Content curation is about adding value, not getting a quick marketing fix.
If you were to curate a collection of content about content curation, you'd have no shortage of material to work with. Content curation is one of the year's biggest industry buzz terms, and for once the hype is justified. Content's central to everything media planners and buyers do. It's also vital to online branding success.
In the nearly two decades since digital marketing was born, brands have relied on content to create and sustain placements for their ads. It has afforded them an audience, and a context. As a concept, content curation - the act of harvesting content and redistributing it with additional insight - is appealing. It adds meat to social site feeds, but more than that it allows brands to showcase their industry expertise and fold themselves into bigger conversations with broader reach. Fellow ClickZ columnist Paul Chaney recently wrote a bang-on column exploring content curation's benefits and best practices. What should stick with you is this: content curation is about adding value, not getting a quick marketing fix.
It's an important distinction, befitting of current trends. Brands have been curating content for years, of course, finding and featuring relevant industry articles in email newsletters and on blogs, retweeting infographics that speak to their cause. Increasingly, though, we have at our disposal services and tools that can enhance branded curation and open it up to businesses big and small. If you haven't begun to investigate them, it could be time to take your curation strategy to the next level.
Curated Content Meets Customization
Companies with a vast network of sites at their disposal are well positioned to curate content from within their own walls, creating product- and audience-specific article sponsorships for third-party advertisers. The Huffington Post has mastered this approach with brand-sponsored pages that included both custom content and articles pulled from other Huff Post sites.
In August the company went a step further by launching HuffPost Partner Studio, an in-house branded content agency. Partner Studio focuses on developing custom brand experiences, but advertisers can still associate themselves with curated content, or leverage a combination of both. According to HuffPost Partner Studio Director Tessa Gould, the agency can curate or create over 15 products on behalf of brands, ranging from feature articles and blogs to slideshows, LookBooks, video mashups, and original video. "Paranoia," a recent Hollywood film about a corporate spy, is currently sponsoring a Huff Post infographic and related article about hacking and website privacy. Goldman Sachs' dedicated editorial section "What is Working in Small Business," meanwhile, incorporates original content and existing Huff Post articles on small business survival strategies.
All the News That's Fit to Post
Content curation goes hand in hand with social sharing, and social networking makes it easy for brands to link to pertinent third-party content. There are services, though, designed to facilitate online sharing across all major social sites. Paper.li allows a user or brand to aggregate curated posts and tweets from social sites like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Google+. The result is an online newspaper or business newsletter packed with content specific to your area of expertise.
Curation platforms like Scoop.It! and Storify can satisfy similar goals. Scoop.It uses keywords to crawl for content and suggests posts based on your topic of choice. Storify, which this week was acquired by social curation and advertising company Livefyre, lets you tap social sites to create your own embeddable posts and brand-specific narratives. Among those already using the service are CNN, People Magazine, and HBO.
There's a place in your marketing plan for retweets and "likes," but remember curation isn't just about getting a quick fix, and shouldn't be given short shrift. Because it revolves around ever-important content, it's deserving of a dedicated strategy and a suite of tools and services designed to boost its success. There's no end to the high-quality digital material at your brand's disposal. It's worth taking a closer look at how you can find it, augment it, and present it to help tell your brand story online.
Tessa Wegert is a business reporter and former media strategist specializing in digital. In addition to writing for ClickZ since 2002, she has contributed to such publications as USA Today, Marketing Magazine, Mashable, and The Globe and Mail. Tessa manages marketing and communications for Enlighten, one of the first full-service digital marketing strategy agencies servicing such brands as Bioré, Food Network, illy, and Hunter Douglas. She has been working in online media since 1999.
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