Content Curation: A marketer’s guide to creating engaging new articles

Case studies March 20, 2020
Hero image titled: Zesters Write A marketer's guide to creating engaging new articles; Author: Alexandra Cote SaaS content writer and strategiest

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Content Curation: A marketer’s guide to creating engaging new articles

Got you! You’re here looking for the magical solution to cure your writer’s block, right?

Well, there’s no such thing.

But I know something that works almost like magic: content curation.

In this guide, I’ll take you through everything you need to know to gather ideas from the content you already consume.

What is content curation?

Content curation, as you might already know, refers to the process of sorting through the web’s millions of shared pieces of content each day, selecting the ones most valuable to you and insightful for your readers, and sharing them to add even more value within your industry.

Similar to a museum curator who chooses only the best pieces to be displayed, you choose what others will see on your blog, social media accounts, and even video.

You’re probably already curating content and using it to generate new ideas even if you aren’t actively trying to.

When? 🤷

Ever shared a report? A video? Even a web page with a top-notch design? Saved a particularly engaging piece of content to your swipe file?

Yup, that’s content curation.

What are the benefits of using content curation to help you generate new article ideas?

First, understand that the benefits of content curation go beyond just sharing.

Here’s this cool post. Check it out!👀

And no, it’s not stealing ideas. 🙄 The content you find should inspire you to find new ways to present your ideas. 

Content curation is a way for you to locate and improve upon what’s already out there, adding more value that readers will surely appreciate.

All things aside, here are the top benefits you can get out of using content curation for the article creation process:

Become a thought leader

Who doesn’t want to be that writer who nails reader intent by bringing in a unique point of view?

Knowing what’s been written and what can be built upon will help you come up with new concepts and perspectives on a specific topic. And, once you’re that business who is always one step ahead, owning an open view on any trends and news, readers will come back to you, yearning to “feast their minds.” 

Shane Barker, "Becoming a Zest Contributor exposed my content to a community of highly engaged marketing pros" banner (Contribute your content)

Keep up with trends

Let’s assume AI is a big trend in one of the industries you’re interested in (not necessarily yours). And you’ve seen articles on some interesting AI topics but never on a competitor’s blog. The information hasn’t been applied to your niche yet. 

Take that idea! How can you apply AI for your business? What will your potential buyers want to know about AI?

Check out how Einstein Marketer’s Dan Baker brought the topic of sustainability to marketing in the piece, How Brands Should be Approaching Sustainability in Experiential Marketing in 2020.

Get in touch with other experts in your industry

So you’re getting these weekly emails from a productivity expert, reading the best case study ever, or just scrolling through a guide on using chatbots.

Who’s the author? Who contributed to that piece?

Reach out to them. Have them write something for you or just ask for a quote. For example, when Andy Crestodina published his article presenting the results of a survey about thought leadership marketing, he supplemented it with quotes from some of his fellow marketers. 

You’re not taking an idea, you’re introducing the idea and the author to your audience. 🤝

And, if you are still establishing your personal brand, these experts can provide that tiny bit of trustworthiness you might need to boost your content and (taking you back to the first benefit) become an influencer in your field.

Maintain the conversation to grow your business

Ever seen those blogs that were heading the right way but then they just stopped posting anything? Yeah, you don’t want to be them. So, you need to stay informed. First you. Then your readers. Even a small tweet you see can be used to further develop an idea and ADD VALUE.

Take a survey or research report, share it with your audience and add your own insights like Impact’s Jen Barrell did in her piece about the State of Digital Customer Experience 2020 Report

Magazine-like cover image titled "The State of Digital Customer Experience: Depth of Customer Insights Key to Success in 2020" Sub-heading: "325+ Executives Surveyed"
Image Source: Impactbnd.com

That’s what we call “keeping the ball rolling.” This is a great strategy to use when you don’t have the resources to develop your own research to support unique content. 

How to do content curation right when coming up with new ideas

You likely already know how content curation is done. 

Read, select, share. Repeat.

When it comes to using the content you found for your own work, there are different factors to pay attention to:

1. Your readership

Your audience may not always find your love for dogs or your passion for coffee relevant to their needs. Naturally, someone who is looking for a solution to their problems and stumbles across your blog will only want information related to their main pain points.

So don’t just reference anything that comes to mind. Instead, ask yourself: Will my readers really find this relevant? Can this help them? After all, you’re sharing something to help others, not to show you’re a well-read person.

2. Your business and marketing goals

Consider what direction you want to take in terms of future content when choosing the content you curate. Are you advancing into a new market? Launching a revolutionary tool? Or just looking to gain brand awareness?

I’ll give you a real-life example. Remember when Mailchimp started rolling out their landing page creation feature? Well, ever since then, they have included landing page design tips, strategies, and case studies all over their blog.

They noticed that their clients also had a need for this feature, developed it, and made the most out of any landing page example they could find. Even better, they showcased REAL content created by their own clients.

3. Topics you haven’t vs. have already covered

Have you ever heard anyone talk about the effect that repeating the same topics or ideas over and over again throughout a year’s worth of content has? Not really. But people get bored and repetition does have an impact. 😴

This is a mistake so many blogs make. Not to give any names, but you’ve probably come across those blogs where every single article is about productivity and doing more in less time. Ok, the topic’s cool. But we got the idea in your last 5 writings.

So, yes, everyone’s talking about lifecycle marketing, but do you really want everything on your blog to be about that? Probably not. You need to find a good balance between popular topics and subjects that will introduce something new and relevant to your audience.

You know, so you’re not writing about voice search optimization when your brand has nothing to do with this. Sure you can share your success story but then move on to what your clients and potential leads will make use of for the next couple of months.

4. Your competitors

Muahaha! The moment we’ve all been waiting for. Everyone does it. We research what our competitors do to make sure we’re not left behind or missing out on an obvious trend.

Are your competitor’s YouTube videos boring? Add some fun elements to yours. Brand X has a trending guide but it’s not backed up by research?

Time to bring out the reports or create yours. Simply put, we’re looking for bad content instead of worthwhile articles. Add value by taking those ideas and making better content about them. 

5. Where your own take on a topic falls

You don’t have to agree with an opinion or outcome just because the research was done by a reputable source. And if you’re skeptical, you can always do your own investigation. That’s why you’ll often come across posts like “Debunking the X myth,” “Why I don’t believe in X,” and “Putting an end to X.”

And take it from me: Humans would much rather see someone’s unique point of view on a topic than read the same opinion in 100 articles. In fact, you can reorganize your entire content strategy around being different (that’s what I do, btw). Not everyone will always agree with your mindset, but they’ll surely acknowledge your writings as one of a kind.

Where can you use curated content

Cool, but… where do I share all this content? 

Everywhere you find an existing piece of content to be worth mentioning. Just don’t go around mentioning people or events just for a shoutout. 

Here are my favorite places to share curated content. 

Blog posts

Endless possibilities here.

Create a simple weekly wrap-up type of post like this one Emma Wiltshire authored for Social Media Today:

A screen grab showing a section of the Social Media Today article, "Readers' Choice: Top 5 Articles from Last Week"
Image Source: SocialMediaToday.com

Even mention the idea in a tweet to start or support the rest of the article:

Screenshot of PathInteractive's article "The Winners and Losers of Google's January 2020 Core Algorithm Update"
Image Source: Pathinteractive.com

Also, I love using expert round-up posts where you share their quotes or develop upon their opinions like the one on Shane Barker’s blog that gathers insights from 67 influencer marketing experts.

P.S.: I’ve selected existing content for this guide too. In fact, seeing so many different types of interesting posts gave me the idea in the first place.

Podcasts

Take any SEO podcast. For instance, podcast hosts commonly debate new changes on Google’s algorithm, taking official news from Google (the content’s source) and packing it in a more people-friendly way. (That is so marketers stop panicking whenever a change rolls around.) Other marketing topics are prime candidates for podcast commentary too. Double up on your curation by selecting a trending topic and inviting an industry expert to share the mic with you like Belkins does for its Growth Marketing and Sales podcast. 

Email newsletters

Zest’s UpSkill is an example of a newsletter that curates top content and shares it with the brand’s audience each week. Another marketer who understands the value of sharing the best of the best with his audience is Mark Evans. His Grow Even Faster newsletter delivers hand-picked content about marketing, sales and tech to his weekly subscribers. 

Social media posts

Not many brands do this. So I had to scroll a lot to find a relevant example. Remember how I mentioned AI trends earlier? Ogilvy’s Twitter account used its Twitter feed to jump on that one:

Keeping the conversation rolling on Twitter.

Bonus: Your overall blog strategy!

Voila! Some AI here, remote work there, Google changes wreak havoc, a round-up next month…

Take everything you see and learn and try to come up with your own representation and views of those topics. Even an hour of research can get you 50+ actionable ideas.

Using digital tools for content curation

To ease your work and ensure you don’t spend days researching existing content (like I used to do before), try a couple of the following digital tools that will help you improve your content curation process:

Zest.is

Screen shot of distilled.zest.is content stream featuring two rows of content cards for trending marketing topics
Find fresh marketing trends on the Zest Content Stream

Zest.is is the main marketing content curation tool I use to get my daily fix of new content that’s relevant to my interests. I usually have the B2B, Content, Social, SEO, and Growth tags checked, but you can choose any that match your current responsibilities or plans.

It’s really the best option if you’re looking to keep up with marketing news or learn something about a new area of marketing. Use the Zest new tab Chrome extension so It’s all there whenever you open up a new browser tab so you’re sure not to miss anything.

BuzzSumo

Screenshot of Buzzsumo, showing the "Top Stories From Your Recent Feeds"
Trending topics
Image Source: BuzzSumo.com

BuzzSumo is a content discovery tool that will quickly cure your writer’s block. Just type in any idea you have on your mind or an industry or field of interest and you’ll be able to scroll through thousands of evergreen results without having to look at specific websites individually. You can even order them by shares to narrow down your research.

SparkToro Trending

Screenshot of Sparktoro showing "The Front Page of the Web Marketing World"
Image Source: SparkToro.com

Similar to BuzzSumo, SparkToro’s trending articles are selected based on Twitter interactions and can help you see all marketing-related trending topics at a glance.

Mix

Screenshot of Mix, showing multiple article snippets
Discover what’s up
Image Source: Mix.com

Now moving beyond just marketing, remember StumbleUpon? That’s now Mix.com, a dashboard where articles that could be of interest to you are automatically selected. This content curation tool is still new so some articles are a bit random or irrelevant.

Feedspot

Screenshot of Feedspot, showing a feed of content
Choose your own sources
Image Source: Feedspot.com

If you’d rather just stick to the usual websites you read and trust, Feedspot aggregates content from the blogs and news outlets you select.

Feedly

Screenshot of Feedly, showing "the insights you need to keep ahead"

Similar to Feedspot but with a much friendlier interface, Feedly is a content curation tool that uses their smart AI-based algorithm to sort the content on your favorite websites according to your priorities.

What other strategies can you use to make content curation work for you?

But you might already be used to doing content curation even without a tool. Here are some other strategies you can use or places to look in for curating content.

Social media

Good ideas are everywhere on social media networks and you don’t need me to tell you that. However, you will need a strategy if you’re not going to use one of the content curation tools I mentioned above. 

On Twitter, for instance, you can create lists of your preferred blog’s Twitter account and just check those for 10 minutes each day. I also suggest you use their free TweetDeck tool to create feeds for each blog of interest or even for a keyword and see all updates at a single glance. On Facebook, you can select the See First follow option for the accounts you want to be updated about first. 

For LinkedIn, things are a bit different. Instead of curating articles here, you’ll need to keep an eye out for what people are saying in the feed. Posts are king on LinkedIn and there are some professionals who regularly create discussions and even original videos.

Medium

If you ask me, this could be the only website you ever go to get your daily news. Marketing-related or not, Medium is full of ideas just waiting for a reader or for someone to contribute to the conversation, making it an ideal addition to your content curation strategy.

A huge thing on Medium you can take advantage of when selecting articles and ideas are publications that have made their big breakthrough this platform like Larry Kim’s Marketing and Entrepreneurship, The Unlearner, ART + marketing, and Marketing and Growth Hacking.

Forums and groups

These opportunities are often underrated since Facebook and LinkedIn groups have inevitably turned into the dwelling place of all spammers. But this doesn’t mean there won’t be any community for you to become a part of and find a revolutionary idea in.

My go-to community is GrowthHackers, while Slack has provided an immense opportunity for smaller brands to build valuable chat groups in the later years. You can start from Buffer, Mind the Product, or Backlinks to get an idea. I’m in all of them already as they provide the best path for you to get in touch with industry experts and share your own ideas. Great marketing tactic from Slack as a matter of fact. Even Reddit is a good quick option to get your daily dose of news or find a solution to an issue that’s been bugging you.

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Directly reaching out to industry experts 

I’m a firm believer that readers want to see more than just one point of view when reading new content. So I’ve made a natural habit out of reaching out to people via email or HARO to include their thoughts or compare different ideas. 

Your clients can also provide impactful insights into your/their industry and holding a 1-hour interview with them will help you put together your best case studies yet. Plus, you never know who they can connect you to. 😉

Next steps after content curation

So you’ve got all your tools and strategies in check and you know exactly what to pay attention to. We’re done! 

Well not yet.😁


You’ve got a couple more steps to go through until you can say you’re done with the content curation process and can get to work:

  1. Sort out your ideas – Do some brainstorming and keep a separate file or bookmarks list for the content you like and believe would come in handy for your next pieces of writing. For example, I maintain a Google Docs for reports I find interesting and I organize them by topic, sometimes summarizing or highlighting the stat I want to share.
  2. Plan out your strategy – Put down your topics into 3 categories: Must do, Regular priority, and Optional. Then do the keyword research and structure plan for them. You can change up this step to suit your typical research process. 
  3. Finally, get to writing! 

And you’ll finally be able to reap the benefits that content curation can have on our future content. Got any other tips? What other processes do you use for inspiration?

There are definitely so many influential factors going around this process as technology changes and readers demand to see new presentations of ideas. So share your thoughts and workflow in the comments below or via Twitter and we’ll get back to you. Until next time, curate away! 👋

 Author Bio:

Alexandra Cote is a SaaS Content Writer & Strategist and avid Zest user. She’s a strong supporter of integrating efficient software into your day-to-day work so you can focus on the things that really matter, improve your productivity, and stay happy! You can reach out to her via her blog or on LinkedIn.