As a respected business correspondent for CNN and Al Jazeera America, Al Velshi has put his expertise to use in finding interesting stories. Today's social media-driven news culture has given brands similar opportunities, allowing them to not only create their own unique content but to also share interesting information they read elsewhere.
I spoke with Velshi at the C2 Conference in Montreal, Canada this week. His work covering global affairs and economics over the years has shown him what works and what doesn't when it comes to content. This is insight can help you and your businesses use content to win customers. Here's what Velshi had to say about what you should be posting and why.
Offer New and Relevant Content
Velshi compares his own content curation efforts to curation in a museum. A museum usually has a large inventory, with only a small percentage of that collection displayed on the floor. The curator's responsibility is to choose the best objects to place on display, whether those objects are paintings by master artists or historic items.
"There's a wave of content out there," Velshi says. "I try and pick a few things. I don't represent that it's all the things. You can go to other places on the Internet if you want to get more things."
The idea is, over time, visitors are drawn to a museum by the reputation it has earned. Content curators are the same. Repeat visitors know they can trust the curator to always put the best items on display and as a result, word gets out that the museum's (or site's) exhibits are top notch. Successful museums also regularly add new exhibits, always keeping the preferences of their guests in mind.
Start a Conversation
His global affairs background has given Velshi unique insights into the various ways consumers interact with a story. Context and analysis are top priority for Velshi, who has found that the top line of a story is rarely the real story. Really engaging an audience (your customers) means finding the debate in a topic and giving them the context they need to be active in that debate. Instead of merely reading about a topic, those consumers can participate in the conversation.
"I am going to give you the terms of reference for that debate so that you can listen to it and make better decisions for yourself," Velshi says. "Whether they're political, cultural, social, economic, financial decisions. Whatever you want to do, I can equip you to better make those decisions or better participate in the debate."
Provide a Unique Perspective
The key to successful content curation is keeping your eyes open for great content. It can come from anywhere. Velshi says he pays close attention to small business owners, even frequently buying from them, listening to their podcasts and reading their content. He says what makes some content magnetic is that it has a unique take.
"The idea is what are you doing that's different than the mainstream? What I don't need is anybody ever interviewing two people from opposing political parties. I got it. For example, I know what every political party thinks about absolutely everything there is. I don't need peoples' generalized opinions on Justin Trudeau or Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, whatever. I need the idea that on a regular basis, you are looking at the same house that everybody is looking at through a different window. My lens is economic. I'm always looking through the economic lens. I want to know what your lens is and how your take is different. I think we've really learned that mainstream media has fallen flat in that. They've taken the easy road, they book guests who are free. They fill time by talking. Same thing with newspapers and magazines. I need people with a take. I want to know what your take on pretty much anything that's going on."
The takeaway here is to repost content that fits your own unique perspective, and also introduce your own thoughts to the conversation through unique content. This will help build an audience because members are interested in what the content provider has to say.
Whether your content is original or curated, the right approach can engage people, starting an interesting conversation. It's important to learn as much as possible about your community and put that information to use in choosing the most relevant content for that audience. The end result will be a content strategy that helps your business grow.