July 11, 2016
Let’s face it: content creation can be tough. Between coming up with new topics and crafting material that appeals to a specific target audience and works on a given platform, content marketing is a time-consuming and challenging process. Because of this, many marketers (understandably) choose to curate content rather than create it.
While curating content (the act of gathering third-party articles, blogs, and other content that’s relevant to a given niche or topic and then sharing it with an audience) may seem like it’s the perfect solution to tight schedules and minimal budgets, it can actually damage your marketing strategy.
Here’s why: while curated content is an important part of a content marketing plan, this approach doesn’t allow you to provide much unique value for your audience. Instead, you’ll need to create content if you want to develop a strong online brand presence.
Read on to learn more.
The Importance of Content Marketing
To understand why it’s so critical to create original content, you must first understand why and how content marketing works. If you’re unfamiliar with content marketing, the first thing to know is that it’s effective – incredibly effective.
As it stands now, 88 percent of B2B marketing professionals are using content marketing as a major portion of their overall marketing strategy and 75 percent say they plan on creating more content in 2016 than they did in 2015. Why you ask? It’s a good question. For one thing, content marketing is much cheaper than traditional, outbound marketing. On average, content marketing produces three times as many leads as traditional marketing but costs approximately 62 percent less.
Additionally, content marketing has the potential to provide a huge conversion rate boost. In fact, recent studies report that people who adopt content marketing see conversion rates that are approximately six times higher than those of people who don’t embrace the practice.
The reason content marketing works so well is that it combines all of the things that modern consumers want from today’s marketing material – value, relevance, information, and personalization – and blends them into one convenient and flexible package that’s ideal for digital distribution.
Things like branded content, social media content, custom graphics and images are hugely effective in the current marketing environment. The catch, however, is that it’s impossible to enjoy the full benefits of these things unless you’re actively creating them.
Creating Content: Your Path to Marketing Success
Now that you know why content marketing is so effective, it’s time to discuss why it’s critical to create your own content. First of all, creating your own content is a little bit like dressing yourself. While it’s all well and good to have someone else pick your clothes out for you, or to wear someone’s hand-me-downs, this isn’t a great way to display your personal style. What’s more, you’re likely to wind up with clothes that don’t fit quite right or make you feel uncomfortable.
The same goes for curated content. While curated content is a helpful fill-in strategy for an effective content marketing plan, it can’t comprise the entire approach. When you curate content, all you’re doing is throwing “Stuff” at your audience. You’re not, however, offering them valuable, targeted content that solves their unique issues and helps them understand where, how, why, and when your brand can serve them. Here are some of the top benefits of developing original content for your customers:
- Creating content allows you to write in your own voice. You’re the only one who can create content that truly reflects your brand’s unique voice. Because of this, creating original content is the only way to be original and unique in your online marketing. To some extent, everything else is just filler.
- Creating content allows you to speak directly to your customers. To create original content, you need to have topics. In many cases, these topics are mined directly from your clients’ concerns, questions, requests, and input. Because of this, crafting original content is synonymous with speaking directly to your consumers. This, in turn, allows you to build stronger relationships with your audience and develop a high level of brand loyalty.
- Creating content allows you to respond more efficiently to customers. Creating original content also allows you to respond directly to your audience by addressing their problems and concerns. This, in turn, lets you stay relevant in your industry and manage to keep on top of trends, issues, and occurrences in your given niche.
- Creating content is the only way to excel at content marketing. To become an effective marketer, you need to learn the ins and outs of content marketing. This means learning to develop your own topics, research content, distribute material on a variety of channels, and communicate directly to your audience. Unfortunately, this is virtually impossible to do through curated content. Instead, you need to get your feet wet by creating your own content and learning from the process.
My company is a perfect example of the power of original content. Content marketing fuels 99 percent of our inbound marketing, lead generation, and new clientele. We have more than 4,000 keyword rankings in Google with more than 700 blogs published inside four years. For an example of how well this has worked for us, check out the case study we did when we gained 300 keyword positions in one day.
How Content Curation Fits into the Picture: 5 Guidelines
As I mentioned before, content curation does have a place, but it’s smaller than you might think. While content curation can certainly help you grow your brand and develop a substantial online presence, it’s critical to do it right. Here are five tips to help guide the curation process:
1. Know your audience
To curate content the right way, you need to ensure that the material you share is valuable and exciting. One great way to do this is to get to know your audience. By taking a step like developing a marketing persona, you can target only the most relevant curated content and ensure that everything you share adds to your content strategy rather than detracting from it.
2. Establish yourself as a thought leader
One you know your audience; the next step is to use curated content to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry or niche. The main way to do this, of course, is to create enough targeted, original content that your audience understands your expertise. Once you’ve got a strong base of targeted content, you can supplement it by curating highly relevant, shareable content that you now your readers will love.
3. Add your two cents
As you start to curate content, keep in mind that you need to do a few things to help it remain relevant and valuable. For one, you should always give your curated material some context. This means explaining where it came from, who wrote it, and why it matters. This approach allows you to add your two cents to curated content, thereby making it more personal and tailoring it more specifically to your followers.
4. Maintain a healthy balance of curated and original content
The next step to using curated content the right way is to ensure you’re always maintaining a balance between curated content and content you create. As a general rule, aim to keep 80 percent of your content original and 20 percent curated. This allows you to distinguish yourself from people who only use curated content and continue to gain new readers.
5. Reach out to influencers
If you’re going to curate content, attributing the original source of the content is a huge piece of the puzzle. In addition to helping you avoid accidental plagiarism, crediting the influencer who originally produced the content is an excellent way to grow your network and encourage social shares. In many cases, reaching out to an influencer with news of a piece you’ve mentioned them in is enough to prompt a share on their end, boosting your reach and helping you gain instant authority.
The Case for Content Creation
While content curation is a useful tool, it’s dangerous to rely on it too heavily. When all you do is curate content, you miss out on the incredibly valuable marketing opportunity that is original content. By only curating content, you miss out on developing your own brand voice, addressing your unique customers, and mastering the ins and outs of content marketing.
Because of this, it’s critical to create your own unique, original content on a regular basis. In addition to expanding your reach, this approach also allows you to become a more efficient marketer that knows how best to communicate with your customers.
Julia McCoy is a serial content marketer, entrepreneur, and bestselling author. She founded a multi-million dollar content agency, Express Writers, with nothing more than $75 at 19 years old. Today, her team has nearly 100 expert content creators on staff, and serves thousands of clients around the world. She's earned her way to the top 30 worldwide content marketers, and has a passion for sharing what she knows in her books and in her online course, The Content Strategy & Marketing Course. Julia also hosts The Write Podcast on iTunes.