For the past couple of years, I have been honoured to participate in Implement Now, a virtual summit that brings together thought leaders and subject matter experts across a wide range of practice management areas.
This article provides additional details and links for my 2016 discussion with summit organizer Kristin Harad on the topic of how to curate great content.
In this article, I will cover the following topics:
- Six reasons WHY you should curate content
- WHAT topics you should be sharing
- WHERE you can go to find great content
- HOW to curate and share content effectively
- HOW frequently you should share content
- HOW to measure the results of curation
Six reasons WHY you should curate content
Curation is a foundational social networking strategy for adding value to your network and increasing your visibility. The target audience for your curation activities include your existing clients, as well as centers of influencer, prospects and professional peers. Content curation is NOT marketing. It is much more about building and enhancing your reputation.
Before we launch into the details about how to curate and share content, I want to review the key reasons WHY a financial professional would want to make content curation a fundamental basis of their social networking strategy.
Here are six reasons that you should consider:
1. Shows people what you know – Consistently finding and sharing high quality content related to topics about which you are knowledgeable actually demonstrates your knowledge. Writing original content is not the only way to exhibit subject matter expertise and thought leadership.
2. Adds value to “too much information” – We live in a world where information is so plentiful that it can overwhelm people and actually lose value. Sifting through the vast amounts of information and sharing only the best content is truly creating value when people are overloaded by too much information.
3. A generous act of giving – You know the feeling of gratitude you have when someone recommends a book to you and you read it and just love it? Sharing great content with people is similar. People feel gratitude toward you when you share something that answers their questions or helps them.
4. Share and show your personality – Many financial advisory businesses are built on relationships. And people need to know you, like you and trust you in order to want to do business with you. Curation is a great way to show not only what you know, but how you think and what you care about. Showing some personality gives people something personal to like, something they can relate to.
5. Drives engagement – By actively sharing interesting, funny and thoughtful content in social networks, you create opportunities to engage people in discussions. It is precisely these discussions that allow you to nurture and deepen relationships within your social network.
6. Increases visibility – Let’s face it, people are busy and their attention is limited. Frequent sharing of high quality content in social networks is one strategy for staying visible and gaining attention. Even if people are not clicking on every article you share, they are aware you are there and trying to add value.
Now that I’ve clarified WHY curation of content is such an important part of one’s social networking strategy, let’s turn to how to put in place a system for sharing great content consistently.
What topics you should be sharing
Determining what topics you should be sharing is the first step in building a curation plan.
The most important question to consider when sharing content is this:
WHAT DOES YOUR AUDIENCE WANT?
Many financial professionals mistakenly approach social networking as a marketing activity and fall into the trap of focussing too much on sharing content on topics that tie back to products or services that they sell.
Curation will be an effective strategy for you to be visible and get people’s attention only if you focus primarily on what information they want. Of course, you should also focus on topics that you know about. So the intersection of what your audience wants and what you have knowledge about is the sweet spot for content curation.
Here are some ideas for curation topics in which your audience is likely to have some interest:
- Personal finance – Topics like budgeting, tax planning, and retirement planning are of interest to a wide range of people.
- Financial literacy – I love topics related to financial literacy, especially how to teach kids good money habits, because these topics are likely to be shared among parents or even inter-generationally between grandparents and their adult children with kids.
- Productivity tips – Almost everyone works for a living, so good ideas about how they can adopt more productive work strategies and habits is of interest to many people.
- Networking tips – Similarly, networking is an importance activity in many business and professional settings and fresh new ideas about how to make effective connections is popular content.
- Leadership – This is one of those topics that works wonders. It both helps you demonstrate leadership qualities in yourself, while also attracting people who see themselves as leaders.
- Health and fitness – Many of us could stand to get more exercise and/or lose a few pounds, so topics such as how to eat well when travelling on business or two-minute stretches you can do in your office are very popular.
- Happiness and the good life – People’s life goals often revolve around being happy, living a good life and having a rich family life. Finances are seen as merely a path to these life goals. Focus on people’s true life goals.
Curation is about finding great content and sharing it. It presents you with an opportunity to share your interests and personality with your audience. All people have personal interests above and beyond their professional expertise. Perhaps you are interested in a certain period in history or an historical figure, perhaps technology and gadgets, or sports, or space exploration, or fine wine and dining. Maybe you’re an amateur musician or a hobbyist of some kind. You may have some community causes that are near and dear to your heart. These are all potentially good topics to integrate into your content curation because the reveal something about YOU that some members of your audience can relate to.
Finally, I always recommend that people look for content that is “evergreen” – that is, it stands the test of time and would be as relevant in a month or a year as it is now. That is not to say that you should never share timely information that is relevant; of course, you should. But content that is not tied to a particular event or date can often serve you well over a longer period of time.
WHERE you can find great content to share
There is no shortage of great content to share online, but finding it among the vast amounts of boring and unremarkable content can be a challenge.
Of course, what constitutes “great content” is somewhat subjective and open to each person’s opinion and perspective. I obviously bring my own biases to this discussion, but I also bring a lot of experience pouring through content to find just the right content to share with my own clients and prospects.
Here are some strategies I have used to find great content online:
1. Find content on LinkedIn Pulse
Most financial professionals are already using LinkedIn regularly and the Pulse news section of LinkedIn offers lots of relevant, easy-to-share content for your network. It can be tricky to find the LinkedIn Pulse section because of the notoriously awful user interface and navigation within LinkedIn, but if you log in to LinkedIn and click https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/discover/ you should get there.
LinkedIn Pulse allows you to follow thought leaders (such as Richard Branson, Sallie Krawcheck, Mohamed El-Erian, etc.), channels (including topic areas such as Leadership & Management, Economy, Banking & Finance, etc.) and even individual publications (eg., Harvard Business Review, The Economist, The New York Times, etc.) and then makes suggestions of content you may be interested in. A regular visit to LinkedIn Pulse will usually reveal an article or two worth sharing to your LinkedIn network.
2. Use Twitter to share what influencers share
Twitter is widely used as a way for people to share content with their audience and this makes it a great place to find great content to share with your audience.
Start by finding influencers and thought leaders on Twitter that are sharing good content in areas that are of interest to you. This takes some time, but you don’t need to find thousands or even hundreds of these influencers on Twitter. All you need is to follow a dozen or so active Twitter sharers to find some good content to share with your audience.
Once you have identified your best Twitter sources of relevant content, you can track them conveniently using a Twitter list. Create a Twitter List for any group of Twitter accounts you want to pay attention to and then view that list to see only those users’ Tweets. Twitter Lists can be public or private. If public, then the Twitter accounts you add to the list will be notified and anyone can see the list on your Twitter account. If private, no notification is sent to users when you add the to the list and only you can see the list. Private Twitter Lists are a great tool for monitoring a small number of high-value Twitter accounts.
Finally, Twitter makes it easy to mention the author or source of a great piece of content that you share and you should not miss an opportunity to give credit where credit is due. One of the greatest benefits of curation is engagement. Mentioning content creators or other sharers is one of the best (and easiest) ways to build engagement in your network.
Note: Twitter has recently introduced a curator tool of its own for identifying Tweets in a particular topic and curating a stream of public Tweets that can be embedded on your website. To try it out for yourself, login to Twitter and visit Twitter Curator. This video offers basic instruction in how to use Twitter Curator.
3. Strategic searching with Google Alerts
Google Alerts have been rumored to be on the chopping block for some time now, but while they are still around they are a useful tool for identifying topical content to share.
Google Alerts basically allow you to create a Google search and have the updated result emailed to you on a regular basis (weekly, daily or as they happen). In my experience, Google Alerts can be very helpful when you are looking for very specific search terms, for instance if you are monitoring for references to a person’s name (perhaps your own) or a specific company. It’s great to have this information emailed to you as soon as Google registers it in their search engine.
However, broad search terms are far less effective in Google Alerts. Much like a broad search term might return results that contain the keywords, many of the results can be irrelevant to what you’re looking for. Google Alerts suffers the same problem and often requires you to spend additional time to filter the results that are emailed to you. This can still be a source of great content discovery, but often involves more time than you may have.
To access Google Alerts, login to Google and visit https://www.google.com/alerts then you can add, edit or delete any number of alerts.
4. Curate the curators
One of the most reliable ways to find great content to share is to pay attention to others that are curating content. Curate other curators. After all, they’ve already poured through vast amounts of content and picked out what they think is best. These kinds of lists represent powerful shortcuts to finding great content for your audience.
Here are a few of my top sources of amazing content for my audience:
- Dave Pell’s NextDraft – Dave curates a free daily newsletter with at least 10 links to topical and high-quality news stories.
- 20 curated newsletters – Dave Pell isn’t the only one curating content for free. Buffer has compiled 20 of the best free newsletters with content to share, including Atlantic editor Alexis Madrigal and Austin Kleon.
- What the NYT are reading – Who wouldn’t be interested in what editors and writers at the NYTs are reading? You can subscribe and they’ll tell you.
- What Tadas Viskantas is reading – Blogger Tadas Viskantas maintains a popular financial blog entitled AbnormalReturns.com in which he curates content virtually every day. This is a treasure trove of high quality content.
- Ritholtz’s Big Picture – Barry Ritholtz is an influential financial blogger that regularly shares his morning and evening reading. This stuff is gold!
How to curate and share content effectively
Social networking platforms are designed for sharing content. Located at the top of LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and virtually any social network is a place for you to share your thoughts and ideas, or an article you want your audience to read. Native sharing like this is fine, but it’s time consuming and since it all happens in real time you need to dedicate more time to sharing throughout the day and week.
Many regulated financial advisors may have a compliance-mandated social media platform that they are required to use in order to share content to their social accounts used for business purposes. There are a variety of such platforms in common use, including Hearsay Social, Socialware, etc., but this article will not cover the specifics of using any of these platforms.
Instead, I want to focus on how to curate content to a variety of social networks and will highlight the use of Buffer as a tool for scheduling and distributing curated content to your audience.
The goal in curating content is to create a continuous stream of high value content for your audience and to do this in as efficient a manner as possible. Content needs to be distributed continuously and consistently to your social networks so you maintain visibility.
I’ve found Buffer to be the ideal platform for managing this distribution of curated content. Here’s how I’d suggest you use Buffer. First, create a Buffer account and connect your social network profiles to your Buffer account (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ pages, etc.).
Then, for each social account, you can set up a schedule for sharing which acts like a queue. Say you want to share 3 times a day to Twitter, at 7:30 am, 1:30 pm and 9:00 pm, and you want this to be your schedule for all 7 days of the week. That means each week you have 21 slots to fill in your Twitter distribution schedule with high quality content. Each time you add content via Buffer, it will go to the end of your Twitter queue. (Note: In the sample screen below, I have 9 scheduled Twitter sharing slots each day, for a total of 63 slots for the week.)
Working with this kind of scheduling system allows you to sit down on Sunday, for example, and find 21 great pieces of content you want to share. Then you can let Buffer distribute those shares to Twitter at the pre-set times through the week and you don’t have to worry about maintaining your Twitter feed manually. This is a highly efficient way to share content with your audience.
This same queuing mechanism applies to all of your social accounts. You set the schedule and then add the content and Buffer distributes it.
How frequently should you share content
One of the most common questions I’m asked is how frequently you should share content to your social accounts.
There is no hard and fast rules about frequency of content sharing. Some studies have suggested more frequent sharing sharing is beneficial, but to a limit. Other studies suggest that sharing on certain days and at certain times times produces better engagement, but the benefits are typically marginal.
In my own experience, I find engagement can come at any time of day, depending on the quality of the content. Weekends are as good a time as weekdays to share for a similar reason that early mornings or later evenings are good times to share: busy people are often catching up on social network activity they may have previously missed.
In the end, each person needs to find the right frequency that works for them and their audience.
However, I would suggest that you consider the characteristics of the social networking platforms you are sharing to. Twitter, for instance, is by its nature a higher frequency platform. Most of your Tweets are not going to be seen by the vast majority of your audience since people typically use Twitter sporadically through the day. In order to be visible to more of your audience, you need to be Tweeting more frequently throughout the day.
Sharing once a day or once every few days is not going to help your visibility on Twitter, whereas sharing 3, 6 or even 12 times a day on Twitter will increase the likelihood of your Tweets being seen.
LinkedIn is typically less of a frequency medium, but sharing more frequently can also work on LinkedIn. Sharing valuable content, say, one to three times a day on LinkedIn will help you stay visible while not annoying your connections.
And this is where everyone needs to find their own comfort zone with sharing frequency. Your followers and connections have complete power to tune you out if you are boring or annoying them. So stop worrying about over-sharing. If you are truly committed to finding and sharing great content and adding value to your networks and audience, the quality of your sharing will encourage people to stay connected with you even if they feel you over-share a bit. Nevertheless, I’d always recommend starting slow and gradually ramping up the frequency.
One final note on re-sharing. Most social networks exercise some form of filtering so that not all of your content reaches all of your connections, followers and friends. And not everyone is online all the time waiting to read what you are sharing.
Buffer’s data analysis tools (based on data they get from your social accounts) can tell you which shares get the most engagement. Your most popular shares are giving you feedback that shouldn’t be ignored. People clicking on and re-sharing content means they LIKE that content. You should be re-sharing your most popular content in your networks because of this feedback. On Twitter, you can re-share a popular Tweet, perhaps with a slight variation on the text. Same on LinkedIn or Facebook. This is one key way for you to get clarification about what content your audience wants.
How to measure results of curation
The proper measure of success in curation activities is engagement. How many people are viewing your content – what is its reach? How many people are clicking on or sharing your content – is engagement with your content rising?
We’ve already touched on how Buffer can be used to gauge engagement and then leverage this data to re-share popular content.
Twitter offers detailed analytics (https://analytics.twitter.com/) for measuring engagement for each Tweet. Dividing the total number of engagements by the total number of impressions for a given Tweet, Twitter calculates an engagement rate for each Tweet. A variety of other audience metrics are available via the Twitter analytics site.
LinkedIn Premium accounts offer some analytics related to profile views and shared content in your activity feed. Profile views on LinkedIn is a reasonable way to get at overall engagement since it represents some level of interest in you. LinkedIn also allows people to “follow” you without being a connection and that’s another good measure of engagement. Followers on LinkedIn receive automatic updates when you publish long form articles on LinkedIn or share content on your activity feed.
Finally, you’ll know you are having success with your curation activities when you start to receive anecdotal reports from your network that they appreciate the content you are sharing. You will meet with a client or receive a call from a prospect and they will mention that they like the content you are sharing and find it very valuable. You can be assured that there are others in your network that feel the same way.
Keep it up. Return on your investment in finding and sharing great content is within reach!
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