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The Dirty Secret About Content Curation That Only Insiders Know

Marketers are becoming increasingly reliant on content curation and content curation apps to balance their social media marketing marketing efforts, and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be. After all, quality takes time, and curation is a great way of keeping an audience engaged while the creative factory is occupied otherwise.

But if everyone’s curating content, does the practice hold any real value?

As Dr. William Ward of Syracuse University points out, we are exposed to more data each day than people in the 15th century experienced in their lifetime. If curation is used as a tool to tame that information explosion into something that’s useful and makes sense, it does have value.

Still, have you noticed how content curation seems to work only for certain people or brands?

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Most others are left with barely any activity on their pages, and a series of re-tweeted, shared and curated posts.


The dirty secret of content curation is that it works only for the people who make it work properly. 

If that is something on your agenda, then these are the concerns that you should factor in. 

#1 Whose purpose are you serving?

It is easy to get sidetracked by benefits and efficiency of a tactic when marketing on social media, but it is inexcusable. If your social media audience recognizes that the content you’re sharing is random, and a quick fix for when you have no time, they’re going to ignore you.

Simple question: are you curating to save time or to attract an audience? If you wish to accomplish both, an unorganized approach is not advisable.

Plan both created and curated content on your content calendar. Ensure that each of your shares connects with your target audience (you could refer to FAQs for inspiration on what to share) and the overview fits your brand’s story on social media. If you intend to use curation to get noticed by influencers in your field, factor that in on your plan as well. The idea is to have a well thought-out and complete content plan with a definite direction.

When determining what to curate (or create for that matter), remember, it is for them and not you. Refer to your audience in your social media post.

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#2 Content competition can be more fierce than business competition

There’s limited demand for information in your niche. Have you used Google’s keyword planner to discover how many times a keyword has been searched?

The results are a double-edged sword. If the search numbers are either too high or too low, there is little chance of your content getting visibility. You want to reach for the middle of the spectrum.

The same logic applies to curating content on social media. If you don’t consider your ‘content competition’, you’re overlooking an important factor for content visibility. If there are hundreds of thousands of sources for information in a niche’, your audience should a) be able to find you and b) should have a reason to rely on you.

Consider your competition when both creating and content. Work with a strategy that differentiates you from them, offers your audience something that they aren’t, and connects with your audience like they can’t.

#3 Why should readers trust you with their news and information?

Credibility is all on social media. When social seekers have a bunch of sources to choose from, why should they go with your page?

Most people are distrustful of content shared by brands, or in the least tag it ‘promotional’. Getting past that barrier is hard enough, and being perceived as trust-worthy is a long walk down the road. But it isn’t impossible.

Yet again, audience understanding becomes important. Ask yourself this: what matters to your audience the most? What moves them? What limits them?

Address those questions with your content. Another way of adding credibility to your content is associating yourself with sources that have already established their credibility.

For instance, if you are a digital marketing agency, you could share content from the top-notch sources in your industry – Content Marketing Institute, Jeff Bullas and Neil Patel, among others. But you have to be sure that their content aligns with your beliefs and practices, and that you aren’t over-sharing their content.

Remember to always do your fact check before sharing. Avoid sharing incredulous and controversial information, sometimes that can be seen as unprofessional or unbecoming.


#4 It is easy to have your perspective lost in curation

When collecting a bunch of articles and visuals, it is easy to get carried away by interesting titles and big names in your industry. Don’t. This is why having a definite and documented content strategy is crucial. It helps you stay on course and focused on your goals (for content curation  strategies and goals read this article).

Only curate what fits your larger scheme of things. Only curate what benefits your audience. Everything else is pointless.

When re-tweeting or sharing content that others have posted. Quickly skim through the piece and pick out the highlights or mention your biggest takeaway. You could also disagree with the author and tell your audience why.

Look at every share as an opportunity to both help your potential customers and demonstrate to them your expertise and competence. If you are a digital marketing agency, use your marketing skills on the posts you share. Display your creativity and ability to convince someone of something.

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Keep your perspectives on the surface and exposed on social media.


#5 One size doesn’t fit all

An automotive company and a pharmaceutical company can’t follow the same social media strategy. Imagine a pharmaceutical company spending millions on video advertising or an automotive company focusing on written content. That would be disastrous.

Both the formats of content and direction of the strategies depend on your industry type (B2B or B2C) and niche. In fact, I’d venture as far as to say that every company should have a unique content curation solution.

Bear in mind that content is simply that, whether it is original (yours) or not. Treat it just the same, if you have a plan for created content, you need one for curated content.

However, the complete potential of curated content in unlocked when you integrate it well into your marketing strategy. One of the mistakes that most marketers make is viewing ‘social media marketing’ and ‘content curation’ as entire things. They’re not. They are a medium and tactic, respectively, that fall under the wide spectrum of marketing. By treating them as such you open up many more possibilities.

For instance, you could curate articles that inform fans about your latest product on social media and empowers them to use it, and write your own articles on the subject and reach out to them via email. Create your own content marketing map.

#6 Supplement, not substitute

Content curation is one way to provide your audience with the information that you can’t. If you don’t have the experience necessary, find the people who do and make them accessible to your audience. They’ll thank you for it.

You could do an expert round-up. Source some insights useful to your audience, organize them on a post and publish it on your blog. Add as much value as you can to your content.

When creating your own content, take inspiration from the biggies. What questions are they answering? That’s a valuable insight into what your audience wants to know.

If you can’t afford the time for content research, use competitors as a benchmark. Follow their activity on social media, see what they’re talking about, and brainstorm on what you can do to take those topics to the next level. If they’ve missed something, you could use that angle for your content.

Another great source of inspiration for content is companies that aren’t the same as you, but have the same target audience.

For instance, social media management apps and social media monitoring apps target the same audience, but don’t compete with each other. So they could look at each other as inspiration for content.

#7 Are you a filter or an authority?

Establishing an identity is among the most important of marketing goals. This is where content curation is lacking. How can you establish an identity while sharing content from other sources?

We’ve already discussed the two obvious things you could do to carve a niche for yourself on social.

1. Add your perspective to shares

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2. Share content that connects to your business objectives

Being the go-to destination for content in your niche’ involves a little more than the two points we’ve discussed. You also have to be better than the other sources out there.

What makes for a content authority on social media?

1. Exclusive knowledge about the field
2. Actionable suggestions that will lead to success
3. Success

Unless you are successful at the services you are offering, your audience has no reason to give you their time. For instance, if you are a digital marketing agency whose online presence is weak, you can’t expect your fans to invest in you.

Marketing extends beyond media and the content that goes up on it. Can your company culture and competence handle social media exposure and succeed with it?

If the answer is yes, you’ll do exceptionally well on social media. All you’ll have to do is share your insights, be courageous, and give away real value.

#8 Are you human or bot?

It is possible that a good part of your audience is aware of the apps you use. Even if they aren’t they can tell identify and differentiate between promotional and genuine content. If you’re simply curating content to make up for the lack of time, they’ll know.

Besides, there is much that the human element can bring to a social media page. The strongest are the psychological effects. By making a comment every now and then, you are opening yourself up for conversation, inviting queries and encouraging your audience to share.

To drive up your engagement numbers, human interaction is a necessity, plain and simple. How else would you convert your top of the funnel audience into leads?

Content commentary beats simple content curation. Adding your perspective serves two outcomes – setting yourself up for thought leadership and establishing a personality or tone for yourself on social media.
Considering everything we’ve discussed, social media marketing is a time-consuming and cumbersome effort. What’s the best way to cut down on the effort and maximize on the results?

Use the right set of social media tools. Automate the process that you can, so you make time for more personalized and one-oh-one interactions.

DrumUp works very well in making the best use of time and effort for social media management.

Here’s a home-made DrumUp recipe for optimizing your social media marketing efforts.


1. Add all social media accounts that you’re managing and create groups based on content sharing similarities

2. Choose the right keyword sets for your industry. If you want to cover a wider range in the same industry, choose different keyword sets for each of social media account added.

Note: It doesn’t matter which keyword set you choose for which account because you can access them all on the same dashboard, and schedule any article across any group of accounts. But if you are managing multiple social media accounts of clients belonging to different industries, choose the relevant keyword sets for each account for less confusion.

3. Add RSS feeds of top blogs in each industry.

4. Once a week, browse through the content recommendations, store the article you want to use at a later point in the Content Library, and schedule the ones that make sense with single clicks to account groups.

Note: DrumUp has hashtag and @mention recommendations, and quick clicks could help improve your visibility on social media. You can also add Gifs or smilies if you want to.

5. Store promotional content and posts you intend to repeat in the Content Library in convenient categories.

6. Once a month, review your engagement analytics and schedule more of the type of posts that showed the highest engagement levels. You could even create a category in the Content Library for those types of posts.

By automating content sourcing, you have so many extra-hours to interact with your audience and identify trends and insights. By making these activities a practice, there’s nothing that you can’t achieve on social media.

Photo credit: Luke Porter via