How do you decide between original content and curating it? The experts weigh in.

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Welcome to the third installment in our content marketing series, this time focusing on whether to fund new content or to leverage other people’s content through curation.

It has now become an age-old question for content marketers and social media managers: Is it more effective and a better use of resources to create your own content in-house? Or is it better to leverage the flood of relevant content out there on the web and curate content? Or should we do a mix?

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Original content producers have long advocated for how customized content is more effective and more on brand. Others who curate prefer to use someone else’s voice or think they can post more content via curation, making it a more effective strategy.

Spoiler: There is no right answer. But we asked three admirable companies to tell us how they choose to break the two down:

Kevan Lee from Buffer: All Original

Everything we do on the blog is original. I think on social media we might be somewhat in the minority in that we tend to share our own stuff than we do others’. And so in terms of curation, I guess we curate individually to get ideas to inform our original content. I’m not quite sure if the curation is as evident to someone on the outside or to a community member.

We used to have a feature within Buffer called Content Suggestions, which was a curated list of content that Courtney would curate on a daily basis. So curation fit really well within that product element.

In terms of marketing we’ll share lists of stuff we find really useful, but for the most part we are 9:1, sharing our stuff compared to others.

Gregory Ciotti from Help Scout: A trial with curated content that worked

Right now we write our own content, though we did try a series with curated stuff.

It was basically a curated email on everything we’ve been reading on that particular topic. We didn’t want to manage a separate email list, though people actually suggested a separate email list.

We did had a whole separate set up for creating it. It needs to be written in a way that really hones in on a specific angle of a topic. Maybe do something about remote team culture and narrow it down to 15 links or so you’d be proud to suggest for something.

And then have an original write up. I’ve only done one, but I wrote a meaningful summary under each. These kind of curation pieces still demand a lot of thought.

People really appreciated it. There were zero complaints and it was really successful.

Clair Byrd from InVision: All contributed

My speciality is contribution content strategies [when users create content]. It’s really easy to understand what to make when people tell you.

Everyone will tell you to listen to your audience. Spend time with people and understand their pain and what teams are coming up against most frequently, and then align your business goals with the teams.

The harder question is: What kind of content do you make?

My recommendation is to have the budget test all forms and make things that you can rip apart into new mediums.

If someone is building a brand focus on contributed media then also do more traditional PR activities and pull them back and see what works the best.

I also do headline tests and landing page tests.

Then there is also an intangible. I think that content marketers have the most room to use their gut out of any kind of content markets. You can’t get to what gets to people’s hearts unless you use your own. If I have a really strong inclination after seven hours of looking at Twitter, I’m going to do that.

Data-driven decisions are really important, but you wouldn’t be doing your job if you didn’t use your instinct.

As far as curated content, I think that curated content itself is completely and utterly useless unless you’re testing. If you want to understand if your audience is interested in a UX topic, curated content could be a good way to see if there is interest in that type of area.

But beyond research, I have ethical problems with curation, and I would rather spend my time working on a contributor network than working on curation.

That said, I don’t think this is true for all content organizations. It depends a lot on your people. My audience wants unique stuff. They want unique opinions.

So my answer is just to test your own audience and then figure it out for yourself. There’s no end-all-be-all number.

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Author: @feedly

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