5 large stones balancing on 2 planks, with the ocean in the background.

Your marketing content - finding the right balance

August 25, 2021 / Katharine Gebhardt

Remember that fearsome playground memory – the teeter-totter? As a 45-pound weakling, I spent a lot of time with my feet dangling far off the ground, with a bigger kid holding me captive from the other side. If a teeter-totter is going to work, you need the right balance. Content marketing (your blogs, articles, white papers and social media posts) is like that.

You want the right balance of original content and “curated” content to achieve the best results.

What’s the difference between the two?

Think about your personal Facebook or other social media feeds. Original content is when your neighbour posts a picture of his soccer team’s first practice. Curation is when he shares a cartoon that he just saw. It’s not his own original content, but he found it funny and he thinks his friends will too.

What is the right balance?

There’s no hard and fast rule. After all, a large corporation might have the resources to create a lot of their own content. Smaller shops may find they need to rely more on some clever curation. A good guideline is 60% content, 40% curation.

Balance is key, though.

Think of the person whose Facebook feed is full of jokes and memes, and nothing else. It isn’t as easy to connect with them as meaningfully as the person who consistently posts original content showing you what’s going on in their life.

Your balance doesn’t depend solely on the resources you have available.

Typically, original content is great for “converting” a digital shopper to a customer. Curated content creates lots of conversation. So, when you decide on your balance, it’s a good idea to think about which is going to do your business the most good.

Curated content isn’t just a “back-up” – it’s a powerhouse, too.

In some ways, curated articles and posts can get you further than your own content. And you definitely need at least some curated content, because it:

  • Ensures your feed isn’t all about you.
  • Boosts your reputation, because sharing gets you farther online.
  • Improves your brand. That’s because you elevate your profile when you become seen as a part of the conversation in areas of interest.

How do you find the right material for curation?

Above, I mentioned that you want your content to do your business the most good possible. That means picking the right content.

There are tools to make it easier. Tools like Google alerts, Feedly and Hootsuite alert you when there are new articles or discussions about your topics of interest. You choose the topics, put them in the tool and choose how often you want an alert. You may need to experiment with your topics, so that you get only the most relevant content.

Ensure it’s reputable. Only use sources you know (companies or people in the industry with well-known names and good reputations). Good starting points are universities and research institutions, well-known media, trade journals and associations, as well as government bodies. When in doubt, Google the author.

Tips for successfully curating content:

  1. Curation is not aggregation – it needs to support your goals. Be selective, and know what your community values and thinks is important.
  2. Watch your engagement numbers to monitor what really works for you and resonates with your customers.
  3. Let your brand and values guide you. Any member of your team who can post on your social media channels needs to understand those well.

Let’s go back to the previous example of the joke shared on Facebook. Your neighbour, if he’s a curator, shares things he finds funny and knows his friends well enough to know they will also find it funny. Pretty soon you’re sending stuff back, because you know and understand his sense of humour. This is what you’re striving for, rather than sending out everything you see on a topic. Curation is a conversation.

Two hard and fast rules to remember:

  1. If it’s not your own, give credit for the content you share.
  2. Always add your own voice to it, with a short impression, thought or addition to the article.

Get started today: Start with your business objectives. Will you consider conversions (from browsing to sales), or conversations (to support your brand) a success? Once you’ve decided that, you can start experimenting with different levels of curated versus original content, based on the time and resources available. Don’t forget to take advantage of the shortcuts to find great curated content too.

Like the teeter-totter, keeping it balanced takes a bit of experimentation.

Since there’s no absolute rule for the amount of original content versus curated content, you may go through some trial and error to figure it out. But be true to your brand, aim for balance, keep an eye on measurement and you’re bound to find the right mix for your business.


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