to getting your virtual visitors through the door. When they arrive, they want something special. According to a recent IBM study, “There is a large perception gap between what the customers seek via social media and what companies offer. Consumers are far more interested in obtaining tangible value, suggesting businesses may be confusing their own desire for customer intimacy with consumers’ motivations for engaging.”
Perhaps it is time to examine what tangible value visitors to your collection might hope to come away with.
Where To Publish Curated Content
There are several really useful free services which businesses use to facilitate curation tasks. These include the superb Scoop.it and Paper.li – which allow anybody at all to curate their own news feed. If you can drive customers to your content in this way, all well and good. The trouble is, services like these, whilst good at ‘filling in the gaps’, are not the best way to curate content – to get the most out of the process, you should publish curated content on your company blog, within e-books, e-mail newsletters and on your social media channels.
Your company blog when combined with social media is, in my opinion, the best way to publish and promote curated content.
Now, when I talk about content curation and publishing on your own blog, I do not mean copy and pasting whole articles with a link back to the source – you should never do this, because it can be harmful to your website. It is theft and DMCA actionable.
Instead, you should create unique posts that elaborate on the topic. This is where you can add value.
The key is to get personal and share your own thoughts on another person’s content. This establishes your thought leadership. You could discover 3 excellent articles on a particular topic and round them up as recommendations in a post of your own, or you could pull certain quotes and points from an another’s persons work and link back to the original source – both types of curation are fine.
How are you going to make customers want to read your content, rather than someone else’s? This is fundamentally an issue of consumer engagement, and there is not a great deal you can do to influence it with straight, unmediated curated content. However, by turning your curated content into blog posts or website news articles, you can achieve a great deal more than a simple ‘Look at this stuff I think you’ll find interesting’.
We all know that keeping a website refreshed, lively and engaging is key to its success. If your site becomes a ‘go to’ place for up to the minute news and great articles, you can be sure you will have repeat visits. You can add value to your curated content by telling customers what you think about the issues you are curating and asking for their opinion.
Who Does This Well?
Sites such as MoneySavingExpert have this approach down to a tee. They aggregate up to the minute news and financial advice within helpful ‘How To…’ articles, and offer a personal opinion from the brand focus, Martin Lewis. Visitors receive tangible value from the advice given on a wide range of financial products, which is presented through a filter of up to the minute financial news. Visitors engage with Lewis and trust his view. They can join discussions groups about the issues raised on the site, and very soon a sense of community emerges.
Ultimately, the site has become a trusted ‘go to’ place for consumers, and the business is thriving because of it. Other comparison sites do the same thing, and their feedback makes it clear that customers find it extremely helpful to have complex and privileged information explained by experts, in a user-friendly manner.
Complex information that is explained simply and critiqued in a way that allows customers to make an informed decision is immensely powerful. So powerful, in fact, that a high number of visitors will go on to buy a product or service through the site on the back of what they read there. Visitors are receiving a tangible benefit from ‘curated’ material presented helpfully. It generates conversions, and everyone is happy.
One of the reasons Lewis is so effective is that people feel they ‘know’ him and ‘trust’ him. This emotional response brings people back.
To achieve this he has got personal with his customers. Very personal. TV appearances aside, he writes articles and comments on financial news on his site, staying in touch with his customers.
His passion – some would say obsession – for saving money is evident in all he does. Customers feel they are taking the word of someone who has really done his homework.
Whether you use a blog, a newsletter, or a free e-book, personalising the content you curate is the best way to engage visitors. Pitch it right, and you will begin to build up a core of followers who look forward to and enjoy your posts, because not only are they entertaining, they are bang up to date too.
Most consumers are far more likely to read one post that ‘curates’ several articles than they are to read the articles individually. You need to streamline your content, make it attractive and leave your visitors wanting more. Having got them through the door via social media platforms (your signposts), give them that map and something special when they arrive.
Zippy, engaging blog posts are rewarding for visitors. Engage with any comments they make promptly, and you’ll soon find loyalty developing.