I found the limitations of content curation many years ago. Back in the 9th grade, I meticulously constructed mixtapes for the girls I had crushes on. Through curating music, I used the voices of others to express my feelings. Meanwhile, my buddy Andy taught himself how to sing and play the guitar. He started a band called Pizza. I spent the weekends alone in my room, singing along to Babyface while Andy and his guitar fought off attention from girls. So what can marketers learn from this?
Lesson 1: Originality gets noticed first
Curated content can’t help marketers reach new consumers through search. In fact, search engines penalize Web sites that publish duplicate content and encourage webmasters to block syndicated content from their indexes. Marketers seeking to reach consumers through search should follow the core principles of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and make their Web sites stand out through original content.
Lesson 2: Memorable content wins
Original content can have a profound effect on people. Created properly, it can strike a chord with audiences, pushing them to share the content with their social networks. In order to be genuine and strike the right chord, marketers must know their audience inside out. Girls may not talk about my mixtapes today, but they likely remember the songs Andy played for them after school.
Lesson 3: Content creators are the best promoters
While I poured over my record collection alone, Andy teamed up with three of his friends to write music. Not only did he have three band members who helped him create the music, but he also had three other people who cared about promoting it just as much as he did.
Marketing managers who focus on content curation often work alone. They are also unlikely to aggressively promote their content feeds authentically. Those who focus on original content creation typically leverage their personal networks to increase reach.
Lesson 4: Don't neglect curation altogether
It's fairly easy to select a few great songs to make a mixtape. Content curation provides brands with similar results. It's easy to surf the Web and repurpose articles. However, there is a limit to how frequently a brand can do this before they dilute the user experience.
Curation in combination with original content can be quite powerful. For example, Cisco elevates its brand by presenting its original content directly alongside content curated from leading publications on its Futurist Feed Flipboard.
Content creation humanizes your brand
Your ideas are unique, and content marketing gives you a voice. When you pay attention to your audience, you know exactly what to say to them. It’s a matter of showing customers that you get it. Put yourself in their shoes, and you instantly humanize your brand through honest communication.
Reaching and engaging consumers online isn’t all that different from trying to impress a girl in high school. You can give her something she’s seen and heard before -- or you can create something new to show her you’re unique and different from all the others. If I could go back to high school and do it all again, I’d definitely join a rock band.