Becoming "Original in Your Curation"

November 15, 2018

According to a recent report by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, 53% of B2B organizations have a small (or one person) marketing/content marketing team that serves the entire organization. For many of us (including your faithful team here at UpContent), this statistic is all too real.

In this edition of UpContent’s Curated Community, we sit down with fellow “marketing team of one”, Natalie Hotaling, of Pittsburgh startup Flexable, to understand how she approaches critical questions to a successful curation strategy.

  1. Striking the balance between created and curated content.
  2. The Flexable approach to evaluating third party content,
  3. Leveraging curation efforts to spark original content, and
  4. Evaluating the success of curation efforts.

Blending Original and Curated Content

There is A LOT of research out there seeking to quantify the proper mix of original and curated content. The consensus? A blend is a good thing, but figuring out what to put into each of those buckets so that original and curated are a part of the same conversation can be tricky.

Given limited resources, Natalie’s approach to breaking this down for Flexable focuses on comparative advantage. Her content development efforts center on the stories Flexable can best tell, or those that aren’t be told by others - the real life experiences of working parents. Curated content then takes up the torch in educating their audience on the challenges to, and options for, working parents.

“Our approach to deciding between [original and curated content] always comes back to, ‘Where is our specialty?’”

When Flexable curates, they do so with each audience in mind, and with the consideration of how that audience’s participation/presence varies across social media networks. For Flexable, their LinkedIn audience tends to focus on the economics and benefits of childcare for working parents whereas those on Facebook enjoy delving into the experiences of the working parent.

Even with these interests defined, Natalie makes an intentional decision to sparingly crosspost topics between channels - ensuring each audience remains aware of the interests/perspectives of the other.

“We’ve found that the engagement works best when people can see the content and say ‘Wow that really speaks to me’ and they can use it to take action, but the cross pollination is important so they can understand the ‘why’ [both the objective and the emotional reasons for taking action].”

Ensuring Curation is a Valuable Service to Your Audience

Before using UpContent, Natalie was doing what most of us did, “spending multiple days of the week placing internet searches, looking for content that was relevant, struggling to figure out keywords, and setting alerts.” According to Natalie, “It was a full time job just finding curated content.” Her process has changed to an investment of 4 hours per week, with the “finding” steps now being something she can “check in on” via her custom UpContent topics.

“With UpContent, there were a lot of steps [in my prior process] I never really thought about existing - until they were removed. When previously using an internet search, I could only filter based on headlines but, by using UpContent, I can give more articles ‘a chance’ and find compelling articles I would have previously passed on.”

To make this shift from manual discovery, Natalie sat down with Flexable’s founders to jointly determine the audiences, topics, and keywords that would be most applicable, and to define the ‘why’. That initial process did take some time and iterations in order to find the best blend of keywords that hit the mark. She even utilized the UpContent team for recommendations (YAY!).

Now properly calibrated, Natalie can now spend the time she is saving from “searching” to dig deeper into the results and apply a her own rubric when evaluating each article. The main elements of the rubric are:.   

  1. Beware the noise: While Natalie will sometimes exempt highly compelling articles from this requirement, it is important that the articles shared by Flexable can’t easily be found elsewhere.
  2. Fuel for action: The article needs to be both educational and presented in a way that will stimulate someone to act.
  3. Own your sources: While there is great content published across the internet, it is important to check the source (and what else they publish) to ensure it aligns with what you want to convey as a brand.

Curation does not end once the article is discovered. Natalie reminds us that many individuals in your target audience may not have enough time to read the article themselves and one way to ensure they see value in your curation efforts is ensure that the related social post allows them to instantly embrace the “takeaway”.

Leveraging Curation to Spark Original Content

Natalie’s curation efforts also aid in ideation for Flexable’s original content by “monitoring the news cycle”. When Natalie experiences a day where content is sparse or a topic that should be returning great articles for her brand comes up empty, she sees this as an opportunity for Flexable.

“The content you are looking for won’t always be in the news cycle. This is a sign for your brand to speak louder.”

For Flexable, “speaking louder” often means developing original content to ensure the messaging and discussion on the challenges facing working parents remains on the minds of her audience.

Measuring the Value of Curation

“Before deploying a curation program, it is important to be clear about ‘why’, and align your approach to achieving those goals.”

For Flexable, traditional engagement is important, but quality engagement is even more critical to stimulate action amongst their audience - and generate conversions.

As a result of their intentional curation program, Flexable has seen leads directly reference curated articles and experienced a spike in engagement via their social media platforms.

When asked why she thinks curation, has resonated Natalie hypothesized that; “many of our followers already know what we’re doing. Curated content helps us continue to convey the ‘why’ (and how it evolves) over time.”

Thanks, Natalie!

The conversation reaffirmed the value in listening to our customers. You guys are all awesome and we learn from each and every one of these discussions. I hope you enjoyed Natalie’s approach and that you’ll share your thoughts with us!

About Flexable

Flexable provides on-site childcare services at workplaces and events, such as company gatherings and networking events. More and more companies, conferences and event planners are understanding the value of childcare as a key driver of inclusivity and attendance. Their fully trained and carefully vetted staff bring kits filled with age-appropriate toys, games, crafts and more to ensure a safe, high quality, fun experience for kids on site. Flexable is a Pittsburgh-based company that has helped keep thousands of kids safe and entertained at hundreds of events and workplaces.


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