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The Role of Curation in B2B Content Marketing [Infographic]

The Role of Curation in B2B Content Marketing [Infographic]

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 third-party researches from Content Marketing Institute’s B2B Content Marketing 2015: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends and Ecollo Media’s 2015 B2B Technology Content Survey Report. Here are the results of our analysis.

Why Do B2B Marketers Curate Content?

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:

The main reasons for curating content as a B2B company

This lack of resources, be it time, budget or employees, is the reason curation attracted the attention of marketing departments worldwide. It allows 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 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.

Content Curation Goals

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:

The main goals of B2B companies when curating content

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.

Where to Curate?

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:

The best social networks for curating content as a B2B company

LinkedIn and Twitter is where B2B marketers get the most returns. For B2C businesses who provide B2B-like services where professionalism and reliability are critical for the customer (e.g. dentists, lawyers and accountants), it may also make sense to build a presence on Facebook and Google+ - such businesses are likely to find their prospects on these channels.

Apart from social networks, communities such as Reddit, Hacker News, Inbound.org and GrowthHackers.com can be effective channels. Curation is especially useful in these communities where direct promotion is rebuffed and curation helps adhere to communication ethics and remove the promotional tone from your brand’s image.

How to Curate?

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 thoughtfully blended in the 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:

Content curation best practices

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 the most optimal but is better than making a break in content publishing. To drive success on social media content needs to be shared continually and frequently.

The frequency of posts varies between social networks. You may get positive results on Twitter by tweeting anywhere between 3-50 times per day, with 10-15 tweets being considered optimal. On LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+ you may do well posting 1-6 times per day, with 1-3 times being considered optimal.

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, the specific times for your brand depend heavily on the industry you are in.

Content Media Types

Content is a broad term and includes various media types such as articles, videos, whitepapers 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. We, therefore, advise that articles comprise 75% of the media mix you use. The most popular article types in B2B content marketing are lists, how-to posts, reviews, opinions, interviews, researches and link pages.

Visual content is easy to consume and great for boosting engagement. We suggest blending 10% of visual posts with little to no editorial content like 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 prefered 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:

Share of media types in content

Putting It All Together

Content curation is a powerful tactic and can help you increase content reach, drive engagement, establish authority, capture a share of voice 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.

I hope this article sheds light on the basics of content curation and helps you to understand and position it in the context of your organization’s content strategy.

An infographic explaining B2B content curation

Infographic design by Sveta Sobolev

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