Thought leadership is often a cornerstone of sales enablement content, explaining why so many companies stress their digital platforms, social media presence, and other publications as such a high priority. There are times, however, when a case of writer’s block will hit. Maybe you don’t have the resource capacity to write another blog post this week, or your competitor just published a great article on video content strategy and you’re kicking yourself for not doing it first. But, hark, there’s hope!
Thought leadership doesn’t always mean relying solely on your own ideas; quite the opposite, in fact. Leveraging content curation – receiving writing assistance or adding your company’s expert opinion to third party content, without actually creating the content yourself – is key to getting the biggest bang for your buck while demonstrating industry proficiency.
Creating Content vs. Curating it
Content creation is the largest component of any solid content marketing strategy. Creating content from scratch – research, writing, design, etc. – has its financial and efficiency drawbacks. While biting the bullet and powering through that whitepaper is sometimes necessary, there are a number of ways to work smarter (not harder) to lessen the burden for your in-house content creators. We’ve heard this buzzword for manufacturers and call centers, but outsourcing your content creation can be an incredibly lucrative strategy in a crunch. In fact, roughly 20% of companies outsource some aspect of content creation (for marketers that figure jumps to roughly half). It’s not necessary to re-invent the wheel every time a new blog post is due, and leveraging freelancers, agencies, and technology can help with that.
Even a step further from leveraging help in creating content, there’s content curation, which leverages portions of published third party content within the context of your firm’s voice. This isn’t plagiarism, but simply a re-framing of others’ published content with the majority of content still being your own. Taking excerpts of an article and incorporating commentary, pointing out important takeaways, or referencing published work as a diving board for an entirely new discussion are all legitimate forms of content curation, as well as Video/Blog roundups, an opinion piece on a relevant study, or partnering with companies to share and comment on each others findings. Roughly half of companies today curate content on a weekly basis, and it’s usually done in-house because of the minimal effort it requires. Various technologies can assist it making this process even easier.
Finally, syndicated content is the last tier of content marketing; essentially the bare bones of content curation. With perhaps a few lines to draw context and add your brand’s voice to the mix, this is your classic licensed syndicated content, article re-tweet, or video post. This tactic should be used sparingly, and online tools can help in finding this relevant content.
There are ways to leverage content curation in all expects of your content marketing strategy, whether you’re creating content from scratch or drawing from the insights of others. Chances are that your company is already leveraging freelancers, agencies, and online platforms for content marketing in some way. There is a recipe for success to maximize your budget, however, and pros and cons for each.
Content Curation Solutions: The Good, the Bad, and the Pricey
Freelance writers are great for short engagements on a budget. They typically charge by the hour or word, and rates are usually negotiable. Unlike an agency, however, quality control is slightly riskier. Potential freelancers need to be properly vetted, which will cost extra time and effort upfront. Once you’ve found one you trust, however, freelancers are usually more flexible and great for time-crunch content (even for content needed within 24 hours) and it’s typically faster and easier to find niche writers for specific topics rather than going through an agency.
Tip: Freelance writers have more limited services and an upfront risk for quality control, but they are fast and less expensive. Best for “We need this by tomorrow and we don’t have anything?!?” moments.
Agencies are a great choice for consistent, steady work that requires minimal input from you. A one-stop shop, most agencies can handle everything from research, writing, design, and sometimes analytics of your content, and will have capacity to handle a higher volume of requests if you have several content streams. You don’t have to search for each of your own writers, and international needs are best met by agencies, who can quickly leverage in-country writers for translators and culturally-adjusted content. A higher price tag comes with this comprehensive service in the form of monthly fees plus project costs. The bureaucracy and relationship-building inherent in working with a larger organization can make a quick turnaround an issue, but might save time later due to its wide range of offerings.
Tip: Agencies allow for a more cohesive marketing mix in a shorter period of time when managed correctly, but are more expensive and sometimes less personalized. Better if you plan on keeping them around for a while.
The use of online tools and services in your content marketing strategy is a quick win for everything from creation to syndication. Various software firms can assist with everything from finding content to curate (like Google Alerts on steroids for articles, videos, etc.), producing content, SEO/website localization services, or managing content and internal communications between you and your agency or freelancer. A plethora of companies out there exist to help with any and all aspects of your content curation needs for a variety of prices, if you’re willing to get out there an find them.
Tip: Technologies can be hard to implement, especially if your internall processes are not well defined. However, they are the cheaper option over time and easy to manage if you have someone in-house to coordinate it.
Recipe for Success: The Best Portfolio of Created and Curated Content
Content curation firms like to recommend a hybrid of original and curated content for a best-in-class content marketing strategy, with the emphasis on creation. Curation software provider Curata found that top industry players incorporate 65% created, 25% curated, and 10% syndicated into their marketing mix. Many firms also recommend hiring an in-house editor or content executive to ensure brand voice and consistency across content (almost half of marketing organizations have one already).
Driving thought leadership and enabling sales doesn’t translate to constantly re-inventing the content wheel. The best Greek philosophers had scribes, top journalists still read the news and reference other reporters, and superstar lawyers have temps and fact checkers. To be a true thought leader, content creation doesn’t have to be, and shouldn’t be, a solo act, but rather a balancing one.
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The Content Marketing Institute (http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2013/12/curating-content-creating-b2b-conversions/)