How to Think About Your Curated Content: Key Dimensions to Consider

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August 8, 2019 3:39 pm

Curated content is the best way to keep your social channels and newsletters stocked with some of the best-written and most engaging articles on the internet. You can use it to research and fuel your own content creation efforts, while simultaneously keeping your audience up-to-date and informed on topics related to your industry, as covered by others.

But curating content isn’t about mindlessly sharing the works of others. Instead, it’s in your best interest to carefully scrutinize the pieces of content you could share and select only the best candidates. There are some high-level qualities you could target, such as sharing content from authors you know and trust or capitalizing on articles that paint your brand in a favorable light, but if you want to be successful long-term, you’ll need to think in terms of high-level concepts, and how those concepts relate to your brand content strategy.

These four dimensions of content curation each exist on a spectrum; neither end is “correct,” per se, but you’ll need to think carefully about where you want to fall when researching and collecting content to use for your brand.

Timeless vs. Trendy

First, you can think about content in terms of its timelessness versus its trendiness. This dimension isn’t a straightforward spectrum; some trendy topics will naturally be timeless, and some timeless topics may eventually find themselves in “trendy” territory.

But as a general rule, trendy topics tend to be high-profile yet short-lived, while timeless topics aren’t as “sexy,” but will provide better returns over the long haul.

You can think of this dimension as it might relate to the value of your home. Trendy features, like a certain style of countertop or floor, might seem awesome today, but could easily be replaced by some new fad in a matter of years. Timeless features, like flexible and functional structures, will retain their value over time—possibly even decades.

Trendy content is good if your goal is to reach a peak number of readers as soon as possible. It’s especially useful if there’s a trending topic that’s highly relevant for your brand. However, focusing exclusively on trendy content could be problematic; timeless content can serve as a strong foundation for your content campaign for years to come.

Influential vs. Obscure

You can also think of the content you curate in terms of how influential or how obscure the author is. Is this a piece written by an author that pretty much everyone knows, on a major publishing platform that has millions of active readers? Or is this a piece that was published by someone unknown, on a hole-in-the-wall blog that doesn’t get much traffic.

Going with an influential author has a number of benefits. You’ll get instant brand recognition, since you’re capitalizing on someone else’s established reputation. There will be a bigger cross-section of your audience and theirs, which can improve your visibility further. And of course, you can generally rely on the quality of the content from the outset—without much due diligence.

By contrast, obscure content can be harder to find. Because the authors and platforms aren’t as well known, you’ll have to do more research to ensure its quality standards are high, and you won’t get many benefits from the existing audience. However, you’ll get a key advantage that’s hard to top: differentiation. When sharing obscure content, you won’t have to worry about a competitor beating you to the punch, or seeming like you’re bandwagoning. Instead, you’ll have a chance to curate more original ideas.

Niche vs. General

Should you curate content that’s meant to be consumed by a general audience, or content that’s strictly focused on a narrow subset of that population? This is the dilemma between niche and generalized articles.

Going with general content that could feasibly be read and enjoyed by anyone will greatly expand your potential audience. The tradeoff, however, is that the content won’t be as relevant to those readers, since it can’t make assumptions about their needs, experiences, values, and so on. Choosing content suited to a specific niche, conversely, allows you to target narrow audience segments with needs or beliefs that differ from the “general” population. Niche content will be highly relevant to them, captivating their interest, at the expense of alienating the broader, general audience.

In short, niche content is better for engagement and long-term reader relationships, while general content is better for sheer reach.

Local vs. National

You can find a similar spectrum between local and national-level content. Obviously, content written for a national audience will have the potential to appeal to anybody, but it won’t have the niche-focused relevance that a local article could carry. Location-specific content may be more difficult to find, depending on your target audience and your industry, but it’s also highly relevant for local audiences, and could give you a competitive edge, since you’ll differentiate yourself from competitors who only focus on national-level content for the potential reach.

The Case for Diversity

It’s highly unlikely that any personal brand or business will find themselves squarely on one side of the spectrum or the other in any of these broadly defined categories. Instead, their needs will be situational; in some cases, niche content may be better, and in others, general content will perform better.

Accordingly, most content curation campaigns will need to provide readers with a diversity of different content types, from multiple categories. Producing a healthy content mix will ensure you cover most of your readers’ needs, and experimenting with different types will help you learn more about how your audience responds to different types of content. Even if you think you understand your audience, inside and out, it’s still a good idea to play around with different content curation approaches, so you can test those assumptions objectively.

Your position in many of these dimensions is going to be a byproduct of your goals (e.g., are you interested in closing more sales or building your brand reputation?), and the needs of your target audience. Accordingly, demographic research, surveys, and a close analysis of your current goals are required if you’re going to be successful.

The more time you spend planning and analyzing, the better results you’ll get via content curation.

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