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Crafting the Perfect Content Curation Strategy

Many companies I speak to about content curation spend months debating their content curation strategy. The question most companies tend to ponder is, “Which topic should I be curating content about?” It’s an important question to answer correctly, given you will spend a significant amount of time creating and curating content on the topic you choose. Here’s a three step guide to help you find the right topic.

Step 1: Survey the Competitive Landscape

When thinking about your curation strategy, content marketing, and content curation, your competitors are not the companies who sell similar products or services. Rather, your competitors are organizations who publish content on the same topic as you. Your content marketing competitors are usually other companies that publish content on your desired topic and also happen to actually compete with you in the marketplace as well. Trade publications publishing content on your desired topic competing for your audience can be considered content marketing competitors as well.

To survey the competitive landscape, look for other sites that cover the same topic. You may find some sites that cover your topic, but only some of the time—they may also cover other topics as well. That’s a good opportunity for you as a curator, because now you can hand-pick only the most relevant content from that source for your audience. You may also find a great blog dedicated to your topic, but which only publishes an article a day or less. This is another great opportunity for you as curator, because you can hand-pick that content and share it with your audience, along with other content you’ve found.

Your real competition is another well-maintained, curated publication on the same topic. If you find that one already exists, there are three things you can do:

1. Determine if you can curate content better than they can by being more comprehensive, more relevant, or more consistent. If you are able to do so, you will likely have a publication that is more attractive to readers.

2. See if there is a different perspective or opposing point of view that you bring to the table. Even if you tend to curate the same content, doing so from a unique perspective can be enough of a differentiator that you stand out.

3. Try to broaden or narrow your topic. If your initial topic was Offshore Wind Farms, you can try narrowing your topic to Atlantic Ocean Wind Farms, or broadening it to Wind Power. By doing so, your content overlap with your competitor’s will decrease, increasing your chances of standing out as the foremost resource on a topic.

Step 2: Survey the Content Landscape

Content curation—the process of finding, organizing and sharing relevant information on a specific topic, relies on third party content. In order to become a successful curator on a topic, you need to determine if there is enough content to curate.

For this part of your curation strategy, survey the content landscape with a variety of tools. Plug your desired topic into Google Blog Search and Google News. Next, sort your results by date and see how many articles are being created per day or week. Try the same in Twitter as well. You can also make a list of blogs that sometimes cover this topic.

Now, putting all of these sources together, can you curate at least four articles per day? You will find many more interesting sources once you start curating, but you should be able to curate at least four articles a day to start. If not, you may want to broaden your desired topic.

Step 3: Survey your audience interest

Even if you have a great topic that passes the competitor survey and the content survey, it needs to be a topic that will draw an audience—and not just any audience, but the target audience for your business.

One easy way of getting a quick sense of audience interest is to use Google’s Adwords Keyword tool. It’s designed for advertisers to measure search volume for various keywords for pay-per-click campaigns. However, it also doubles as a proxy for how much interest there is online in a certain topic. This is a good way of determining if there is interest in the topic you chose, but it’s not very useful in telling you if the audience interested in this topic is the right one for your business. To determine that, it often pays to go out and ask a sample of your customers if your topic resonates with them.

Putting it all together: The Curation Strategy Sweet Spot

At this point in your curation strategy, the challenge is to find a topic that passes these three tests. Once you have found such a topic, you have found the sweet spot that maximizes your likelihood of succeeding.

It’s easy to get stuck on a topic that passes two of the tests but not all three. Here are a few examples:

Curation strategy

Passes competitor test and audience interest but not content test. Let’s say you have a great topic: “paper based liquid chromatography.” There are no other resources dedicated to this topic so it passes the competitor test. You know your audience is deeply interested in this topic and there is decent search volume, so it passes the audience interest test. However, it fails the content test—there’s very little third-party content on this topic to curate on a regular basis. One possible solution is to broaden the topic to “liquid chromatography” which has more content.

Passes content test and competitor test but not audience interest test. Let’s say your company sells outsourcing services and your target audience is VPs of Engineering at software companies. You choose a unique topic of “Next generation tablets.” There are no other sites dedicated to this, and there is sufficient content for third party sources. But the topic is flawed because it has nothing to do with your business. Though it may attract a technical following, it is not going to specifically attract VPs of Engineering who are interested in outsourcing services. A better topic might be “outsourcing management best practices.”

Passes the audience interest test and content test but not the competitor test. Let’s say you sell a secure operating system for iPhones that can be managed by enterprise IT departments. You choose the topic of “iPhone Business Productivity” tips and news. It caters to the right audience of iPhone-oriented business professionals. Furthermore, there is a plethora of content on this topic. However, there is an established publication on this exact topic that has dedicated full time staff that not only curates but creates content multiple times a day. It’s going to be an uphill battle to displace them. You may want to choose a less covered but relevant topic like “iPhone security issues in the enterprise.”

By choosing a topic that passes all three tests, you are curating around a topic that interests your audiences, faces minimal competition, and has sufficient third party content. Congratulations—you have nailed your curation strategy. Once you have identified this topic, you need to start curating, and Curata has an eBook that can help you there:

Free Ultimate Guide to Content Curation to maximize social media impact

Pawan Deshpande

Pawan Deshpande is the founder and CEO of Curata, a Boston-based company offering content marketing software used by thousands of marketers around the world. He spearheaded the first-ever panel at SxSW on Content Marketing in 2011, and was a 2014 Finalist for MarketingProfs B2B Marketer of the Year. Pawan was an engineer at Microsoft and Google where he was awarded patents in social networking and machine learning. He previously attended MIT where his graduate thesis won top departmental and international awards.

Pawan is also a blogger for The Huffington Post, the Content Marketing Institute, CMO.com, Forbes, Marketing Profs, and other technology and marketing publications.

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