Creating an online community is hugely rewarding, but ambitious. It’s a little like trying to light a fire – you must keep adding kindling as you go so it doesn’t peter out. The inception stage is particularly critical; no community website is born a roaring success. You must carefully and continually fuel discussions that will breed participation, before they take off on their own.
A steady supply of exclusive content is how you’ll provide value and earn loyal visitors. But continually producing new content is time-consuming. Through content curation, you can reduce the amount of content you need to create while still meeting the expectations of your emerging community. In this way, you can establish yourself as a trusted authority – and become more aware of developments in your industry along the way.
Why curate content?
It can help to think of content curation in the same way that art galleries choose pieces for their upcoming exhibits. They are not chosen at random, but carefully selected to fit a particular theme or subject. Likewise, content curation is a way of sharing interesting, relevant work with your members. You didn’t create that work personally, but you display it because it has value to your audience.
Content curation isn’t intended to replace original content, but to supplement it. By mixing up your own thoughts and ideas with input from others, you save time and money, since there’s less pressure on you to keep producing. As users, we’ve come to expect an abundance of information from the digital platforms we follow, and a content curation strategy can help online community managers to keep up.
Curated content for communities
There are a number of forms that third party content can take, so think about your membership and what’s likely to resonate with them. Below are some examples.
Industry news – sharing content around current events and emerging trends in your niche will encourage users to see you as a hub for the stories that matter.
Opinions and insight – demonstrate your knowledge around certain topics by offering additional insight in the form of a comment or opinion and adding to the conversation.
Influencer content – share content from credible influencers, brands, and individuals in your space. Use their status to build awareness and form connections.
Personal lists and resources – curated lists can help to show your organization’s human side, whether it’s books you’ve read, people you follow, or talks you’ve listened to.
Regular recaps – use weekly or monthly recaps to bring together timely and relevant discussions from members and third party sources.
Carefully curated content has the ability to amplify and support the goals of your community website, satisfying your curious audience’s desire for enlightening content in just the same way as editorial work. By offering relevant news and information on a consistent basis, your community will expand and come to see you as an indispensable knowledge source with a trustworthy perspective. This puts you in a powerful position.
To ensure balance and objectivity, it’s important to curate content from a range of sources, and to credit these sources accordingly. With every piece of content you share, be sure to add your own thoughts and commentary: what makes it a valuable resource for your readership? What questions can you pose to spark a conversation? And of course, remember to include a link back to the original source.
The internet is a behemoth of weird and wacky information, and as a community website owner it’s your job to find and produce the content most relevant to your niche readership. Stick to these best practices to earn respect and become a trusted voice in your industry.
Social media aggregation
Social media aggregation is a key element of many community marketers’ social strategies, and involves far more than simply regurgitating posts from Twitter and Instagram. It’s the next step in your content curation process, bringing together a range of stories and perspectives to create a dynamic social hub that fosters participation and engagement among its followers.
Starting a conversation doesn’t have to be difficult. All you need is a springboard. If it’s easy and intuitive to contribute to the discussion, users will do so. Stay present in the conversation by liking posts, thanking people for their comments, and getting involved yourself. With the right tools, you can save time aggregating content across your social platforms while continuing to spark authentic and lively debates.
Developing content assets
Content assets are the heart of content marketing on the web, and they can be curated in the same way as any other type of content. They are, by definition, pieces of content that can be used as business tools or incentives. Ebooks are one of the most powerful content assets website owners have at their disposal, ideal for community builders who want to offer something ‘above and beyond’ to their readership.
Making an ebook is surprisingly fast and easy. By repurposing your existing content, you are effectively reformatting knowledge into a more exclusive, digestible package, which can be used to drive traffic, increase leads, and monetize your expertise. You are, in effect, curating the best of your own work and getting more out of it. What have you got to lose?
In conclusion, content curation doesn’t mean passing someone else’s content off as your own, but mixing up the content you provide to your readership by including relevant, timely, thought-provoking information from other sources that will boost your own authority in the process. For a community website with a focus on bringing people together and starting conversations, content curation is the perfect way to keep people thinking, talking, and coming back for more.
Kayleigh Alexandra is a content writer for Micro Startups — a site dedicated to giving through growth hacking. Visit the blog for your latest dose of startup, entrepreneur, and charity insights from top experts around the globe. Follow us on Twitter @getmicrostarted.