Speak with digital marketers anywhere about the ins and outs of a successful inbound marketing campaign and they’ll all tell you one thing: “It all comes down to content.” Hear this refrain on your first day as a copywriting intern and you’ll feel the heat. And because the pressure is on for digital marketing companies to create compelling content, a copywriter’s job is more important than ever.
In a recent post I recommended content curation as a go-to strategy for writers faced with increasing demands. If my post achieved what I intended, you now recognize curation as a valuable tool for generating more and better content. When I first entered the field of inbound marketing, I knew that curation was valuable, but I was unsure of how to actually implement the process or of the implications of doing so.
Unless you’re an experienced curator, chances are you sympathize with my former self. To those of you who are still a bit confused or perhaps simply curious about curation, I’ve answered four frequently asked questions on the subject.
1. Q: Who actually benefits from content curation?
A: When content is curated, all involved reap the rewards. Not only does the curator save time and resources by utilizing what’s already on the web as inspiration, but the curator’s agency benefits through increased traffic (more content=increased visibility) and consumer engagement.
What’s more, the benefits of content curation extend beyond the agency’s walls. The original writer of the post gains a valuable backlink to his or her work. And, most importantly, readers are assured that what they’re reading is both supported and engaging and save time by obtaining all the information they need in one place.
2. Q: Is content curation stealing other people’s work? When is curation plagiarism?
A: Content curation is not plagiarism because curation necessitates adding value. Unearthing valuable content, rewording it, and publishing it under your name is not curation. This is stealing. To curate properly you must give your reader something he or she cannot obtain by reading the original post, something extra.
For example: say you’re curating a post about cooking eggs. The original article outlines all the ways to cook an egg (one chef claims to have mastered the 100 best ways). When writing your own article, you may certainly share these 100 ways, but you must add something more. Perhaps you supplement the article by adding survey information about which methods are most popular, or by providing your readers with the nutritional variants of each method.
To ensure that your hands remain clean, give credit where credit is due. Be up front about the author of the original post and link back to him or her in your article. It’s plagiarism if you don’t cite the author, link to the source, or if you try to pass the work on as your own.
3. Q: How do I select a piece to curate?
A: Before beginning the search for a quality article, make sure you know precisely what it is you want to write about. If you’ve been assigned a topic, this choice is a no-brainer, but if you have freedom to choose, make sure you select a topic that is relevant to your audience (e.g. content curation for digital marketers) and narrow your topic enough to hammer out a one page article.
The next step is to gather all the information you can about your chosen topic. There are a variety of ways to do this. The easiest is to visit the websites of companies most relevant to your industry, scan their blogs for inspiration and sign onto their email list to get updates from them daily. You can even set up a Google Reader account to get all this information in one place.
Personalized magazines such as Zite and Strawberry Jam are two other extremely helpful resources for those in any industry. Each site allows you to search for articles within a designated category, and even receive updates via Twitter. That brings me to another curation resource: social media. Following brands who produce great, relevant-to-your-business content is an easy way to stay connected to curation sources at all times.
When perusing articles, ask yourself the following questions: Does the topic of this post match my own? Is the author of this post credible? (Investigate the company he or she works for and search for other material he or she has written to decide.) Does this article invite me to engage with it? (If you read something and are either fuming with disagreement or bursting to share what you’ve found, it’s a great find.) If you can’t answer yes to each question, keep looking.
4. Q: So how do I actually curate something?
A: Once you have selected a post to curate, the next step is to make it your own. To do so, begin by summarizing the original work. Focus on the information relevant to your chosen topic and leave out unnecessary details. What does your reader want to know most?
Either within or after your summary, add your thoughts. This is where curation becomes creation. Do you agree or disagree? Be clear about your stance and tell your readers why. Credit the original author within your summary and again at the end of your post. Lastly, make sure to insert a link back to the original post.
Still need some clarification on the finer points of curation? Check out Curator’s Code, a resource intended to provide just that.
Share your curation success stories and/or stumbles you’ve experienced along the way in the Comments section below.