Content marketing is based on creating relevant content whose main purpose is to entertain, inform and educate the audience, while only indirectly promoting products and services. The key to content marketing is authentic and original content which will attract new and retain existing users by providing them with information that cannot be obtained anywhere else, or cannot be found presented in the same way. Content curation is therefore a highly unusual phenomenon in the context of content marketing, because at first glance it seems to break all of its rules.
Home vs. foreign territory
One of the roles of content marketing is to attract and engage the audience in one’s own Internet destination: whether it is a blog, a magazine or a newsletter, we want the content we create for the promotion of products and services to be on our “territory” so that we can keep directing the audience’s attention based on our promotional goals.
Content curation, on the other hand, is based on sharing content that usually belongs to someone else, is to be found on their “territory”, and is only connected to our industry or field of interest thematically.
However, we should keep in mind the fact that the goal of content curation is to build a base of users interested in a specific field of industry (and consequently also interested specifically in the brand we represent), and not to promote a brand directly. Collecting, sorting and sharing existing content also enables us to expand our influence. That is why content curators are recommended to work under their own name rather than the name of the brand they are representing, branding themselves as authorities in the field of industry they belong to.
Original vs. existing content
What we always emphasize in content marketing is the creation and promotion of original content, whereas content curation is based on collecting and sharing existing content that belongs to others. But here we are talking about arranging the content in a specific way, rather than just copying and pasting. Curating content entails not only finding relevant, quality content which can provide an audience with extra value, but also sorting through and arranging it (with an obligatory acknowledging of sources and providing links to them) as well as adding a personal touch.
It is not enough simply to summarize or retell the content you are curating – the best curators enrich the content they are sharing with their personal experience, perspective and comments, which further contributes to building their authority, while at the same time differentiating their collected content from heaps of links with no context or clear value. Popular sites such as BuzzFeed and The Muse have built their presence and reputation on the Internet precisely by collecting and organizing content in a manner that is interesting to their audience and target groups.
On the other hand, content curation doesn’t necessarily have to depend on collecting and sharing content that belongs to others. Depending on their industry, curators might work exclusively with their own content, although curation rests to a large extent on sharing important information, making new contacts and providing extra value, rather than just presenting things in a new way and using one’s own existing content.
Branded vs. personal approach
Why is it so important for the curator to have a personal approach and back their content up with their own name? Regardless of the industry we are curating content for, it is safe to say we are working in a crowded field. Information and other types of content are all around us, and it can be difficult to set yourself apart from the rest, grab and hold the users’ attention, and make them want to come back for more. As curators, we function as filters and providers of quality content, using our own name to guarantee that those consuming the content will not be wasting their time.
We endorse content and guarantee its quality, and audience still prefers to have guarantees of this type come from a person rather than a corporation. With a reputation for being a reliable curator, we are able to promote our brand more convincingly as our authority lends us more credibility.
Content marketing vs. content curation
Regardless of their differences, content marketing and content curation are not on opposite sides; instead they should be seen as complementary. Experts agree that the perfect content marketer is a combination of creator and curator, while the best content marketing strategy is the one that combines creating original and curating existing content. There is no consensus about what the ratio of the original and curated content should be; it greatly depends on the industry we are working in. But one thing is essential: regularity. If you decide to include content curation in your content marketing strategy, you must publish regularly in order to build and maintain a loyal audience. Irregularity and a lack of organization in content curation will have no effect except to drive away audiences, just as irregular production of original content does.
Rules of curation:
1. Curated content must always acknowledge its sources and provide links to the original content.
2. It is important to curate content regularly in order to make the audience used to it and keep them coming back for more.
3. Curated content is a form of endorsement; therefore a lot of time and effort have to go into finding quality content that will provide the audience with extra value.
4. Curated content mustn’t be simply copied (directly copying parts or entire texts constitutes an infringement of copyrights), but instead requires the curator to provide their own perspective or comments to the content that they are recommending.