content curation helps lawyers“Content Curation is the practice of finding, organizing and sharing the best and most relevant content on a specific topic, rather than solely creating all content yourself.”
-Pawan Deshpande, CEO of Curata

I spend a lot of time speaking with lawyers and legal marketers about their social media and content marketing strategy. Most of the conversation focuses on the content that they are writing and how they are going about promoting that content.

Included in that conversation, is the post I wrote on Thought Leadership for Lawyers: 10 Tips on How to Build Your Personal Brand. I talked about starting with purpose, identifying your audience, and yes, creating and repurposing original content.

Creating valuable and engaging content on a consistent basis is the linchpin of any successful thought leadership platform and social media strategy. However, one critical element that is often ignored is content curation.

A well executed content curation strategy can have as much impact on your overall success on social media as the creation of original content. In fact, when working with clients, I often recommend that for every original piece of content that is created, there should be at least five pieces of content curated. This is frequently referred to as the 80-20 rule of content marketing.

So what exactly is content curation and why should lawyers and legal marketers consider it to be a critical component of their overall digital marketing strategy? To put it simply, content curation is the practice of finding valuable third party content, applying your analysis or point of view to it and sharing it with your audience.

There are two inherent benefits of curating content. First and foremost it enables lawyers and legal marketers to demonstrate to their audience that not only can they create original content on a particular topic, they also recognize other useful content when they see it and they provide value by sharing that content with their audience.

For example, if my area of expertise is emerging technology, and specifically, artificial intelligence in the practice of law, it is important for me to create content on a consistent basis that demonstrates my knowledge and experience in that area. Just as important is my ability to find, organize and share relevant content from others on that topic and add my own personal analysis to their content. My analysis could be as simple as a recommendation that my followers read the content or it may point out important elements of that content that should be considered.

We live in an age where time and attention are two of our most valuable and scarcest resources. By providing carefully curated content to your target audience, you are providing your audience with great value. You make it easy for them to stay “in the know” on a particular topic, which enables you to build trust with your audience. This is of extreme importance, because trust is the key element behind any meaningful relationship. The more your audience can rely on you to keep them “in the know” the less they have to worry about exhaustively searching through other sources to make sure they stay on top of the developments on any particular topic.

The truth is that most people on social networks share other people’s content. However, most do it without rhyme or reason. They don’t explain the potential significance of what they are sharing nor do they take the time, like a museum curator does, to carefully select and share only the content that their audience will deem to be truly valuable. In order to provide benefit to your audience, it’s important to give careful consideration to both the “what” and “why” of the content you select to share.  It will be of no help to you or your audience to share items that are of nominal value or completely off topic.

Content curation also has a secondary and equally important benefit. It provides lawyers and legal marketers an opportunity to build relationships with other content originators on social networks. There is no better way to start a relationship with someone on social media than by sharing their content. By sharing, you are acknowledging that you consider their contribution to be valuable enough for you to pass on to your network.

This is an especially powerful technique for those looking to develop relationships with influencers on a particular topic. For example, if I want to develop a relationship with professionals who are experts in the area of data security, I will make sure to follow the content they are creating or sharing and then look for opportunities to share that content with my network.

The etiquette underlying all social networks is based on a quid pro quo. If you share an influencer’s content with your network, eventually the influencer will recognize that fact and will start sharing your content with his or her network. This is a nice added benefit to content curation. However, this should not be the focus of the content you are curating. You need to think first and foremost of your target audience and what content they will find to be of most value. If the source of some of that content comes from someone you are trying to build a relationship with, then that is an added benefit for you.

Content curation can also serve as a good source of ideas for the content you are creating. In my own work, there have been many instances when I will end up writing a full blown blog post out of a piece of content someone else wrote. The fact that someone else is writing on that topic is probably a good indication that there is interest in that topic and it presents an opportunity for me to expand on that topic and provide my views and analysis.

Content curation is an art. It requires careful consideration and analysis of the content you are curating and sharing. 

Updated and republished April 14, 2017.

Content Marketing for Law Firms