Over the course of the past few years, a shift has occurred in the content we post and share on Facebook. As businesses, it began with us sharing as much of our own content as possible. It was rare that we shared posts by other businesses or brands; after all, that’s our audience, our viewership, why should we dedicate it to others?
These days, sharing the posts made by other people is the key to success. No one wants to follow your page just to see posts you make on your own site. If all they want to see is your site content, they can just follow your site.
Your Facebook page, today, should be a hub for industry content, not just your own content. However, there’s an art and a science to this form of content curation, or “stitched content”. You can’t just share anything that comes across your path. You need to pay attention to what you share, who posted it originally, how much it’s been circulated and how it fits with your audience.
Okay, so it’s not strictly true that a page with no curation is doomed to fail. Some popular pages only share their own content. Just take a look at PCMag’s page for an example. Half a million followers isn’t bad. Then again, take a look at a page that does curate; George Takei. A man who primarily shares third party content has racked up 8.3 million followers.
Content Curation Guidelines
So you want to get into content curation, but you don’t know where to start? Before you begin, you should learn the ground rules.
- Use a content curation suite. There are a whole bunch of tools available to use, depending on your CMS, how much you’re integrating your curation with your blog, and what tools you may need. Pick one and give it a shot; you can always change if it doesn’t work out.
A content curation suite allows you a bunch of extra flexibility in curating content. You can schedule posts, you can track their performance, and you can generally turn curation into a well-tuned machine designed to benefit your page.
- Schedule curated posts in a mix with your own posts. How many curated posts should appear between your posts? That’s a question for the ages. In the extreme examples above, George Takei curates dozens or hundreds of posts in between each of his own personal posts. PCMag curates nothing. Your ideal is likely somewhere in between.
Here’s one example; if you post 14 times each week – twice per day – ration out your posts. Figure you post 1 highly tuned advertising message, 4 of your own posts, and 9 curated posts in a week. That gives you plenty of exposure on your own page, but doesn’t drown your readers in branded content.
- Avoid curating promotional content from other brands. This one is simple; you want to show informational content rather than advertorial content. You’re not a billboard or a spokesman for those other brands, right? Unless you are. In which case, well, go ahead and be as promotional as you want.
- When curating, copy as little of the original content as possible. This is part of the ethics of sharing content. You don’t want to copy so much of the content that you trigger copied or scraped content penalties, for example. This is less of a problem on Facebook than it is on your website. Facebook allows you to share posts and add your commentary, while still listing the original source. Speaking of…
- Always identify the source of the curated content. Curation is all about community and sharing. If it looks like the post is coming from your site, you lose out on the association with other brands. You also look like you’re potentially stealing content. Neither is a good thing. Facebook makes it easy to trace a post back to its source, so make sure to do the legwork before you share.
- Provide added value to the content you curate. Clicking share on a post and forgetting about it isn’t good curation. You need to add a comment to it. On Facebook, all you really need is a sentence or two explaining the value of the piece and hooking your readers into viewing it.
- Curate from a wide range of sources, lest you look like a paid affiliate. If you’re always curating from the same 2-3 sources, you look like a partner for those sites. Curate from around the web; hundreds or thousands of authoritative sources exist in your industry, if you know where to find them.
- Never promote curated content. This one is simple. Why would you pay to promote a piece of content that does you no good in terms of conversions?
So, with those ground rules out of the way, it’s time to move on to the actual nitty gritty of content curation; content discovery and sharing.
The first thing you’re going to want to do is set up a feed of possible content to curate. Feedly is a great tool for this, though you can use anything that works for you. The idea is to aggregate the publications of every authoritative source you like, all in one place.
As you find content you might want to curate in this feed, set it aside. Don’t immediately schedule it; you don’t want to fill your feed with content you scheduled, only to need to go back and remove posts later to fit in better posts. Consider this first stage the gathering of raw materials.
Once you have a pool of posts to curate, examine each one in more detail. Remove those that are too promotional for your tastes. Remove the ones that don’t fit with your brand, on a second review. Remove any others that turn out to be secondary sources, or that don’t have as much depth to them as you would prefer.
Once you have your more focused feed, begin to schedule these posts. Make sure to leave room in your content schedule for your own posts. As you add posts to your scheduled feed, make sure you’re adding value to them. Add a question or a comment to engage readers and offer your brand perspective on the content. Done properly, people will engage with your post after reading the content.