To succeed in e-commerce, brands need to craft exceptional content and present it in an engaging way. But they also need to use that content to get customers talking about their industry, brand, and products. Content curation, which refers to the process of finding and presenting content organized around a specific industry or topic, has become an important tool in helping companies ignite these conversations.
Content curation is already being used in e-commerce. Amazon's food blog Al Dente is a great example of this--it covers a broad range of topics that indirectly relate to Amazon products. Some brands have also begun using Pinterest as a way to showcase their products. In all cases, curated content helps consumers avoid mediocre Internet content, linking them to helpful and entertaining information.
Where is content curation headed? And what should companies be doing to make sure they're driving conversations about their industry and products? To get a better understanding of this topic, I turned to Pawan Deshpande, the CEO of Curata a company which aims to make it easy to curate and market content.
Content Ping: When did content curation really take off?
Pawan Deshpande: People have been curating in various forms for a long time--finding, organizing, and sharing content online--often without even knowing it. Over the past year or so, however, with the help of consumer-oriented companies like Pinterest, it has really taken off. The term "content curation" has become more commonly known. In the B2B space, where my company, HiveFire, primarily operates, we're finding increasingly more companies are considering content curation as a way to reach their prospects and customers. The topic of curation was ubiquitous at SXSW this year and several books have been published in the past few years on the topic.
Content Ping: What is the driving force behind its popularity?
Pawan Deshpande: The short answer is that content curation is a way to make sense of the chaos that exists online today. Whether it be curating your own content or visiting a site that was curated by someone else, you can access a wealth of relevant and timely information on a particular topic at a one-stop destination instead of spending hours surfing the web through mediocre content.
Having the freshest, most relevant content helps push sites to the front pages of the search results... improving SEO.
Content Ping: What challenges and opportunities does content curation pose for companies that sell products online?
Pawan Deshpande: A company that sells products online has the opportunity to define their brand as a trusted source on whichever topic they choose to curate content on, if they adhere to best practices. By curating content from sources beyond the company's brand and providing honest insights to industry trends without constantly attempting to pitch products, readers will begin to see the company as a go-to resource for reliable information.
Having the freshest, most relevant content also helps push sites to the front pages of the search results, thus there is an opportunity for improving SEO. One challenge curators come across is finding out how to best share content without being too self-promotional. One way to avoid this common downfall is to curate various types of content beyond only that which is directly related to your products. Content Curation Marketing, our company blog, is an example of balanced content curation and is also a great resource for those who want to learn more about it.
Content Ping: In your opinion, are most consumer brands currently doing a good job of curating content?
We found that more than half of B2B marketers (56 percent) now implement content curation.
Pawan Deshpande: I think there are some companies out there that are doing a really great job adhering to the best practices of content curation by providing original content as well as curating the most relevant and timely third party content available. There are always areas, however, that can be improved when curating content. One thing that comes to mind is ensuring content is delivering what readers want. It's key in a content curation strategy to evaluate how readers are interacting with the content provided in order to see what is providing value and what isn't. If there are a large amount of views on an expert Q&A, for example, it may be that the curator wants to post a similar style blog post. It is also important to consider how readers are accessing the content to determine the best way to share it. For example, if readers are not accessing your content in newsletters, it may be worth distributing it via social channels.
Content Ping: Have we reached a point where most major e-tailors understand the importance of content curation?
If a company is selling widgets, they need to ensure their content not only touches on the benefits of widgets, but also explores the various conversations existing beyond that.
Pawan Deshpande: Given that their business is centered online, most major e-tailors understand the importance of having content on their websites for prospects to consider when visiting. Content curation, as a specific strategy, may be less well-known at this time, but, if they are not practicing it now, they likely will soon have to.
Through HiveFire's recent B2B Marketing Trends Survey, we found that more than half of B2B marketers (56 percent) now implement content curation, a notable 17 percent increase in adoption when compared to a similar survey issued six months prior.
Content Ping: Do you think automated recommendation systems on sites like Amazon will make e-commerce content curation unnecessary?
Pawan Deshpande: Recommendation systems may work for impulse consumer buys, but for major purchases and B2B dealings content curation will remain very necessary since the purchasing decision usually is a longer, more-informed process. In these decisions, having access to fresh, relevant industry information will be more valuable than a recommendation system.
Content Ping: Do you see curation as driving consumer conversations in the future? What will this mean for brand integrity?
Pawan Deshpande: Content curation is and will remain a driver of consumer conversations in the future. Companies will be able to maintain brand integrity by being honest and not deceiving customers with their content. If the company is selling widgets, they need to ensure their content does not only touch on the benefits of widgets, but also explores the various conversations existing beyond that. Proper disclaimers and including content beyond your own, such as that of competitors and industry luminaries, will be helpful in doing this. When adhering to these best practices, curators can define their brand as a trusted resource for prospects and customers, improving both brand awareness and integrity.
Pawan is the CEO and visionary behind Curata, a solution for content curation and content marketing. Prior to founding Curata (formerly known as HiveFire), Deshpande held positions at both Microsoft and Google. Pawan attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for both his graduate and undergraduate degrees in computer science.