Sorry to break it to you, but even your most loyal customers don’t want to hear about your brand all day long.
What your audience won’t mind, however, is leaning on your social channels, newsletters, blogs and other outlets as sources of valuable, relevant information. Hence why content curation is the yin to content creation’s yang.
Sharing content from other sources helps shed any sense of a self-centered brand, showing that the company respects varying perspectives, stays up to date on current trends and values providing useful content to its audience.
Ready to start curating content? With these examples as guides, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a savvy content curator.
Content curation introductions come first
Curated content is created by a reputable source and shared by another brand. Think blog posts, news stories, research reports, industry updates and so on.
Of course, the curated post should give credit where credit is due. (We’re not fans of plagiarism in the content marketing world.) While it’s someone else’s original content, borrowing it can be beneficial if you think your followers will find the information interesting or valuable. Plus, you can start a conversation with your audience and add value to the curated post by including original commentary and introductory blurbs in your own voice.
What is content curation?
Continuing with that logic, content curation is the process of finding relevant content from external sources and sharing it with your audience. Common destinations for these curated posts are social media, email newsletters and blog posts – but you can really slot them in anywhere on your content calendar that makes sense for your audience.
With so much information available on the internet, your job is to make it as easy as possible for your audience to engage with the content that’s most useful to them. Content curation only adds fuel to that fire, allowing you to get more relevant information in front of your followers.
Still not convinced? Here’s why introducing content curation to your strategy is a worthwhile decision:
- Put time back in your day: Content curation takes significantly less time (and money!) to finalize than original content creation.
- Fill up your content calendar: If you don’t have enough resources to create original content at the pace you need, curated posts can help fill the gaps.
- Make a good impression: Your followers will see your brand as a thought leader when they can rely on you to share the good stuff from around the web. Plus, they’ll appreciate that you did the legwork of scouring the internet for them.
- Stay relevant: When you choose your curated posts wisely, you can make it clear that you’re up to date on the trends that matter to your audience. Personal bonus: It will help you stay as informed as you should be to continue growing the brand.
- Connect with influencers: Share their content and you’ll be on their radar. The same goes for user-generated content straight from your audience.
Start by looking for content to share on relevant social media pages, news sites, blogs and other industry resources. You’ll know you’ve found a winner when it feels relevant and personal to your audience. Add some context in your own words, and then schedule the post.
A common method is re-sharing social posts or linking out to another source, using original copy for context in the post itself. Take this example from LUSH Cosmetics, where the brand shared content from onePULSE Foundation:
As you get into the swing of curating content, create a list of all the trustworthy resources you can refer to when you’re looking for content to share. Sign up for newsletters and follow influencers on social media so relevant content goes straight to your inbox and feeds.
The curation tools to help
An effective content curation strategy calls for sharing curated posts at scale. Naturally, there are tools that can help accelerate, and even automate, the process.
For instance, some curation tools help you save content for sharing at a later date for better planning and organization while other platforms generate curated content for you to select from. Some are like RSS feeds that allow you to cut through the noise, sifting through content based on your chosen filters.
The top industry favorites include:
The perfect content cocktail
You don’t have to choose between content curation and content creation. The better move is to aim for a healthy mix of curated and original content, keeping engagement high with a diverse and consistent flow of relevant information.
You can start with this general guideline:
- 65% original content.
- 25% curated content.
- 10% syndicated content.
Hootsuite also recommended a rule of thirds specifically for social media:
- ⅓ personal brand promotion.
- ⅓ curated content.
- ⅓ social conversations.
Of course, testing and measuring will help you find the most effective ratio for your audience.
Another important mix to keep in mind: Make sure you’re not favoring one source or topic too heavily. The lack of diversity can take away from your relevant thought-leadership vibes.
Now for the content curation examples
So what exactly does curated content look like in the wild? Here are the examples you’ve been waiting to see:
1. The SanDisk Instagram play
Instagram is all about the flashy photos, and poor SanDisk can only share so many images of memory cards and flash drives before boring its followers to tears. Instead, the brand spices up its Instagram feed with user photos.
Some feature the product, like these:
Other user-generated posts highlight how customers use SanDisk products to save some stunning shots from their travels and other adventures. Here’s an example:
Sometimes SanDisk even takes it a step further, curating user photos to use for social posts recognizing holidays. Take its Earth Day 2019 post for example:
As you can see, SanDisk always gives credit to the original photographer. As with any influencer marketing campaign, SanDisk benefits not only from featuring quality, eye-catching content on its Instagram page but also from connecting with the original photographer’s social network.
SanDisk sprinkles in original product photography throughout its feed, but the curated images help them post more frequently without tiring out their collection of photos.
2. The retweet action
The retweet button is about to become your favorite feature on Twitter. When you can’t create enough witty, engaging tweets to keep up with your audience, sprinkle in some retweets to fill your feed.
Of course, there is some effort involved in hitting the retweet button. You should only feature posts on your feed that are relevant to your business, industry or audience. An out-of-the-blue retweet will throw your viewers off, while a curated one brings a relevant and useful post to their attention. For instance, when a company, influencer, employee or customer mentions your brand in a post, they provide you with a golden retweet opportunity.
Here are some examples of curated retweets in action:
ICYMI – Thanks again, Vin! https://t.co/Kaz4eMWGrt
— Demandbase (@Demandbase) February 8, 2021
— Warby Parker (@WarbyParker) February 13, 2021
While it may be tempting, don’t go overboard with the retweets and forget to send out original posts. Plus, you may want to add some original copy rather than simply retweeting.
3. Morning Brew’s curated news feeds
The Morning Brew newsletter presents itself as “the daily email that makes reading the news actually enjoyable.” There are now multiple Brew newsletters readers can choose to receive, from a general overview of the day’s top stories to an Adobe-partnered letter on emerging technology, a retail version in collaboration with Listrak and a marketing list with #Paid.
Morning Brew’s various newsletters include editorially selected posts alongside those by sponsors. Quick-hit summaries of the news come with links to high-quality original reporting in a variety of outlets, letting readers pick between a seconds-long catch-up and a deep dive.
One of the key promises made by Morning Brew is that it will mix fun and entertaining items alongside the need-to-know news of the day. This combination of relevance and relaxation is the type of experience promised by the daily newspaper, back in a more analog age. Will it really be “smarter in just 5 minutes” as its tagline promises? Maybe—it will certainly give you something to think about in that time.
If you’re seeking to emulate Morning Brew’s success in your own outreach efforts, there’s plenty to take away. The easily readable summaries that group up several stories on the same topic, with credit paid to the original authors and easy-to-follow links, are a great example of curation done right. The fact that there are multiple newsletters for various verticals is another good practice in action—each individual letter knows its audience and stays on message.
4. BuzzFeed’s bevy of newsletters
If you wonder what the Morning Brew model looks like taken to its logical extreme, check out BuzzFeed’s list of offerings. The extremely online content hub and news outlet has newsletters for each of its many verticals, from award-winning journalism to its silliest types of content.
Some of these are based on curating the best of BuzzFeed’s own coverage, while others are dedicated to large-scale aggregation of existing content, including roundups of top tweets of the week and a BuzzFeed News digest focusing on what social media influencers were up to that week.
Whether readers are looking for a serious look at misinformation across media platforms or just a steady drip of cute animal photos to relax them in the morning, Buzzfeed has a newsletter to meet that niche need. This demonstrates the twinned values of curating the type of content viewers will want and getting very specific.
5. The IBM social suite
Even one of the world’s greatest technology giants is in the business of curating content across its social media platforms. Not only do the curated posts help boost engagement, but they also give the company a humble edge that’s well suited to social platforms.
The company even avoids heavy tech jargon on LinkedIn, sharing posts that appeal to future employees, current team members and potential business partners alike. It sometimes focuses on its own people writing for other outlets than the official company blog. Here, IBM’s corporate LinkedIn feed features a post from its head of private cloud’s own LinkedIn blog:
In this Tweet, it spotlights a TechCrunch post by its worldwide ecosystems and blockchain SVP about activist developers:
Developers stepped up like never before to tackle numerous global issues, demonstrating they not only love solving incredibly hard problems but can do it well and at scale. Thanks, @TechCrunch for sharing my thoughts on the rise of activist developers. https://t.co/cxC4PeH4Jl
— Bob Lord (@rwlord) February 9, 2021
And here, it spotlights an Art of Leading post by the the company’s then-SVP of digital sales and CMO, Michelle Peluso:
In a classy move, the company retweeted Peluso’s farewell when she departed to take a role with CVS.
In this post, the company took a more lighthearted approach and offered up glamor shots of its data centers as Zoom backgrounds. While not curated content, it created opportunities to keep the conversation going with its millions of followers, potentially leading to content it can curate in the near future:
6. The Moz’s magical curation
As a marketing analytics software provider, Moz has a rightful place in the thought leadership sphere. However, the company’s content curation strategy has a lot to do with its trustworthy status.
For starters, the Moz blog is a curated masterpiece, featuring several posts written by SEO and marketing professionals from various companies in addition to content written by Moz employees. The curated blog is so well known at this point, that many marketing experts reach out to Moz with interest in writing for the contributing writer community.
Once they’re in, these contributors tend to publish multiple articles on the Moz blog. They even earn MozPoints, which alert readers to their level of experience and expertise within the Moz community. Check out our very own Jeff Baker’s profile:
The content curation continues with The Moz Top 10 email newsletter. Delivered to inboxes every other week, the newsletter curates the 10 most valuable articles about SEO and online marketing, with content from other sources just as likely to make the list as articles on the Moz blog. The idea is that Moz hunts down the articles, and their subscribers simply reap the reward.
It’s worth noting that while social media is often the shining star of curated content, email newsletters are far from dull in comparison – and the Moz Top 10 proves it. The newsletter is a valuable resource for marketers, adding to the company’s trustworthy reputation.
6. Inc. magazine’s contributing writers
Remember when we talked about sharing content created by influencers? Inc.com’s content curation strategy is a perfect example.
The online magazine recruits a long list of contributing writers to create content for the site alongside its in-house writers and editors. The contributors write about the topics and industries that are closest to their own areas of expertise, meaning they know exactly what they’re talking about.
Here’s an example: Ami Kassar is a consultant with experience working in the federal government. Here, he’s written an Inc. piece about the options available to company owners searching for ways to survive in an economic downturn.
The logic behind the close relationship between Inc. and its contributor network is that brands and influencers benefit from Inc.com’s wide-reaching audience, while Inc.com shares insights straight from the experts about topics that are of immediate interest to its readers.
It’s a similar idea to college classes taught by adjunct professors. They work in the field by day and teach by night, meaning students benefit from firsthand perspectives relative to the current state of the industry.
Chances are readers like you will trust an expert’s opinion more than a random writer’s, right? (No offense taken. I write about content marketing because I know about content marketing. And I realize exactly what’s happening when I ghostwrite for subject matter experts.)
Cue the content curation
Now that you’ve seen 7 ways to take on curated content in every context imaginable, it’s time to start putting these skills to work to promote your own business, product or expertise. We wish you the best of luck with your content curation endeavors!
Editor’s note: Updated March 2021.