The Official Content Aggregation Definition

In its simplest form content aggregation is the collection of information based on a common topic involving one or more related keywords.

Aggregating other people’s information conveniently augments your original content while providing a broader perspective.

Often (but not always), content aggregation uses an automated process based on specific criteria or keywords with limited involvement of people.

BUT don’t mistake content aggregation for content curation. They are different!!!

Content aggregation often homogenizes information. From a marketing perspective this is very bad. In the process, aggregation removes the attributes that identify the content as yours and make it valuable to your core audience.

Notice how the information on Adobe’s CMO.com looks very plain with almost no related context that you’d expect from curated content.

3 Major content aggregation examples

Before we dive into how to do content aggregation, here are 3 major examples.

SERPs (aka search engine results pages). These are the pages that Google and other search engines display when you seek information. (From the perspective of media, they’re sheer genius. Everyone optimizes for relevance and the search engine doesn’t pay for content!!!

News feeds (aka RSS). This is concise tidbits of content that are distributed on a regular basis. They can use special readers. The biggest challenge is that their name hinders its use since it sounds complicated.

Hashtags. Started on Twitter, these are keywords that enable readers to search for information on social media using the same word.

Content aggregation definition in 5 super easy steps

Content aggregation breaks into 5 distinct steps.

Identify. Often done entirely by machines, the content is discovered from a variety of established sources based on a defined set of criteria, generally in the form of one or more keywords or phrases. As a result, there’s limited need for human interaction.

Select. Choosing the best of the information discovered while eliminating low quality information and promotions. Filtering out information that’s missing proper attribution or links. This work can be automated.

Classify. Place the information into a pre-establish organization such as a list of categories or another method of grouping content.

Arrange. Systematically ordering results in an easy-to-understand manner without any tailoring based on product, company or brand and without additional commentary. Common Arrangements are by publication date or alphabetically by author.

Publish. Place the aggregated information on your own or another organization’s platforms. Additional commentary or annotation isn’t needed. It may include some original text. Include a link or citation to the original source. Also, distinguish between third party and original content.

Note: Due to the lack of human involvement, content quality may be questionable.

5 Benefits of content aggregation

The 5 benefits of content aggregation are:

Support of real time information dissemination. When you don’t have time to hand pick content, aggregation is a great way to get real-time updates.

Low cost approach. Based on technological automation, aggregation doesn’t need human editorial or content creation. Fewer resources are needed compared to original information. (Here are 15 ways to save money on content marketing.)

Expanded content offering. Aggregation augments areas where you lack depth.

Offers a variety of different voices and sources that can attract different traffic to your original content. Like using guest articles or blog posts you can expand your content reach with other authors willing to pay-it-forward.

Associate your original content with influencers in your field. Understand that this doesn’t assure you that they’ll share your content or participate on your platform.

5 Content aggregation challenges

Here are 5 content aggregation challenges.

Have high variance in content quality and sources. Where possible, exclude low quality information and obvious advertisements to ensure quality. Remember, this content may not have not been reviewed by a real person.

Ensure you have the right to use the information selected. Check for Public Domain, Creative Commons or other license to use. Alternatively contact the author directly to get their permission. At a minimum, provide a link to the original. You don’t want to mislead prospects and hurt your trustworthiness.

Remove information’s original context. This can hurt and/or reduce its effectiveness.

Use of automation can increase the likelihood of abuse and security problems including republishing spam. If possible add checks.

May not be integrated with your overall content marketing strategy. As a result, the information doesn’t contribute to building your brand and achieving your goals.

5 Optional content aggregation features

Here are 5 optional aggregation features. They enhance your content’s value and make it uniquely your but they’re not critical for content aggregation. They are a MUST for content curation!!!

Involve real people. Get your staff or consultants or freelancers active in your information aggregation process. Include monitoring of the resulting information, commenting on the articles selected and adding original content to the selected information.

Incorporate your 360° brand. Leverage the power of your aggregated content to support your branding efforts. Make the aggregate collection identifiable as yours. BUT don’t forget to include the appropriate attribution for individual content items!!!

Create context around the aggregated information to increase its value for your potential audience. Hence your audience’s ability to find and consume the information.

Optimize your content for improved results. This translates to adding formatting, images and a good hook of a title.

Encourage community interaction. Make it a no-brainer for your readers to share or comment on your content.

Content aggregation can be a useful tool to extend your content marketing offering. It enables you to leverage the power of other people’s content with limited resources and little or no human input.

BUT remember: content aggregation is NOT the same as either original content or curated content. As such, it may not be as effective at driving results.

Do you include content aggregation in your content marketing mix? If so, how do you use and what type of results does it yield relative to other types of content?

Happy Marketing,

Heidi Cohen

Heidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
You can find Heidi on Google+, Facebook and Twitter.

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