Dorien Morin
December 1, 2014

Original vs. Curated Content. Does the 80/20 Rule Still Stand?

How Much Content Do You Create and How Much Content Do You Curate?

I recently saw this headline from a trusted source “How To Be Effective at Social Marketing Without Content Curation” by Carol Lynn Rivera. As I would normally share content from this source, sometimes without fully reading the whole article, this time I was determined to read the whole article top to bottom because something just didn’t seem right! (That’s how you hook someone with a great title, by the way!)

Long story short, the premise of the article is that one of the biggest lies in social media is as follows:  “we should all be sharing 80% of other people’s content (aka curated content) and only 20% of our own, original content.” The writer then set out to give us many examples and ideas of original content to use on our own audience.

“Modern marketing wisdom goes something like this:

“If you want to be successful at social marketing then you need to share other people’s content 80% of the time and your own content 20% of the time.”

I don’t know what the source of this… let me say it… idiotic advice is but I would very much like to know who decided that this was the magic ratio. And then I want to know who decided to repeat it and who decided to believe it so that now you can’t throw a social stone without someone spouting this nonsense as marketing gospel.”

Is The 80%-20% Indeed a Big Fat Lie?

My initial thought was; I am going to disagree with them, completely! Once I’d read the article, I was kind of in the middle, agreeingCreatedVsCurated with some of the points made by Carol Lynn, but still not convinced she was correct in stating that all content sent out has to be your own. It was, to say the least, a super interesting read.

Soon thereafter, I read this article by my friend Mallie Hart. She was one step ahead of me; she wrote an article with the same sentiment I felt upon reading the first. Her article is called  “Creating Lasting Connections With Content Creation

Here is the heart of Mallie’s article.

“I feel many of the articles dissing content curation, no matter their correct intent, are missing out on showcasing and sharing one of the benefits of a smart and savvy content curation course of action.

I consider carefully curated and shared content a vital part of the creation of connections that lead to well maintained, mutually beneficial relationships. The kind of relationship that can, with time and proper intent, lead to collaborative efforts that create even more great content.”

Instead of writing my own sentiments and adding to the long list of yay or nay sayers, I decided to take a look at several types of businesses to see if it is indeed possible and plausible for any type of business to share only their own original content. And if they did and could, would it be wise (and fun and productive and meet your social media strategy goals)?

Original vs. Curated Content. Does the 80/20 Rule Still Stand?


What If We All Only Created Content?

Imagine the internet with only carefully crafted content and no businesses sharing and curating each other’s content? I picked two of my clients and included my own business model as well just to see how and if it could work.

Example 1:

  • Business: Plumbing and HVAC
  • Type: Local, location-based, service industry
  • Current Resources: Website with blog, Facebook Page, Twitter and G+ Page.
  • Budget Size: large
  • Current Curation: 40%-60%

A content strategy without curation would mean no more ‘Funny Friday Failed Plumbing’ pictures on Facebook. It would also mean no mention of the numerous charities this company supports, unless they are involved in a specific program. Twitter would get incredibly boring, and would be filled with our own blog posts and tips, over and over and over again. Right now, this Twitter feed shares local weather, local news, DIY project ideas and other types of content homeowners might likes. The G+ page would become a mirror images of the Facebook Page, just mentioning the blog, our own tips and highlighting employees and current projects.

The way to get it done would be to add a YouTube channel and lots of how-to-videos. More graphics would need to be created and an onsite designated ‘reporter and instaphotographer’ would help provide daily content. (Right now we get information via email and once a month our team goes on-site for a photo shoot.)

Conclusion: It’s not impossible to do without curation for this type of company, especially if more money becomes available for content creation.

Recommendation: This type of business could possibly could go to 20%-80%


Example 2:

  • Business: Sports Club
  • Type: non-profit, local
  • Current Resources: Website, Facebook page, Twitter, G+ Page, Instagram
  • Budget Size: Medium
  • Curant Curation: 50%-50% on most platforms

one_size_headlineA content strategy without curation would mean no more reporting on local, regional and national, as well as international (televised) games on Twitter. No more highlighting weekend plays and individual professional players, but sticking to our local amateur team and club players on Facebook.

This club could step up it’s own content sharing to add more frequent sponsor shoutouts and do more interviews with coaches and players. Since its fairly low budget right now, in order to go the no content curation route, they would need to add a budget for blog writing and video creation. With those two added elements and continued user-generated content usage (which is a great source of content for this club!) 100% content could be about the team and club.

Conclusion: It is quite possible to go the no content curation route, but not as much fun! This club has created a community of sports fans who want to know about ‘the next level of play’ available to their kids! They are becoming the go-to source for club members to find out about local high school, college level and national games.

Recommendation: Stick with the current 50%-50% until budget issues are addressed and we hear from the audience they want to see more club content. Then consider going 30%-70%.


Example 3:

  • Business: Social Media Marketing
  • Type: Sole proriotorship, service industry
  • Current Resources: Website with blog, Facebook Page, Twitter, G+ Page, LinkedIn Profile, Instagram, Pinterest (and a few more)
  • Budget Size: Small
  • Current Curation: 70%-30%

If I were to go the no content curation route, my Twitter feed would dry up, for one. My Facebook page would become a waste land of rehashed blog articles and selfies of me, my dogs and my computer in my home office (boring!) and I would seize to provide current and relevant news to my audience. There is just not enough time in my business to write, create and repurpose for all the different platforms for hours on end each day.

I am grateful for a large community of supportive social media marketers who share my content and whose content I get to share! I love being able to go to my RSS feeder and find ready-to-post articles. I enjoy going to Pinterest and repining amazing pins and I like retweeting my colleagues on Twitter when they say something smart! If I were to go 100% me, I would loose followers and seize to influence people.

Conclusion: For my business, it would not be wise to go 100% self content. It’s just not feasible and possibly harmful to my business strategy.

Recommendation: If the company grows and adds more employees, if we secure an office building, I should reconsider the 70%-30% and maybe go 50%-50%.

But The Big Guys Do It!

To say that curation is a must, has not been proven. The big companies – Coca Cola, Oreos and McDonald’s for example,  don’t share anyone else’s content! However, when you are a smaller fish in a big pond, it serves you well to share carefully curated, targeted content from trusted sources to your audience. Deciding how much to create and how much to share is really a function of your budget, your time and your current online community.

What percentage of created vs. curated content are you using for your social media marketing? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!


Additional Images:


The following two tabs change content below.

Dorien Morin

Nice to meet you! I am a blogger, social media consultant, business owner and mom to four kids and three dogs. In my spare time, I love to read and run marathons. Born in The Netherlands, I might see things a bit differently through my orange glasses.