There’s always that one friend at a potluck whose penne alla vodka dish is so divine, everybody’s left looking for the store label. It’s just too good—there’s no way they could have whipped it up on their own. They can barely heat up a Hot Pocket properly.
Content marketers are often iffy about content curation for similar reasons. Is this going to feel deceptive or artificial? What’s our audience gonna think about us sharing somebody else’s content?
But the best brands know that nothing supports content scaling plans better than a healthy dose of curated content. You just need to be careful to do it the right way.
What is content curation (and is it stealing)?
Content curation is the process of finding external content online and sharing it across your distribution channels. The key? Making sure that content is what your audience would love. So it’s less about finding stuff to fill up your content calendar and more about sharing what adds value.
The best marketers know it works. According to research, the best marketing programs are a mix that includes 65% created content and 25% curated content. This can be content that’s being distributed via social channels. It can also be content that’s curated for your brand’s blog.
Sharing is caring, but stealing isn’t. At some point, too much curation (or inappropriately shared content) can seem a bit icky. Curated content doesn’t feel like pirated content if you use it correctly, though:
- Always give credit. Whether you’re reposting an excerpt of a larger original piece or you’re sharing a link to a post through Twitter, point people to the original source. Make it easy for your users to see where things are coming from.
- Don’t use no-follows. For the technical SEO savants, this one’s important. While it’s tempting to drop a no-follow attribute on every external link, if you’re using a significant chunk of an external piece in a post on your site, give them proper credit.
- Be creative anyway. A curated blog post or social share doesn’t have to be devoid of personality. This is where good editing comes in. Sprinkle in your voice and tone when you share something. Your personality is what your audience has already come to expect from you.
Above all, just like any other content you share online, make your audience want to click the link or scroll down to read more. That’s something every content marketer inherently knows how to do.
Share (your own) insight
Don’t just share external content. Share why it’s important in the first place.
For content marketers, this is a no-brainer. Every piece of content that’s produced, distributed, and promoted has a purpose in the grand scheme of things. Some pieces are meant to raise awareness and drive traffic. Others are meant to generate leads. Still others are expected to get people to buy something. And it’s all done in the least salesy way possible.
Content curation ultimately works if you do more than just give people links to click and text to read. Annotating the content and sharing your own insights gives your audience context into what’s in it for them.
This can look like several things. On a curated social post, instead of just sharing the headline of the external link, smart content marketers would give their audience a couple of sentences explaining the value they’ll get from clicking through. On a curated or excerpted post, the best marketers find ways to wax poetic about why this is important enough to call out in the first place. Why should the audience care? Why do we care enough to share it?
Ultimately, your audience checks in with you for your insight and expertise. Whether the content is your own or curated from elsewhere, make sure you’re adding value for people who take time out to see what you have to say.
Do more with less
Content curation is also valuable because of what it does for your content marketing production. Hint: It makes life a lot easier. This is especially important because 55% of marketers use small teams for content development [PDF]. There’s just not enough time in the day to create all the content you dream of.
By relying on content curation, marketers can fill gaps in the editorial calendar, leaving their team poised to spend time on what’s important. Is there an internal asset you need to focus on? Is there a podcast you’re launching? There will always be reasons your content marketing energies will shift between priorities. Use content curation to fill in the holes.
First, you have to know where to look:
- Content curation tools. If you’re already tapping into BuzzSumo, Ahrefs, and RSS feeds, you might as well make them work for you. Use these tools (in conjunction with whatever’s trending on social media) to surface new talking points or relevant conversations your audience would want to tune in for.
- Publications your audience reads. Doing buyer persona research typically involves diving into the publications your audience reads and the digital spaces they typically explore. If there’s content that’s popular in their universe, show them you’re hip to the trends by curating what’s valuable.
- Your partners. This can include vendors, business relationships, and industry-adjacent organizations. Your audience may be familiar with them—or not. Because their content would likely be connected to the work you do, it may also be relevant to the pain points and needs of your audience.
Second, know your content gaps. When planning out your editorial calendar, explore the areas you think content curation can help. If you’re a financial institution and there’s a ton of news around Reddit users-turned-investors upending the stock market, that feels like a valuable topic worth keeping your audience in the loop on. By curating content on the topic, it keeps your team focused on internal content production—while making sure your audience sees you haven’t forgotten to turn on the news once in a while.
Third—and this is a little out of left field—consider content syndication. While curation pulls from other sources, content syndication is content your brand writes explicitly for a third-party site. Syndicated content can live on Medium or LinkedIn if you’re looking for something free. But you can also use paid content syndication to get your assets in front of target users who visit another site. By syndicating your content, it can grow more legs and reach more people.
Remember the 65/25 split earlier? The other 10% goes to syndication. The best marketing programs use all three together to fire across digital channels. This may or may not be the mix that works for your brand. The key is to find the right configuration that fills editorial gaps and also drives more results.
Here’s how you start
Using content curation works best when done in tandem with content creation and syndication. In fact, everything works better when there’s a content strategy behind it. Curation in particular is something that can supercharge editorial output while keeping your foot on the gas for value you’re trying to provide your audience.
Sometimes brands need support in understanding how to leverage content curation. What kind of content should we be curating? What kind of insights should we be sharing? How much curation is too much curation? Filling gaps in your calendar should be the main reason for curation. But research shows that curation can also help fill gaps in industry knowledge. There’s a world of information out there you can piggyback off of.
That’s where we come in. At T3, we help organizations tie content curation to their larger content marketing objectives so they make a bigger impact. Learn more about how we help brands like yours curate, create, and syndicate content so you’re everywhere your audience is.