Content Curation Has Little Value Without Your Own Voice

When we here at The Social Marketers are discussing topics for articles we are going to write for our blog; sometimes I suggest a topic and Jonathan says: “Everybody writes about that, what is your special take on this? What will make your content really something people want to read and cannot find a million times on the web?”

That is a very important question to ask. We write a blog about social media marketing – there are probably few topics on the web that are covered with more content (that includes bad content, good content, and even great content) on the web than Social Media Marketing. The competition is huge. We aim to add value and not simply copy from already existing content. It is not our goal to cover the same topics that were already covered a million times. Or if we do that we, at least, try to add a special, personal twist.

In content marketing there is a lot of talk about “unique” content. But that is not all you need to be successful with building your reputation and brand. What really counts is the value you add to the mix: The additional value you provide with what you do and share. Maybe we marketers should rather talk about providing unique value instead of unique content.
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Content Curation Is Not Content Aggregation

That’s something that is often underestimated with curated content: Curating content does not mean you can simply collect links, data or information and republish them: You have to add your own take, a new angle, commentary or disagreement. It is great to collect information. But only aggregating other people’s content is not enough.

Heidi Cohen in her recent article on Content Marketing Institute gives a definition of content curation that emphasizes the difference between aggregating and curating content:

Content curation assembles, selects, categorizes, comments on, and presents the most relevant, highest quality information to meet your audience’s needs on a specific subject.“

Heidi especially emphasizes that content curation is

“…neither an aggregation of existing content nor references or links to supporting information“

On the contrary it has to add

„…editorial value through a personal perspective and commentary.

And that is exactly where content curation turns into a challenge. If everything is already said, if all information is already presented, it gets hard to find your own voice and add value to give to your audience.

Why should anyone read your content, if it only is a copy of other (better, more original) content we can find somewhere else?

That does not mean your content should not be inspired by other people’s content or link to great content. You simply have to be very clear: What is the value of your content in relation to other people’s content? What is the value that YOU provide?

Heidi Cohen lists several great methods to curate content and interesting content curation examples in the above-mentioned article. But there are also downsides of content curation where even “original” or “unique” content on the web is not the best you can create for your blog or brand.

Do you want to know how to use content curation to grow your social accounts? And how to use this audience to grow your traffic and generate leads? Check out our ebook “The Social Traffic Code!”


An Example

A while ago I was asked to share some Social Media advice for an article that collected tips from many social media influencers. The idea for the article was good: Share the best advice a number of influencers have to give. The article may even have been really interesting to readers. But the author added nothing to the content. He himself did not share his own tips. You might argue that guest posts don’t give anything from the owner of the blog either. But that is clear the moment you accept a guest post for your blog: You are not the author, it is not your voice.

Content Curation Has Little Value Without Your Own Voice, Finding Your own Voice for a new topic may be easier than with content curation

If I publish an article, it is my voice you should hear. The article should contain something from me. Some information only I can give.

The trick about the best content curation is not “collecting”. The fine art of curating content is to add your own view, opinion or insight to a topic someone else has already covered:

  • If you collect opinions from influencers or your audience: Add your own opinion
  • If you use other people’ s research data – add your interpretation
  • If you compile a list of infographics – state your opinion, your interpretation

Sometimes it is hard to add own value to an already covered topic. Covering a topic, that has not been covered before will give you your own voice in a natural way. You simply add value by opening the discussion about a new topic.

Your Own Voice in Your Own Topic Might Be Easier to Find

When you go for curated content, make sure you still have something to add of your own. Even if content curation sounds easy, it can be hard to find a new angle. In the end it might be easier to cover a new topic, open a new discussion. If you are not sure what you can add to an “old” topic, do not go for content curation.
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This article was proofread and edited by myself with the help of Grammarly. If you are blogging in English and cannot afford a professional editor, Try Grammarly Now! It rocks.

  • Techinplain English

    Yes, at first I didn’t know the difference. Then at some point, instinct kicked in and told me aggregators rarely add their own voice. Thanks for letting me see the issue in black and white.

  • Robert Thorpe

    Totally agree with Heidi´s comment. Your own personal touch must be applied as it´s the personality and passion behind the listings that truly make them unique and beneficial.

    It´s that touch which makes it clear that the curator hasn´t just searched ¨best of¨ and just complied them in a quick list too.

    A good example of curation instead of aggregation is Robin Good´s lists. It´s his personal approach which makes it truly valuable.

  • Content Key

    Great article and very true, often company content seems devoid of character/tone of voice. Often these content pieces are churned out by agencies that not aligned with the core culture of the company.
    The best people in your company to input on content ideas are the company’s ‘historian’ those who have been there a long time, often since formation, living and breathing the company values.

    We can help companies up-skill in house and align content with the heart and soul of the organisation.

  • Christopher Davis

    Great article Susanna! Curation needs to be an extension of your voice, not a substitute for it. A great tool I use to add context to our curated assets is

    Publicate allows you to curate content into a social share, newsletter, resource hub. Most importantly, it gives you the ability to add your own commentary and context to each piece of content. You can then embed you Publications in an email, your blog etc. They even have a feature to help you lead-capture.

    Here’s an example of what a Publication looks like (along with some great follow-ups on curating great content!) –

    Its a great tool for inserting your own voice and spin on your curated content. I highly recommend it!


  • Bill Carroll

    Great stuff Susanna! Curation is a great way to not reinvent the wheel but add a “new spin” so to speak and see where that wheel ends up. Great insight!


    We live in a business world where the common ground is copy the copycat. It’s always refreshing when somebody adds a unique point of view, adds their take, or take away, makes an improvement in the product, or reinvents the wheel.

  • Prathik Rammohan

    Couldn’t agree more Sussana. A healthy mix of original and curated content is a must. I would recommend DrumUp – for content curation if you’re pressed for time. It provides you with relevant content based on keywords provided by you. You also have the option of setting up RSS feeds or manually save links to your library.

  • Brandon Lazovic

    Nice post! I noticed that you had shared it through your social media account on Twitter; would you say anything has changed from the time this was posted to now?