Excerpted from the Social Media Marketing Workbook 2017.
Effective content for social media comes in two main varieties: your own content and other people’s content.
We’ve discussed your own content, such as photos or blog posts that you will identify and systematically generate. But because you’ll need a lot of content to feed your social media channels, you’ll probably want to curate other people’s content. Curate is just a fancy word that means identifying useful content in your industry, summarizing it via a short headline or summary paragraph as in a tweet, and sharing this content on your social networks like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc. I, for one, do a lot of content curation on Google+. You can check me out at https://jmlinks.com/29t. By diligently reading the New York Times on social media, as well as scouring industry blogs and other gurus, I have other people’s content to share on my own social media channels and thereby stay top of mind with my target customers and position myself as a “helpful expert.”
Be a Helpful Expert
This idea of a “helpful expert” is a good way to wrap your head around content curation. You’ll position your company as a “helpful expert” by looking through all the junk and noise in your industry, identify the best / most useful content from industry blogs, gurus, and publications, and then share this content to your own social media channels. If producing your own content is all about being a good photographer, writer, or videographer, content curation is all about being a good editor.
The steps to content curation are:
- Identify your keyword themes (which you have hopefully already identified above), including broader industry themes that you might not want to produce your own content but you might want to monitor for relevant content.
- Systematically research and identify content. Browse industry blogs, portals, websites, social media feeds, etc.. Separate the wheat from the chaff, meaning throw away the low quality content and identify the truly interesting content that will interest your target customers.
- Summarize this content in short format, ideally less than the 140 characters of Twitter, including a short URL to the full content using a URL shortener like bitly.com or tinyurl.com.
- Share this content to your social media channels on a regular basis, using a scheduling software like Hootsuite (https://jmlinks.com/29k) or Buffer (http://jmlinks.com/29m).
Advantages and Disadvantages
You might be tempted to ask why you should curate the content of others vs. using your own content. While it’s certainly true that producing your own content is better (because you can control the message and directly promote your own company or product), few of us have the budget or resources to produce sufficient content on our own to fill our content pipeline. To stay top of mind with customers, you need a lot more content than you’ll be able to produce yourself.
There are thus advantages and disadvantages to your own content vs. other people’s content. The advantage of other people’s content is that it is easy to get, while the advantage of your own content is that because it’s yours, you can customize it to your desired message. The disadvantage of other people’s content is that you do not control the message (and it thereby promotes them to some extent), while the disadvantage of your own content is that its takes time and effort to produce. It’s a lot like the food at our party analogy. The advantage of other people’s tacos is that they take less effort on your own part but (if they’re good), they promote the actual producer of those tacos. The advantage of your own tacos is that they taste better (hopefully) and they promote you as the guru of tacos, but the disadvantage is they are more work.
Going back to review the “types” of content you may want for your social media marketing content machine, you’ll see that you have –
- Your own blog post vs. the blog post of an industry guru
- Your own photograph vs. the photograph of a great photographer
- Your own quote vs. a famous quote by somebody else
- Your own webinar vs. the webinar being put on by industry luminaries.
Go back and review some companies that are doing social media well (e.g., Whole Foods, REI, HP, Bishop Robert Barron, Seth Godin), and you’ll see that many of them mix and match “their own content” and “other people’s content” plus sometimes they commentate on the content of others (a “hybrid” model).
Let’s drill down into other people’s content.
Finding Other People’s Content to Share on Social Media
You want to start systematically identifying great content in your industry, and queuing this up to be shared on your social networks. Your goal is to be a “helpful expert,” the person who tells others, “Hey! Did you know that so-and-so is having an amazing free webinar on Thursday?,” or “Hey! Did you see that our industry journal just published an in-depth study on such-and-such topic?” Other People’s Content or OPC is easy to find, easy to share, and helps to position you as the person or company that really has their ear to the industry pulse.
How do you find quality content produced by other people? How do you do this in an easy and systematic way?
Fortunately, there are tools to help you systematically identify and share other people’s content. (All are listed in the Social Media Toolbook, content marketing section and on the my Social Media Marketing ashboard). Here are some of my favorites:
- Buzzsumo (http://buzzsumo.com) – Buzzsumo is a ‘buzz’ monitoring tool for social media. Input a keyword, select a date range like “last week,” and this tool will show you what is being most shared across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. You can also input a domain such as nytimes.com or one of your industry blogs and also see what is being most shared from that domain.
- Google Alerts (https://www.google.com/alerts) – Google alerts allow you to input keywords and then receive daily or weekly alerts of new items that the Google search engine finds on those keywords.
- Feedly (http://feedly.com) – Feedly is a newsreader integrated with Google+ or Facebook. It’s useful for social media because you can follow important blogs or other content and share it with your followers. It can also spur great blog ideas.
- Easely (http://easel.ly) – Use thousands of templates and design objects to easily create infographics for your blog. A competitor is Piktochart (http://piktochart.com).
- Meme Generator (http://memegenerator.net) – Memes are shareable photos, usually with text. Memegenerator.net makes it easy to find, and create, memes of your very own to share.
- Bookmark / Read Industry Blogs. Identify the top industry blogs in your industry, bookmark them (and/or input them to Feedly), plus follow them on social media as on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter. You can share their content to your followers, plus commentate on content that they’re producing. To find blogs in the first place, go to Google and type in a keyword relevant to your company’s industry and the word blog. For example, visit http://jmlinks.com/12w which is a sample search for blogs on proteomics
A final nifty tool is Start.me (https://start.me/). Sign up for this free service, and you can build a personalized dashboard with links to all your favorite industry blogs, key tools like Feedly or Buzzsumo, canned searches on Google, etc. You can even share these dashboards with your team. Imagine having a Monday afternoon assignment of launching your Start.me personalized dashboard, browsing Feedly and key industry blogs, checking your Google alerts, and then quickly identifying interesting content, summarizing it, and sharing it to your social media networks by scheduling it to Hootsuite. We’re talking the systematic production of content marketing here, factory edition. By being systematic, you can fill your social media content pipeline in just a couple hours a week.
- “I want to be a machine.” ~ the artist, Andy Warhol
And, as part of the social media illusion, you don’t have to share the amazing tools above with your customers. They’ll just think you are gung-ho awesome. The “illusion” of effective social media marketing will work in your favor: you will be perceived as the industry guru that somehow, never sleeps, and is aware of every important industry trend, “how to” video on YouTube, and key article that’s up for debate in the industry blogosphere.
- Video. Watch a video tutorial on using Buzzsumo, Feedly, and Hootsuite to identify and share “other people’s content” for social media marketing at http://jmlinks.com/16j.