What is Social Media Curation and how does it work?

You could learn all of the social media marketing tips, tricks, trends and best practices in the world, and it still wouldn’t solve one of the biggest challenges many of us face when it comes to managing social on a day-to-day basis: 

“What the heck to post about?!”

What is Social Media Curation?

See if you can relate to this: 

You know that there’s value in social posting for brand building and business growth, so you find a few spare minutes in your busy schedule as a business owner or brand manager, and sit down at your computer to publish some posts. 

But then your mind goes blank:

  • What should you say?
  • How should you say it? And when, and on what network?
  • What do your followers want to see?
  • What do they want to know?
  • Should what you say be self-promotional or not promotional at all?
  • What about photos and videos?
  • And what about tags, hashtags and links?

It’s a lot to consider! 

And it doesn’t even consider the most important thing: how to publish social posts that will help to support your business goals, whatever they may be, in a meaningful and measurable way.

It’s why many entrepreneurs, business owners and brand managers either give up and leave their Timelines and Newsfeeds outdated (or worse) empty, or fill them with quick-and-dirty content that’s posted just for the sake of posting and doesn’t take into account any of the opportunities or challenges associated with social posting. 

And those opportunities and challenges are many:

  • Opportunity: A great social post can turn strangers into fans and then followers and then paying customers and then brand evangelists who help to spread the word about your business.
  • Challenge: A bad social post can turn people off so that they simply stall at that “strangers” stage — never following, engaging or buying. 

Add in a seemingly endless number of options and variables, like:

  • What are your goals? Different social post types support different goals.
  • Who’s your audience? Different audiences are on different networks and respond to different content.
  • What’s happening in the world, your industry, your community, or your business?

No wonder it can feel hard to put fingers to keys and get something published. 

Of course, it’s not impossible — there are lots of brands, businesses, individuals and influencers posting great stuff on social and seeing solid ROI. But in lots of cases they’ve got more time, more money and more know-how than we do. 

Meanwhile, you’re busy — very busy! And it may be completely unrealistic to think that you’ll find the time to pore over draft posts every day, week or month in order to get content online that follows best practices and helps to fulfill your goals.  

That’s why social media content curation is such a good option.

What is Social Curation?

First, it’s important to note that there are different kinds of social and/or content curation — primary two, with different definitions, different functions and different benefits: 

  1. Social Content Curation: Stuff you source and share
  2. Curated Social Content: Stuff you get and (with permission) make your own 

1. Social Content Curation: Stuff you source and share

Or, “the act of discovering, gathering, and presenting digital content that surrounds specific subject matter“ (eContentMag). “It’s about finding great content [produced by other people, brands, business and organizations] and presenting it to your social media followers in a way that’s organized, meaningful, and adds value (for the audience and your brand)” (Hootsuite).

Sharing great, relevant content adds value and variety to social Timelines and Newsfeeds and should be part of every brand or business’ social posting strategy. (Note: It’s critically important when curating content in this way to always provide credit (ie: source link or citation) to the original creator.)

2. Curated Social Content: Stuff you get and (with permission) make your own 

Or, the act of buying (or getting and using with permission) pre-written social content, modifying to make it your own, and publishing it to your social Timelines and Newsfeeds as you would created contentAnd if the curated content in this case is good, it’s an excellent way to get social content online in much less time and with much less effort than creating posts, captions, updates and Stories (for example) from scratch.

It’s that second kind of curated social media content we’re talking about here — stuff you get and make your own. (Though, to be sure, every brand and business would benefit from using both curation strategies in their social media marketing.) 

How Social Curation works

There are a variety of social media curation services and solutions available today, each with unique strengths and shortcomings. But most work like this:

  • You sign-up; subscription-based (monthly) model
  • You get a set number of generic or fill-in-the-blanks social posts or ideas for social posts (prompts)
  • You get some element of creative asset support:
    • Ideas for photos, videos and/or templates
    • Links to suggested royalty-free or for-purchase photos, videos and/or templates
    • Access to photos, videos and/or templates included with your subscription
  • Some service subscriptions also offer some element of information, education, training, tips or support
  • Then you take the posts and creative assets and “make them your own”, publishing that content to your social accounts as if it was yours!

Again, the idea with social curation in this sense is that a person, brand or business can “do social” much faster, cheaper and easier than producing content from scratch. The goal should be to find a social curation service that does all that — faster, cheaper, easier — while also providing great quality content that will help you to achieve your social goals.

So how do you choose the best social media curation service? 

The best social curation providers offer the following:

  • A system that’s easy to use
  • Pitch-perfect posts that:
    • Follow best practices; include a variety of post types for a variety of goals
    • Are designed to build awareness, get engagement and drive traffic
    • Can be easily customized
    • Can benefit a variety of brands/businesses (not a single-note voice)
    • Can be posted to more than one social network
  • Photo, video and template inspiration
  • Strategic social planning advice and support
  • Social media marketing tips and training

Watch out for some of the below shortcomings inherent in today’s social curation offerings:

Curated by whom? Many are provided by social influencers who’ve enjoyed their own social success and are now sharing their hard-won tips and tricks via curated social content. The problem here is that what worked for them (their voice, their industry, their brand or business, and their audience) won’t necessarily work for yours. Instead, look for a solution built by a social media marketing expert with experience in social media for a variety of industries, brands and businesses.

Fashion over function: Many offerings include original photos, videos and templates that you can use. Oftentimes they’re beautiful and it can seem like a real bonus! But beware — the risk here is that you and your peers will all be using the same post copy *and* images and your Timelines and Newsfeeds will end up looking very similar. While it can be hard to resist getting access to great photos and videos, you may be better off seeking inspiration only and then taking or sourcing your own. It should also be noted that often when the subscription leads with an offering of beautiful imagery, the post/caption copy quality seems to suffer.

You can’t just post and win… You can’t just publish social posts and expect to succeed on social media. There’s much more involved, including – importantly – engagement and paying for reach. Look for a social curation service provider that offers some element of insight and information in other areas of social media marketing so that — all in one handy place — you can get what you need to succeed.

The Benefits of Social Curation

Fact: Using a (good) social media content curation tool will save you time, money and stress. It’s that simple.

  • Time: Instead of spending hours wondering what to post, curated content can be customized and published on social in minutes. (You can even save more time by batch-scheduling curated posts in advance (either inside the social networks themselves, or with a Social Dashboard like Buffer, Hootsuite or Sprout Social.)
  • Money: Hiring an agency to manage social media marketing is likely best practice for most brands, but can be cost-prohibitive. Luckily, you can do it yourself and find success, so long as you do it well. High-quality curated content will help, allowing you to avoid wasting time wondering what to post — work smarter, not harder. It’s less expensive than hiring an agency and (time is money!) will allow you to spend more time out growing your business in other ways.
  • Success: Getting social content and support from an expert will help you to avoid some of the pitfalls brands and businesses make when they first start in social. And if you choose a good tool, you’ll get content that’s been created to help you achieve common social media marketing goals, like building brand awareness, growing followers, increasing engagement, and driving traffic. What could be better?

Ready to get posting?

Learn more about Social Curation by Stir/Social Marketer, and never wonder what to post again. Get  social posts, photos, strategy and training for your business from  social media marketing experts for just $39/month. Click here for a free trial — say hello to free posts!

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