If your business has an email newsletter or is active on social media, you’ve likely run into the dreaded problem of finding quality content to share. Everyone knows how important engaging content is, but actually creating and curating content can be an exercise in futility.
By now you know about the 4-1-1 Rule (for every six pieces of content shared, four should be from relevant industry sources, one should be an original piece created by you, and one should be sales-related) and the 80/20 Rule (80% of your content should focus on informing and engaging your audience; 20% should be self-promotional), and these are good rules of thumb to follow.
The question is, how do you go about creating and curating content? Will it take up half of your day? Do you need complicated and expensive software to do it? How do you know what will resonate with your audience versus what they’ll just scroll past without a second glance?
OK. Take a deep breath. As daunting as creating and curating content may seem, it doesn’t have to be a major pain point. In fact, it can be a quite pleasurable experience … if you know how to do it right.
Here are a few methods that will help you on the road to creating and curating content that’s engaging and shareable.
This is the big one, Elizabeth. Sorry, was that reference too dated? How about this, it’s yuuuuge. However you look at it, creating original content is the crux of any successful inbound marketing strategy. It’s also what causes the most stress and pain among marketers.
No matter what it is — blog, newsletter, social post, that email to Jan in accounting about her artisanal cheeses in the break room refrigerator — everyone has faced writer’s block at some point. And when you’re trying to craft content for a business, especially one in a unique or niche industry, you’re not dealing with a little building block, you’ve got a big ol’ cinder block weighing on your shoulders.
Regardless of what you’re writing about or where it will be posted, there are ways to combat writers block. You just have to know where to turn for inspiration.
Don’t know what your audience wants to hear? Ask them! Pick up the phone and call your top customers, or ask your sales team to do it. Find out what’s bothering them, what’s working for them, what they want to know more about — anything that your customers care about will make for great content. If you’re uncomfortable making a call like that, send out a survey via a email or post a poll on social media. You know your audience; approach them in the manner they want to be approached, when and where it’s most convenient for them. Don’t worry about your company and what you do. Let your customers talk about themselves and their wants, needs, and issues. Everyone loves to talk about themselves, right?
Continue to find content ideas through other industry sources. What are your customers and clients blogging about and posting on social media? What is your competition doing? What are industry groups and associations highlighting? Inspiration is out there, you just have to know where to look for it.
So you’re crafting engaging and informative content. That’s great! But as outlined above, that’s only a small piece of the puzzle. Now you have to start curating content. So where do you go to find that?
The easiest — and cheapest — way is to use your old friend the internet. Google Alerts are a great way to have the latest and greatest industry news delivered to your inbox everyday. Social media is another great avenue. On Facebook, like anyone and everyone in your industry (yes, even your competitors). On Twitter, utilize lists to build your own curated channel of news and information sources, influencers, customers, competitors, or any other segment you can think of, or take the easy route and follow someone else’s industry list. Join relevant groups on LinkedIn (there’s multiple groups for just about every industry, job title, or affiliation out there). Read Reddit and dig into Digg. People are sharing great content all day, everyday … it’s not just pictures of babies and food and annoying political posts from your drunk uncle.
If you don’t want to wade through the social media noise, try a RSS reader, which delivers information from a variety of websites and blogs across the internet. From Feedly to NewsBlur to The Old Reader and countless others, RSS readers make it easy to find and share relevant content. Plus, most of them are free to use.
For a more robust content curation experience, enterprise tools like NinjaOutreach, BuzzSumo, Curata, Scoop.it, and PublishThis take creating and curating content to another level, with monitoring tools, reporting, analytics, and much, much more. These tools are sleek, intuitive, and advanced, so make sure you have the marketing chops — and budget — before jumping in.
One Last Thing About Creating and Curating Content
Make it your own!
Whether you’re writing your own content or sharing someone else’s, find a way to make it unique. Add your company voice to it. Share your spin on the issue. Show how you’re an expert on the subject and if your audience needs help, you’re the one to turn to.
This will sound like a no-brainer, but before you share anything, read it. Check the source. Is this a valid industry resource? Will your audience be turned off by it? For as much great content as there is out there, there’s twice as much not-so-great content, and it’s often masked in a catchy headline or misleading graphic. Don’t just hit “share” or throw the link in your Buffer and walk away. Take the time to find real, quality content from reliable sources, then put it out there and add your personal touch to it.