I’ve been doing “Content Curation” for years. Ever since the internet and email have been widely available tools, I’ve been sharing bits and pieces of information I found interesting, thought-provoking, or just plain entertaining; and I shared with colleagues, friends, clients and prospects. Over time, I learned that it’s a great way to keep top of mind with clients and prospects without being ‘salesy’. I deliver timely, relevant and useful information to them in easy to consume bites. The timing is serendipitous – it depends on when I happen to run across something meaningful. It might be a single day between curated missives, it might be a month.
My forwarded curations are also highly personalized. I rarely blast an item to a long list of people. The vast majority of the time I send a tidbit to a single individual, or a small handful of people. The information is highly relevant, meaningful, and hopefully valuable to these people. I’ve trained them to look forward to these tidbits so my ‘open and read rate’ is very high.
That’s on the personal level. Curated content can also be an important input into more formal marketing communications/content marketing campaigns designed to inform and gently persuade regarding products, services and solutions.
So how’s it done? Something like this:
Step 1: Identify Your Topics of Interest
• What topics make sense for your company and product set?
• What peripheral topics might be of interest to your sphere of influence? What industries are they in? What types of technology do they manufacture, purchase or use in their businesses? Are there political or regulatory issues that affect them?
• Is there a specific niche in which you’d like to position yourself as a thought leader?
Step 2: Select Your Search and Aggregation Tools
There are many tools available online. I prefer to use a limited number of these, paying particular attention to the search terms I develop. The more ‘advanced’, selective and sophisticated your search terms, the fewer results you’ll get, but those results will be more valuable and relevant.
Google, the king of all thing search, has many free resources that can help you to become an ‘advanced’ searcher. Spend two or three hours to learn this skill. It’ll save you hundreds of hours over the next decade.
Tools to use to find relevant information, aggregate it, organize it and deliver it to your constituents:
• Google.com/Reader (set up via RSS feeds)
• LinkedIn.com (group discussions)
There are many others. The point is to select the subset that you like, and then set them up correctly. They’re just tools. You want them to help you find the nuggets of gold hidden in the vast mountains of available information.
Step 3: Gather
Once your tools are set up, the information will be delivered to you daily. It’s up to you to skim and scan, trash and save, read and contextualize.
Step 4: Organize
You can get as detailed as you want about this. I think it’s a matter of personal style, plus the amount of data you’re dealing with. Obviously, the larger the amount of information, the more you’re going to need to categorize it, perhaps creating sub-categories and metadata to enable efficient searches. My personal style is not terribly organized, and I find this is helpful (in this context). My brain tends to sift information and make connections that wouldn’t normally occur in an organized taxonomy.
I do organize my curated content by target audience, though.
Step 5: Share
There’s no point in doing all the above (at least from a marketing perspective) unless you deliver the appropriate (and relevant) information to your various constituents (individuals, small groups, distribution lists). Remember – what’s useful and relevant to one person is irrelevant and useless to the next.
You might deliver to individuals in an informal, unscheduled way via email. For groups of people (aggregated by shared interests) you might use newsletters, social media (including blogs), podcasts, etc. and disseminate on a pre-determined schedule (once a day, week or month). What’s important here is to assess the content, and assess the audience; then select the appropriate vehicle and frequency.
There’s an old adage – “If you take from one information source, you’re plagiarizing. If you take from twenty information sources, you’re researching.” There’s a spectrum of content curation ranging from direct quotes all the way to completely re-thought, re-contextualized, re-written material. All are equally valid… as you approach and reach the direct quote end of the spectrum, you should attribute the source including author and publication.
Did I miss anything? Are there any helpful tactics or tools that you can’t live without in your content curation endeavors?
Bob Leonard is the managing consultant at acSellerant. Over a 20 year period, prior to launching acSellerant, Bob held individual contributor and management positions in Corporate Marketing, Field Marketing, Sales and Sales Support at EMC, GTE, Interleaf (document management), and Digital Equipment Corp.