The Ultimate Content Marketing Battle: Creation vs. Curation

If you’re working on your content marketing strategy, you’ve undoubtedly come up against this idea of content creation vs. content curation. Which is better? Which generates more leads? Which results in higher conversions? Which should you be prioritizing?

It would be great if we could give you a single, straightforward answer. Of course, since your company is different from that company, which is different from that other company, well – we can’t.

However, we can offer you some helpful guidelines to follow when you’re deciding how to work out your own creation vs. curation equation.

For a more in-depth exploration, you might want to check out our CEO Shama Hyder’s new book, Momentum – Content Curation is one of the 5 principles she details.

First, some definitions.

You might already be clear on how content creation and curation differ, but here’s a quick primer just in case.

Content creation: This is what you’re doing when you’re writing blog posts, creating infographics, or developing e-books that you then market to your audience.

Content curation: This is what you’re doing when you’re gathering great existing content from around the web and sharing it with your audience.

Pretty simple, right?

Why should you create content?

Creating your own content, as you know from all the buzz about content marketing over the past few years, is vital to building your brand.

This is actually very old news. Content marketing doesn’t owe its life to the internet.

As far as those in the know can tell, it actually got its start, like so many other things, with Benjamin Franklin. According to this very cool infographic from the Content Marketing Institute, The History of Content Marketing, Benjamin Franklin published his first Poor Richard’s Almanack back in 1732 in order to promote his printing business.

History of Content Marketing 2016

via Content Marketing Institute

As you can see, companies have been putting resources toward content marketing for literal centuries. Why? Because it works. And in this age of the internet, it works even better.

Creating content, from blog posts to e-books to whitepapers, will help you:

  • Generate new leads, because it brings people to your website
  • Improve your Google results, because Google’s algorithm is highly favorable toward original content
  • Drive conversions, because the people who are on your site already to look at a piece of content are more likely to become purchasers

And that’s just the nuts and bolts. Creating content is also a major part of developing your brand’s voice. Customers today want to know what companies stand for, what their attitude is, and how they define themselves. Content is the best way to convey this.

Take the women’s athletic wear brand Lululemon. Lululemon built up a massive following with their signature yoga pants, and they’ve further capitalized on that with the content on their site.

Labeled under “Inspiration,” features include recipes, interviews with athletes, yoga teachers, and nutritionists, and travel posts featuring Lululemon devotees in beautiful places like India and Ireland – wearing Lululemon gear, naturally. These different pieces of content work together to convey the values of lululemon, the brand: health, feminine strength and empowerment, and pushing oneself past one’s boundaries.

via lululemon

Another benefit of content creation is that it can elevate your status as a thought leader in your industry. This is especially important for B2B businesses, which can leverage whitepapers, e-books, webinars, podcasts, and other “meatier” pieces of content as evidence of their expertise.

GE may be one of the best examples of a (mostly) B2B brand that goes big on content creation. The company has a huge content marketing initiative that puts out web series, podcasts, an online magazine and more. While its main audience is other businesses and individuals in the science and engineering space, the content is so well done that GE Reports stories often go viral.

via GE Reports

Since your company owns all the content you create, you can really get a lot of mileage out of it. Repurpose e-book content for blog posts, turn a webinar into a podcast, pull stats from a report into an infographic – the possibilities are endless.

The downside? Content creation is highly resource-intensive. Writing captivating blog posts, creating quality podcasts, making developing useful webinars – it all takes the right people plus a good deal of time and money, which is why so many companies outsource some or all of their content creation.

But what do you do if you just don’t have the resources to create as much content as you’d like? That’s where content curation comes in.

How to be a good content curator

As we mentioned earlier, content curation is the act of gathering already existing content that’s relevant and interesting to your audience and sharing it with them.

It’s a simple concept – basically, it’s as if your company is saying “Hey guys, I read this today and found it really interesting. Take a look.” If you’re sharing stories from news outlets, posts from other businesses in your industry, even funny photos of dogs and babies, then you’re performing content curation.

But to be a master of content curation, you have to emphasize that second word – “curation” – over the first.

Think of what a museum curator does. She gathers together artifacts or artworks related to a specific topic, but there’s nothing haphazard about it. A museum curator adds context that only those with a specific knowledge of that topic can offer. She arranges the pieces of an exhibition in a way that makes sense, that is accessible, and that helps viewers soak up that knowledge themselves.

Ideally, that’s what you want to do when you curate content for your brand’s audience. You want to select pieces of content from around the web that your audience might be interested in, but you also want to add the context that only your brand can offer.

“Information is common. Knowledge—information contextualized by wisdom—is rare. In a world filled with noise, your customers yearn for filters to help them find the signal. Curating the right content through the filter of your unique expertise, and making sure that content is also current, relevant, and easily accessible, builds your credibility with customers. Becoming the go-to resource in your industry makes your marketing momentum unstoppable.”

from Chapter 5 of Momentum: How to Propel Your Marketing and Transform Your Brand in the Digital Age

To get an idea of how to be a good content curator, just take a look at The Skimm, a daily newsletter that rounds up the most important news, current events, and culture stories of the day and adds context through editorial content. The goal is to help readers become more informed on what’s happening in the world.

repeat-after-mevia The Skimm, Sept. 8, 2016 edition

Plenty of companies send out newsletters with the top news stories of the day, but The Skimm is unique in that it provides an informed, up-to-the-minute opinion on these stories.

Now, this doesn’t mean that tweeting a link to something cool you just read shouldn’t be part of your content curation strategy. Sharing content through social media is important, too, and it can help shape your brand’s image. But you don’t want these on-the-fly shares to make up the bulk of your content curation strategy.

Instead, you want to put some time and thought into how you curate and share your content. Do you want to have a “What We’re Reading” section at the bottom of your newsletter? Do you want a dedicated newsletter that rounds up content on a certain topic? Do you want to keep it simple with a “Daily Read” that you share across all your social media channels?

There’s no right or wrong answer. All you need to do is decide what makes sense (and just as important, what’s sustainable) as a part of your larger content marketing strategy.

What’s great about content curation is that it takes less time than content creation. Adding it into your content marketing toolbox will allow you to keep adding fresh content to your site even when you’re short on resources.

When used together, content creation and content curation can help you develop an unstoppable content marketing strategy. For more on how to create great content, read our post “10 Expert Tips on Creating Stellar Email Content.”


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