Powering Your Content Strategy with Content Curation
Katie Hankinson and Mickey Cloud invited UpContent CEO Scott Rogerson onto their Building While Flying podcast to discuss how UpContent came to be and how companies can best utilize curated content.
It was an enjoyable discussion, and there were a lot of great insights from Scott and Mickey about how brands can use content curation as part of their overall content strategy.
In this post, we'll break down the key takeaways that you can use to make the most of an UpContent subscription.
What is content curation?
Let's first start with a definition of curated content. Many people aren't quite sure what UpContent does.
There are a lot of great platforms out there to help companies develop their own content, move it through the approval pipeline, and get it out onto various distribution channels. UpContent is different.
Content curation focuses, not on original content, but on third-party articles that are also valuable and informative for your audience. Instead of trying to read that article and rewrite it from your own perspective, UpContent allows you to share it with your audience in a branded way.
How curation helps
So what benefit does this type of third-party content actually provide? Why would a company choose to use it?
Content marketing requires an enormous volume of content to be successful. It's impractical for all but the largest companies to create that level of content on their own.
And even those large companies could use their time much more efficiently by utilizing curated content.
So, one area where curated content really benefits those who use it is by padding out the content quantity without significantly increasing costs or decreasing quality.
The second thing is that it actually increases the quality of the content.
There are many subjects that may be of interest to your audience that you aren't a subject matter expert on. Curated content allows you to draw material from more authoritative sources and use it as part of your own content marketing.
These are two major ways in which curated content can benefit a company, but we'll look at many more as we take a closer look at the ways in which Scott and Mickey discussed actually putting a curated content strategy into place.
The birth of UpContent
Accepting that third-party content can be a useful part of a content marketing strategy is only one part of the problem.
Finding articles that are worth sharing can take up nearly as much time as creating them yourself.
While it still saves some effort, and grants you a much larger pool of experts and authoritative sources to draw from, the process could be made smoother.
As Scott discusses in the webinar, this problem is exactly why UpContent was formed. It originally wasn't conceived of as a service in and of itself. Instead, it began life as an internal tool for the agency Scott was a part of at the time.
The agency would find a great article that did really well as a third-party piece of content but didn't know how to go about finding that next big thing.
The search process was still very manual. It could be aided slightly by the RSS feeds of various publishers, but as RSS began to slowly lose popularity, even that became less and less helpful.
UpContent began as a tool for the agency to take this very narrow process and expand it to something much more beneficial. This tool was able to essentially replace RSS feeds and aggregate data from many publishers, across a range of industries all in one place.
It didn't take long to realize that this type of service benefits far more than the agency itself. So this internal tool split off to become the company that UpContent is now.
In its present form, it serves as a single source for anyone looking for third-party content; a way to gather articles to share on nearly any subject using a simple set of search parameters.
How to make the most of content curation
So now you know the benefits of using third-party content in your overall strategy, and you know where to go to easily find content that will be of interest to your readers, but that's still only part of the equation.
There are still a lot of decisions to be made regarding content strategy. How much of the content should be original versus curated?
How does the curated content actually fit into your content marketing pipeline?
Thankfully, Scott and Mickey covered this fairly completely in the webinar, and we've gathered some of the most salient points below to ensure that you're able to make the most of your third-party content, wherever it may come from.
1. Bringing everyone on board
One of the issues with original content is that the best copywriters or the people who are able to create the best engagement on social media aren't usually the same people as the subject matter experts in your field.
These are, for the most part, two entirely different skill sets. So, in the example Scott gave, the copywriter may ask a lawyer to have a quick discussion that a blog post can be built around.
After the discussion, the copy can be written and then run past the lawyer for review. That's great. But content creation is an ongoing thing. So the discussions may have to happen more often than the lawyer has time for.
UpContent helps with this by presenting you with a curated collection of articles that are pre-written by subject matter experts and other authoritative sources.
Now it's easier for the person at your company whose job it is to pull articles from UpContent for use by the company to run them by the internal subject matter experts to be handed off to the content team.
Everyone can still play their part, but the process is much more streamlined.
The subject matter experts are still able to weigh in, and the content team is still able to exercise some measure of control over what is posted and how, but neither has to put in the manual work they had to previously.
2. Expand your horizons
One of the biggest ways to maximize the benefits of third-party content is to understand that it doesn't always have to fit into the traditional content marketing structure.
Many companies start out using UpContent with the intent of posting articles on social media or building blog content around them.
But often, what they'll find is that their audience isn't where the value in a particular article lies. Internal newsletters that consist of the top articles in their industry provide a great way to keep everyone on staff informed about what's going on.
Very often, providing everyone on staff with this internal content will result in a sort of secondary content pipeline.
Someone on the staff may see an article that relates to something they were discussing with a client. They can then send that article specifically to that client as a way of touching base and fostering the relationship.
It presents an opportunity to reach out to the client and get their thoughts on an article of mutual interest without the pressure of trying to make a sale. This type of relationship-building can be invaluable.
And it needn't be limited to clients. Industry contacts, partners in related fields, and any other relationship that can benefit from networking are all potential targets for this type of usage. Now, the content is doing double duty.
It helps staff stay current on industry trends, and it provides them with tools they can use to further their own work for the company.
3. Making the content stretch
That last tip brings us nicely into the second one. A company that posts third-party content on its social media accounts doesn't need to limit itself to those platforms.
When you create your own content, there's a huge benefit that comes from recycling that content across various other mediums.
Although third-party content is less flexible in that regard, there's still the possibility to use it as a foundation for your own content. The same content that gets shared on social media can be integrated into a newsletter that gets sent out to a subscriber base.
It could even be a part of a podcast where the company thought leaders discuss the current events within the industry. Or you could make it the foundation for a blog post that expands upon the company's thoughts on the matter.
That last one provides a real opportunity for you to establish yourself as a thought leader. If you find an article that you disagree with, or that you feel didn't quite cover all the bases, it provides the perfect chance to write a response to it.
Here, you're serving the dual purpose of showing your readers that you keep up with what's going on in the industry, but also showcasing that you have thoughts of your own on the matter and that you have something to bring to the table other than reposting the works of others.
As we'll see later, original content is a very important part of a content marketing strategy, so being able to springboard off third-party content in this way makes it very easy to help pad out some of those original content requirements.
4. Establishing industry cred
Keeping existing customers and converting new ones requires you to build up a certain amount of trust from them.
If two companies are competing to become the accountant for the same customer, the customer is going to choose the one that seems like they know the most.
Assuming both are equally impressive in their original content, there isn't a lot for the customer to go on. They need something else in order to build that trust.
Of course, customer reviews play a big role in showing potential customers that they can trust you. But third-party content can play a big role here as well.
One of the great things about curated content is that you don't need to limit it to your specific industry.
One of the hypothetical tax accounts above could decide that they want to make a push to get more clients in a given industry and use third-party content as a way to do that.
By using curated content, the accountant can show potential customers that he is keeping up with areas of accounting specific to the industries they are in.
This is a quick and easy way to build trust with decision-makers in targeted industries and gain an advantage over the competition.
5. Find the right mix
One problem Scott discussed during the webinar was that companies come to UpContent with the idea that curated content can fully replace their current content creation pipeline.
"They're seeing curation as the silver bullet to no longer have to create content." But this isn't true, Scott says. "And we will say in that conversation, look, this is not right for you today.
You know, what you need to first do is either work with your current team or work with somebody, a strategist. We've got a number of agency partners who can help support that effort."
He went on to discuss the importance of the hero-hub-hygiene formula of content marketing. A company needs a few hero pieces that showcase the main perspectives that only your organization can bring.
These are pieces you need to own because without them, you aren't displaying your own knowledge or expertise.
The hygiene pieces are the filler posts that keep people engaged with your content so the hero pieces can continue to find new audiences. This is where curated content really shines. Hub pieces are in the middle.
They'll usually be custom-created content that shows off your brand but doesn't necessarily go as in-depth as the hero pieces.
It's important to understand the concept here. Curated content is like the affordable coffee at a gas station. The attractively priced coffee isn't going to keep the gas station in business. But it will bring in customers so they'll purchase things that will bring in more profit. Curated content can bring people in, and it can provide a lot of other benefits, but there needs to be something else there to capitalize on what the curated content has done.
6. Building a community
A lot of companies, particularly lifestyle brands, are trying harder to build a sense of community among their customers.
This is, at its core, another form of content marketing and can therefore be augmented to great effect with third-party content.
In order to build a community around a particular activity that your product or service facilitates, you can't talk only about your company and its offerings.
For this use case, it makes sense to really broaden the type of content that you share from third parties so that your customers see your social media page as a sort of hub for any information on the topic.
An even better idea is to also build a curated resource page on your website that links to various articles that may be of interest to your desired community.
As long as you're not forgetting to create your own content as well, using curated pieces to become a hub of aggregated content can be a great way to bring in a much larger volume of organic traffic than would otherwise be possible.
7. Humanize your brand
Most marketing departments know that customers like to purchase from companies that they feel share their values. It's one of the reasons companies get involved with charities or become vocal advocates for a social cause. This is another area where curated content can help.
If you find and share articles about topics that are important to your brand outside of the sort of typical industry fare, it helps to humanize your brand and build a better connection with the audience members who share those values.
In a similar vein, allowing employees to share articles of interest to them and take a more front and center role can accomplish the same goal.
In the webinar, Scott talked about how there's been a transition from brands thinking they are the rockstars to instead promoting their employees as rock stars.
This is part of the reason that employee advocacy programs have become such a growing trend. Curated content can play a huge role in providing the content for those advocacy programs.
The benefits of content marketing are huge. It drives higher sales for lower acquisition costs, allows you to showcase your expertise in a given area, and when used on your site, provides more pages for search engines to crawl, and helps bring more people into the funnel.
But, in order for content marketing to do all this, you need a lot of it. While your tent-pole "hero" posts should be original content in your brand's voice, third-party curated content can help fill out the 'hygiene' posts that keep readers engaged with your brand and coming back for more.
In addition to keeping your readers informed, curated content is a great way to keep your staff informed as well. Used internally, it keeps your employees up-to-date on the latest industry news.
This can provide them with springboards to create unique content for your brand, or with vital resources to share with clients and other business contacts that help foster those relationships.
Whether for distribution or consumption, information helps drive business growth. Curated content from UpContent can play a vital role in providing you with the right information at the right time.