Content curation was one of the big buzzwords of 2012. Halfway through 2013, people are still talking about it. But what exactly is content curation and how can it help you as a marketer?
Defining Content Curation
Before we get into that, let’s look at the two main aspects of the term.
There are as many definitions of content as there are people with an opinion, but essentially it is the stuff the web is made of — all those blog posts, articles, presentations, audio clips, videos, infographics — the list is almost endless. And curation is what museums have been doing for years — collecting interesting items and sharing them with a wider audience.
Put them together and you have the collection and sharing of interesting and informative items online.
Content curation isn’t new — one of the reasons that Delicious was so popular, and Reddit still is — is because the more information there was on the web, the more people needed a way to categorize and sort it. But the latest content curation tools allow you to do even more, and present your collections in a visually appealing way too.
Why Use Content Curation Tools?
As marketers, you can use these tools in two main ways:
- To keep track of what’s happening on blogs and social media in all the industry segments that interest you, so you can respond quickly to changes (including monitoring the competition).
- To share what you find with key networks, using this as a way to establish brand and thought leadership and build engagement.
The slide below from Stefano Maggi shows the ways in which content curation can build value for marketers.
Content Curation – What to Expect
There are dozens of tools that offer content curation functionality. The best ones allow you to:
- automatically pull in articles, images, audio and video from a variety of customizable online sources, including social media sites and RSS feeds
- manually add items of interest via a bookmarklet
- customize the design and layout of the resulting online publication or social media start page
- manually or automatically share the publication or individual items with your networks via social media, widgets or embed code
- create multiple publications for different niches or topics
Pro levels of functionality may include:
- custom domains and branding
- in-depth analytics
- custom CSS and design
- newsletter creation or integration
- additional exporting and scheduling features
Three Curation Tools to Try
Paper.li (which has a free and a pro level) describes itself as a niche publishing, content marketing and web monitoring tool that automatically scans and processes more than 250 million social media posts each day.
Users can select sources, including the ability to choose individual contributors from multi-author sites to create an online newspaper that’s automatically tweeted to followers to help build engagement. Here’s an earlier mini-review of the service on Traffic Generation Café.
I have to admit to a bit of bias here, because I absolutely love Scoop.it, which offers three levels of functionality.
Even with the free level, you can use the site’s suggestion engine, which recommends digest content based on your chosen keywords. You can also edit the content you share and get suggestions for your topics from other users.
The killer feature for me is the ease of sharing to the most popular social media sites, including Facebook pages and LinkedIn groups. Learn more about Scoop.it in this review on Social Web Tools.
Rebel Mouse is a newer contender in the field, and makes curating and sharing easy.
It’s currently free and showcases a number of ways it can be used by individuals, bloggers, marketers, brands and for promoting events. One of its best features is the ability to use more than one account and to delete items you have shared that you don’t want to appear on your start page.
This tool is still being developed, but this recent review on Basic Blog Tips shows what’s possible.
Five Tips on Content Curation
Whichever content curation tool you choose, it’s how you use it that is important. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned the hard way.
1. Deciding on input sources is the difference between having a useful collation and something that becomes a chore in itself. Even if you have the option to import all your social media posts, the contents of your RSS reader and a huge selection of keyword based content, don’t. All that does is contribute to the overwhelm you are trying to avoid. In this case, less is more, so find a few trusted sources as the mainstays of your compilation.
2. If you are importing content based on keywords, use keyword phrases rather than single keywords. When I was using Scoop.it, I soon found that trying to trawl through everything posted about writing was too much — specifying the niche was better both for me and my readers.
3. Use the “following” features built into content curation sites to give you additional content sources — monitoring other people’s content digests will help you find more good stuff to share. You can also consider setting up different publications to share different kinds of content.
4. Install the bookmarklet to allow for manual sharing — there’s always something suitable for a content digest that the automatic filters miss.
5. Add some commentary — this is perhaps the most important tip of all, because giving the content you share context is where your market leadership shows — it’s a remix, internet-style. Insightful commentary and storytelling make the difference between brilliant and blah.
Got any favorite content curation sites? We’d love to hear about your favorite tools and tips in the comments.
Image credits: Tilemahos Efthimiadis/