Content Creation and Curation

How do organizations maximize their limited resources and take advantage of various online channels to not only put out information they themselves create, but to recycle content – content from their community, and also content from other organizations and resources that are relevant to their work and useful to their community?
Content curation (the act of finding, grouping, organizing and sharing the best and most relevant content on a specific issue online), can be very resource and capacity-friendly if done strategically. The challenge is in the strategy however: which channels should be used for which purpose? What kinds of content works best? What kind of volume? Frequency?
According to a forthcoming report: “Content Creation and Curation in Your Communications Mix” by the Nonprofit Technology Network and Idealware78% of nonprofit organizations do not have a curation strategy. Yet time-strapped organizations are still using lots of channels – almost four each on average: websites are the most widely used, followed by broadcast email, then direct mail. Facebook is the next most widely used, followed by Twitter, YouTube, then blogs.
Regardless of whether you are a nonprofit or a for profit company, how can you maximize your time and be strategic about giving your audiences the best of what's out there through the right mix of content creation and curation?
1. Start with your goals.
For each "stream", ask your self:
  • Who is the target audience?
  • What does that audience care about?
  • What's going to encourage them to engage?
Identify the channels you're planning to use, and what audiences are going to be the main focus of each.
2. Aggregate potential content into a single place first.
Pull in good resources so you have them all in one place, and then decide from there how to parse them out to different channels.
  • Find an aggregating tool that works best for your team (workflow, ease of use), and your end goal (what kind of content? for what use?)
  • Divide things to follow across team members, according to their interest, so that it becomes more manageable and part of everyone’s workflow
  • Assign someone to define what's in the queue and where the curated content goes– what makes sense for your Twitter feed, Facebook, eNews, etc.
In addition, repurpose the queue wherever possible; you’ve spent the time gathering resources, be sure to pull the best resources out and use them elsewhere as much as you can.
4. Find the "ideal" mix of created-to-curated-to-promotional content.
Not all social media tools are created equally. Twitter and Facebook, for example, have the most complex mix of use and not one type of content; while for blogs and e-newsletters, original content is typically more dominant. A good informal rule of thumb for content: aim for 1/3rd curated, 1/3rd new content (including curated new resources), and no more than 1/3 promotional.
3. Match each tool to the kind of content strategy you have there.
Don't start with the tool and ask "what can I use it for?" Ask "what do I want to accomplish?" first, then match the right tool and strategy. Some examples:
  • On Twitter, re-tweeting is really important, but make sure you're adding to the Twitterverse value rather than just pinging the same info around that everyone's already seen elsewhere
  • For blogs, people expect original content, but a really useful blog could have its primary purpose be to round up information from elsewhere and put it in context for readers
  • Publish a "Best of the Web" newsletter to round up other good nonprofit tech blog posts and articles from around the web
  • Send a daily e-mail with links to the best articles of the day, as well as news from other sources
4. Use fewer channels more strategically.
It doesn't make sense for busy small and medium-sized nonprofits to be experimenting way out at the bleeding edge of tools. Let large nonprofits and the business world figure out what seems to make sense, and what's a good return on the time, and then do that.
Organizations that take the time to be strategic about content on their various online channels are more efficient and ultimately ensure the ongoing relevance of their work.
Idealware has a free Social Media Decision Maker’s guide, that includes a lot of research, demographics, and a workbook that can help you decide what social media channels make sense to use for what.

Natalie Zensius is a marketing communications strategist with experience in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors. Learn more about Natalie.

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