How Great Content Marketers Curate as Great Writers Steal

There is honor among thieving writers… That is, there is honor in the way great writers steal. In The Sacred WoodT.S. Eliot wrote, “Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.”

The crux of this quote is that great writing doesn’t come from copy-and-paste con artists who pass off the work of others as their own, but from noble thieves who steal from rich writing to give something more. Stealing from this honor code of great writers, as content marketers, we too can ethically steal from rich content in order to add something more to our own marketing efforts…

A Gift by Association: As confident and competent as we may be in our content marketing efforts, there are always peers, mentors, or other people who are doing impressive or effective things which we could have never conceived on our own. In these scenarios, we should never just throw in the towel and throw away these opportunities by stopping at “I wish I’d thought of that.” Instead, we can actually highlight the great content that caught our eye and the content creator behind it in our own marketing initiatives. A great example comes from Jeffrey Cohen of Social Media B2B in his post 7 Examples of Innovative B2B Content Marketing. This post is a perfect, by the book example of creating new, credible content by highlighting outstanding content from other content creators. Not only is this kind of curation a gift of value to the readers who can discover new sources of information, but it’s also a gift to the content creators being curated who receive increased visibility.

Innovation in Translation: In other scenarios, we may find brilliant content aligned to one particular industry or audience, but for our own target audiences, it may not carry the right relevance or intrigue. Take what Marketo did with the game, Cards Against Humanity. The popular party game is hardly fit for professional audiences, but it’s definitely fun in the right personal circles. Translating the game for professional marketers, however, Marketo created a hit asset called Cards Against Marketing Madness. The game resonates with marketers, but it’s still an honest homage to the original source material.

Land and Expand: Frustrated by explanations on one of the trendiest topics of his day, immortality, Ralph Waldo Emerson famously wrote, “I hate quotation. Tell me what you know.” Likewise, when faced with complex explanations of our own products or services, our buyers don’t want to only see the knowledge of others in quotation; they want to see what we know as well. Quotations may still help us land in attention spans with relevance and credibility, but the next step is for us is to expand on these topics with our own insights. A great formula of this kind of land and expand practice can be seen in Kara Burney’s post for Track Maven, 10 Influencers on the Future of Content Marketing. Outright, this who’s who list of content marketers is what lands reader attention, but before even getting into the quotes themselves, Kara expands on the collected expertise by laying out additional insights from her organization’s purview. In addition, the guided questions of this post show value not only in the quoted answers themselves, but in the expertise to pull out such useful insights as well.

Create a Community of Crosspollination: Aberdeen research reports that 92% of organizations manage content creation entirely or almost entirely in house. Depending on the state of our own internal content houses, this can be a good thing or a bad thing. Historically, though, the houses and haunts of many famous writers and artists were filled with other famous writers and artists. Ernest Hemmingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald were one example of famous literary friends. When a few columnists for the New Yorker walked into a bar, the punch line became the Algonquin Round Table in another example. Internally among your own team of content creators, or even connecting externally with outside content creators, it can be extremely helpful to share, discuss, critique and expand on examples of great content. From creating content directly from these conversations, to inspiring and collaborating on new content, the circulation and curation of content can be the very lifeblood for your content marketing initiatives.

Do you have any insights to add on content curation best practices? Please share your perspectives in the comments below.

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