April 9, 2019
Ryan Henry
How to use content curation in your online marketing strategy

Why Curate Content?

Content curation is an effective way of populating a website or blog with high-quality content, developing relationships with leaders and influencers, and adding value to your brand and marketing strategy. But there are right ways and wrong ways to do it. If you get it wrong, you can damage your online reputation and may even face a lawsuit.

Curating content and copying it are different things. There are rules of both law and etiquette which you must follow to curate well. If you get it right, content curation can save you time, boost your authority, and attract a devoted following to your brand.

What is Content Curation?

The principle behind content curation is to present your readers with a selected set of links to high-quality, useful content created by people other than yourself. You might link to articles, blog posts, videos, an infographic or other media. But curated content is more than a list of links. You must organize and annotate your curated content. 

You might research a particular topic and select the top five articles, podcasts or videos which deal with it.  You organize the content and present it with a brief commentary; perhaps a summary of the article or video, why you think it's useful to your audience, and a brief personal critique or reaction to it. You might curate a debate, offering links to the best arguments on both sides along with your own take on the strengths and weakness of each. You may include images and quotations from the original content on your curated page.

As a curator, you save your audience time and effort by doing research and quality assessment for them and delivering the best content available in an organized, logical, and accessible format. With the increasing importance of social media in marketing, content curation can help you be consistent in your output, engage with your audience, encourage interaction and sharing, and build brand loyalty.

How Do You Fit Content Curation into Your Existing Marketing Strategy?

In most cases, curation won't replace your existing marketing strategy, but complement it. How it fits in will depend on your pre-existing framework, content delivery and engagement channels. The three core opportunities to introduce effective content curation into your current strategy are your business's blog, newsletter, and social media.

1. Curated Blog Posts

Create content-curated blog posts. Publish them at the same time on the same day each week. Give the series a clear, descriptive title such as "The Week in Widgets" or "Top 10 Influencers This Week". You might prefer something more personal such as "Rickey's Rollerblade Roundup" or "Paula's Publishing Picks" depending on your audience and brand. Choose and organize the content links in a meaningful way, adding value with your own insights and commentary. Share the post in your mail outs and on your social media channels. Encourage your audience to give their own take and add to the conversation in the comments section.

2. The Newsletter

The same principles of research, organization, and commentary apply to content curated for your newsletter. But you can make the curated-content mail out exclusive to subscribers. You can use the weekly mail out as subscription bait for visitors to your blog. An effective technique in building your audience and driving sales is to add your own unique content into the mix.

3. Social Media

Besides search engines, most people now discover content via social media. While a weekly update may be enough for a blog, to keep your audience engaged on social media you need to offer fresh, interesting, useful content at least daily and more often if you can. Curating content offers an excellent way of keeping your audience's attention without having to produce all the content yourself.

Content Curation and Copyright law

One danger of content curation is the risk of breaching copyright and plagiarism law. This applies to images, text, and video. But the law isn't precise on how much of someone else's content you can present or quote before it becomes a breach of copyright.

The basic principle is that of "fair use". A good way forward is to look at successful content curators' pages, see how they do it, and follow that. Otherwise, the five guiding principles are:

1. Never quote without crediting the original source. Keep your quotation short, only two or three sentences. Avoid well-known or branded publicity phrases or taglines.

2. Choose video hosted on a third party site such as YouTube, Vimeo, or Dailymotion which allow embedding and sharing within their existing licenses. 

3. Make sure all links are live.

4. Wherever possible, paraphrase in your own words rather than quote.

5. If in doubt, ask the original content creator for their permission. Most will be happy to grant it as they are gaining more exposure for their own work and brand. 

What Are the Benefits of Content Curation?

Linking out to authority sites and influencers adds authority back to your own brand. So long as you don't overdo it, this can help increase your search engine visibility. By sharing excellent content you show your audience you are knowledgeable and active in your industry or niche. You show that you have enough confidence in your own brand, content, service or product, to be collegial and share the work of others. You'll also find, if you curate well, the influencers you link out to will share your content-curated posts with their audiences, increasing your own exposure and influence.

Content curation takes time and effort, but for many it's an easier, more satisfying choice than content creation. There's so much good content out there already, why reinvent the wheel? Content curation is a valid and valuable service to offer your audience and should be an integral part of your marketing strategy going forward.