Content arbitrage: a strategy for audience engagement
Last Updated Feb 02, 2023
José M. Duque
Table of Contents
In last week’s post, we talked about the importance of making sure your content is reaching the right audience. But identifying your audience isn’t enough. You also need to make sure that your content is engaging. Think of it this way: you want to give your readers material that’s as meaningful and useful to them as possible. One of the best ways to do this is through content arbitrage.
What is content arbitrage and why does it matter?
Arbitrage is the act of purchasing something in one market for a lower price and then reselling it elsewhere for a higher price. This concept can be applied to content marketing as well, though it’s not going to be quite as straightforward as buying widgets for $10 at Market A and selling them for $20 at Market B. At its core, content arbitrage is taking information from one area and transforming it so it can be used someplace else.
Imagine you write a publication aimed at cruise aficionados. One day, you find a wonderful review of a brand-new vessel. It goes into plenty of detail about the onboard amenities and offers lots of information about extras such as drinks packages. At first glance, the ship doesn’t seem like it would appeal to your readers, but as you delve deeper, you see that there are some features your audience could appreciate. You might be tempted to share this information as-is, but that would be a mistake. If you don’t highlight the interesting bits, your readers could miss key details, which in turn diminishes your audience engagement. In this post, we’ll provide an overview of the different types of content arbitrage along with some helpful tips and tricks.
What are some types of content arbitrage?
Successful content arbitrage requires you to do a bit of tailoring. Ryan Law has identified three different approaches:
· Curation is helpful because you are taking disparate pieces of information and consolidating them for the benefit of your audience. It’s a high-tech version of the commonplace books of old, and the humble listicle is probably the best-known example.
· Summarizing is when you condense and repurpose information from another source. Writers have been doing this for centuries; indeed, many works from the Classical world only survive in the form of epitomes written by medieval monks. Today, the one pager fulfills a similar niche.
· Translation is when you take material from a more esoteric context and repackage it for a different audience.
Curation: while listicles and the like are easy to put together, they’re not necessarily going to have much staying power. If you’re going to try your hand at curation, make sure you’re truly adding value instead of simply regurgitating information that’s already well-known in your corner of the web. You’ll also want to avoid plagiarism by staying within the realm of fair use–Copyrightlaws.com and Jane Friedman offer good primers on the subject. Using our hypothetical cruise publication as an example, instead of simply making a list of ships and their tonnage, you might compile a list of celebrities who have christened cruise ships or lines that have partnered with famous chefs.
Summarizing:as mentioned earlier, people have their own personal preferences when it comes to consuming information. If something is only found in one format, it’s liable to be missed by some of the people who need it. Going back to our imaginary cruise blog, you could distill a cruise line’s promotional video about their newest vessel into a quick blog post.
Translation:this canseem similar to summarization at first glance, but there are key distinctions. With summarization, you’re condensing information that’s readily available to your readers. With translation, you’re working with material they might not otherwise encounter. For example, a cruise blogger might use material from the Gjenvick-Gjønvik Archives for a post about historic ocean liners.
How do marketing personas relate to content arbitrage?
Content arbitrage can seem a bit daunting at first, but marketing personas can make life a lot easier. Your readership is not homogenous, and different segments of your audience will have different content needs. For example, Jimmy Daly has argued that those at the top of the org chart are more likely to want strategic content, while those at the bottom want tactical content. Consequently, something basic like curation could be a good fit for tactical thinkers, while something more in-depth like translation is better suited for the strategically-minded.
Content arbitrage: a vital tool for audience engagement
Content arbitrage is taking information from one area and reusing it elsewhere. It helps you maximize your reach by providing content that appeals to different segments of your audience. Plus, content arbitrage really comes in handy when you need to post something but the ideas just aren’t flowing. There are three main approaches: curation, summarizing, and translation. Each one has advantages and disadvantages, and savvy content creators will use them all to turbocharge their audience engagement. Being mindful of your marketing personas can help you create something for everyone in your audience.
Content arbitrage might seem like a lot of work. You may be tempted to toss it into the ‘too difficult’ bin, but you’d be doing yourself a disservice. Content arbitrage is an investment in your future, and the work you put in now will pay dividends later on.