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Stop Wasting Your Time With 280 Characters – Focus On This Instead

Guest post from Josh Gallant, Digital Marketing Strategist.

In case you haven’t heard, long-form tweeting now exists.

That is, if you consider 280 characters to be long-form. If you’re comparing that number with the 140 character cap of old, new-school tweets are going to seem like oversized college textbooks.

Am I the first person to jump on the trend and write about the new character limit?

No, I am most definitely not.

Pretty much everyone that creates content and uses Twitter has beat me to the punch. They’re all jumping to answer the most popular question across the internet recently. That question everyone’s asking typically looks something like this:

“How can I BEST use my 280 characters to maximize my tweets?”

Well I’m going to give you an answer you probably haven’t seen yet. How can you utilize all those characters, you ask? Simple…

Ignore 140 of them.

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How To Use Content Curation To Build A Passionate Audience Before You Launch

Launching a startup with an existing audience is an unfair advantage.

It’s like giving one racer a 50m head start in a 100m sprint.

What if I told you: this is an advantage you can have as well?

You’d likely want to hear how…

Luckily for you, in this blog post – that’s exactly what I’m going to share. I’m going to talk about an approach that many startups and founders have used to build an audience before they actually launched.

The approach is known amongst marketers as content curation. Content curation is the act of finding great content by sifting through the noise and delivering it back to your target audience. It could be curating great content on Twitter and building an audience in the form of followers (Crate helps with this) or it could be curating content for a handful of subscribers on an email list.

As an avid reader and curator, I’ve learned a lot of the growing pains that come with building a newsletter and following from curation efforts. In this blog post, I’m going to share some of these insights and hope you can apply them to your approach to marketing before you launch so you can have an unfair advantage that gives you a head start.

 Be Laser Focused With Your Targeting

Focus

When Dave McClure said, Niche to Win, the concept has meaning in everything from startups to content marketing. It’s the idea of focusing on a singular audience and delivering value to them unapologetically. He writes:

Startups are more likely to find product/market fit by narrowing their target demographic, understanding customer needs/benefit better, and building more focused & differentiated products along with more specific marketing messages that are better tuned to those audiences

Too often do I run into marketers who are creating content for a broad audience resulting in them missing out on establishing any deep relationships with their target audience. You need to think about exactly who it is you want to target, understand their motivations, problems and the types of resources they’re looking for on a regular basis.

When you look at people like Marie Forleo or startups like Bevel, while what they offer each of their audiences is very different (content and shaving products) – the one thing they do very well is focus. Marie is committed to female entrepreneurs and Bevel is committed to offering people of color an excellent product experience.

Another great example of focus is found in the SaaStr Newsletter by Jason Lemkin. As you may have guessed from the title, it’s a newsletter all about SaaS. Rather than creating a newsletter that targeted any and every startup – he’s been able to build a quality subscriber base of SaaS entrepreneurs and professionals because of his laser focus in adding value through both creating and curation.

Establish An Editorial Standard

Curating great content is like writing a great song.

It’s not just the words you say that make a difference; it’s the words you decide to leave out.

People subscribe to newsletters to gain insight into things that they may not have found on their own. A newsletter that shares the same content as every other newsletter is a newsletter that will eventually be ignored and find subscribers falling off in terms of engagement and subscriptions. That’s why in Jason’s description of his newsletter he explains:

There’s not much point in linking to great SaaS content from Mark Suster or Tomasz Tungz or David Cummingsor David Skok … if you’re reading SaaStr, you’re already reading their great stuff.  But we’ll highlight uniquely great insights you might not see otherwise.

One of the best examples of a company that leveraged curation to build a raving audience is Mattermark. Boasting more than 80,000 subscribers, their team has an impressive set of editorial guidelines from a content curation perspective. One of their rules for curation is that if the team cannot read the article in full, it gets left behind and doesn’t get featured.

Like Omar said, you’ve gotta have a code.

Here are a few places you can go to find content for your curation efforts:

  • RSS Feeds that are linked to resources your audience would enjoy
  • Content curation software like Crate, Pinterest and Nuzzel
  • Following people on Twitter who share relevant content
  • Subscribing to other newsletters that deliver value

Maintain Consistency In Your Efforts

Schedule

 Consistency builds familiarity. Familiarity builds a relationship.

If you can be consistent in your content curation efforts, people will look forward to the content you send them and actively look forward to receiving your updates. You want your audience to get excited when the clock strikes 2:30 on Wednesday because they know that your content is coming. In fact, you want your audience to get upset when you forget to send your newsletter on time. That’s the goal.

You want to create a habit within your audience’s daily, weekly, monthly chaos. For the first few weeks, do a bit of testing around when your first few email subscribers are likely to open your emails and use the optimal time as a benchmark moving forward.

Leverage Various Networks To Drive Awareness

If you’re curating content through an email newsletter like Benedict Evans of A16z, take a page out of his book and promote the content on channels like Twitter as well. If you’re curating content in a newsletter, you can also set up most services to automatically tweet or share on Facebook when you press send. Twitter Cards make it easy to acquire subscriptions:

Benedict Evans

But don’t just share once published. Be willing to hustle like Ryan Hoover did telling people to sign up for his newsletter after they upvoted products on ProductHunt:

Don’t just limit yourself to a single platform and cross your fingers that it will work. You need to promote your efforts to your target audience across other channels where they spend time.

If you’re creating a newsletter all about the latest insights surrounding artificial intelligence, you’re going to want to share the findings with sites where people interested in this topic will spend time. Whether it’s uploading a link to Hacker News or sharing it directly in subreddits and Facebook groups talking about futurology and AI – there are plenty of opportunities for promotion. Here are a couple of my favorite content distribution tactics.

Conclusion

Beyond content curation, creating content can give you an unfair advantage over your competitors as well.

It’s important to do everything in your power to set startup and business up for success. To increase the likelihood that you will be successful, build a raving audience that loves you before you launch.

What other tactics have you seen brands and startups take to build a bit of buzz and love surrounding their projects before launching?

The Difference Between Content Curation and Content Creation

Content Marketing - Typing

To curate or create?

It’s a question that many marketers ask themselves when planning their strategy.

Luckily, the answer isn’t one or the other. It’s a combination of both curation and creation that can help marketers achieve great results.

For years, content creation has been pointed to as the holy grail for content marketing. From ebooks and infographics to blog posts and presentations, the idea that content is king has resulted in a content boom.

One of the best content platforms in the world is Netflix. Marketers can learn a lot from Netflix as it relates to both content marketing and data driven decisions.  It’s an entity that has perfected both the creation and curation of content. Content creation is the act of taking an idea and turning it into an actual piece of content. Content curation is the act of finding great content and then distributing it across your own channels.

These are two things that Netflix does better than anyone.

House Of Cards

Netflix leverages content creation when they take an idea and turn it into original programming. The Netflix series House of Cards or the documentary, Making A Murderer are both great examples of content created by Netflix.  Netflix invests billions of dollars into creating original content because they understand the role it plays in generating new subscribers.

Research from Cowen and Company found that 23% of Netflix subscribers subscribe because of the original programming.

Sherlock

Netflix also specializes in content curation by finding and licensing great content that was developed by other production studios. For example, Hartswood Films, BBC Wales and WGBH are the production studios behind the hit series, Sherlock, but anyone can watch if they have a Netflix account. Netflix invests billions into these contracts and agreements because they understand the importance of giving their subscribers access to great content.

In a 2014 study, Contently surveyed more than 600 marketers to uncover insights surrounding the current state of affairs in the content world. The research found that more than two thirds of the marketers surveyed believe that original content is more effective than licensed (syndicated) content.

Content Creation - Contently

The reality is this:

If you create or curate quality content; you will succeed at content marketing.

Why You Should Create Content

The benefits of content creation for marketers are plentiful. Ranging from the ability to drive traffic to a channel in which you own to the increased likelihood of having longterm search traffic – creating content is a great marketing opportunity. When you create content that provides value to your readers life, they associate that value with your brand. As a content creator you control the message, the type of content and the purpose it plays in your readers life.

If you’re able to create content consistently and deliver value, your readers will keep coming back. Your readers will share your content with their connections on LinkedIn, their friends on Facebook and to their entire team on Slack. This benefit comes from a focus on creating quality content and sharing it to the right audiences.

Why You Should Curate Content

One of my favorite resources online is the Mattermark Daily newsletter. It’s a daily round up of the best articles surrounding startups, venture capital and the operations of a technology company. I subscribe to lots of different newsletters but this one is special because the content is always high quality.

And I’m not alone in thinking this way:

Brad Feld is the managing director of the Foundry Group and investor in companies like Moz, Gnip, FullContact and Fitbit. In a blog post titled: Why I don’t have to follow VC blogs anymore – he pointed to Mattermark Daily as the reason.

Mattermark is a softare company that delivers data for startups & VCs. The Mattermark Daily newsletter has played a huge role in helping the company establish a strong reputation with this target audience.

Content curation is when you take the content created by others and filter through it to identify content your audience should be consuming. You can curate content by sharing various links on your social media accounts, through a blog post or in a newsletter.

Should You Curate or Create Content?

Let’s go with both.

Netflix is a great example of the perfect curation and creation mix.

You should strive to have some channels in which you’re acting as a content curator and others in which you’re the creator. For example, if you’re the owner of a gym; you could launch a blog or video series that constantly offers value by sharing insights about workouts, diet and training. At the same time, you could also have a weekly newsletter and Twitter account that shares content from all over the world about fitness and healthy eating. In doing this, you’ll be seen as an authority in the space and build a following of people who want this information.