It’s a paradox of our times that people still crave for a good read or a watch, even when they are drowning in the content deluge, especially online. Even as mainstream content consumption increasingly shifts to online from TV and print; the volume of new content being generated online and pushed out to people is astounding. A section of people have responded by expanding their content consumption windows – they now spend more time online reading, watching videos or catching up with their feeds than ever before. Others, more pressed for time, will consume whatever content catches their fancy, or is ‘out there in front of their eyes’ – which partly explains the success of Buzzfeed and the likes.
In this age of click-baits and the Internet reactions like @savedyouaclick, we urge you to be a lot more pragmatic about your own content marketing plans. The consumption of the content you create depends on many factors; including but not limited to who you are, how reputed and credible are you, how interesting and relevant are you, and how interesting and relevant is the actual content you create, the platforms you use for publishing and the distribution mechanisms you deploy. Big corporate or personal brands will often dominate the public discourse by sheer dint of their personality alone, leaving a precious tiny window for millions of others to get their point across.
Compounding the problem is the fact that creating original content is costly and time consuming. And unless you are a big brand, a majority of the original content you create will barely make a flutter on your audiences’ news feeds. The realization is nothing earth-shattering; it’s a simple inescapable law governed by how people consume the content. A tiny minority of your content, depending on the quality of your efforts, will no doubt break through and find its due share of audience. But we advise you to do a cost-benefit analysis at some stage.
Regardless of where you find your own program on the red-green continuum, we also have a strong case for content marketing. If you noticed carefully, the challenges we listed above almost exclusively apply when you are looking to push your content out to your audiences. But there are always people who would want to know more about you, and your products or services; they would want to research youyou’re your website, your blog and your videos. When you look at this audience, admittedly a small fraction of a typical targeted universe, content marketing shines through as an indispensible and incontrovertible part of your larger communications strategy. As per a Curata study of B2B marketers, 87 percent respondents use content marketing as a key part of their strategy and around 71 percent of them are increasing their investment in content marketing.
But more importantly, almost a third of marketers today are churning out content that is 90% or more their own content, while hardly curating or syndicating external content. And therein lies the rub. If content creation is costly and the returns are difficult to measure, what stops you from from co-opting excellent content that is already published and out there, particularly if it meets the quality standards and the content guidelines that you’d have hopefully set up for your own content?
Content curation as the practice is known is simply the process of collecting, organizing and displaying information relevant to a particular topic or area of interest. A shoe brand for example curating the best articles from around the world on shoe styles, shoe maintenance and so on, and you get the drift.
Content curation requires an actual person to perform the editorial duties; search for quality content from around the world, select the most relevant ones and perhaps add a little original commentary on the topic. In that sense, it’s not a lot different from producing thematic newsletters that the communication departments of many large B2B firms have worked at for years.
Curated content is more than just plain old-fashioned economically sensible thing to do. It also has the potential to offer huge value to your audiences. Consider a movie theater that is owned by a studio and plays only that studio’s movies. And now consider another theater that screens the best of world cinema; by handpicking popular and most interesting movies from around the world. Where would you bet your audiences will go?
What is the ideal mix for creation and curation? While it really depends from organization to organization, Curata suggests a 65%-25%-10% mix of content creation, curation and syndication. Original content works best for driving quality search traffic and for social sharing; but content curation helps you build true thought leadership, like what Intel is doing over at IQ.Intel.com.
From a larger perspective, content marketing is a game for the long run. Many rules and practices are still being established, or are yet to be invented; not the least because people are continually evolving and changing the way they consume content. Would you imagine Buzzfeed or Scoopwhoop 10 years ago?
You need clarity of your own marketing strategy and a sharp understanding of human behavior to make content marketing work well for you. We are happy to help.