What is content curation? It’s not link dumping. It’s not auto-generated list development. It’s not (contrary to what many believe) easy.
My favorite definition of content curation comes from Beth Kantor, who says:
“Content curation is the process of sorting through the vast amounts of content on the web and presenting it in a meaningful and organized way around a specific theme.”
Content curation, then, is an art. And it’s a valuable one.
In a recent podcast, Copyblogger’s Brian Clark introduced the concept of his latest venture: a project built on content curation. He describes the core strategy of this in-the-works project as “locating and making sense of the smartest articles, audio, and video I can find in that topical market that are created by others.”
And while this may seem strange coming from the guy who champions the development of unique content, Brian explains:
“You can still build an audience as long as you are creating the value. And there you’re creating the value by finding the best, eliminating the dreck, and sending that to people. And that’s your value proposition.”
So content curation is something all content marketers need to better understand, which is why we’ve gathered the 20 best tips on curating content like a pro.
Here are our favorite tips, from our favorite content curators:
1. “The future of the social web will be driven by content curators, who take it upon themselves to collect and share the best content online for others to consume and take on the role of citizen editors, publishing highly valuable compilations of content created by others. In time, these curators will bring more utility and order to the social web. In doing so, they will help to add a voice and point of view to organizations and companies that can connect them with customers – creating an entirely new dialogue based on valued content rather than just brand created marketing messages.” – Rohit Bhargava
2. “Content curation is not about collecting links or being an information pack rat, it is more about putting them into a context with organization, annotation, and presentation. Content curators provide a customized, vetted selection of the best and most relevant resources on a very specific topic or theme.” – Beth Kantor
3. “Customers want a brand to engage with them prior to the point of sale. By providing quality content, both original as well as from competitors and industry luminaries, brands can position themselves as thought leaders in their space as well as go-to resources for prospects. Once this trust is established, prospects are more likely to become customers when they are prepared to buy.” – Pawan Deshpande via Forbes
4. “Unlike automated services (such as Google News), the essential difference of curation is that there’s a human being doing the sifting, sorting, arranging, and publishing. Just as a museum curator must decide which artifacts to display during an exhibition, an online curator decides what information available online is appropriate and relevant to her audience.” – Sean Carton via Clickz
5. “The human element of curation is a huge source of its value. Algorithms can do a great job at surfacing stories that meet certain standards, but there will always be posts that fall through the cracks. Handpicked, human collections can find content that might resonate outside of standard measuring tools, and the end product of a handpicked curation will always be unique.” – Kevan Lee via Buffer
6. “Your goal should be to build a community, and communities are made up of people. You need to know your audience intimately and have an innate sense for what they’re interested in. And like any good social media effort, you also need to nurture that community through your actions.” – Sean Carton via Clickz
7. “Identify your specific topic-theme. The more specific, the better. The broader your coverage the less relevant it will be to your readers, unless you are already a very popular individual that people trust on a number of different topics. As news, information and general content keeps growing in quantity, highly curated niche news streams on specific topics-themes are what people are going to be increasingly asking for to keep themselves super-informed on the topics that matter most to them.” – Robert Good
8. “Think ‘niche.’ There are plenty of sites out there now that cover broad topic areas and have large, embedded audiences. Drawing readers away to a collection that covers a similar broad topic can be tough…if not impossible. If you want to curate a collection and draw attention, you’ll probably have better luck focusing on a niche topic specific to your (or your client’s) industry.” – Sean Carton via Clickz
9. “Scan and monitor the web for relevant content every day. To find content that relates to my project, I follow lots of blogs of partner organizations and allies through Google Reader (RSS subscription service), as well as by getting news updates from Google Alerts, and friends/colleagues in my Facebook and Twitter newsfeeds.” – Will Coley
10. “Find the best curators in [your] topic and follow them – it’s like sipping fine wine. You have to be organized and know your sources. And you have to scan your sources regularly.” – Beth Kanter
11. “If you want more followers, you have to follow better people. Because your inbound will inform your outbound. If your inbound is crappy and jumbled, and you don’t understand what you’re reading and who’s writing it.. then you’re not going to be a very good person on pushing stuff outbound… and therefore you wont gather an audience that’s interesting to you, because you won’t be informing them very well. I look at it as a funnel: who do I put in my funnel? People I trust.” – Robert Scoble via Mari Smith
12. “Reach out and network with reporters, journalists, passionate users, influencers and experts in your topic niche. Expose these people to your news curation work and see how you can provide valuable feedback and support to some of these people projects. Offer them opportunity to contribute to your curation work. Link, refer and credit them whenever possible.” – Robert Good
13. “The key to successful content curation is having a systematic approach. It’s not enough to just plug keywords into content curation tools and overly automate. Rather, get together with your team and come up with high standards of “OPC” (other people’s content) that represents your brand well. Then create an in-house checklist, through which your content manager passes all content surfaced by your favorite curation tools. This way, you can become known as a person/company that shares only the best content in your genre.” – Mari Smith via Komfo
14. “Always give credit back to the publisher. A quick “via @twitterhandlehere” at the end of your curated posts is typically enough. It’ll be their attention-grabber, and could drive more reciprocation and curation of your own content as a result.” – Matt Heinz via Hubspot
15. “Add your own perspective, opinion, take on the information or story you are sharing and highlighting why it is relevant for your own ‘context’ (niche, audience, interests). Spin, intended as a positive and constructive way to add your ‘perspective’ to any information, has very high value. Spinning is often the delta between simple re-publishers / re-tweeters and a true curator-newsmaster.” – Robert Good
16. “Include an array of content types, such as infographics, images, videos, articles, e-books, guides, and podcasts. Many people immediately think of articles or written content when it comes to curation, but restricting yourself is a mistake. There is a lot of highly valuable content out there that comes in an array of forms. And curating different types makes it more interesting for your readers. Keep in mind that visual content is especially powerful.” – Matthew Collis via Huffington Post
17. “Sequence your selected news stories to provide the most valuable information reading experience to your readers. Time is not always the best sequencing variable. It all depends on what you want to cover and the type of stories that you have available. For example, to provide a curated news channel on a tragic event it may be better to continually re-sequence stories so that the earliest ones provide the key news info about the event as well as the best in-depth background stories, though in reality these two types of stories may come out at very different times.” – Robert Good
18. “Content curation can lead to lazy marketing. Be sure to do the work to add value to the content you are distributing by playing an active hand in the curation — assuring that it it relevant, interesting, timely and entertaining to your audience.” – Mark Schaefer via Komfo
19. “By adding some simple and targeted phrases, such as “download” or “share it,” content curators can instruct their followers on how to take the next steps that lead toward their ultimate content marketing goals. In your curation efforts, CTAs like these can be incorporated in your own commentary, which helps to frame the conversation in a context that is relevant to your brand.” – Pawan Deshpande via Mike Murray for Content Marketing Institute
20. “The key is to do the homework of understanding what motivates your customers and to assemble a compelling mix of curated and original content to inspire them to engage and buy. Be thoughtful about the usefulness of the content you assemble, create and promote. Empathize with your customers’ interests and goals so you can properly optimize content for both search engines and social media sharing.” – Lee Odden
The takeaway? Content curation is a lot more HUMAN than one might expect. Relationships, connections and understanding your audience are key. And the right tools play an important role! To find some good options, check out Content Curation Tools: The Ultimate List.
How are you approaching – or planning to approach – content curation in 2015? Share in the comments, or contact us to discuss adding content curation to your content marketing strategy.