We’ve all heard the phrase “content is king,” but in the world of inbound marketing has our definition of “Content” changed? Ninety-one percent of B2B marketers use content in their marketing mix and a majority use social media to distribute content. While content creation has always been a force in marketing, trends show companies shifting towards content curation. But can curation provide accurate, targeted information or are we sacrificing informational effectiveness for cost effectiveness?
What Is Content Curation?
While content creation is the development of original material, content curation is sharing others’ content, finding the most relevant content and bringing it forward. Content curation can be automated via “daily paper” sites such as Paper.li, Flipboard and Scoop.it, which automatically share articles on a business’ social pages. However, curation and aggregation are not the same. Curation involves sifting through available material and choosing content to appeal to a specific audience. While content curation is a way of increasing the amount of material on a webpage, it prioritizes quality over quantity as does content creation.
Curation vs. Creation
Curated content is ideal for companies seeking to increase their web traffic. Curation allows companies to quickly produce large amounts of content, which is great for building an audience and retweets/shares. In addition, updating content consistently increases web crawling as it is a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) technique. By linking to, or reposting, articles, websites share information that is trending, drawing users to their page. Linking out generates 33% more clicks than linking to owned sites. On the other hand, content creation leads to higher conversion rates -links to owned pages have a 54% higher click-to-conversion rate than posts linking to third-party websites.
The Dangers of Content Curation
While content curation seems like a solution for the cost-conscious, curation is a labor-intensive process. Haphazard curation bore viewers driving them away from the webpage. Content curators may also be inclined to overload webpages with information and links. Once again, quality, not quantity, should be the focus. Keyword stuffing and excessive linking only hurts websites, especially considering Google Penguin’s focus on quality links and curators must cite sources, and provide links, to avoid plagiarizing. Links should be relevant, interesting, and readable. The homepage should offer context to readers and relate content to products if consumers are to develop a rapport with the company.
What to Do
Content curation and content creation work best when paired. Curated content can attract viewers, but created content retains those with an interest in the brand. Recently, marketing organizations have increased the amount of in-house content they create, as well as the amount of curated content. In fact, a study of B2B marketers showed that their top priority was producing enough content. In order to find a balance of created and curated, marketers tend to produce one-half to three-quarters curated content and one-quarter to one-half created content, with approximately 40% original being ideal. They have significantly higher conversion rates than curators and substantially more clicks per post than do self-promoters. This pairs well with the content marketing pyramid, in which low effort content is produced often while high effort resources (i.e., books and white papers) are rarely produced. Companies should view themselves as one of many interacting parts of a social network that produces and distributes information.
Applications to Healthcare
Content marketing must be adjusted to the landscape of an industry, such as pharmaceuticals, which is saturated with content, providing plenty of good material to curate to create value. For example, there is ample medical research online, but the difficult language and quantity of academic sources discourages individuals from finding it. However, an effective content curator will sorts through the technical sources and provide consumers with readable material. Because this data comes from respected research institutions, it benefits the company’s image and serves as an emblem of authority. In fact, when polled, marketers said their main reason for content curation was “establishing thought leadership.” Content curation shows that a company is willing to see different perspectives and establishes it as a mover in social media, a relevant concern for pharmaceutical companies that want to be seen on the cutting edge.
Content creation is just as important in the healthcare field where it shows that a company is invested in its consumer relations, Yes, content curation can be used to give viewers targeted information, but content creation builds brand loyalty by showing the company is invested in that information. Content creation also benefits companies by being shared by other organizations, which establishes thought leadership.
Ultimately, the mix of creation and curation is dependent on whether a company wants to be seen as proactive as a leader and a thoughtful communicator.
Curation is very hard. My view is that if you are curating and not creating something original and new in the process, you are doing it wrong. Good curators read every story they link to, decide that it is interesting to their audience, and then explain why it is relevant and worth their time. If you are curating a link, you should be vouching for that content with your own reputation. This can be time consuming, even with great tools like Percolate or Publish-this. I have never yet seen a brand who is a 100 percent successful curator, since i think it requires a pretty unbiased view and a willingness to put the readers needs abpve all others. even a willingness, say, to promote the content of one's competitors. Good curation may not be good business.
The best curator I have ever seen, bar none, is Dave Pell. If a brand can mimic his talent and ability (which to me seems superhuman) then be a curator. You will succeed. I have tried both for clients and our own brand and think the original content approach is by far less risky, less time consuming, less expensive, and easier than curation.
Curation without compensation is basically the theft of intellectual property. If everyone opts to curate, who will pay the researchers, medical experts, writers and editors who create the underlying content? Expertise isn't free and building a reputation on the backs of publishers who are actually doing the work (and paying for it) is lazy and unethical -- and probably illegal. If you want to be known as a company that is invested in quality health information, pay for it!
Curation can be an added value. It is not just about text, but audio and video. Links can drive traffic to the originators. It need not be either/or but a mix of original and curated content. Curation can identify patterns and trends driving content creation that is inclusive, rather than exclusive. We have the concept of the commons in our public libraries and that idea is not about being lazy or unethical. There are objectives other than generating revenue to content creation and distribution. I don't know this fellow Pell, but I'm a curator.
To Andrew's point I would point to Google and Facebook. The ultimate curators. Those are pretty successful business models.
To Carl's point (Hi Carl), I would add an exception. If a site has a ton of great traffic, and a quality publisher has limited traffic, they benefit greatly by the high volume site featuring their material. It's incumbent on the publisher to ensure they have a business model that works on the web.
This is the great debate among publisher right now, and many are opting for some form of curation in addition to creation. Both curating other's content, and ensuring their is curated by others to draw traffic. Good article.