Whether you’re a corporate brand or a personal brand, it’s important to effectively curate (and share) good content. Effective curation builds influence and authority: share information that enables your audience to learn (and do their job better) and they’ll come back for more. Here’s my six step plan for more effective content curation.
1) Understand your audience.
Photo credit: Flickr user Anirudh Koul via photopin cc
Rather than using analytical tools, I build an understanding of my audience less formally. On social media, a portion of my following includes those whom I followed (and they, in turn, followed me back). This segment I know fairly well, since I followed them in the first place.
For others, I develop an understanding based upon interactions: replies to my tweets, comments they add to retweets, etc. In using Twitter over the years, I’ve come to understand that my followers are interested in social media, technology, events and sports. And that’s not surprising, because those are my interests as well!
2) Understand yourself.
You may be saying “of course I understand myself!” And while I’m sure that’s true, this step is really about defining your brand and what it represents. The understanding of your audience is reciprocal: they’re also developing an understanding of what you represent.
Let’s say you’ve been sharing articles on science and technology for the past 12 months and just developed an interest in baking cupcakes. In the past, your tweets were 80% science and technology. Today, it’s 20% science and technology and 70% cupcake recipes.
The shift in interest is fine, but understand that many of your followers “found” you because of your science and technology tweets. This means that you’re less influential (to them) on that topic. If that’s not what you wanted, then you’ll need to re-balance your content sharing back towards useful science and technology.
If cupcakes are indeed your new thing, then I like chocolate peanut butter varieties.
3) Assess title AND content.
[Make sure both the meat and the gravy are savory.]
The title of an article (or post) is crucial. On Twitter, it’s the only thing your followers may see. I look for a combination of subject matter and compelling headline. Good headlines draw you in, while answering the “what’s in it for me” question at the same time. Of the following two options:
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I prefer the latter.
Titles: to change or not to change.
Occasionally, I’ll share a worthy piece of content for which the title lacks a bit of punch. In my mind, the title doesn’t do the piece justice. So instead of tweeting the article with the supplied title, I’ll share the essence of the article in the tweet. If I’m short on characters, I’ll delete the original title. Doing this results in a higher likelihood of people clicking on the link.
The content (aka meat)
Now that we’ve covered the title, it’s critical to actually read the content (or at least skim it). If the content doesn’t match the title, or if the content quality isn’t up to par, then don’t share it.
Favor quality over quantity when it comes to curation. Even if you’ve “sold” me on a great title, I avoid sharing these types of content:
- Content that was written solely for SEO (you know what I’m referring to, right?).
- Blogs that have an imbalance between banner/search ads and content.
- Slide show content (i.e. want to read our Top 10 list? Click “Next” nine times).
- Content that’s too short (e.g. 1-2 paragraphs in total).
- Content that my audience would not value (despite the strong title).
4) Acknowledge the author(s).
On Twitter, list the author’s Twitter handle in the tweet. On Facebook, tag the author – or, tag the Facebook Page of the organization that published the article.
Acknowledging the source is a common courtesy, while linking to their profile sends them a little love. Authors will see that you’ve acknowledged them – and in turn, they may follow you, retweet you and share some of your content.
5) Add a splash of commentary.
When users share my tweets or blog posts, I appreciate it when they add their own thoughts within the tweet. Let’s face it: if you’re “merely” sharing article after article, just listing the title and link, you could be an automaton (rather than a human being). So try this:
For every 5 articles you share, include a comment in 1 of them
Here’s an example where I combine commentary (albeit brief) with acknowledgement:
In addition to commentary, feel free to insert relevant hash tags. For instance, if a tweet about event technology doesn’t already contain it, I often add the #eventprofs hash tag. I then change the “RT” to an “MT,” to indicate that it’s a Modified Tweet.
6) Re-share and re-distribute.
For curated content that you really love, re-share it again later on (but not TOO often). I’d love for my Twitter followers to read the great article I just shared, but the reality is that 90% of them missed my tweet.
In addition to re-sharing, provide additional distribution by publishing the content on other social networks. For instance, for an article you tweet, selectively share it:
- On Google+.
- On your LinkedIn profile.
- Pin an image (from the article) to one of your Pinterest boards.
- On Facebook.
- Write a blog posting and link to the piece.
Think of yourself like a museum curator. Hundreds (or thousands) of people are coming to your exhibit. Select (and show off) the pieces of fine art that you’ve assembled. Leave the lesser pieces behind the curtain.