In order to support complex sales cycles and generate qualified leads, it’s considered a good practice among B2B marketers to match content to buyer stages. The goals for early buying stages include raising brand awareness, establishing authority in the industry, increasing reach and engaging targeted audiences. These early stage goals require the most content to be published and this is where content curation is most useful, being a cost and time effective tactic to fill up your content calendar.
Curation, even though broadly adapted among content marketers, is often misunderstood or underused. To answer the questions why, where and how to get started with content curation, we combined our data at inboundli with researches from Content Marketing Institute’s "B2B Content Marketing 2015: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends" and Ecollo Media’s "2015 B2B Technology Content Survey Report". Below are the conclusions we arrived at.
Content marketing is a great way to establish a long lasting online presence and brand authority that continually feeds a B2B sales funnel with targeted prospects. Ironically, high-quality content is what content marketers lack most. The 4 main challenges that marketers mention as contributing factors to shortage in content are:
This shortage in resources to create in-house content, be it time, budget or employees, is the reason why curation attracts the attention of many marketing departments. Content curation helps to fill up your content calendar and consistently publish a variety of high-quality content at a fraction of the time and cost that is required for creating similar content. And in fact, 82% of content marketers use content curation to establish engaging channels with valuable industry news and to get a share of voice in an increasingly competitive content marketing landscape.
Since the top purpose of curation is to establish engaging content distribution channels, curation goals are directly tied to the volume, consistency and quality of content that needs to be published. Marketers name the following curation goals as most important:
Increased brand awareness, engagements and authority strengthen your content distribution channel. These lead to an increase in visibility and engagements with in-house and promotional content. In this context, curation supports goals such as lead generation, lead nurturing and up-selling which are tied directly to improving content marketing’s ROI.
Social media is all about building reach and is therefore the preferred content distribution channel, utilized by 92% of B2B marketers. When it comes to specific social media networks, there is a disparity between the most popular social channels to the most effective ones, which can be seen in the following statistics:
LinkedIn and Twitter is where B2B marketers get the most return on investment. For B2C businesses who provide B2B-like services where professionalism and reliability are critical for the customer (e.g. dentists, lawyers and accountants), may also find relevant prospects on Facebook and Google+.
Apart from social networks, communities such as Quora, Reddit, Hacker News, Inbound.org and GrowthHackers.com can be effective channels. On these channels, direct promotion isn't well-received and curation is especially useful to adhere to communication ethics and remove the promotional tone from your brand’s image.
Curation is the process of finding, selecting and making content accessible for a target audience with the goal of increasing reach towards industry professionals and potential buyers. As a result, it’s vital that curated content is highly relevant and tactfully blended in your overall content strategy.
The 10-4-1 rule is designed to give an outline of the optimal ratio for blending curated, original and promotional content in a B2B social media environment. The rule is broken down in the following way:
If the optimal ratio is not achievable under your specific circumstances, a variation of the rule can be used. A 50-4-1 ratio might not be optimal, but is better than making a break in social posting. To effectively grow your share of voice on social media it's vital to share content consistently and frequently.
The optimal frequency of posts varies between social networks. Depending on your target audience, you can get positive results on Twitter by tweeting anywhere between 3-15 times per day (I suggest starting at 3-5 tweets). However, on LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+ the upper limit for B2B companies is around 6 posts per day, with 1-3 posts being optimal in most cases.
Knowing how much and how often to curate leaves one question – when to curate? According to our research that focuses on B2B audiences, the most popular times to curate content are between 8 am and 1 pm. The times that get the most visibility are between 1 pm and 6 pm, while times that generate the most engagements are between 6 pm and 11 pm. That being said, optimal times times for your brand depend heavily on your specific audience and industry.
Content is a broad term and includes various media types such as articles, videos, whitepapers, infographics and podcasts. Selecting appropriate media types requires knowledge about your prospects and their needs in the various buying stages.
B2B buyers who are in the early stages of a sales cycle and only start getting exposed to the problems your brand solves, engage with articles and visual content the most. Since early stage buyers are the largest portion of your audience at any given time, articles should take central stage in your content strategy. For that reason, we advise that articles comprise 75% of a company's media mix. Now as to which articles to post, the most popular article types in B2B content marketing are lists, how-to posts, reviews, opinions, interviews, researches and link pages.
Apart from articles, visual content is easy to consume and very effective at boosting engagement. We suggest blending 10% of visual posts with little to no editorial content such as charts, infographics and memes. Since images also increase engagement with editorial content, articles shared on social media should likewise be accompanied by images when possible.
During the middle and late buying stages, prospects attempt to understand a problem, consider solutions and define a shortlist of preferred vendors to compare. This is when brands need to showcase their unique value proposition and differentiate themselves from the competition. At this buying stage it make sense to scale down the portion of curated content in favor of in-house content which achieves a better job at showcasing your brand (unless you are curating a positive review or a product comparison that includes your brand).
In these later stages, whitepapers, tutorials, videos, webinars, podcasts, slideshows and detailed guides are most useful. These media types can be successfully used in curation but best kept at under 5% of the media mix.
Optimal share of each media type:
Content curation is a powerful tactic and can help you to increase content reach, drive engagement, establish authority, capture a share of voice on social media and create a great experience for your brand’s audience.
Curation delivers the best results on social media, with Twitter and LinkedIn being the first two channels to tackle. Using the logic behind the 10-4-1 rule, choosing the right times to post and using a healthy mix of media types will help to affordably build engaging content distribution channels.
You can see the key insights and statistics from this analysis in the infographic below.
Infographic design by Sveta Sobolev