As a leader in your company and in your field, you share your own experiences. It’s a good thing to do. Your stories and the lessons you’ve learned will be valuable to your colleagues when they face similar challenges. By passing the information along, you will be serving them well.
You can share your stories and lessons in person, or on social media, or in a blog like this one. But it’s important to remember: not all the content you share has to be your own.
Four Reasons to Share Curated Content
Curating content means finding the most valuable information that other people have produced, adding value to it with your own comments, and sharing it with your audience. Like a curator in a museum, when you curate online, you don’t paint the pictures. You choose what to display and what to say about each piece.
Why would you want to curate content on your blog or social media?
- Somebody else said it best. You know what’s in the piece you’re passing along, and you could have said it yourself. But somebody already found the right words to make the point for you.
(I’m a communications consultant, and when I want to explain to people why having a communications strategy matters, I hand them this graphic from Kivi Leroux Miller. Or when I want them to understand marketing personas, I tell them to take a look at John Haydon’s ebook. So think: who are the people in your field that you want to quote?)
- You’re modeling curiosity and generosity. When you curate content, you set an example for your colleagues. You teach that they should be listening carefully to others, recognizing what’s important, remembering it, sharing it, and giving credit where credit is due. Think what that will do for your company if everybody follows your example!
- You can publish on a schedule. Consistency is crucial if you want an audience to read you regularly. By including curated content, you don’t have to write a whole new piece from scratch every time. You can even schedule ahead, using a tool like Hootsuite or Buffer to set the time your posts will appear on social media.
- You’re feeling stuck for ideas. Let’s face it, everyone’s well runs dry from time to time. If you curate other people’s work, not only will it give you something of theirs to publish—it may also inspire you about what you can write, yourself.
How to Find Good Content to Share
When you go looking for what to share with your audience, the problem is not quantity but quality. We are drowning in posts, tweets, email, and news. How do you find the good stuff?
First, figure out what your audience is interested in. No matter how well written a piece may be and no matter how fascinating it may be to you, your audience will never give it a second glance unless it solves a problem for them.
Next, set up Google Alerts for key terms related to your audience’s area of interest. Make them specific: if your audience wants to know about health insurance, then “Obamacare” will bring you one set of results and “Medicare Part B” will bring you a different set.
Go on and search Twitter for people who tweet about your issue. If you search on a key term (“information security,” let’s say), you’ll see all the tweets that include that term. Some may be irrelevant to you. (Do you really want to know that Sarah Kennedy is the new Information Security officer at Exampletech, Incorporated?)
So you may be better off searching on the hashtag #infosec instead: the people who use it intend you to find them if you’re interested in that specific topic.
Follow the people who put out content you like on the topic your audience is interested in. That could mean signing up for their email list, subscribing to their blog, or following them on social media (including LinkedIn Pulse, a stream of content a lot of us forget). Whatever form you like to receive your information in, follow them that way.
And now you have a stream of content filtered for your audience. Your job as curator is to pick the best nuggets out of the stream and pass them along.
Expert Tips for Content Curators
- Don’t auto-post. Even if it’s a good piece from someone you trust, it may look terrible when you move it from one medium to another. Take the time to make it look worth reading.
- Do acknowledge the source. Make it easy for your readers to tell which are your words and which are somebody else’s. If you can, link back to the original.
- Do introduce the curated piece. If you’re using it on your blog, put the piece in context and add thoughts to make it more useful for the specific audience you’re addressing. You’ll have to be briefer on Facebook (a sentence or two) and even briefer than that on Twitter, but add value and give it your endorsement.
- Make it easy for others to share what you post. Even though you have 140 characters to play with on Twitter, if you keep your tweet to 120 or fewer, then others can add their wisdom when they retweet. It’s another way of being a serving leader.