I’ve been curating content online since the mid-’90s, and I never want to go back to the bad old days of trying to bookmark dozens of websites and recheck them all day for evidence of fresh updates. Those headaches are long forgotten, but curators still face the same challenges: how to find great content and how to get people to read it.
Curation has been a huge help to me of late. To stay current on my craft, I need to distill reams of tweets and blog updates on editing and content marketing. Nobody else is doing it, so I’ve started doing it myself. Over the past couple months, I’ve settled into a rhythm of using five tools — two for distribution and three for discovery — to curate my working world.
Curation Tools for Distribution
I started out by creating a group on LinkedIn. The networking site is not often thought of as a curation distribution platform, but if you start a new group, by definition you’ll be the only contributor to discussions until more people show up. I post three or four on-topic links every day along with any comments that spring to mind. That makes my group a de facto curated blog.
Advantages: It’s very easy to post links, create an authentic curated experience and build a following of like-minded professionals. It’s pretty much all business people, which can be good for your business, provided you don’t annoy members with a bunch of pitches.
Disadvantages: People sign up for LinkedIn groups and forget about them. You can have a hundred members but only a handful of contributors. It’s easy to get lonesome and discouraged.
Scoop.It is a full-featured content curation package that makes it super-easy to post rapid-fire updates. The professional version offers analytics and the ability to export directly into a WordPress blog. It’s also optimized for social media and allows simultaneous posts to multiple platforms. You can curate multiple subjects or stick to a single content area.
Advantages: Everything you need for curation in one place, with a huge assortment of options, an easy-to-use interface and a huge installed base of users to engage with.
Disadvantages: The content-discovery tools did not wow me — but they might work better with different subject matter (or better keyword choices).
Curation Tools for Discovery
Lists are the best thing about Twitter — the one way to create usable streams of compelling content. My stream has 10 lists that I rely on to carve slices of sanity from the madness. I use a two-tiered approach: “rock star” lists with a small number of key influencers and macro lists with broad membership. No matter when I look in on Twitter, I can find good stuff sorted in my lists.
Advantages: Easy to set up. You can have an excellent curated experience on Twitter without having to worry about attracting followers.
Disadvantages: Twitter still requires third-party apps to get the most out of using it. I prefer Hootsuite, with its ability to generate multiple streams and schedule tweets.
RSS feeds are old-school curation tools. With a good feed reader, you can always track the latest updates across a vast range of sites.
Advantages: Provides an at-a-glance view of a broad range of blogs or news sites and allows you to sort your feeds into categories. Usually you can set up your reader so it will show only the most recent updates across dozens or even hundreds of sites.
Disadvantages: Not as up-to-the-minute as Twitter. Usually requires a complex reader; I like NetVibes best but all the tools have a learning curve. Not all sites use RSS.
Paper.li is an old favorite of mine: It automates the curation process by grabbing the tweets from your twitter lists and assigning news value to them according to how many times they get retweet or otherwise engaged. Then it generates a page that looks like an online news site.
Advantages: Easy to set up. Once configured, it’s all automated. The pages are often nothing like you’d see on a news site, but the results can be entertaining. You also get to see surprisingly good posts that you might have missed.
Disadvantages: Performance is spotty: one day the page will be excellent, the next day it’ll be completely forgettable.
Curation cannot replace creating original content, but it definitely makes sense as a way to bridge complementary topics. No matter which tools you use, there’s no software that beats the human brain’s ability to find and share really cool content.
Reputation Capital Media Services is a Baton Rouge marketing agency that helps B2B companies and their marketing agencies produce high-quality digital content, including blog posts, e-mail newsletters, white papers and multimedia. Our editors and writers are experts in their fields, which include HR technology, employee benefits, and financial services and accounting. Contact us for a free 30-minute consultation to find out how great content can help you attract and retain your customers.