Content Curation: 7 Steps to Success

Content curation curator

What is content curation, and why should you care?

Content curation curator

What is curation:

Content Curation is the act of discovering, gathering, and presenting digital content that surrounds specific subject matter.
~ EContent Magazine

In the world of blogging, content curation is the artful use of other people’s content, to provide value to your readers, while simultaneously providing value to the originator of the content.

Why you should care:

Done right, and done well, there is no easier to way to provide high value content to the people you are trying to communicate with through your online marketing efforts. Done poorly, there is no easier way to damage your online reputation.

How to do Content Curation Right

Let’s break it down to just 7 simple steps:

  1. Know your audience
    Before doing anything else, you need to know who you want to talk to, and what type of content those people will find valuable.
  2. Search for content
    Google is your friend. Use it well. Use it wisely. Search for blog posts and websites that your audience will find interesting and of value. You may want to avoid using (and this promoting) the content of a direct competitor, but even this “sin” is forgivable from time to time.
  3. Start your curated article with a catchy, SEO friendly title
    It’s usually best not to directly copy the headline of the article or web page you are curating, but obviously, the title of your piece must be highly relevant to it.
  4. Introduce the article in your own words
    Write a sentence or two to introduce the content that you are curating. Name the source, name the author (link her name to her profile on the original site, or her own site), and explain to your readers why you think that they will find the article interesting.
  5. Quote from the original content
    Quote a few sentences, a paragraph, or at most, a couple of very short paragraphs, of the original article. Do not overdo the quotation! Your goal here is to provide enough of the original content to provide useful information to your readers—enough for them to decide independently if want to read the original article, on the original page—or if they are satisfied with the snippet that you’ve provided for them.
  6. Comment of the article
    This is where your curation skills matter most. Provide either a short summary of the rest of the article (in your own words), or provide an opinion of the article. Remember that your ultimate goal is to prove YOUR value to your readers.
  7. Link back to the source
    Content curation is all about adding value. That includes, not only adding value to your own audience, but also adding value to the originators of the content that you are curating. One day someone may choose to curate your content! You want to provide a shining example to that content curator of how it should be done.

Potential Pitfalls in Content Curation

There are two major pitfalls to avoid when curating content for your own blog.

  1. Providing poor quality content
    There isn’t much point in curating content that your audience won’t find valuable. Avoid poorly written articles. Avoid articles that lack depth, or that repeat content that is so easy to find that your readers will find it useless or boring.
  2. Plagiarism
    Plagiarism is when you take credit for someone else’s writing. It is unethical, dishonest, and it will blow up in your face in numerous ways. Your online brand is your online reputation. It should not be taken lightly or squandered. Always link back to the original article and the original author. Never quote more than the minimum necessary to convey the key message of the article you curated. Search engines like Google are constantly improving their algorithms to detect duplicated content—and they can punish plagiarizers by demoting them in their page ranking. Don’t be that guy.

You are curating content that you located elsewhere. Don’t hide that fact, celebrate it by linking back to it. It’s what you should expect when your own content is curated by another blogger.

…and remember, good bloggers do more than just curate other people’s content. They create original content of their own too. For a few more tips about doing that, read my article about content creation.

Choosing (Social Media) Channels

Social media channels

Choosing the social media channels that will work best for your business is a tough choice. For the largest of businesses, the choice is actually easier than it is for smaller, entrepreneurial enterprises. The big boys have only once choice – participate in everything! But for those of us with more limited resources, it can be a bit more complicated; and confusing.

Choice number one is a “no-brainer”, but let’s get it out of the way right now. Every business, of every type, and of every size, needs to have some social media presence today. I’ve provided several reasons in other posts, and the research is pretty conclusive elsewhere too. In a nutshell though, choosing to opt out of social media is like walking away from a poker game with your money still on the table. Why would you even consider it?

Social media channels

But what channel(s) will provide you and your business with the best return on your investment of precious time and money. In a previous post I covered many of the nuts-and-bolts basics. Here’s a summary:

Which Social Media Channels Make Most Sense?

The answer to this question depends a lot on the nature of your business. I’ll provide a few suggestions.

  • Retail Business (B2C) The key to choosing the right platforms is in selecting the channels on which your clients are most likely to be found. For a typical B2C (business to consumer) retail store that should start with Facebook, and probably include Instagram too.
  • Professional Practice (B2C) For professionals that serve consumers a Facebook business page is also the best place to start. Since virtually all your customers are on Facebook, it makes sense for your consumer focused professional presence to be there too. [Also] all professionals, whether B2C or B2B (business to business) should also have an up to date LinkedIn page.
  • Professional Practice (B2B) B2B professionals need to be on LinkedIn, and more than that – to actually use LinkedIn. It’s also a good idea, even for a self-employed professional to have a blog—either on their existing website, or as a stand alone, that links to and from the website.
  • Other Business to Business  B2B businesses should concentrate their online marketing efforts where their business clients are most likely to be found online during business hours. And that’s going to be on the Web (as they search for products, services, and solutions to problems) and on Twitter, where many business people have their own Twitter feeds open on their desktops all day. Web-based social media marketing basically means blogging.

The take-away about social media channels is this:

  1. Your business should concentrate its social media presence in the channels that are most relevant to your customers and clients.
  2. Your business should further concentrate its resources to producing the kind of content that your stakeholders are most likely to respond to.

What kind of content do people respond most strongly to? The basic answer to this is surprisingly simple, the richer the media, the stronger the response. So, the biggest impact will be from video and audio—and that generally means YouTube, Facebook, and Podcasts. This is great if you happen to be naturally inclined to presenting in front of a camera, or speaking into a microphone. It that’s the case, your all set! Get in front of your camera (always look professional), record your video, and post it on your Facebook Business Page, your YouTube channel, and wherever else your customers will see it.

Unfortunately, not everybody is blessed with stage presence and a radio voice. For medium sized businesses that doesn’t have to be a barrier. You can hire professionals to produce your videos, and even use actors to “star” in them. For smaller businesses and solopreneurs, the challenge of using video might be insurmountable. That’s OK! Your customers are still online, and there are numerous ways to reach them.

In Why Inbound Must Change,  Meghan Keaney Anderson talks about some of the many ways available to reach people on social media. Her overall message of the article is a bit intimidating for smaller businesses, but that’s why I wrote the article you are reading right now. Rather than being intimidated into inaction, just review the options, and choose ONLY the channels that you think will work best for you and your business.

As entrepreneurs, we all eventually learn that we can’t do it all. But we also learn that, by concentrating our efforts where they are most likely to yield results, success is always within reach. Go forth and get social.

 

The Entrepreneur’s Dilemma

entrepreneurs meeting

entrepreneurs meeting

Social Media and the Entrepreneur

For the entrepreneur, solopreneur, or sole practitioner, it often seems that business life is divided into two phases. Either we have a lot of work (and sometimes money) but zero time – or – we don’t have enough work or money to invest in marketing initiatives (like social media) that will bring in more money. This “money but no time” vs. “time but no money” is at the heart of the Entrepreneur’s Dilemma.

In my work, helping entrepreneurs get the most impact from their online presence, I come across variations of this theme nearly every day. It seems that nearly all business people have come to recognize the importance of social media and blogging to their online marketing efforts, but too many of them excuse a lack of execution with some version of the entrepreneur’s dilemma.

It’s either,

I’d like to do more online but I can’t afford to hire someone right now, and I don’t understand it well enough myself

or

I don’t have time to do my own social media marketing. I’d hire someone today to do our social media, but I also don’t have time to teach them about my business

The end result of either of these scenarios is that opportunities to build the business and cement relationships with clients are lost. Lost opportunities represent lost money, and at worst, the result of weak customer relationships can mean business failure during the inevitable downturns in the business cycle.

So What’s an Entrepreneur to do?

The good news is that it takes only a little bit of effort to overcome the entrepreneur’s dilemma when it comes to social media marketing and blogging. Let’s start with the first scenario. “I can’t afford to hire someone, and I don’t understand it well enough myself“.

Money may be tight, but the good news is that you have time. So basically all you need is a little bit of knowledge, and the discipline to apply it, for a few minutes every day. The first thing that needs to be done is to decide what social media platforms make the most sense for your business. It’s easy to either get overwhelmed into paralysis by all of the possible options, or just as bad, to join every network out there and the do a half-assed job of maintaining them all. I’m guessing that you didn’t get to where you are in life doing things half-assed.

Which Social Media Platform Makes Most Sense?

The answer to this question depends a lot on the nature of your business. I’ll provide a few suggestions.

  1. Retail Business (B2C)
    The key to choosing the right platforms is in selecting the ones on which your clients are most likely to be found. For a typical B2C (business to consumer) retail store that should start with Facebook, and probably include Instagram too. It’s not difficult to do both, because Instagram photos can be configured to show up automatically on your Facebook page. Just remember, that you want to set up a Facebook “fan page” for your business, that is separate from the page you use to communicate with your friends and family.
  2. Professional Practice (B2C)
    For professionals that serve consumers a Facebook business page is also the best place to start. Since virtually all your customers are on Facebook, it makes sense for your consumer focused professional presence to be there too. The biggest issue with Facebook is that business pages can be difficult to find, especially in the early days. Facebook offers the opportunity to pay for page ads to show up on targeted Facebook feeds. This can cost a few dollars, but can be done fairly inexpensively, and Facebook offers amazingly granular targeting, so you’re going to get huge bang for your buck there. All professionals, whether B2C or B2B (business to business) should also have an up to date LinkedIn page.
  3. Professional Practice (B2B)
    Here’s where Facebook becomes pretty much irrelevant! While every consumer is on Facebook, business users are on Facebook mostly for outreach to consumers. Trying to reach the right people at a business of any size, using Facebook, is probably going to be extremely unfruitful. Make sure you have Facebook page anyway – but don’t spend much time or energy there once you do. Just a quick check to respond to any comments or questions. B2B professionals need to be on LinkedIn, and more than that – to actually use LinkedIn. What do I mean by, “actually use”? Log on every day. Comment on interesting posts by other people. Post updates and ideas of your own using the Share an Update link, and better still, write the occasional article using the (what else!) Write an Article link. It’s also a good idea, even for a self-employed professional to have a blog—either on their existing website, or as a stand alone, that links to and from the website.
  4. Other Business to Business
    For any B2B business that goes beyond the solopreneur level, IE/there is more than one employee, the suggestions for best platform change. Having an up to date Facebook business page is still a good idea, but as with my suggestion (above) to B2B professional, it doesn’t make sense to do more than keep it current and monitor it – unless it becomes very busy. B2B businesses should concentrate their online marketing efforts where their business clients are most likely to be found online during business hours. And that’s going to be on the Web (as they search for products, services, and solutions to problems) and on Twitter, where many business people have their own Twitter feeds open on their desktops all day. Web-based social media marketing basically means blogging. Blogging requires the most input, in both time and money, but a good blog is by far the most effective tool for inbound marketing. Unlike the ephemeral nature of Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram (etc.), you blog posts are permanent. Blogging means that every new post adds more content to your online presence, and makes you increasingly important to search engines like Google and Bing. Using Twitter, in combination with your Blog, is like putting Batman and Robin to work for your business! Set up your blog to display your Twitter feed, and use Twitter to promote your blog posts.

Let’s Talk a Bit More About Scenario Number Two

You’ve read the section appropriate to your business type, and you’ve decided where to concentrate your social media marketing efforts. But you still don’t have time!

OK. My first and smart-ass, thought is just, “make time!” But since I’d never say anything as smart-assy as that, let’s talk about other options. The best option is to hire a person or an agency to manage your social media for you. If your business is big enough, with the human and financial capital to justify $4000 to $12,000 per month, you can probably stop reading, and start shopping now. There are a lot of good agencies that can fill all of your social media marketing needs, including post writing, account management, metrics measurement, etc.

Here’s where my own self-promotion kicks in!

I, and people like myself, offer social media services specifically intended to help busy professionals, solopreneurs, and entrepreneurs, get maximum benefit from social media presence. In a nutshell, I offer the same services as I suggest that entrepreneurs should use themselves. I set up, manage, and maintain ONLY the social media platforms that make will bring the biggest return for the smallest possible investment. Typically that means, I can charge only $500 to $1000 per month instead of the $4000 to $12,000 per month typical of the bigger agencies.

Want to learn more? CONTACT ME

Jobseeking and Blogging

Jobseeking

There is a lot to think about while we are looking for a job. Jobseeking is a tough job. It’s a world of resumes and rejection letters, of occasional interviews, and too much insecurity—and too many “helpful” people offering too much “useful” advice!

For most people, social media seems to serve mostly as a time wasting distraction from the real business of looking for a job, and blogging seems like the ultimate in self-centered vanity. But that is not how it should be.

Perhaps the most difficult part of jobseeking is networking. It can be tough to network when we are out of the natural networks formed in a workplace. Blogging and social media are the keys that can open up new networks. The important thing is to use our blog wisely, with purpose, and determination.

So where does one start, and what can one do?

Let’s start with Facebook

If you’re not already on Facebook, get on it today. And if you are already using Facebook, remember that nearly every potential employer is going to take a look at your Facebook profile. If your profile is hopelessly personal and full of party pix or politics, change all your privacy settings to make that profile as private as possible. Then set up a Facebook “Fan Page” in your name that contains all the information that you’d like a potential employer to see. If you don’t have a Facebook profile yet, just use your newly created one as a home for the kind of posts that you’d like a potential employer to find.

NOTE: Personal pictures, family posts, friends comments, are all OK on Facebook. The goal here is not to make Facebook look the same as a blog or LinkedIn; it;s to have the kind of Facebook profile that an employer will think, “Gee, this person seems like they’d be a great fit here.”

Speaking of LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the jobseekers best friend. It’s imperative that every jobseeking person has a LinkedIn and profile, that the profile is complete, and it is always kept up to date. If you’re serious about finding work, do it today. We’ll talk more about LinkedIn, and Facebook soon, in our next section…

About Your Blog

OK, now we’re ready to start blogging. Having an employer friendly Facebook page, and an up to date LinkedIn profile, is only the preparatory groundwork for our real mission. What is our real mission?

To have an online content magnet that sets us apart from all the other people looking for the same kind of jobs that we are.

Since money is probably more precious than time while looking for employment, an exception to my general rule that every blog should have a unique Domain Name and URL can be made for the jobseeker. If you can afford 8 or 9 dollars a month for yourname.com, I recommend that you go for it, but if money is tight, you can always use yourname.wordpress.com. Don’t get fancy or cute with the name of your blog. You are the product that blog will be pitching. Make it obvious. Make that clear.

How Can a Blog Help me with Jobseeking?

This, of course, is the question that you’ve been waiting for me to answer!

Remember what our goals are—to build our network AND to be the person that potential employers want to hire when they find us online.

We’ve already accomplished part of that goal by having our name in the URL and in the title of our blog. The next thing we need to do is start writing blog posts. What to post? The blog is to help us land a job, so our posts should emphasize the kinds of skills that we have to offer potential employers. If your an IT professional, blog about IT. Are you a marketing professional? Blog about marketing. If you’re a lawyer, blog about the law.

What if I find writing difficult?

Not everyone finds writing easy. Maybe you are someone that finds writing difficult or intimidating. You can still blog! Here are few tips to get you started blogging—even if writing doesn’t come easily to you.

  • Start your post with an image. Pictures a re captivating. Take a photo, or find an image that illustrates a point you’d like to make. Don’t be a pirate! Always acknowledge the source of your images, and link back to the web pages that host them. Most bloggers are happy to share with people that help bring traffic to their websites.
  • Share an interesting article from another blog. Post a brief (no more than a few sentences) from the article, add your own value to the article with some thoughts of your own. And (as with images) always link back to the article on the original website.
  • Write an article about a company you’d like to work for, or one of their products. Remember, you might want to work for one of this company’s competitors too. Always be positive, never write anything negative about any person or company. Stick to benefits and value propositions.
  • I’ve talked a bit more about this here.

Getting Readers, or Why we Started with Facebook and LinkedIn

You knew we weren’t finished with social media right? Now that we have a blog, it would be nice if we had people visiting it, and reading our posts. We can probably assume that the people that might want to hire us upon receipt of our resume will visit, but what we really want is to get in front of people that don’t get our resumes or applications before visiting. Here’s where our accounts on Facebook and LinkedIn begin to serve double duty.

Every blog post should be shared on LinkedIn and Facebook. Post a brief excerpt, just enough to tweak interest, and then a link to your blog article. Oh, and while we are on the topic of social media, don’t forget to add your blog URL to your Facebook and LinkedIn profiles.

Now Start Blogging and go Get That Job!

WordPress vs Other Blogging Platforms

WordPress

WordPress vs all other blogging platforms? WordPress wins!

I am a way huge fan of WordPress

I figured I should get that blogging bias on the table at the outset, so you know in advance where this is going! And now that you know my personal and professional bias, I’ll let you know where it comes from.

Let’s go back a few years. Back to the early days of blogging. There were basically three main contenders for the blogging platform throne; Blogger, WordPress, and Typepad. All three were good platforms, and all three are still around today. There were others back then too, but most have faded into obscurity and disappeared.

Blogger could probably be considered as the “winner” in those early days. It was easier to set up and easier to use, and became hugely popular with the first generation of amateur bloggers. These early adopters consisted mostly of angst filled teenagers and bored (and boring) diarists posting barely readable self-absorbed journal entries about their personal trials, tribulations, and occasional triumphs in their lives. Needless to say, the audience for this was pretty much limited to other angst-filled self-absorbed, literacy-challenged individuals. Blogging looked liked it was on its way to joining MySpace in Internet obscurity. Then things got interesting.

While Blogger (now owned by Google) was concentrating on making things easier for the “average Jane”, a couple of things happened.

  1. Facebook:
    The community space occupied by Blogger & MySpace completely migrated to the social media giant. Blogger’s role as a communication platform for bored teenagers and stay-at-homes was basically killed. Facebook allowed for a far richer sharing platform that made it easier to share only with the people that you wanted to—while still making it easy to share with the whole world if that’s what you wanted to do.
  2. WordPress:
    Wordpress did something that was pretty much unprecedented as a business model. They split into two divisions. One part (WordPress.org) gave its platform away for free to anyone who wanted to, and was capable of, installing it on a server. The other, WordPress.com, became a profit center. At one end they offered a “free” blog to anyone that wanted one. This was basically as easy to set up as Blogger was, but offered a more polished interface and look. It’s “free” factor, actually fully funded by advertising revenue generated by ads that were run on free blogs. For an affordable, but not inconsequential, fee it was (and is) possible to remove the ads. At the other end, and less widely known, WordPress offers a sophisticated full service hosting platform to major organizations at the Fortune 500 level of the economic spectrum. Blogging became serious business, for serious people.

WordPress has evolved into a powerful and extensible CMS, making it the only serious contender for a website on which blogging is a major component

Today there are several new platforms competing in the DIY space, but none of them really fill the same cyberspace as the blogging platforms. Most of the new Content Management Systems (CMS), like Wix, Weebly, and Sqarespace include a blogging add-on, but WordPress has evolved into a powerful and extensible CMS, making it the only serious contender for a website on which blogging is a major component. Web platforms like Twitter, Tumblr, and LinkedIn also offer different blogging experiences, and are all fantastic Social Media Platforms, but there is no way to get the kind of branding experience possible with content on a fully branded blog and website. It’s important to remember that social media blogging is free because, at the end of the day, the content creators (you and me) are the product that they are selling for profit—nothing wrong with that at all, but it’s a fact that can’t be ignored.

So while WordPress is not the only alternative, it offers a compelling (and in my view, unbeatable) combination of features and value. And we haven’t even talked about the huge number of plug-ins that allow bloggers to make a WordPress blog/site do just about anything, or the thousands of design theme templates available for free or for fee, that can make your blog look fabulous no matter what your personal view of “fabulous” is!

WordPress vs. the rest? Yeah. I’m with WordPress!