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Content Curation's emergence as the next big thing in Content Marketing

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What is Content Curation?

Content curation has been a buzz word in the content marketing industry for a few years now. The word curate means to select, organize, and present. You're likely familiar with curators from museums who select, organize, and present artifacts, fossils, and fine art. Content curation involves selecting, organizing, and presenting suitable content, typically for online or computational use. Examples of content include: articles, videos, whitepapers, photos, tutorials, recipes, infographics, special reports, presentations, and eBooks. In their Content Curation and Distribution Workbook, Genwi Inc. of Los Altos, California writes, "As companies recognize that buying cycles start earlier with anonymous research, marketing teams are rushing to create content to steer information-led buyers towards their tools and services."

For example, many Facebook users serve as content curators. They scour the web for interesting articles, infographics, and photos related to their interests and then organize and present the most relevant ones to their followers by sharing links on Facebook. Their Facebook pages become a treasure trove of relevant information to those interested in a given topic.

In the Facebook example, content is curated from diverse sources. The person who curates content isn't necessarily the one who created it. Some content curators also create their own content and add it to the mix.

Content curation can help a curator to become known as a subject matter expert. At the same time, end-users benefit because they know where to find the best, most current information in one place.

Content curation is also used by businesses in conjunction with content marketing. Marketers typically have a library of information assets available to promote to prospective customers. Content curation can be used to select, organize, and distribute content based on a lead's interests and current position within the buyer's journey. When used in this manner, content curation becomes a proactive, more relevant way for individuals to discover additional assets that may be useful in their buyer's journey.

Managing Content Curation and Content Distribution of Your Own Assets

Vast amounts of content is being created by large organizations, yet much of that content is left undiscovered by sales teams and customers. No matter how well written or produced that content may be, it can't possibly guide the customer toward a buying decision if it is never seen. That's where a clear content distribution system becomes essential.

In order for any content distribution system to be effective, it must be easy to use and well organized. It must also:

. Serve as a central repository where ALL content is placed and distributed. The days of storing PDFs on individual hard drives belong in the past. By centralizing content management, you can ensure that only the most current version of any piece of content is distributed. At the same time, you can retire obsolete content with just a few keystrokes (or even automate retirement for that matter).

. Allow assets to be added to the system. Your content creators need to be able to upload their content to the system with minimal fuss.

. Include metadata. Metadata is "data about data." It is also essential for search purposes. For example, each piece of content could contain metadata such as: title, keywords, description, author's name, tags, categories, asset type, file type, thumbnail image, link, publish date, and retirement date. You may also want to include metadata such as: intended audience, buyer stage, and call to action. Once metadata is in place, it provides a structured way to discover, query, and promote content.

Whether you have an existing content distribution system in place or are creating one for the first time, conducting a content audit is helpful. During the audit, address the following areas:

. Content information - What is it? How is it intended to be used? What channels should it be distributed on? What is the call to action? At this point, add any missing metadata.

. Content organization and process - How does the content fit into the buyer's journey? Does it align to one of your buyer's personas?

. Messaging - Is the message clear? Does it align with other content used throughout the buyer's journey? Does it have a call to action?

. Effectiveness - Does your sales team know the content is available? Is it being used? Has it been split-tested and optimized?

Once your content has been uploaded into a well organized management system and thoroughly audited, it should be more readily discoverable by your sales team and/or customers - especially if you've properly categorized it and optimized it for search.

Finally, it's time to distribute your content. In general, you have two types of content distribution channels: branded and unbranded. Branded channels include your company's website, intranet, and email marketing automation software. Unbranded channels include third party destinations such as SlideShare, YouTube, Flickr, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

Most of the content curation pieces are now in place. From here, your promotions should match content with each lead's buying stage as well as include mechanisms for discovering additional, relevant content. In the Content Curation Primer on her blog, Beth Kanter writes, "For organizations and brands, content curation can help establish the organization’s thought leadership and capture attention in today’s information cluttered world." By spending the time to properly curate and distribute content in a clear and organized manner, today's leading companies are effectively able to position themselves as thought leaders and subject matter experts in their industries.

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