Content Curation vs Original Content: The Battle In Social Media Marketing

You may have heard that content is king in social media marketing. And that is true. But what many social media newbie marketers do not fully understand is the difference between using other people’s content (Content Curation) and creating your original content. When we created our social media courses and talked to some of our participants in the „Social Media Growth Basics“, I realized how important it is to be fully aware of where and when it makes sense to use other people’s content. And you need to be aware what results from social media marketing you will never get without your original content.

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First, let’s look at what we are talking about here.

What is Content Curation?

Content curation is the art of finding, processing and sharing content that was originally created by someone else. There are various types of content curation. The term content curation includes everything from sharing other people’s content on your social channels to using the content to create your own content, for instance in blog posts that collects „the best content of 2015“ or an article that compares several different opinions on one topic.

With regard to social media, content curation usually refers to the collecting and sharing of other people’s content like blog posts, videos or infographics on your own social media channels.

What Social Media Content Curation can do

The practice of social media content curation is great for adding value to your social media accounts especially when you do not have enough original content (yet). Often when you are starting out with your social media channels, you cannot satisfy the constant need for more valuable content with your content you or your company created. Then content curation can help you build your social media audience – even totally without own content as you can provide value to your accounts by sharing (curating) what other people created.

What content curation cannot do!You need to understand the difference between using other people’s content (Content Curation) and creating your original content.

Now, you may think: Why do I need to create my own content if content curation is enough to grow a social media audience? It is true that content curation can help you grow a social audience. If a social media audience is what you are looking for and nothing else, then content curation may be enough.

However, I am pretty sure, when you think about it, the social media audience you are growing is only a means to get something else… If you are only looking for an audience to brag, content curation may be enough.

Traffic, Sales, and a brand cannot be built on curated content. While you may manage to get an accidental sale or some fame for being a great source of information, other people’s content always means that you do not provide anything. And your audience is not stupid. They realize that the content is not yours. You will not grow trust and trust is the foundation of sales.

Curated content will also not help you grow traffic. Because curated content will send website visitors to other people’s websites where the content can be found.

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What can original content do that content curation cannot?

Your original content can give you a lot of benefits. You can drive traffic to your own website – where you can capture a percentage of your website visitors as leads and eventually drive sales. Your own content will also help you build your reputation as a knowledgeable person. Directing your social audience to various pieces of helpful and valuable pieces of content will also help you build your brand.

Quality is a necessity

The quality of the content you share with social media and the value your audience gets out of it are crucial to your social media marketing success. Many people try to add value to their social accounts through content curation and game the process by adding own crappy content to the mix.

For the real social media marketing success, the requirements on your own content are at least as high as to the curated content. Rather create fewer pieces of content but make sure they are of high quality. After all, you are trying to build a reputation and trust. Bad content does not help that. That is not going to work well. If you create original content, make sure it is the best you can make.

One or a few pieces of your own content is not enough

For social media marketing content is irreplaceable. And one piece of outstanding content is not enough. You need a constant stream of valuable content to keep your social media accounts active. The more original and great content you have, the more value you will get out of your marketing efforts: The more traffic you can drive and the more leads and sales you will be able to gather.

Your own content has impact that curated content cannot have: it shows who you are, what knowledge you have. Some glimpses of your personality or company culture that come through in your content will also not hurt your success. So why use content curation at all?

So why use content curation at all?

The magnificent thing about content curation is: You can use other people’s content to grow your audience long before you have a product and your original content. Or when you do not have enough own content to keep your accounts active you can add curated content to the mix. Once you have more own content you can then use this audience to drive success. Since one hard truth of social media marketing is that it takes a while to build an audience, starting early on to build your audience – even if it is with curated content – will give you a head start.

When we started our former startup I did not know about this. I created a Twitter account and did not know that I could grow my following right then. Two years later I started to grow my audience and it took a couple of weeks to see some small success. Now I have over 200k followers. Imagine what I could have done with my Twitter audience, if I had only known early on what content curation could do for me…

It would not have saved me from the need to create my own content with my own voice, but I would have had an audience to share it with right from the start.

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To sum it up

Content Curation is great to help you build your audience when you do not have enough of your own great quality, valuable content to share on your social media channels.

Your own original content is what will give you the real social media marketing success.

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  • Bess Obarotimi

    Curated content is great for startups with smaller budgets. They can share great viral content that their customers will love. We’re always advocating this!

  • Rick Stoneking Sr

    Fantastic Article Susanna,
    Always enjoy the Social Ms Newsletters too.

    2 Your Success!

    Rick Stoneking Sr
    International Travel Reviews

  • Selena

    Content curation is a great idea for newbie marketers and entrepreneurs, thanks for your recommendations.

  • Matthew Maurer

    I think curated content is a great way to “fill the gap.” Not everyone will have enough original content to continue to tweet out or post on their social platforms–and sharing the same content you have previously (while it can be effective) can also get old for people. That’s why there are social strategies like the rule of thirds–1/3 your own content, 1/3 engagement, 1/3 curation.

  • Jen McGahan

    I have hundreds of articles and dozens of landing pages on my websites, so I probably don’t “need” to share content as per your article. Yet I still curate content if for no other reasons than to interact with other people in my industry. I like sharing others’ good stuff because I truly feel good content adds value for my customers and followers, and I like to get to know other marketing influencers like you! I’ll share this post, too, Susanna! :)

  • Florin Aldea

    Content curation is a great way.
    Find more social media info on my blog.

  • Tom George

    Great article on curation for business. We have been adding both curated content and original content for a while with great results. I see many blogs offering guest posts as does ours, however I am not seeing many sites using the curation model to post much content. Any thoughts on this? Do you have a couple sites you like that post with curation?

  • David Burrill

    I really like the idea of curating content as a supplement to original content and guest posts. As others have said here, it is a great way to fill in the ‘gap’ in a given subject area.

  • Ameer Ahmad

    Not all of us are gifted to have an original content that will trend. But with help of others in your social media channel you can advance from being a newbie to the top. Thanks for this, Susanna!

    • TheSocialMarketers

      Hey Ameer,

      Only very few content pieces trend, and you won’t ever be able to plan for trending content. That’s ok though – as long as you still find your audience and get traffic to your content.

      However, adding curated content and connecting to other creators in your niche can easily take the edge of your content creation processes.

      Thank you for your comment. We’re gals you are here!


      • Ameer Ahmad

        I agree, Susanna. Thanks too and you’re welcome.