Remember that curation is a content strategy, while tools are tactics in search of a strategy.
One of the tactics in the Content Marketer’s arsenal is called “curation”, where you find and republish quality content in a newly “packaged” way. The idea is that you add value at least three ways — you assemble a package that would be hard to find or gather elsewhere; you contribute some editing and related content yourself; and the UI of the “package” facilitates readership (on different devices and through smart layouts that leverage content in a streamlined fashion) and social sharing.
We’ve tried four of the major services for curation over the past 3-5 years, so I wanted to give you some take-aways about each — Flipboard, Paper.li, Rebel Mouse, and Scoop.it. I’ll give you a sample of what we have used them for and thoughts on results but first the most important thing I can tell you is that these tools are tactics… in search of a strategy. What do I mean by that? Well, too many content marketer’s seem to rush into the latest greatest tool and deploy it as a tactic with no clear publishing strategy (niche, readership, purpose of publication, editorial guidelines, etc.) in hand. Planning is in order. And, remember the old adage — if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Curating a good publication takes time and consistent effort, so you need to have a clear picture of the end goal and how it will pay off for you. Remember that curation is a content marketing tactic, not a publishing strategy.
Four Curation Tools for Content Marketers
Webdirexion uses Flipboard to publish the new BLIP Online Marketing Magazine
Introducing BLIP Magazine: Our newest endeavor is to curate, write for, and edit a new “magazine” with great articles for marketing communication professionals. BLIP… Google has updated its algorithm… BLIP… there’s another new marketing tool… BLIP… someone has figured out a new tactic for marketing automation. You get it.
Our magazine is curated with the FlipBoard tool, which allows you to flip pages — just like in old-school magazines. We like it because it fosters a team curation approach, it is mobile centric (you cannot even register except on a mobile device), and efficient to use.
It’s a relatively new platform, so this tactical tool from Flipboard is still evolving — right now, there are no embedding options available, for example. It’s easy to get started with your own magazine, but strategically you will need to define your audience, set a publishing focus, then bring your editing team. What about ROI for the effort? I recommend you study that with smart use of analytics (I will report on that in a forthcoming post). For this publication, I am taking the managing editor role with supporting editors and writers from our Webdirexion team — and of course authors with articles from MOZ, Content Marketing Institute, MarketingLand, Social Media Examiner, and several others. Our publishing goal is to bring you the most useful articles on tactics and strategies for online marketers.
Medical Healthcare Matters is Webdirexion’s Digest for Healthcare professionals, curated using Paper.li.
Medical HealthCare Matters focus on Healthcare: Since we have six clients in healthcare, we use a curation tool that has been around for a while — Paper.li — to publish our weekly “digest” for this industry focus. The digest format is different than a magazine — content may include shorter items, videos, discussions and tweets. Our Miranda Booher, a former traveling nurse (before she elected to do content triage at Webdirexion), serves as managing editor for this publication. Our publishing goal here is to serve up a frequently updated smorgasbord of news on medical devices & healthcare services that move health forward. This is a more mature publication for us and its current circulation reach, including its associate Twitter account (1400 followers), is approximately 4,400.
Page at this link shows embedded digest from Paper.li.
Our publishing strategy goals are threefold: reach and inform our prospective target group — healthcare clients; build circulation and readership; and offer exposure to client’s when appropriate.
This platform offers some advanced tactics including assigning a top level domain (we use MedicalHealthcareMatters.com) and embedding a digest in an actual website (click at left to see how we do that at our Coffee Nut Hut site). Cost for premium features is approx. $9 per month.
Samsung’s “Front Row” microsite is created on the Rebel Mouse platform.
This is a curation tool we tested and published to a subdomain on Webdirexion — then realized that we were guilty of excitedly using the tool as a tactic in search of a smart publishing strategy. We’ve since shut it down, but I would recommend the platform for its advanced feature set (create an entire mini-site with the tool, complete with “page” navigation), the ability to brand it and use a top-level domain name, with the added ability to embed it.
The Rebel folks have positioned their app as a tool offering “Turnkey Content Hubs and Mobile Apps”. According to their site, Rebel Mouse is “Wired for Distributed Reach and Engagement”, and one example is that the app will notify people via email or @reply when their content is featured on your site. This is the app we would probably look at first for clients seeking an efficient “micro site” solution.
Embedding as a tactic: We had begun to explore the embedding capacity with sections for healthcare and law firm marketing (another focus niche for us), and the embedding was being done on the same site, Webdirexion, as the main “publication” (on a subdomain of Webdirexion). In the end the maintaining of a larger effort proved to take too much resource time for us, but the point about embedding I want to make is that you can embed your publication on multiple sites and locations, so this could be a powerful tactic for people with a number of domains and a network of sites strategy. With Rebel Mouse, we could even embed different sections on different pages — healthcare curations on our healthcare page, law firm articles on our law firm page, etc. This is not necessarily a great SEO tactic, because you are duplicating content, but it can boost readership and also signal to Google the relevance of certain pages and sections on your site.
This Scoop.it site was one I curated for a couple of years.
This is another freemium (no top level domain name)/premium (unlock advanced features) curation platform we used for about 18 months. During that time, I curated and commented (a nice feature — your comments appear along with the items you curate) on B2B Content Marketing Tactics. I liked some of the aspects of it, but in the end moved on to other tools and tactics on which to focus in the limited time — you know how those hours swirl by in a sea of new and evolving marketing tools.
One unique aspect of this platform is that other publishers can “scoop” your articles into their own publications. It is possible to do something like this on the Flipboard platform as well.
Note that in this publication, I narrowed the publishing focus from Content Marketing in general, to a focus on tactics more for Business to Business marketers. This is another key consideration at the publishing/content strategy level — your niche. Good Content Marketers will always proceed with their “target personas” in mind, and publishers live and die on that concept. In fact, Content Marketing is really just another term for “publishing” rolled forward into today’s marketplace of evolving tools and tactics.
Proceed from the level of good content and publishing strategy. Focus clearly both on the goals for your readership and the ROI for your organization. Then, have some fun! Do contact us for any help you may require.
Good writing becomes great content marketing content with the implementation of SEO best practices and tactics, which are changing all the time. See the excerpt from the infographic, 10 Tips for writing content that ranks in 2013.
Content is the buzzword. That’s all you hear about — engaging content; informative content; interesting, valuable content. Good content translates to good writing. It’s as simple as that. Because face it, if you are lacking the expertise of a skilled and talented writer – your content is going nowhere.
In fact, back in 2012, the Content Marketing Institute’s consultants were all asked, “What are the essential skills for content marketing teams?” Each commentator included writing skills as a top recommendation.
Nobody picks up a pen the first time and puts things down on paper and is instantly a good writer. Nobody. Writing is a skill that needs to be fine tuned, rehearsed and refined. There are, however, certain qualities that make for a good writer. You can learn them or hire out some experts when you’re busy wearing all the other hats in your company.
What’s a good blog/content marketing writer made of?
So what does it take to be a great blog/content marketing writer? Naturally, a good writer is:
- Mindful of readers needs
Creative people often make good writers. You need to have the capability to look at stories from various viewpoints and create new and interesting brain food that will keep your audience engaged. Really engaged. Like enough to lower your bounce rate and create more conversions, engaged. Maybe you’re starting to see where hiring a good content writer pays off?
In order to become a successful content marketer, you need to become or hire a good writer.”
Take nothing at face value. A good writer will want to know the truth behind the scenes and understands that things aren’t always what they appear to be. In B2B writing, this means learning a company’s products and services, plus the pulse of the industry they’re in, plus exactly what readers need to know. Only then can you find the real “power of story”.
Being investigative means researching and discovering the truths, best practices and the stories behind the stories. Always publishing truth. Useful information that is proven accurate is a must for your online content in order to establish yourself as an expert in the field.
People want to hear ideas, opinions and points-of-view in personal blog posts. Ignite emotion. It takes a blog/content marketing writer that can can use your emotional intelligence to influence readers so that blog visitors will convert to customers. Staying current on events and news, a good writer will take the information and deliver it packed full of valuable insight and discussion point. Discuss ideas. Often.
At Webdirexion, we’ve noticed a tension between wanting to play things safe, and just parrot the company public relations jargon versus being yourself in a blog post. We handle this by staying with a factual reporting style when detailing company and industry news, while using a personal touch when individuals write a post.
Content Marketing Writing Skills and Tactics
According to Joe Pullizi in an article titled, Beyond Storytelling: 7 Highlights from Content Marketing World 2014:
“Of course, making an emotional connection is key to storytelling. Just watching the highly energetic keynote presentation delivered by Andrew Davis was a lesson, in and of itself, on how to tell a great story.
But Andrew also shared the four elements he feels are vital for brilliant storytelling:
- Building suspense
- Fostering aspiration
- Driving empathy
- Harnessing emotion
The dynamic world of SEO and its constant updates and changes keeps content marketers on their toes. For good reason. Spamming is out and Google is all the way hip to each trick of the trades for spammy SEO. But, old school, natural optimization is alive and thriving. See our article, What is SEO and Why Isn’t It Dead Yet?
The infographic, chosen for this article (top right) gives a taste for some related and updated SEO writing skills:
- Write for humans. Too many SEO practitioners forgot about that until Google gave them a collective wack on the head.
- Forget about keyword density. Google knows if you are packing keywords, and this was never a good way to write for humans, was it?
- Use synonyms. Google’s semantic understanding has increased to where writing in this natural way wins you SEO points.
- Unfortunately, using the tilde key (~) before a search to find related keywords, is one of the changes Google keeps making — it is no longer available. We like Thesaurus.com, and also BigHugeLabs.com Thesaurus where we looked up Content and Marketing, and spun this semantic twist: Content Marketing = “Pleased Selling”. Not a bad, succinct mission statement.
Research best practices and implement. And repeat. Repeat again.
The Harmonious Balance for Blog Marketing
Take the personality profile of a good writer and equip them with the right SEO tactics and writing skills and you have an unstoppable blog/content marketing writer that can deliver that rich, engaging content you are looking for.
Content marketing — via blog marketing — and requires smart writing skills. If your company does not already have a good writer, you are likely suffering because of this and don’t even know it. Seriously. All the time websites will push big money campaigns, SEO optimization practices and other attempts to improve rankings, but with poorly written content. Seriously. That’s the problem. In order to become a successful content marketer, you need to become or hire a good writer.
What’s in a name? We chose to call ourselves an Online Marketing Agency… learn why in this article.
Content Marketing… or… Online Marketing? Short answer: Yes. Both apply. Right now, we’re going with Online Marketing, as in, Webdirexion is an Online Marketing Agency. Sure, the discipline of Content Marketing has become quite the rage in recent years, helped along by the realization that content can make connections that lead to customers. This is central to the work we perform at Webdirexion… so why not call ourselves a “Content Marketing Agency?” Short Answer: Content Marketing doesn’t define all that we do.
We recently redesigned our site, and are updating our brand, so that question came up a few times. To answer the central brand question — who are we? — we benchmarked competitors and saw they called themselves a range of things — from Digital Marketers to (more…)
Scott is Chief Optimizer for Webdirexion and includes Marketing, Content Strategy WordPress, CSS, Photoshop, Tai Chi, Pizza and Coffee among his passions.
This month, my “TacTech Talk” Column (a new feature bringing a fusion of Tactical and Technical tips for today’s marketers) will cover a recent lead gathering landing page test, some insights on site speed and WordPress themes, and SEO strategy tips.
First, I want to say wow — how great our growing team is… and thanks to each of you. All are currently taking online marketing and/or programming courses (including myself… see, you can teach an old dog). I’m lucky to be working with them as Webdirexion celebrates a new site, new logo, and some fun new client campaigns.
Making the Croc’s Happy — Test Lifts Leads for Resort Client
We recently ran an A/B test for Croc’s Casino Resort, arguably one of our funnest clients — a 17-story Hotel and Casino with three restaurants and a 4-star pool on the pacific ocean in Costa Rica. If you’re scanning the column, the takeaway learned is — always be testing to increase conversions and maximize your ROI.
We used Google’s “Content Experiments” and saw these results from our efforts: (more…)
Content Marketing = Publishing, and Publishing takes time, not to mention social media work. That’s why the Webdirexion team is always looking for efficient tactics for the marketing Battle, and today I’ll tell you about five B2B content curation tactics using two interesting services.
Note that we are also using a custom domain name tactic for our new Scoop.it curation site — we bought B2BContentMarketingTactics.com and routed it there.
First, what is curation as a Content Marketing tactic? Content curation is a general tactic whereby you search for the best content online in your niche, industry, and area of focus, then cull it together and usually provide value added by including your own summaries to position yourself as a thought leader (similar to what museum curators do). A recent article in Forbes gives more thoughts on how content curation has gone mainstream. There are a number of specific tactics and techniques, including (more…)