How to curate content responsibly

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How to curate content responsibly

If you work in content marketing but look to sources outside your organization for content, you probably engage in content curation. This can mean simply aggregating and sharing content that you know your audience will be interested in, or it can involve doing research to generate your own content, when you are not a subject matter expert yourself.

Either way, you want to make sure that you are going about it the right way and providing well-sourced information. Here are a few things to keep in mind when curating content from the web to share with your audience:

Use the most authoritative sources.

Example: With our consumer-focused website, Green Home Guide, USGBC publishes articles not just on LEED homes, but on general green living and choices the average person can make to have a healthier home. Our marketing staff often does online research to find the best data and resources for our readers.

When finding content to cite or share, we make sure to focus on authoritative sources—websites from organizations that have a reputation (the U.S. EPA, the International Energy Agency)—and sometimes we also use well-known sustainability blogs. The name/recognizability, Google ranking and professional appearance of a site are all factors that can help you recognize a good source. Never use Wikipedia as a source, since it can be edited by anyone.

Check the footer if you’re not sure—sometimes, sites hide what they are really about and by whom they are run. What seems initially to be an informational article on indoor air quality and health may actually be a marketing piece by a litigation firm. If content is from a website run by a company related to your industry, make sure that the content is not overly promotional.

Search with strategy.

Be smart about the keywords with which you search—focus on the most relevant terms, and avoid emotionally or politically loaded keywords. If I am writing a piece on how new, clean energy technologies are helping to slow the effects of climate change, I will get back more scientific and useful results by Googling “climate change mitigation” and “energy-efficient technology,” than if I look up “global warming disaster” or “how to stop oil and gas industry.”

Also, if you are sourcing data from a news article, follow the links back to the original source: the academic study, publication or release being described. Use that original link in your piece.

Save time by zeroing in on what you need.

There’s a lot of information out there. Save content you come across as you find it, for future reference. I started a spreadsheet of academic studies relevant to our work at USGBC, with statistics on green building, nature and the environment, green jobs, and human health and wellness. I can go back to this document to use quotes and statistics when I’m writing on one of these topics.

When you’re doing research, scan potential content sources quickly, and don’t waste time wading through entire articles to get to the info you need. If what you need isn’t reflected on the first page of an article or clearly pointed out in a subhead, move along.

Then, take the time to craft the piece.

It takes time to create even short articles, if you want them to be useful. After doing your first draft, think about what questions the reader might have, based on that copy, and then answer those questions in your second draft. In my experience, the average time spent researching and writing a 300-word curated content piece is about 2–4 hours, depending on the complexity of the subject.

Structure your article to allow for easy scanning by the reader. Whether it’s a straight curation of other sites’ content, as in a weekly content roundup, or a weaving in of cited sources to an original article, make it simple for the customer to get the point, to scroll down for more detail and to click through to useful links for more information.

When presenting content you’ve researched, never cut and paste. That’s plagiarism. Always rephrase or summarize the source’s information, and link to the page where you found it.

Pro tip: Once you’ve got a good library of content, curate your own content and do a roundup of previous resources that had high engagement.

Doing your due diligence to present the best, most recent and most authoritative content for your readers will pay off! When I began generating more of our content in-house this way, we saw our pageviews almost double. Respect your audience’s intelligence, and they will return to your company for more of what they need.

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Engaging with holiday hashtags on social media

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Engaging with holiday hashtags on social media

Global and national holidays provide a number of ideal opportunities for brands to engage on social media in a more personalized and creative way. Not every holiday will work for this within your overall social media strategy (Talk Like a Pirate Day, Take Your Plant to Work Day). However, when they do (Earth Day, Martin Luther King Day, Veteran’s Day), they can become impactful moments to lead or join online conversations that are relevant.

Here are five tips on how to tactfully participate in some of these moments, along with some tools picked up along the way.

1. Get organized.

First things first. We are big fans (and clients) of the social platform Sprout Social, and Sprout happens to have an excellent downloadable 2020 calendar complete with holidays of note.

Sprout pro tip: “Research the holiday! Don’t just fill your content calendar—make sure the holiday aligns with your brand, values, and most importantly, the values of your audience.”

USGBC social media - get organized

2. Be you.

This is not an opportunity to totally reinvent the wheel. Your brand should already have a personality and voice—let that shine through.

Sprout pro tip: “Brands need to step back and remember what makes them so highly engaging on social in the first place—connection. Be respectful and do not appropriate culture.”

USGBC social media - brand voice

3. Hashtag the holiday.

Research the official hashtags that are associated with the holiday, as well as any affiliated trending words. This will be essential in joining social conversations with larger, untapped audiences.

Sprout pro tip: “Ensure that your brand’s actions back up your Tweets. 70% of people believe it’s important for brands to take a public stand on social and political issues. A social campaign celebrating #EarthDay could be a great fit for a brand that’s made a concerted effort to be more sustainable—but it might not be the best fit for a brand that doesn’t take steps to limit their environmental impact.”

USGBC social media - hashtag the holiday

4. Get personal.

Holiday engagement leaves room to be a bit more casual. Consider taking this opportunity to engage 1:1 with your audience. This can include staff video testimonials or sharing a behind-the-scenes experience. There’s even the option of running a poll, which adds an interactive element for fans.

My pro tip: Similar to the suggestions above, don’t push options that aren’t realistic. Video is great, ideal even, but it is conditional and sometimes difficult to do well in the moment. You could have trouble with service/connection, audio clarity, nice lighting, etc. A well-branded graphic that pops is a perfect start. Consider Canva for ideas.

USGBC social media - get personal

5. Maximize stories.

Piggybacking off of the previous tip, Instagram and Facebook stories are excellent ways to celebrate holiday cheer. Personalization mode is basically built into the tool itself. It is lighthearted, multidimensional and entertaining.

Sprout pro tip: “50% of all marketers say posts that entertain are more effective in helping them reach their goals than discounts and sales content.”

USGBC social media - maximize stories

Now you are on your way! Keep these tips in your back pocket for moments when you are looking to connect with folks in a meaningful and dynamic way. Happy holidays (in advance)!

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