Marketing August 31, 2016 Last updated August 30th, 2016 1,731 Reads share

What Small Businesses Need to Know About Curation and Branding

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They say the first step is always the hardest. For a small business that eyes at success, this saying holds true. You don’t have to believe me. Here’s Forbes reporting

Enters curation

A business cannot improve branding without content marketing. Interestingly, content marketing includes content curation alongside content creation. For small businesses, curation is the key to better branding.

They can produce branded content and add value to the content. Here’s how:

Relevant content from thought-leaders

Content that is curation-worthy comes from industry thought-leaders. Such content is relevant, reader-friendly and sometimes, peer-reviewed. By curating such content, small businesses can build authority.

There’s a famous 80/20 rule that says a brand should curate 80% of content and create only 20% content for promotional needs. The idea behind this rule has its root in a theory proposed by Richard Koch. What follows from his theory is 20% original content is enough for promotional purpose. Rest 80% should be used to retain the audience and engage with them.

Following this strategy is not only useful for small enterprises but easy as well. A small business needs to identify the thought-leaders in the industry it belongs and curate content created by them. This strategy limits promotion and improves branding.

Time cost and value

In business, time is money. Saving time implies saving money. Small businesses do their best to save time so that they can give that time to other productive tasks. Curation saves them plenty of time.

At the same time, curation adds value. See the infographic below:

Curation adds value


Put simply, content curation does what content creation does, but in lesser time. One might argue that high-quality value-driven content is better than curated content.

True that. But such content requires

  1. Sound research
  2. Information gathering
  3. Integrating the information into the content
  4. Pushing the exclusive narrative of the brand

Professional writers can create content meeting all these requirements, and in a short span of time. But they prefer working as freelancers and charge somewhere around $100-$200 per copy. And bear in mind we are talking about the mid-market. Accomplished writers who contribute to several publications could charge even more.

Hence, curation adds value (as explained by the infographic), saves time and cost. What else can a small business ask for?

UGC and curation

Failing to see the link between them results in loss of opportunities for small businesses. In case of UGC-led curation, the content comes from consumers, not from thought-leaders.

For small businesses, UGC-based curation comes with a laundry list of benefits. The biggest benefit is reduced ad expense.

In the retail automation article, I discussed how automated UGC can be combined with paid efforts. Needless to say, it cuts down on ad budget because the UGC is coming from customers. Small brands don’t have enough money to pour into ad campaigns. By harnessing the power of UGC-based curation, they can persuade prospective buyers.

Electronic stores have begun to automate the UGC accumulation process. There are cutting edge review aggregating and social curation tools to help them. Curation tools like MassRelevance and CurationTraffic are useful, but Yotpo, PowerReviews and BazaarVoice are custom-built for small-scale online shops.

Social content

As brands are embracing both social media and curation, their reliance on social content is increasing.

Social content can be a game-changer for small businesses. A Digital Marketing expert called Linda Boff saidSocial content is the connective tissue that brings our company to life in a highly transparent, accessible way.”

Social content fall under these broad categories:

  1. Knowledge sharing
  2. Brand storytelling
  3. Visual branding

Through curation, small brands can share knowledge and information, and tell their stories, sans the loud marketing pitch.

Social platforms aid curation. The Moments app by Twitter increases the odds of organic content go viral. On Pinterest, 80% of the content is curated as the majority of pins are repins. Regardless of the size of the brand, if it has a presence on Pinterest, then it’d have to leverage social content.

And contrary to what small business owners think, large brands don’t have any edge here. If small brands curate relevant and high-quality social content, identify the right audience and maintain consistency, then they can grow their brands too.

Curatorial filter

Unless there’s a filtering system at work, curation cannot add value. A curatorial filter is essential because all small businesses operate in the small or mid-market and content created by top brands or industry influencers don’t suit the audience from those markets.

The curatorial filter allows small brands to retain the informative part of the content generated by top brands and tailor it to meet their audience’s needs.

Here’s an example:

Everyone Social ran a curation campaign. They featured video interviews of online marketing industry influencers like Ken Krogue, Rand Fishkin, etc. A startup brand can curate those interviews so the information shared in them reach its audience.

At the same time, because not all those information would be useful for mid-market audience, the startup can weed out unnecessary information using the curatorial filter.

Automated curatorial filters are curation tools. Alongside using automation, the curator should bet on his insight and selection ability too. There are many free tools as well as inexpensive tools, developed exclusively for small enterprises.

The challenges

Curation can benefit branding but it comes with several challenges. The biggest challenge is too many small brands may curate the same content. More than 60% content marketers have reported this. Another problem is curating content from two thought-leaders who hold opposing views. This could confuse the audience.


Though there are challenges, the usefulness of curation is beyond doubt. It can improve branding. Curation is more important to small businesses because it builds authenticity for them while keeping the cost low.

Image: Hand touch content curation technology background / Author’s Own

William Johnson

William Johnson

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