My 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
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Tom Treanor is the founder of the Right Mix Marketing blog. He’s the author of the Search Engine Boot Camp, the co-author of Online Business Productivity, and regularly speaks at industry and corporate events. His writing has been featured on the Content Marketing Institute, Social Media Examiner, Copyblogger and other leading industry blogs.