By Pawan Deshpande, CEO, HiveFire
Marketers are flocking to content marketing at a never-before-seen rate. In fact, our recent survey found that 82 percent of marketers now use content marketing in their programs, which makes it more popular than search marketing, events and public relations, and over two times more popular than print, TV or radio advertising.
What can communications professionals do to support marketers as they embrace this new approach? Content curation—the process of finding, organizing and sharing online content—is one of the easiest and most effective ways to help. PR agencies, content marketing agencies, consultants and freelancers are all benefiting greatly by providing content curation services that contribute to clients’ results and also bring in additional review. It is the best of both worlds.
If you are not already offering curation services, or want to bolster yours heading into 2012, consider the following value-add approaches:
1. Program Strategy
Even though many marketers know content curation will be key to their efforts, often they don’t know where to get started. That is where communications strategists with an understanding of it can play a critical role. The first step starts with selecting the topic the client will be curating on. For this, communications pros can provide counsel on identifying a relevant topic that is neither too broad nor narrow and has sufficient, regular content produced on it. In some cases, clients will want a topic that is too broad—making it difficult for them to become the go-to destination for curated content on that topic; others will want a highly selective topic that does not have sufficient content to curate about. Your role is to recommend a topic that is just right for them.
Once the topic is set, you can then assist with identifying the sources and influencers to follow—which is often identified using tools already in the communications arsenal: media monitoring lists, Twitter lists, blog rolls on industry sites, and Google Blog Search.
2. Day-to-Day Content Curation Services
Even though curation only takes about 20 minutes a day when done with the right tools, many marketers are simply too bogged down to fit it into their schedules. Enter the communications partner with the right industry knowledge to remove a relatively simple task that still manages to keep their clients up at night. Many of HiveFire’s channel partners curate content on behalf of their clients. This is a great fit for agencies because unlike one-off programs, day-to-day curation is a recurring activity that provides an on-going revenue stream.
3. Content Development
Curating content is important, but it’s just as important to create original content as well. This is the best way to insert key messages, properly position a company and keep audiences informed. While you may be curating content for your client every day, I recommend writing original content two or three times per week. Beyond basic blog posts, there is a whole range of other content services that you can provide to augment curation such as building and managing editorial calendars, conducting third-party interviews with influencers or creating multimedia in the form of slideshows and videos.
Curated content often builds the foundation for the content marketing pyramid. You can add a lot of value by helping your clients build upon this foundation. Think of it as a modern-day content bureau.
4. Promotion and Awareness
This may be an obvious one for the PR professionals reading, but even the best content often needs some promotion behind it. Creating a great destination does not guarantee that it will be a hit. Simple tactics like issuing a press release announcing the new curated site, recruiting industry influencers to contribute content, and requesting other relevant sites to link to the new site can go a long way to raise awareness, drive web traffic and ultimately, create happy clients.
5. Social and Search Programs
Curation is not simply about the content that lives on a website. How people find and engage with it is also critical. In fact, many companies start curating because they want to kick-start their social media programs. Curation can certainly help add more vibrancy to a stale social media presence. This opens doors for offerings such as full service social media consulting, day-to-day support to interact with followers on behalf of the client, and proactively following and engaging with key influencers.
Related is Search Engine Optimization consulting. With content curation, companies quickly build a large index of the best and most relevant keyword rich content on their topic. With this, communications professionals can offer services to tag content, title content, and write keyword rich and descriptive lead-ins to articles. Such services serve two purposes: showcasing a client’s unique perspective on the content, and also catering to content hungry search engines. Finally, you can provide regular reporting to your client on the efficacy of your SEO efforts.
These are just the tip of the iceberg of content-curation related services, which are evolving almost as quickly as the content curation space itself. So get ahead of competitors by getting smart on curation (this e-book is a great reference for beginners) and offering the new services marketers are inevitably going to seek from their communications partners.