Curating content to enrich your social media brand

Posted By:
Lifeline Design

So you've entered the world of digital marketing. You've set up a blog, you've created a bunch of social media accounts, you're posting furiously, and now you're exhausted. No need to be embarrassed. Digital marketing is hard, and if you are trying to move the needle with a small team, it's always going to be an uphill battle to create and promote enough content to make a difference.

So why are you only using content you've created?

Curation is the secret sauce that makes social media marketing work for small teams. Sharing content from other sources is a fantastic way to lighten your work load, build connections with other brands, and improve your standing as a leading voice in your field. 

But, you need to do it right. Follow the advice below and learn how a rising tide of content can lift all brands.

What curation is

Let's get this out of the way right up front, "curation” does not "theft.” You NEVER want to try and pass some other site's content off as your own or do anything that might be considered plagiarism. That is a fast track to take down notices, humiliation, and possibly even legal consequences. 

No curation is specifically showcasing and linking another person or site's content with explicit credit and attribution given. Not only is this good etiquette, it's also part of the strategy, as we'll get into a little more.

Why curate? 

Presenting other people and brand's content on your channels might seem anathema to the entire idea of social media marketing. After all, aren't you maintaining these channels to develop your own voice and promote your own material? Well, YES. But content curation doesn't conflict with that goal, it supports it.

First and foremost, carefully considered curation is a time saving mechanic. If you're just starting out and your goals are to write a blog every other week and make the occasional post on Facebook or Twitter, you can get away with a small team or a personal effort for awhile. But sooner or later, you'll want to transition to a real media push, and there is no way a small team can produce a blog every single work day and schedule a full day's worth of posts while maintaining conversations with customers and commentators. 

But, curation is like a helping hand. By showcasing other content and commenting on it, you can maintain a full schedule of discussion points and posts, without slogging through entire blog posts on your own. Essentially, it can allow a small team to punch above its weight.

It also helps to establish and enforce your position as an authority in your field. It makes you an instant part of the conversation, an arbiter or taste-maker pointing out what you feel is relevant to be shared or discussed in your sphere. This can also help put you in touch with independent influencers, commentators, and writers (everyone loves it when their work gets a shout out), creating a network that might come in handy down the line when you need a signal boost. 

Communities tend to coalesce around like minded groups. Share other people's content, and pretty soon they'll be sharing yours as well.  

What should you share?

Ideally, the content you share should demonstrate value. It should come from a reputable source, be it a newspaper article, a magazine, another blog, or a business commentator. It should be relevant to your audience's interests and in-line with what your business does itself. And it should help provoke a conversation. 

Almost everything is up for grabs, be it a video, article, or even a sufficiently entertaining Twitter thread. Try to find a mix of material that is both informative and entertaining (as any good brand social media presence should strive to be). 

It should go without saying, but ALWAYS read the entire piece or watch the entire video and make sure you fully understand the main point it is making. There is nothing more cringe inducing than seeing a brand retweet an Onion article like it was a real news story, or tacitly endorse a video that turns into an anti-lizard people rant halfway through, all because someone couldn't wait for their lunch break.

Most importantly, look for ways you can expand on or comment on the material. While the big goal of content curation is to lighten the load on your social team, this doesn't mean you should just be re-posting content with wild abandon. You should always be able to comment on the piece you're sharing. Even something small like "Company X ran a survey or their employee's opinion, and you won't believe what they had to say.” Or "This article on X is interesting, but it ignores some key realities on the ground” is good.

Always look for a way to insert your brand into the conversation or even create the opportunity for a follow-up or response article or post.  

As you go on

Always keep an eye on what seems to resonate with your audience and what doesn't. Which of the stories you share are getting clicks and which are getting none? Which generate conversation and comments and which just stand there like an awkward middleschooler during the Undersea Freshman dance?  

Use these ques to hone in on what your audience cares about the most. Not only will this help you curate better content that hits your audience harder, but it will help inform your own content creation guidelines. In this way, content curation can be a very easy and effective way to focus test different kinds of content without taking a huge risk and investing time and effort into different angles yourself.

Lastly, find the best rhythm for your posts. You want to use curated content as a way to support your feed, not take it over. How much curated content you want to share will depend on how much original content you're able to produce, as a rule of thumb though, try for something like one original blog/video/infographic for ever four pieces of content you share.

Used well, curated content can be just the thing to rev your digital marketing effort into the next gear!