The Single Biggest Problem with Content Curation

A lot of people ask me how we came up with the idea for Sniply. It all started with a simple observation as I was curating content. For those unfamiliar, content curation has become an integral part of social media marketing. This is the act of sharing great content, thus providing value for your fans and followers through curation.

Many experts suggest that at least 50% of everything you publish on social media should be content from others. Not to mention, content creation can be costly and therefore many companies start with content curation as their only social media strategy.

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Once upon a time, I was working on social media marketing at another startup. We, like everyone else, relied on content curation as one of our core strategies. It took a lot of time everyday, going through heaps of content and struggling to find the right things to share. At some point, I began to question whether it was worth my time. The scary thing was… I had no idea. I intrinsically felt like it was important work, yet I had no evidence or reasons to prove it was actually working. This was when I realized the big problem with content curation:

Content curation offers no measurable return on investment.

As you’re curating content, you may carefully select the ones that are most relevant to your brand. Maybe you’ll share an article reporting on an internet security problem, implying that your company offers the solution. Or perhaps you’ll share a blog post about the importance of good design, hinting at the fact that your company is the right firm to hire for the job. The problem is… do your followers know that?

We click through links all the time, opening them in new tabs, and often forgetting where we found the link in the first place. We read tons of articles per day amidst an ocean of online noise. What are the chances that your followers can actually see the correlation between your shared content and your brand?

Even though there are plenty of tools out there to help you measure the engagement for your shared content, none of these measurements seem to offer a clear ROI. For example, Facebook Insights will tell you how many times your posts have been clicked. Social dashboards like Buffer and Hootsuite will tell you how many times your links have been clicked. You’ll also be able to track retweets, reposts, likes and favorites. The big question is… so what?

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So what if you posted a link to TechCrunch and generated 1,000 visits to their website? So what if you got 5 retweets and 15 favorites? None of these numbers have any direct impact on your business. It’s not easy to measure the value of driving traffic to other people’s websites.

The general argument is that content sharing boosts your credibility and establishes your position as a credible source of information. This, in theory, leads to more followers and perhaps higher engagements. However, this doesn’t change the fact that there’s still no real measurable impact from any of the aforementioned outcomes. What is the impact of having 10,000 followers? What is the value of having 500 clicks on your posts?

After failing to answer the above questions, I realized a simple fact…

Content curation offers no measurable return on investment.

This was the observation that sparked the birth of Sniply. How do we introduce relevance between shared content and your brand? How can we offer a measurable return on investment for every link you share? What can we do to transform content curation from an art form into exact science?

The answer was simple. In order for there to be a measurable return, an action needs to take place, and the most directly measurable action is a click-through. Whether it’s to your landing page, an Amazon page, or an Eventbrite page, there simply needs to be a click-through opportunity.

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By using a simple iframe, Sniply lets you embed a call-to-action directly into content from others. This call-to-action links to a destination URL of your choosing. With every page you share with Sniply, there is a click-through opportunity. This means that every link you share will have a tangible conversion rate of click-throughs to your destination URL.

Having recently breached 1,000,000 clicks (update: 6,000,000) while sustaining an average conversion rate of 7%, it would seem that Sniply may have actually solved the biggest problem in content curation. Things are looking bright, but it’s still too early to celebrate. I have a feeling we’ve only scratched the surface of the impact we could have on the whole concept of content curation. As our journey continues, I’ll be sure to keep everyone posted on the impact of what we’ve built.

What does the future of entrepreneurship look like?

I think the future of entrepreneurship will be really easy.

Don’t get me wrong, success will always be hard, but the barrier to entry to become an entrepreneur is going to drastically decrease. 10 years ago, it was extremely difficult to start your own thing. 100 years ago, nearly impossible. Nowadays, anyone can start their own business. I predict that 10 years from now, it’ll be substantially easier. 100 years from now, it’ll be a breeze. The decrease in barrier is due to the increase of these 3 things:

1. Access to Knowledge

When you first start a company, you the entrepreneur must juggle numerous hats. You’re the programmer, the designer, the accountant, the salesperson, the marketer, the recruiter, along with a dozen other roles. The existence of the internet has enabled anyone to learn anything. You can literally pick up all of the aforementioned skills online. It was a lot harder starting my first company than it was starting my last company. Access to knowledge has enabled me to become the jack-of-all-traits that I need to be as a founder. TreehouseLynda, Skillshare, Udemy, and Coursera are all great places to learn.

It’s important to get into a habit of online learning and understand that school is no longer the only source of knowledge. Successful entrepreneurs of the future will never stop acquiring new skills.

2. Access to Tools

They say that to start a company, all you need is a website and a newsletter. While somewhat true, it’s not that the requirements have changed, it’s that the access to emerging tools have made everything so much easier. Have you tried building a website from scratch, with HTML and CSS? Or code a newsletter by hand, with PHP and MySQL? Nowadays, you can build your own website through a few clicks with Wix or Squarespace. You can have your whole newsletter setup within minutes using Mailchimp. Much of what I have access to today simply didn’t exist when I started my first company. Access to tools allowed me to become exponentially more effective as an entrepreneur. Keep yourself up to date with app review sites like AppVita.

It’s important to always be on the lookout for new tool that can empower your workflow. Successful entrepreneurs of the future will possess an army of tools that empower them to achieve superhuman feats.

3. Access to Resources

Increasingly so, the world is investing in entrepreneurs. Programs and initiatives designed to support entrepreneurship are being developed around the globe. I was granted free office space for a year at Venture Connection in Vancouver and another year at Digital Media Zone in Toronto. I was granted $95,000 in seed funding through The Next 36 as well as access to a pool of phenomenal mentors. Startup funding ecosystems are maturing. Words like angels and venture capitalists never existed 100 years ago. Networks such as AngelList and F6S are great for discovering new opportunities.

It’s important to identify your own weaknesses and seek out the resources you need to fill the gaps. Successful entrepreneurs of the future will constantly hold a list of opportunities and resources they can tap into.

In summary, it’ll be much easier to become an entrepreneur in the future. Naturally, there will also be more noise and competition. As the rules become clearer and tools more accessible, business will become more and more like a game of chess. Those who understand all the pieces, how and when to use them, will certainly have the upper hand.

How do you turn an idea into a business?

It’s important to note that, when getting started, “turning an idea into a business” does not mean you need to make money. What you need to do is to demonstrate that your idea has the potential to make money. Once you have validation, you can then leverage that to attract partners, employees, and investors.

Validation can be anything from pre-sales to email signups. All you need is a landing page and a few mockups. Mockups could be videos, some photos, or whatever it takes to communicate your vision for the product.

Here are two examples: Myo made a video (http://youtu.be/oWu9TFJjHaM) that resulted in 30,000 pre-orders, and they leveraged that to raise $15,000,000 to execute on their vision. Dropbox made a video (http://youtu.be/7QmCUDHpNzE) that resulted in 75,000 signups to their “beta waiting list”, and they went on to raise $600,000,000 thereafter.

In a nutshell: Pick an idea. Communicate the vision. Get customer validation. Leverage traction to gather resources for execution. That’s how you start to turn an idea into a business.

Related: How do you find a business idea?

How do you become a good presenter?

What fascinates me is that a lot of people are great in conversations, but they just can’t present. Someone can deliver a terrible presentation, but if you talk to them afterwards, they turn out to be the most engaging person to talk to.

I’ve never seen the two as different activities. The same way I talk to someone at a coffee shop is the same way I “present” to an investment committee. You’ll notice that the best presentations are always natural, and conversations are natural, so why shouldn’t you treat them the same way?

Whether it’s a panel of judges, group of investors, or an old friend from high school… they’re all human beings. Nobody wants to watch you go through bullet points and follow a script. That’s the rule I go by. If I wouldn’t do it in a conversation, I wouldn’t do it in a presentation.

In fact, just throw out the word “presentation”. It should always be a conversation. Presentations are rigid, scripted, unnatural, and dull. Conversations are fluid, interactive, adaptive, and engaging. A simple shift in mindset changes everything.

How do you find a business idea?

The biggest problem with finding a “business idea” is when you call it an “idea”. Calling something an idea implies coming up with something truly novel, which is extremely difficult. The trick is to shift your mindset and start searching for “problems”.

Businesses aim to solve problems. When you think about it this way, it’s much easier. All you have to do is find a problem. In your own life, in someone else’s life, doesn’t matter. Unless your life is perfect, there should be plenty of problems all around you.

Dropbox as a business idea would sound something like “Cloud storage for your files”, but Dropbox as a problem would be more like “I’m sick and tired of emailing files around”.

Businesses are solutions. You can’t come up with a solution until you know what problem you’re solving. The good news is, problems are everywhere. Happy hunting.