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Beginner’s Guide to doing Content Curation the Right Way

Beginner’s Guide to doing Content Curation the Right Way

Home Blog Social Media Beginner’s Guide to doing Content Curation the Right Way

Do you know how much data we  — humans — create every day on the internet? 
2.5 million terabytes.

By 2025, we expect this number to reach 463 Exabytes of data 

If my calculation is right, that’s 463 million terabytes.

This is beyond huge

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Now, there is only so much information that we can digest in a day. 

A study from 2009 revealed that every day, our brain reads only 100,000 words or so, and is loaded with 34Go of data.

This clearly poses a major threat for marketers, as most of their voices and messages get lost in the noise.

That being said, this is also an opportunity for marketers to stand out.

By aggregating a quality content in one place for their audience, they can turn an ever-growing noise into an easy-to-digest format.

This is where content curation comes into play.

In this blog post we’re sharing everything you need to know about content curation and how to implement it in your content marketing strategy. 

Table of Contents:


Say, what is content curation?

And what forms does it takes?

First, let’s address the elephant in the room right now.  

Content curation is not content creation. When creating content, you build your own pieces of content from scratch.

While the results and recognition you can get from it is great, creating great content is something that requires time, and resources — sadly, not all businesses can afford to create content on a regular basis, let alone hire content creators, to begin with.

For that, there’s content curation.

Content curation is about researching and sharing a handpicked collection of content from trusted sources within your industry.

It can be anything. 

It can be as simple as retweeting something, or sharing an influencer’s 3,000 words blog post your audience on Facebook.

I bet it sounds simple, right? 

Not so fast.

While the action of sharing content is indeed pretty simple, you need a real strategy if you want this to see results from content curation.

Unfortunately (and fortunately for you, reading this), this something that not so many marketers have.

Why content curation matters for your brand

We found 5 reasons why you should consider adding content curation to your content strategy. 

Starting with how much of your time you will be saving optimizing.

Your followers only care so much about you

We all know people who only talk about themselves all. the. time. 

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Isn’t it extremely annoying?

Then why should brands do it too? 

Here’s an example of it with Hibbett Sports, a US-based sports retailer.

They have an interesting following of 91K+ on Twitter.

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https://twitter.com/hibbettsports

And yet, they trigger very little engagement.

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Why is that? They only share content about themselves and the products they sell.

The hard truth is that no one really cares so much about your brand. 

You followers care about what you can do to help them and/or make them feel better. 

For that reason, brands need to consider sharing content that is not from and/or about them.

Make a better use of your time

Done properly, content curation will have a significant impact on your performance. 

But it will also take a lot of your time. 

When curating content, you need to: 

  • research good and trusted sources,
  • read and select key content to share with your audience,
  • sometime repurpose content to match the platform you share it on,
  • reach out to content creators to build fruitful partnerships,
  • analyze the performance of your content strategy,
  • and iterate on it.

And that takes time!

So, don’t jump on a content curation strategy just to save time. 

Because you won’t really.

To start curate content properly and regularly, you’ll need to save at least 1 hour a day to secure 15 to 25 different sources that you trust.

That said, the time you invest in content curation will eventually pay back, as your brand will grow stronger.

Build your brand’s authority

Do you follow successful brands and influencers with a very good social media content strategy?

Do they only share their own content?

I bet that they are not.

They’ve built their influence and gained expertise by mixing things up

On the one hand, you create and share original content and, on the other hand, you share and comment on relevant pieces from other content creators.

This can contribute to making you appear as an expert.

Become a thought-leader

Sharing relevant content will trigger interesting conversations around topics both you and your target audience care about.

Doing so, your brand will eventually be associated with these topics more and more, making you appear as a go-to thought-leader, aware of the many challenges and opportunities on the market.

Consequently, researching and reading industry news and content will make you stay on top of the latest trends, thus giving you a significant advantage on competition when it comes to reading and understanding your market’s evolutions.

Now, people always like to follow leaders — especially on social sites. 

That’s another perk of doing content curation the right way. It will contribute to increasing your online community.

Grow your online community

Have you ever heard of that boring brand with no story to share, yet followed by millions of people? 

No? 

Well, that’s probably because it doesn’t exist.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but there’s no brand out there that managed to grow an engaged audience without great content and/or a great story to tell. 

In fact, if there’s one universal way to grow an online audience, it is via sharing quality content and engaging stories.

Here’s another example from Boston University, sharing content from BuzzFeed to keep their audience engaged — and entertained in Boston — during summer. 

If the content you curate is relevant, your audience will interact with it.

Remember to always put your audience’s interests first. What’s in it for them? 

Build relationships with influencers and influential brands

When you curate content from bloggers, brands, journalists, influencers or clients, you endorse their content and you’re doing them a favor by presenting their work to your audience.

If you play your cards right, this can put your brand on their radar.

You can try and draw their attention on your brand when you share their content on social media by tagging them or — better  — emailing them to tell them that you’re sharing their content with your audience.

We actually have a 4-step guide on how to turn influencers into organic influencers (or brand advocates).

Fuel your User-Generated-Content (UGC) strategy

Sharing quality content from users is bread and butter for brands.

Talk about yourself all you want, your users and clients’ voices will always be stronger. What’s more, 82% of Americans say they sometimes read customer reviews before buying (Pew Research Center, 2016). 

By sharing UGC, you give these reviews and customer experiences more visibility, making it a sweet deal for every party involved: 

  • You give recognition to your users and clients.
  • It reassures your future customers.
  • You share engaging content from people using your brand, thus increasing your credibility. 

Content curation can boost your SEO rankings (but only if you do it right)

Let’s make one thing clear.

Never, ever, duplicate existing content.

Duplicating someone else content is theft, and Google rightfully penalizes websites doing this. 

Google algorithm is able to differentiate content that you have purely and simply copied and pasted and content you are curating and presenting to your audience on a blog post for example.

Back in 2013, Bruceclay.com released the results of a content curation experience they ran on their blog.

Here are the two key learning points

  1. When duplicating existing content, ranking went down (from 4th to 10th place).
  2. When creating engaging content that’s quoting part of a content and linking to it, they ranked 1st.

Find the experiment details here.

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Now that you know a bit more about why you should start curating content, let’s dig into how to do it.

Step-by-step plan to do content curation the right way 

See content curation as a long-term commitment between your brand, your audience, and those who’s content you’re curating.

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Just like everything you do, the more committed and rigorous you are in this task, the better results you’ll get

Say you commit to learning a new language. 

If you don’t spend a couple of hours every day practicing, you’ll see mitigated results.

Same. Thing. With. Content. Curation.

Without a rigorous plan, you’ll fail.

So, read this guide and take notes, if necessary, not to forget any important step when you start curating content. 

1. Decide on a content curation/creation ratio

You need to find the right balance between sharing informative content and branded content. 

So, what’s a good ratio?

Convince and Convert reported that links leading to third-party websites generate33% more engagement than those leading to your website (hey, here’s another reason to curate content).

They also reported that the sweet spot when sharing content on social media is 60% curation, 40% creation.

Now, of course, this may vary from one business to another.

Some businesses will see better results when sharing their own content 70% of the time. Others will find themselves sharing curated content 70% of the time. You can’t know what’s right for you before you measure the performance of both types of content and find your sweet spot. What matters is that you include both in your content strategy”Sandra Chung, Head of Content & Partnerships @Mention

Experiment to find your ideal ratio

We recommend that you start with a 60/40 ratio for a month or two.

Past this time, you should experiment a little (65/35, 55/45, 50/50, etc.). 

Here are three important tips to keep in mind when comparing the results of an A/B test: 

  1. Time periods you compare need to be identical in length.
  2. Time periods need to have the same starting day of the week.
  3. Your test needs to be long enough for you to gather significant data: aim for a month as a day, or even a week may not be enough to see trends emerging.

Now that you have a better idea of the amount of content you should curate, let’s dive into what topics you should focus on.

2. Create relevant content categories

When curating content, you want to be helpful, without being spammy. 

What’s more, if you want to draw attention, you need to entertain and educate your audience with relevant topics and content categories.

To do that, you need to know what type of content draws your audience’s attention the most.

Analyze your target audience — and competition

A good teacher, like a good entertainer, first must hold his audience’s attention, then he can teach his lesson”. —John Henrik Clarke

This is exactly what content curation can do for your brand; draw attention to your brand, thus giving you a chance to reach a wider and more engaged audience with your branded content.

But to do that, you need to know what drives your target audience in the first place.

Here’s a list of question you need the answer to:

  • What social platform are they most active on? 
  • What content format do they engage the most with? 
  • What key topics do they engage the most with?
  • When are they the most active?
  • Where are they based?
  • What languages do they speak?
  • What type of content are market influencers sharing?
  • What type of content is your competition sharing?  Is it generating engagement? If so, can you do the same?

You can find the answer to these questions using Mention, both on via the web app, and/or on the go.

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Once you’ve done your research, you should establish a content calendar – and stick to it.

Create a social media content calendar

To measure and compare performance, you need a measurement scale.

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When it comes to social media planning, regularity should be your scale.

Our advice is to set specific times for specific types of content — and to stick to it. 
Say you’re a sports retailer

You could create categories to share branded content — that goes without saying—, as well as:

  • Inspirational content and stories from athletes.

Here’s an example from Nike, sharing an inspiring story from @amaraworldwide about girls’ involvement in football.

While they certainly sponsored the film, this type of content is gold for their brand image.

  • Research results:
  • Nutritional information:

When done right, content curation has this incredible power to promote and legitimate your business via third-party content.

Of course, you also need to post when your audience is on social media.

Our recommendation

Schedule your posts in advance so that you don’t have to stress about the timing. Follow our guide to create your social media publishing calendar.

At this point, the base of your content curation strategy is set.

Yey. 

You now need to find relevant sources of content to share with your audience. 

3. Find relevant sources for Content Curation

There are different types of content that you can curate.

  • Native content from social media (or micro-content).
  • In-depth content, mostly from websites and newsletters.

The key is to curate content from a vast variety of sources. 

Native content from social media

There’s always someone, somewhere, discussing something that is of importance to you. 

This is what social media is all about.

Micro, or social media content, can help to strengthen your narrative and boost your brand’s overall credibility.

Something that @Starbucks does, for example, is retweet content from their fan – from time to time.

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Social media isn’t only great to find kind words. Is also a perfect place to find great quality content that you can share to promote your brand and or activity.

Something User-Generated Content (UGC) can help a lot with

Encourage UGC 

Sharing UGC is perfect to keep an audience engaged and interested in what you have to say on social media.

Here are a couple of tips to encourage it — and find it.

Use a Hashtag to gather the conversation in one place

Hashtags works wonder went it comes to focus the conversation.

Many schools – for example – use a hashtag to gather content around their campus’ life.

This gives them a pool of user-generated content to pick from and share to entertain their entire community — while crediting the author.

Reward UGC

Some brands go a step further and actually reward UGC with cash.
GoPro is one of them. 

They started their own Content Curation/Reward Program to promote UGC.

It is brilliant! 

What best way to promote a camera but by sharing awesome footage from users all around the globe?

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I don’t own a GoPro myself – yet. But the more I spend time scrolling through the user-generated content they share, the more I need one.

Now, social media is not the only place to find content to curate. 

Subscribe to newsletters and follow niche publications

I love a good newsletter (here’s ours by the way).

But good newsletters are quite hard to find these days – especially if you’re looking for niche content for your industry and market.

One way to find newsletters is to look for them on Google. 

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Another tool I find interesting to find great content is BuzzSumo.

BuzzSumo’s content analyzer is here to help you identify the most shared content — based on a targeted keyword search. 

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These alternatives are both great, and … not so great. 

On the one hand, you’ll get to read some of the best – mainstream – market content (and you should read it). 

On the other hand, chances are that your audience is also reading from these mainstream sources.

And curating only from these could be a waste of your time. 

The less mainstream the source, the better

Information is everywhere.

But real expertise is quite hard to find.

You want to find great content from sources that your audience is not used to visit. 

It means that you need to do your homework to discover niche sources of content. It could be a small blog or even a niche section from a big news site. 

I recently discovered Letterlist, a collection of a cherry-picked quality newsletter discussing — among other topics — marketing, photography, science, tech, or travel. 

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You can also try to follow the niche categories from big publications.

I recently subscribed to the New York Times, and I now find content that I would never see otherwise, simply because it’s not newsworthy enough to make the headlines. 

Add your sources to Feedly

Feedly is a great content curation tool to aggregate content from RSS feeds and/or websites you often find interesting content on. 

So, instead of visiting them all every morning, you can simply add and follow the content creators you like on Feedly, and make it your morning content curating source. 

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Use a media monitoring tool

Another way to find new sources of content – certainly the best of them all – if via media monitoring and social listening tools.

Well, lucky for you, this is something that we @Mention happen to do.

A listening tool is here to help you find information on everything that matters to you and your brand, without you having to go and look for it. 

Here’s how it works: 

  1. You create an alert using specific keywords you’re interested in (in my example: “Content Curation”).
  2. You select the platforms and language you’d like to monitor
  3. And you receive your content. 
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Check out this guide to learn more about how to monitor your brand(or something else) using Mention.

Once you have identified great sources of content, take the time to read it.

4. Take the time to read the content

The last thing you want is to do share something that could later hurt your brand.
Our advice: Never judge a book by its cover

It’s not because the title of a blog post make it look good, that it is good. 

Worse, even, you could end up sharing great content that is praising your competition. 

Note: be careful with the“content suggestions” feature from some curation tools. It recommends content based on your interests, but not based on what’s best for your business. Long story short, read something from A to Z before you share it. 

Our golden rule: Bookmark during the day, read in the morning

We find it best to allocate time to curate content early in the morning, with a fresh and available mind. 

If you curate content when you’re tired, you’ll skim through it, and won’t really pay attention.

What you need is a tool to bookmark the content you’ll notice during your day. 

You can either use content curation tools like Pocket to bookmark all the interesting content you encounter while browsing (I recommend getting their browser extension).

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Or use a tool like Mention, and bookmark targeted content you’d like to go through later. 

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So, bookmark during the day, if you don’t have the time and/or energy to go through in-depth content, then read in the morning.

If what you read doesn’t hold your attention then, consider that it won’t hold your reader’s.

When something feels unique, interesting and potentially useful for your audience, consider it a great candidate to join your curation strategy.

5. Share the selected content

You’re almost there! Now that you have found interesting content, you want to share it with your audience. 

There are three main channels to do that: 

  1. Your social media accounts
  2. Your newsletter
  3. Your blog

 Let’s start with your social media accounts.

Share Schedule your curated content on social channels

There are three ways to do this.

  1. Publish content as you read it.
  2. Setting reminders during your day and login to share the content — all day long. 
  3. Schedule your posts on social media early on — so that you can focus on other tasks during the day.

We obviously think that option 3. is the best.Well, it’s something you can also do using Mention.

  • Click on a message, blog post, or news article you liked,
  • Click the share button and select an account to share it from,
  • And schedule your content. 
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Share content via your newsletter

Do you send an email newsletter on a regular basis to your audience? 

If not, you should really consider it. A recent study(2019) revealed that, not only newsletters trigger engagement with your brand, but also that people trust newsletters more than the actual news.

Email is a key channel to share curated content as it is a direct and privileged contact with your community.

The same way you enjoy receiving quality newsletters to curate your content, you can bet that your community loves to receive relevant and quality content right in their mailbox, without having to look for it themselves.

It’s something we love from Intercom’s newsletter.

Their newsletter is split into three parts:

  • What they’ve been writing
  • Where to find them

and 

  • What they’ve been reading.
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You don’t have to do it for the sake of doing it. But if you encounter great content that could be of interest for your audience, do it.

Write blog posts from curated content

Finally, we think that your blog — if you have one — is another key channel to share curated content.

Again, do not copy and paste content from someone else.

Integrate to your own content, source it and always credit the authors.

I personally use curated content from social media a lot in my blog posts. 

  • It’s an unlimited source of examples
  • It helps me to justify and/or strengthen my stories

Now, the most natural way to share curated content on your blog is when sharing “Top X” types of blog posts.

Here are a couple of examples of great posts to get inspired by: 

This type of content contributes to building your thought leadership within your industry. It shows that you’re able to take a step back, analyze what you think is best for your audience, and suggest relevant options to solve a given problem.

6. Analyze the performance (and iterate)

Measuring performance is probably the most important task of them all

How can you know that you invest your time and energy properly if you don’t measure the result of your work? What’s more, this is the only viable way to improve what you do right already.

Content curation doesn’t escape this universal rule.

Lucky for you, this is something that you can measure on all platforms we mentioned earlier (social media, your blog, and your newsletter). 

Metrics to measure your social media performance

Social media performance measurement is pretty straightforward. 
Keep an eye on the following metrics: 

  • Clicks, likes and shares: how’s your community engaging with your content over time? 
  • Followers count: if your social media strategy pleases your community and audience, you should see your overall followers count grow. 
  • Traffic to your website: this is not curated content’s ultimate goal. But if your social community and your brand’s reputation grow, you will see a little push from social media on Google Analytics.

Metrics to measure your newsletter’s performance

Open rate

The open rate mostly depends on your ability to grab your recipients’ attention with a catchy headline. If you found juicy content when curating, use it in the headline!

Click-Through Rate (or CTR)

The better the content you share, the higher your CTR should be. As mentioned earlier, third-party content triggers more engagement than brands’ own content.
If you don’t see any evolution in your CTR after implementing curated content in your newsletter, it could be that the content you share is not relevant enough, or that your readers don’t see it once they open the newsletter. 

Unsubscription rate

Sadly, you’ll see a lot of those. Keep an eye on how it evolves over time as this is certainly the best quality indicator of the content you send to your community.
If you’re having a hard time to figure out how you’re performing, take a look at Smart Insights’ email performance review, per industry.

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Metrics to measure your blog’s performance

Traffic to blog posts with curated content

Take a look at how your traffic evolves a couple of months after you started sharing curated content via your blog.

If your strategy works, you will see a significant traffic bump coming from: 

  • Content creators’ links to your posts
  • Shares from your audience — if they find your content relevant
  • Search engines, as they tend to support curated content. 

Newsletter subscription

As mentioned earlier, people like relevant content. If you satisfy them with great content on your blog, you should see an increase in subscriptions to your newsletter — if of course, you make it easy to join your newsletter in the first place.

Measure your brand’s overall print online 

Last but not least when it comes to measuring performance, measure, and analyze the volume of mentions of your brand across all platforms (Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, news, forums, blogs, review sites, etc.) using a monitoring tool.
Here’s a snapshot of the kind of information you can get from it. 

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The total volume of mentions, reach, influencers mentioning your brand, latest trends, platforms where your brand is mentioned, places where your brand is mentioned, etc. The right tool will show you all you need to better understand your brand’s performance over time.

Compare your results month after month and try to identify what went well, what went wrong, what you should stop doing, what you should start doing, and what you should definitely improve.

3 housekeeping rules when sharing curated content

Always credit the author

If nothing else, sourcing shows that you’re not making things up.

Crediting the author also increases the likelihood that she/he will get back to you to thank you and share your curated content — thus giving more visibility and credibility to your brand.

Rely on 15 – 20 regular sources

There’s a risk to bore your audience if you only share content from the same source over and over again. 

Mix things up! 

Build a list of regular sources and always try to find new ones to integrate to your curation strategy.    

Make it personal

If you just retweet and/or share Facebook posts without adding anything to it, you’ll miss out on opportunities to share your thoughts and connect with your audience on a personal level. 

A brand that I love for its excellent social media presence is Innocent Drinks. 

They don’t mostly share so much curated content, but when they do, they do it in a way that calls for engagement (and it works).

And this concludes our 4,600+ words guide on content curation.

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3 – 2 – 1 — Start curating!

If you made it this far in the guide, you’ve become a content curation expert! 

What you now need to do is to start your own content curation strategy and see your brand’s online performance improve month after month!

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Clément René

Clément is Content Marketer for Mention. He creates content to help brands manage their online reputation strategy. If not behind a screen, you can find him reading books in Parisian cafés or exploring the city with his dog.

Content Marketer @Mention