Many of the companies that I speak to about content curation spend months debating their content curation strategy. The question most companies tend to ponder is “On what topic should I be curating content?” It’s an important question to answer correctly because you will spend a significant amount of time creating and curating content on the topic you choose. Here’s a three step guide to help you find the right topic.
Step 1: Survey the Competitive Landscape
In content marketing and content curation, your competitors are not the companies who sell similar products or services. Rather, your competitors are organizations who publish content on the same topic as you. Your content marketing competitors may be other companies that publish content on your desired topic and also happen to actually compete with you in the market place as well. Trade publications that publish content on your desired topic that compete for your audience for your desired topic can be considered content marketing competitors as well.
To survey the competitive landscape, you should look for other sites that cover the same topic. You may find that some of the sites do cover your topic but only some of the time. They may also cover other topics as well. That’s a good opportunity for you as a curator because now you can hand pick only the most relevant content from that source for your audience. You may also find a great blog that is dedicated to your topic, but only publishes an article a day or less. Again this is a great opportunity for you, the curator, because you can hand pick that content and share it with your audience along with other content that you may have found.
Your real competition is another well-maintained, curated publication on the same topic. If you find that one already exists, there are three things you can do:
1. Determine if you can curate content better than they can by being more comprehensive, more relevant, or more consistent. If you are able to do so, you will likely have a publication that is more attractive to readers.
2. See if there is a different perspective or opposing point of view that you bring to the table. Even if you tend to curate the same content, doing so from a unique perspective is often enough of a differentiator that you can stand out.
3. Try to broaden or narrow your topic. If your initial topic was offshore wind farms, you can try narrowing your topic to Atlantic Ocean Wind Farms or broaden it to Wind Power. By doing so, your content overlap with your competitor’s will decrease, increasing your chances of standing out as the foremost resource on a topic.
Step 2: Survey the Content Landscape
Content curation, the process of finding, organizing and sharing relevant information on a specific topic, relies on third party content. In order to become a successful curator on your topic, you need to determine if there is enough content to curate.
For this step, you can survey the content landscape with a variety of tools. Plug your desired topic into Google Blog Search and Google News. Next sort your results by date and see how many articles are being created per day or week. Try the same in Twitter as well. You can also make a list of blogs that sometimes cover this topic.
Now, putting all of these sources together, can you curate at least 4 articles a day? You will find many more interesting sources once you start curating but you should be able to curate at least 4 articles a day to start. If not, you may want to broaden your desired topic.
Step 3: Survey your audience interest
Even if you have a great topic that passes the competitor survey and the content survey, you must ensure that it is a topic that will draw an audience, and not just any audience, but the target audience for your business.
One easy way of getting a quick sense of audience interest is to use Google’s keyword tool. This tool is designed for advertisers to measure search volume for various keywords for pay-per-click campaigns. However, it can also easily double as a proxy for how much interest there is online for your desired topic. This is good way of telling -if- there is interest in the topic you chose, but it’s not very useful in telling you if the audience that’s interested in this topic is the right one for your business. To determine that, you may have go out and ask a sample of your customers if your topic resonates with them.
Putting it all together: Finding the Sweet Spot
At this point your challenge is to find a topic that passes these three tests. Once you have found such a topic, you have found the sweet spot that maximizes your likelihood of succeeding.
It’s easy though to get stuck on a topic that passes two of the tests but not all three. Here are a few examples:
Passes competitor test and audience interest but not content test. You have a great topic “paper based liquid chromatography.” There are no other resources dedicated to this topic so it passes the competitor test. You know your audience is deeply interested in this topic and there is decent search volume so it passes the audience interest test. However, it fails the content test — there’s very little third party content on this topic to curate on a regular basis. One possible solution is to broaden the topic to “liquid chromatography” which has more content.
Passes content test and competitor test but not audience interest test. You company sells outsourcing services and your target audience is VPs of Engineering at software companies. You choose a unique topic of “Next generation tablets.” There are no other sites dedicated to this, and there is sufficient content for third party sources. But the topic is flawed because it has nothing to do with your business. Though it may attract a technical following, it is not going to specifically attract VPs of Engineering who are interested in outsourcing services. A better topic may be “outsourcing management best practices.”
Passes the audience interest test and content test but not the competitor test. You sell a secure operating system for iPhones that can be managed by enterprise IT departments. You choose the topic of “iPhone Business Productivity” tips and news. It caters to the right audience of iPhone oriented business professionals. Furthermore, there is a plethora of content on this topic. However, there is an established publication on this exact topic that has dedicated full time staff that not only curates but creates content multiple times a day. It’s going to be an uphill battle to displace them. You may want to choose a less covered but relevant topic like “iPhone security issues in the enterprise.”
By choosing a topic that passes all three tests, you will be curating on a topic that interests your audiences, faces minimal competition and has sufficient third party content. Once you have identified this topic, you will need to start curating. We have two eBooks that may help you here:
Read about why content curation is a must have for your organization, and how other companies have built a solid case for curation as a central part of their marketing strategy.