Making a Bigger Social Media Impact with Content Curation
Did your mom ever tell you that the world doesn’t revolve around you? Well, that’s true in social media marketing as well. Obviously, you want to use social channels to attract new customers and let your followers know what’s happening with your business, but social media is a relationship between you and existing or potential customers. Like any good relationship, your social posts can’t always be about you. That’s why content curation as a social media strategy is important.
Like many small business owners, you may be trying to manage social media marketing efforts yourself and are probably using some form of content curation without even realizing it’s a marketing strategy that professional marketers use. You’re definitely familiar with the concept even if you’re not familiar with the terminology. A curator is someone who oversees the collection and organization of materials or information. Think of a librarian, an art gallery manager, a music DJ—they are all curators. Content curation is simply overseeing the collection and organization of information—content—for the purpose of sharing it in some form. Using content creation well can set you and your business apart on social media.
The Rule of Thirds
Once your social media marketing platforms are in place, what’s the best way to use them? How do you use social media to build a relationship with your followers while also growing your business? Well, there’s actually a formula for that. As Hootsuite’s Sam Milbrath writes, “By following social media’s so-called ‘Rule of Thirds,’ you will be sure you’re sharing content that attracts and maintains an engaged following.” The Rule of Thirds suggests dividing your posts equally into these three categories: posts designed to promote your business and generate sales or attract customers, posts to share ideas from influencers or leaders in your business sector, posts that generate personal interactions with followers. Here’s how sharing information in those three categories provides value to your business.
Obviously, promoting your business directly can be a great way to let people know about new products or services, a special sale, or other items you think will interest them (and bring business to your door). In a Hubspot blog on content curation, Pat Armitage explains how content creation can help you think beyond simply advertising your business on social media. After all, as Armitage says, “Customers can grow tired of brands ceaselessly promoting their own wares, which is why progressive brands think beyond products or features.” At its best, content curation becomes a progressive, forward-thinking, and integral part of a successful social media strategy for the two-thirds of content that isn’t directly promoting your brand.
If you’re following the Rule of Thirds, content curation isn’t an option, but a requirement since one-third of what you share will be from influencers or leaders in your field. You may wonder, though, how sharing content from others can benefit you. First, sharing content is a way of connecting to people who are like-minded and whom you value and respect. You are building a collaborative space and getting noticed by others in your field. When you connect to them and share their information, you are also connecting to their followers and extending your audience reach, and sharing ideas from thought leaders and influencers in your specific business arena sends a signal to your followers that you are knowledgeable and up-to-date. You position yourself as a leader and subject matter expert, and, in doing that, you present your business as trustworthy and credible and generate more leads and retain more customers.
The last third in the Rule of Thirds gets personal. You want to engage with your audience of customers and potential customers in a very personal way. You want to share content that will start conversations with and among them and that they will share with their own followers. Harley-Davidson is a great example of a company that engages its customers in a very personal way—both online and off—with marketing campaigns that strike personal chords with consumers. In fact, as AdAge reported on the Harley-Davidson “Live Your Legend” campaign, the company’s Vice President of Global Marketing Shelley Paxton said, "We want to spark a movement for riders and non-riders alike to start living their legacy and start living life on their own terms, and we know generations of Harley-Davidson riders have done exactly that." How much more personal can you get than connecting your brand to a customer’s life legacy?
While your social media marketing strategy may not have that deep a personal connection, you can certainly use curated content to strengthen a personal relationship with your company. How that works best depends on your business and what your customers want. If you’re providing a health care service, share information that will help your customers live healthier lives. Give them tips and strategies that will work for their lifestyles. If you’re a restaurant located in a busy area, curate information about what’s going on in the neighborhood. Then share that information with your followers so they can plan a night on the town that includes a stop at your place for delicious food.
Building Your Library
As a small business owner, you’re probably wondering where you will find information to share and when you’ll have time to do your research. In addition to all your other duties, you’re now looking at building a library of information. You are likely already coming across useable information through outlets such as your own social media accounts, business journals, and email marketing from vendors, but those sources may not provide you with enough information or with exactly the information you want to share. Fortunately, there are ways to have relevant information delivered to you without spending hours scouring the internet or hoping the right content appears in your social news feed.
You probably already know which websites publish information related to your business, but you don’t have time to visit multiple sites every day to see whether or not they’ve published something new or interesting that would be worth curating. RSS feeds have been around for a long time and provide a way to have pertinent information delivered to you instead of searching for it on your own. You may hear RSS defined as “really simple syndication” or “rich site summary,” and subscribing to appropriate RSS feeds can be a huge time saver in reviewing information quickly. Microsoft Outlook allows you to add RSS feeds, and you can also use web-based platforms such as Feedly to subscribe to information outlets or even set up simple Google Alerts to have information emailed to you based on particular keywords or areas of interest. Hiring professional marketers to help with curating and posting information is an option as well.
The Best Way to Share
When you share content you’ve curated, it’s about more than just clicking the “share” button. After all, you want to position your company and your brand in relation to the curated content. There must be a reason you want to share this information with your audience. There must be something you want to say about it, and there must be some way you feel the information is useful to your followers. The best way to share curated content, then, is to get your audience’s attention and explain why this information is important to them.
Mitchell Hall describes this process perfectly in his infographic for Curata on “The Art of a Curated Post.” He details the benefits of creating your own, attention-grabbing title for your post rather than using the original title. Then you’ll want to consider using a different image from what appears in the original post, and you’ll want to include a link to the original article along with your commentary. Hall suggests adding a particularly interesting quote from the original piece and, finally, providing a call to action for your audience that will drive traffic to your site rather than simply driving traffic to the content you’re sharing. While you may not go through each of these steps every time you share information, following these steps will help your shared content stand out.
Being the Best Friend
Your mom was right. The world doesn’t revolve around you, and your social media platform can’t always be about touting your products and services to your followers if you want them to remain engaged. Ironically, by not constantly peddling your business, you can actually draw more attention to your business and your brand. Instead of giving off the vibe of a pushy used car salesman, using content curation the right way can make you and your brand seem more like a best friend. You become the guy who always has the right music for the setting or the girl who always knows the best book to recommend. Sharing curated content lets your followers see that you’re in tune with their needs and gives them a reason to stay engaged with you and your brand, and that’s a huge marketing success.