Any good content strategy is a mix of created and curated content, and in many cases, curated will be the dominant part of that. It plays an important part in building trust and authority in whatever business you’re in.
While content curation is not just confined to sharing links on social channels, it perhaps the dominant method.
I curate at least 18 content pieces a day across Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Pinterest (in addition to on the fly retweets and shares). and over time I have built up a framework to support the what, when and how.
It breaks down into four elements.
Find Trusted Sources
Your curated output will only be as good as the content you consume. Creating authority through sharing means that you need to find consistent, trusted sources for that content.
I find pieces to share from a wide and varied range of places
- Newsletters – I subscribe to a dozen different newsletters from individual sites, and scan them each morning for headlines that grab me
- Aggregators – Further to the newsletters from these individual blogs, there are a number of aggregator newsletters I also use, such as Swayy and SmartBrief that find top pieces of content around a theme
- Feeds – I use Buffer’s Feeds function, but you can also use tools like Feedly, to bring together stories from other sites I like into a single feed
- Twitter Lists and Search – I have a number of Twitter search columns set up in TweetDeck around themes like social media and content marketing, as well as lists of key influencers tweets that I can always find something interesting to read
- Facebook Saved Links / Twitter Favourites – Facebook’s saved links has come in very handy as a way of bookmarking content I like, or want to read later. In the same vein, I use Twitter’s favourite function as a way of bookmarking links for later. These are also particularly good as a way of finding evergreen content to share again.
UPDATE: Looking for some more trusted sources? Check out this post from Buffer.
Read & Organise
Reading the content you plan on sharing may sound fairly obvious, but surprisingly, there is little to suggest that links actually get read before they are shared.
Ever shared something on a channel and had someone share it so quickly that they couldn’t have possibly read it? I have seen content on this blog shared multiple times on social platforms. The result? Absolutely zero traffic, which as someone who writes with the hope of people reading can be disappointing.
You want to establish trust. Read the content you are sharing to make sure that it fits with your social tone of voice and philosophy. Don’t blindly share just because it may have your topic of interest as its overarching theme.
Once you’ve read it, then you need to organise it all. I use Buffer almost exclusively for organising my content that will be shared. It allows me to plan when and where and optimise ahead of time.
First I need to work out what content is going to be shared where. The graphic below is a simple representation of how I determine what to share on the platforms I use the most. Although multiple platforms are listed against each, I may only choose one of them in each situation. As an example, I generally share once to LinkedIn to every five on Twitter. It will all depend on the piece of content.
Once you know where, then you need to think about the when.
I organise four ways:
- Relevance – is the topic time sensitive, or relevant right now? Bring those up in the queue and give evergreen content some flexibility
- Length – I tend to share shorter reads during business hours, with longer content pieces after close of business and weekends. Understand your audiences time available to consume it.
- Uniqueness – Has it been shared heavily by other people who you could reasonably assume have a similar following to you? I tend to schedule it later so it’s not lost in a sea of sameness.
- Variation – When curating from trusted sources, you will often find many stories from the same site. Make sure you break these up so you’re not sending people to the same site every time.
Despite all serving similar function, no two social channels are the same. It’s imperative that each piece of content is optimised for each channel.
When optimising for my channels, I look at four things:
- Character Limits – Even though Twitter’s limit is 140 characters (Update: 280 as of November 2017), according to some analysis the optimal length is actually 70. All networks have different post formats, and you should consider the length text of what you are sharing. Hubspot published a great post of templates for formats on Twitter recently.
- Hashtags – add appropriate hashtags to content on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn. I tend to use 3 at most in any tweet.
- Images – While most platforms will automatically support a rich preview of content shared, Twitter’s default is still text. Images however increase engagement up to 35% so make sure that where possible, your tweet carries one. Use the Buffer’s Share Image function that appears on hover to make it easy. Also, scroll through the image selected if you’re not happy with it.
- Credit – Make sure you give credit to whoever created the content, and the site if possible (in the case of guest blogging and contributors)
Reviewing what is upcoming in your schedule of curated content, as well as what has gone out, is important.
Keeping an eye on upcoming content helps you avoid instances where a story you are sharing has either become irrelevant in light of a change of circumstances, or worse when an event makes that content inappropriate, like Tesco’s ill-timed scheduled tweet a couple of years ago.
I always curate at least two days worth of content at a time, but I am always aware of what’s in the queue.
Keep an eye on this, and also the opportunities to move content around as relevance changes.
Reviewing what has gone out is also important, so you know what resonates with your audience. Look at things like time of day, hashtags and the kinds of users who have engaged with it. All of this will help inform the ‘organise’ step of the process for next time.
I hope you find this framework useful.