It seems content curation has been a very hot topic of late, so we turned our attention to it a week ago. That particular post was focused on how to manage content curation itself.
This week, I want to continue the thought process and analyze how content curation can inform our own content creation. Content marketing should not be blindly managed in a vacuum. Sure, keyword research and relevant overarching themes must play into topic selection, but there’s more to it than that.
If you are actively curating content as a business strategy, you are sitting on a great source of guidance to help you pick good topics. Of course you’ll monitor success of your own content over time. But there’s more. You should keep tabs on a wider range of content to expand your purview.
Let’s look at some ways you can make your job easier by informing content marketing based on your and others’ content curation efforts.
Watch the Content Curation Trends
With content curation so widely practiced these days, it is easy to find others who have the process down. Watch and learn, brainstorm other ways to do it, and test new approaches.
With respect to topics, it pays to follow some kick ass content curators for discovering new materials. Find content sharing sites in your niche, such as inbound.org or growthhackers.com if you are into inbound / internet marketing and bootstrapping business growth. Pay attention to topics and sites that people share on open curation platforms like my personal favorite, scoop.it. Sign up for email newsletters and RSS feeds. It takes a ton of reading and filtering to find the trends.
This isn’t a one time exercise. You should stay on top of the hot trends on an ongoing basis. This will be important to knowing that you are curating content which will hit home for your target audience. Then go out and write something about it. If the topic is hot enough that leading curators are all over it, throw your own content into the hat as well. But don’t just write it blindly, read on…
Find the Holes
As the antithesis of following trends, perhaps there are unique angles you should consider covering. Take an unpopular viewpoint and challenge the typical thinking on the topic. Draw a conclusion on a trend that leads to another related topic which has been overlooked. Question rationale when stretches are being made between cause and effect.
If you want to create interesting and shareable materials for your own content marketing benefit, it pays to fill a hole in the conversation that no one else has either observed or cared about. Sometimes this hole might be pure speculation. So long as it isn’t too far fetched, put the thoughts out there. Think about how a theme you’re pursuing overlays the trends, and call out a hole where the two overlap.
Take advantage of the search traffic that a popular trend drives, but be unique in the piece of it that you tackle with your content. It will benefit you in multiple ways – search, social, and engagement to be specific.
Document Unanswered Questions
No matter what topic you uncover, you can cook up some questions that are still unanswered. In some cases, they will be logical questions about how something works. That’s a blog post, video, or infographic waiting to happen.
Maybe the questions are speculation about why something happened, or why someone did what they did. Ask the question and analyze the possible answers. Sometimes this pays off two-fold, in that you get the real answer to the question from a knowledgeable commenter on a blog post or reply via a social share.
You can always take the “So now that ‘n’ happened, what comes next?” approach. Trends lead to some result, even if that result is a fast end to the trend. Try to predict what will happen next.
There are nearly limitless angles from which you might come at this unanswered questions approach. Apply some good old fashioned brainstorming, or maybe watch how others approach it on different topics and test whether it applies to the topic you are covering. We have found that this can work exceptionally well for both our own and our clients’ content marketing efforts.
If you follow smart content curators, most of them will be open to discussing the materials they share. In fact, they are almost certainly hoping someone will engage with them on the topic.
Air out your questions or concerns, or even your disagreement with the materials if it makes sense. Personally, I love it when someone pays attention and challenges my opinion on a piece of content I share. It may or may not change my mind, but it’s wonderful when a different perspective makes me rethink or defend my stance.
There’s also the positive reinforcement angle you can take. Don’t just agree with a topic; expand on it. Share a story where it worked well for you. Compare notes, share data, whatever you think will help add value to the information.
Based on those conversations, you should have a stack of ideas that can be turned into content marketing topics. Give credit to the person who stimulated the idea in the first place. We are all in this together, so give kudos and credit whenever possible. Not only will it strengthen the relationship and help you cook up content ideas, but it is highly likely to make it on their radar for promotion to their own network of friends and fans. And that’s the precise reason we are doing content marketing in the first place – to build relationships, generate thought leadership, and extend our reach.
See What Resonates
Before you go all in on a topic, content curation is a fantastic way to pre-test what resonates with your target audience. Share a range of materials on a theme or topic and see where you get the most feedback or clicks.
This is especially important if you aim to build premium content assets such as infographics, videos, or in-depth guides. Those projects can be costly in terms of money, time, and effort. So take advantage of the work of others and test it via curation first. Better to test and fail fast than to dive in head first and fail on a grand scale.
When In Doubt: Just Ask Your Social Networking Connections
Even with all of these ideas, you may need more information before investing in something big. Take advantage of your connections on social media sites.
Depending on the engagement level of your social networking connections, you could very well get feedback that adds immeasurable value to your decision process. By following, liking, or otherwise expressing their interest in you or your brand, they have made it clear that you are providing some amount of value to them. Give them a chance to chime in, and you have a great shot at getting highly useful feedback in quick turn. Take advantage of all your hard work building out your online presence if you can, then build it into your content marketing plans accordingly.
Content curation can play a huge role in building out a content marketing plan for your own materials. Take advantage of it whenever you can, either through observing what others curate, testing curated topics first, or tapping your social networks for ideas that may help in both areas. Be sure to take a holistic approach, and you’ll increase the chances that your content marketing will be successful and well received.