5 key skills for curating terrific content

Simply grabbing stuff off others’ websites and slapping it on your own isn’t enough. Savvy online marketers reassess their target audiences and tailor the online mix to their evolving interests.

Tens of millions of pieces of content are shared each day, reinforcing the notion that content is king and distribution is queen.

However, in the attention economy, getting your content noticed is what makes you belle of the ball.

As marketers are challenged to furnish steady streams of engaging ideas, curating others’ content is essential. Nevertheless, curation merely shifts the challenge to “How do I identify and curate valuable content?”

I recently read “Non-Obvious: How to Think Different, Curate Ideas and Predict the Future,” by Rohit Bhargava. He presents a framework for identifying non-obvious trends, homing in on five crucial skills for marketing professionals:

  1. Be curious.
  2. Be observant.
  3. Be “fickle.”
  4. Be thoughtful.
  5. Be elegant.

Here’s how to apply those skills so your curated content rises above the rest:

1. Be curious: Learn something new about your target audience.

To break out of ruts and conquer tunnel vis­ion, we need greater curiosity, Bhargava says.

Specific application: Update your targeted demographics. Have they stagnated? Are you focusing on the same needs and issues? Consulting the same sources?

Identify your audience members’ common interests, values and beliefs beyond those directly related to your interest in them, so you can expand the scope of content topics and sources that will attract your customers’ attention.

For example, a company offering high-end fashion may want to curate content on other topics that touch their audience’s interests and values—travel, say, or the psychology of extroverts.

Download the free white paper, “Creating a Consistent Message,” to discover how to keep your organization’s message and voice on track across all your internal communications platforms.

Particular value: Brand awareness stage. Curating a topic that’s fascinating to your market, but not directly related to your product or service, increases your odds of getting noticed by the right sorts of people.

Content discovery tools, such as drumUp, Klout, and Prismatic, mine the people you follow by using keywords, so you can see exactly what’s capturing their interest.

2. Be observant: ‘See what others miss.’

Being observant, as Bhargava explains it, is to “see what others miss; notice the small details that others don’t find significant.” Cultivating this skill helps you uncover underserved areas where your curation can distinguish your organization from its competitors.

Specific application: Get more specific about what turns a lead into a customer.

  • Where are the knowledge gaps?
  • What are some unacknowledged challenges?
  • What questions must B2B prospects answer internally to justify a purchase?

Particular value: During the evaluation and decision-making stages.

Talk with sales reps, customer service reps and current customers to ferret out these undiscovered details. Listen to what end users, not just decision makers, have to say.

Being observant affords you your greatest opportunity for curating original themes and topics.

3. Be fickle: Respect the slow burn as well as the spark.

We need patience to find the nonobvious—which is where the skill of being “fickle” comes in—says Bhargava, who redefines being fickle as “capturing ideas without needing to fully understand or analyze them in that same moment.”

Specific applications:

  • Don’t dismiss the outlier ideas and feedback you uncover. Outliers may be the tip of an unaddressed issue that’s worth exploring and can afford you the chance to offer your audience something fresh.
  • Follow new sites and blogs that your audience members like, even if you don’t see something valuable to share right away.

Continually clip and note articles or reports that strike you as interesting, even if you can’t yet clarify why. Evernote and Trello are popular tools; I’m a fan of Zotero.

Set aside time to review your clippings and notes. Are any connections sparking? Even if you don’t see one immediately, listen to your gut if it’s urging you to keep that piece around.

4. Be thoughtful: It sets curation apart.

“[The] curator is the imparter of value,” Bhargava says. Your singular insights and expertise augment your curated content.

Being thoughtful establishes authority and trust with your audience; it adds genuine value, not generic commentary. Offer these enhancements:

  • Provide context with new statistics or anecdotes from your experience.
  • Develop or support a point or theme that increases the piece’s relevance for your specific audience.
  • Share action tips so your audience can use the new information.

Specific application: Everywhere. You’re not curating if you’re not being thoughtful.

5. Be elegant: Style supports substance.

Being elegant is about “developing your ability to describe a concept in a beautiful and simple way for easy understanding,” Bhargava writes.

Such elegance enhances your ability to communicate your insights and analysis. It applies regardless of your brand identity and voice, whether you’re working for a global telecomm company or a local micro-brewery.

Specific application:

  • Clean writing
  • Images that attract attention and reinforce or amplify your message
  • Presentation formats that keep people engaged

New curation tools let you move beyond a post or report. If you want to package and deliver multiple pieces of content together, Roojoom (a client of mine) is a great option, helping you add your insights, expertise and call(s) to action to each bit of content.

Your curation is only as valuable as your sources and insights. Use these five skills to discover others’ creativity that you can curate in your own, original way.

A version of this article first appeared on MarketingProfs.

(Image via)


Ragan.com Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive the latest articles from Ragan.com directly in your inbox.