Content Curation: Definition and 6 Tool Options

Content curation and toolsMy first experience with content curation was the creation of an “ultimate mixed tape” that I created to play for my friends. In the late 70’s and early 80’s, creating the best combination of great songs from my older brother’s albums (or from the radio in some cases) was one way to stand out in the always competitive, but otherwise carefree world of a teenager. Receiving a mixed (curated) tape from a girlfriend (or boyfriend), meant things were getting serious.

With the explosion of online content driven by SEO, unlimited “shelf space” for content and the rise of content marketing, curation of online content is going to continue as one way to give the better content longer life and more exposure. Content curation, if done well, is also a way for website or blog owners to add value to their readers while saving time for themselves (see the blog writing workshop for related topics).

What is Curation?

Curation is the collection and sharing of items. Often the phrase is applied to art (museum, art gallery), books (library), wine (sommelier) or music (DJ). Curation (at least to me) implies sharing the best items or items that are part of a central theme. Remember, museums and galleries often have huge stocks in the warehouse and show only a portion of their works at any given time.

What is Content Curation?

Content curation is the collection and sharing of content such as articles, videos, pictures, tweets, songs or other pieces of digital content. A related term, content aggregation, uses automation to collect content versus curation, which is done by a person. Obviously, you can curate non-digital content, but let’s keep it to digital content for the purposes of this article.

Content curation usually involves the collection of content relevant to a topic and then sharing short portions of them (on a blog or website or other platform), while linking to and giving credit to the original source. So, to make it really specific, here are some examples:

  • A blog post about Twitter strategies where articles are gathered from some of the top sites around the web. I would display the headlines, the first line or two of the article (or a summary), possibly a thumbnail from the article, and a link to the original article. I’d probably group related articles into sections (see the Facebook post example further further down).
  • A blog post with the best pictures of Winter. Pulling great pictures from sites such as Flickr or other photography sites and linking to and crediting the photographers (check licenses).
  • A review of top SEO advice on video could include several YouTube videos with some highlights, analysis or summaries of each.

Who uses Content Curation?

A lot of sites use content curation, either as an occasional tactic or as a primary strategy. Examples of content curation include:

  • Copyblogger or other similar sites which include very topical posts linking to top articles on a specific topic (e.g. The Ultimate Guide To Facebook Marketing, which links to articles on other blogs)
  • SEOMoz, which collects weekly SEO news from around the web and sends them in an email called the Moz Top 10
  • Blogs such as Kikolani.com which curate valuable weekly wrap-ups and post them to their blogs
  • Social bookmarking sites like Digg or Delicious, which let users share content and vote content up or down. The highest voted content is displayed first, or you can follow your favorite people (who curate great content)
  • AllTop.com which curates a set of top blogs by category, and it also curates and shares out specific content on its blog (see HolyKaw) and also shares out a lot of this content via Twitter and Facebook.
  • News sites such as Techmeme, which gathers and displays content from around the web on specific topics. In this case the article selection is done partly by algorithm and partly by human editors
Keep your eyes open and you’ll see lots of examples of content curation on some of your favorite sites.

 

How can you use content curation?

There’s an endless amount of content out there – much of it bad, some of it very good. Part of your content strategy can include curating some of the best articles for your niche as a way to add value to your customers.  This can also save you time (versus content creation) and you can get SEO value with the addition of the new content. Some options:

  • Be the best source of top or recent news in your industry
  • Supplement your original content with occasional curated posts
  • Create articles that links to several key posts (on other sites) on a certain topic, allowing people to see various viewpoints or details about the essential steps in a process
  • Curate video, graphics or picture posts to add interest to your blog
  • Get a new blog started with some curated posts
  • Add a section on related articles within your posts to give readers further reading and for you to build social capital with other bloggers

What to be careful about

Some things to watch out for in content curation:

  • Not giving credit or linking to the source
  • Taking too much. I’ve seen some “curators” who pull basically a whole article and put it in quotes and source it – that’s too much
  • Quantity over quality – make sure you focus on quality versus getting as much content as possible
  • Automation – automated curation (“content aggregation”) can lead to low quality. Consider having a human hand in your process
  • Going 100% curated. A mix of original content and curated content is better than 100% curated in most cases
  • Having the same style of article each time – try to be creative with your curated posts

Tools for curation

There are tools to help you curate content for use on your blog. I’m not focusing on the plethora of tools that allow you to create magazine-like pages hosted on another site.

Curation Soft

Curation Soft allows you to search blogs, Twitter, YouTube, Google News and Flickr for recent content by keyword. Allows for easy drag and drop into any HTML editor (e.g. straight into WordPress) and also claims to only include properly licensed content. Can save you quite a bit of time searching and formatting.

Google Reader (or other RSS readers)

For curation from a set of know blogs, an RSS reader (like Google Reader) is a great way to collect, track and select articles for use in a curated post.

Google Alerts

Another way to find relevant content for a specific search term is to set up a regular Google Alert which will deliver recent articles that mention that term.

AllTop

A curated set of top blogs by topic area, AllTop also includes the five most recent posts from each blog on the same page. A great way to find blogs and posts.

Storify

Storify allows you to drag and drop social media content into a post, such as tweets, videos, blog post snippets and more. This is hosted on Storify, but It can also be embedded into a web page as well. The SEO value may be lower than straight posting of content into your blog and there may be some limitations.

Enterprise solutions:

Curata (by Hivefire) – access Curata here

Onespot – access OneSpot here

 

Always Add Value…

At the end of the day, don’t forget to add value to your audience and be creative. Just like in the mixed tape days, people will appreciate great curation but will tune out poor curators.

Related Articles

Content Curation Grows Up via Junta42
Content Curation Definitions & Context via TopRankBlog
Become a Content Curation King via ClickZ

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Jack
Guest

Thanks Tom – great example of great curation in this post itself. Lots of resources and lots to learn for people new to curation or who want to get better at it.

Tom
Guest
Tom

Thanks Jack. Yes, I think people don’t always know that they see content curation all around them. Hopefully this can help them learn how to do it in value-added ways.

carlton
Guest

Thanks for this post- i have of late been trying out content curation and from your article have noticed that i have been doing the wrong this.

Thanks for the useful insights

Tom
Guest

Carlton, thanks and I’m glad you learned some new tricks!

Cheryl Pickett
Guest

One other thing I might add to your list of what to be careful about would be overwhelm. When you’re creating your own content and you are not a writer at heart, not pumping out a lot of content isn’t a big deal. But if you or a team member have a way to pull in lots of great stuff each week, it can be really easy to hit that publish button a little too often for your readers. Finding the balance between value and “OMG make it stop” is definitely something to keep in mind.

Tom
Guest

Thanks Cheryl. Great point and I agree with the idea of not overwhelming your audience. Also, another way to prevent this is to limit the amount of content you curate on any given post.

MTBer
Guest

I have recently come across “Curation”. I was concerned that using this technique would infringe copyright. I notice that many news sources and sites have all kinds of threatening language regarding using their content. How does one stay on the right side of the law?

Tom
Guest

Great question. There was recently and article on Problogger that addressed this: http://www.problogger.net/archives/2011/11/16/6-laws-every-blogger-needs-to-obey-so-they-dont-get-sued/
The conclusion from the author about deep linking (which is a key part of curating) is that it’s a common industry practice and there haven’t been lawsuits (other than the one mentioned in the article which was unsuccessful). Also, if you pull short amounts of the content or, better yet, write your own summary about the article that limits your risk. I’ve seen people pull a whole article and put it in quotes and reference the source. To me that’s not acceptable.

Cheryl Pickett
Guest

Regarding MTBer’s question. I was just on a webinar about using curation on niche sites and the presenter said there was recently a lawsuit (in Nevada I think) where someone sued a curator essentially for copyright infringement etc based on fair use. He said the outcome was in favor of the curator even though he/she had used the majority of the original article. It sounded like the key was attribution was given so it wasn’t “stolen” in the eyes of that judge in particular. That’s the first I’d heard where fair use was expanded to more than just a snippet.… Read more »

Tom
Guest

Great addition Cheryl. I did some research and there have been a few lawsuits, a lot of them driven by one company. Seems like the sites who used limited content and credit the source were in a better position in those cases. I’m not an expert on that area so I leave it up to readers to decide on that topic for themselves.

Ileane
Guest

Hi Tom, I like the examples of curated content you mentioned along with the tools you recommend. I found a few others that I like, for example Scoop.it has a nice presentation and allows for easy social sharing. I’m also using Curated.by and Themeefy – have you looked at those tools yet?
Thanks for the post Tom.

Tom
Guest

Hi Ilene. Thank you! No, I haven’t looked at Scoop.it, Curated.by or Themeefy yet but I will now. I appreciate the additions!

trackback

[…] came around, Twitter was Guy’s favored marketing medium for pumping out a constant stream of curated content from AllTop.com (including the Holy Kaw blog). Guy used ghost Tweeters to find and send out content […]

Shirley
Guest

Yup, that’ll do it. You have my apprceitiaon.

trackback

[…] to write on that topic Option 5: Curate posts on that topic (see Content Curation Interview and Content Curation Definition)     […]

Toni Hopponen
Guest
Toni Hopponen

Hi Tom, Thanks for the great post! I would like to add that you can also use curation to engage and build relationship with your audience. For example, you can curate tweets, photos or videos shared by your readers, customers or business partners and then share your curated collection back to the community. Like Cheryl mentioned, you need to be careful not to overwhelm your readers. I’m building Flockler (http://www.flockler.com), which is a tool to create your own online magazine. Key idea is to create issues, which are collections of at least 6 articles. So instead of sharing every article… Read more »

Tom
Guest

Toni – thanks for the addition. That’s a great point about engaging and building relationships. Good luck with Flockler!

Steve Vox
Guest

Great post. I do curated blog posts. I like sharing cool things I find online. I give a sample, add my own take and link out to the source.

Have a great day
Steve

Tom
Guest

Yes Steve, makes sense! That’s basically what AllTop does for their Holy Kaw blog as well (and they monetize it). Thanks for stopping by and for sharing the post!

Coffee Shop Blogger
Guest

Hi Tom, great way to explain all about I needed to hear about content creation. I have heard about this couple months ago, but never actually took action, because had no idea what to do. But the ultimate mixed tape analogy gave me some great ideas. BTW I used to do my own tapes as well, so am starting applying that into content curation. Thanks again for such a helpful article.

Tom
Guest

Thanks Brett. I’m glad you found it helpful!

Coffee Shop Blogger
Guest

Sorry Tom, was busy studying. No I thank you for great info. Just wanted to share with anybody that content curation really works and actually there are many people in IM industry that are releasing whole products and courses on how to curate content. Personally I just like to experiment but some sites I started using content curation on started to rank higher even without so many backlinks. Which is a good news!

Take care,
Brett

Anthony
Guest

You have just blown me away by this article. An hour ago I came off a call with an old SEO friend who mentioned content curation to me and it’s benefit to SEO. I had heard of it before but on a very small scale with not much importance placed on it.

I did a search for content curation to find out some more about it and BOOM! you give me everything I need to get going with my content curation strategy.

Thanks Tom

Tom
Guest

Hey Anthony. Thank you so much for that. Good luck with your content curation and I’m glad I could help!

Greg Weber
Guest

This was very helpful. I’m still struggling to find the balance between original vs. curated content. Plus this clearly defines what content curation really involves. I honestly didn’t have a clear idea of what curation meant until I read this post.

Tom
Guest

That’s great Greg. I’m glad that help you out. Yes, we’re all striking that balance. I find mixing in some curated posts or embedded infographics is a great way to still add value while saving some time in the creation department.

Social Ninja
Guest

Now that;s how curation is done right. Although it seems more hassle even though its automated…

John
Guest

One of the more helpful articles on the subject of curation. I think the important part is to also add value to the stuff you curate.

Tom
Guest

Thanks John. I agree with you, adding value in some creative way makes it much more compelling than the entirely curated blogs which are becoming the rage (where little or no additional value is added). Thanks for dropping by!

Abraham van der Linde
Guest

Hi Tom.

Thanks for making a few things clear about curation. I originally thought it was only posting rss feeds on your site. Boy, was I wrong..

I also enjoyed reading Ileane and Cheryl’s comments. Its good to know there are more resources to help with curation and how to go about it to stay on the safe side of the law.

Sherice Jacob
Guest

Hey Tom, this is a good starter list! I’ve profiled some more tools and added a bit on the SEO benefits of content curation if you think the link might be valuable for your readers:
http://ielectrify.com/content-curation-101

Cristina
Guest

Hi there! This is a bit of a shameless plug, but please consider checking out our collaborative content curation platform at http://www.surfmark.com – that allows users to add notes directly to the webpages they’re browsing when doing online research. Surfmark automatically saves your “marked” webpages and automatically organizes them for effortless sharing and collaboration. A couple useful ways that Surfmark is current being used are: *Planning trips: Collect information on flights, hotels, activities and local hotspots. Everyone can add their preferences and thoughts directly onto the webpages you’re viewing. (ex. http://mark.ly/2bN) *Collecting Job Postings: Save job postings and company information… Read more »

Den Nicholson
Guest

Hi Tom, great post I use all of the above when curating content, I also use Evernote to gather information when browsing it can prove really useful when you come to write a post.

Tom Treanor
Guest

Hey. Thanks Den. Yes, so many people love Evernote. I’ve installed it but haven’t integrated it into my work flow yet. You’re motivating me to work on that!

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