"Content curation" is one of those phrases that gets tossed around the marketing and content creation world practically every second if you're following enough of us. (I might be exaggerating. Maybe.) It's not a buzzword, but it could be construed as jargon because the act and its benefits aren't immediately clear to those who most need it. So, before I launch into why you want to include content curation in your digital marketing activities, I'll explain what it is.
Dictionary.com defines "content" (the noun, not the adjective) in a few different ways I like for the context of this post:
"the subjects or topics covered in a book or document"
"something that is to be expressed through some medium, as speech, writing, or any of various arts"
"substantive information or creative material viewed in contrast to its actual or potential manner of presentation"
Content is information that expresses ideas, opinions, facts, etc. Before we had "social media" (and really, social media has existed far longer than the term we use to describe these digital tools), content was books, TV shows, home videos, photographs, journal entries, magazine articles and stories, newspaper columns and reports. The digital age has expanded the mediums we can use to create and the channels we use to distribute or promote.
The definition of curate is perfect:
"to pull together, sift through, and select for presentation, as music or website content"
The act of curation is essentially digging for those gold nuggets that are going to be interesting for others. Museum curators do this all the time, only they have to work much harder than I do when I'm sitting in front of my computer or other device reading through dozens of blog posts.
How do you curate content?
Good question. I'm glad you asked!
First you need to find people who create the kind of content you want to share
I go about this in several ways, and I've been following, unfollowing, re-following and so on for years now. I need variety and sometimes I need a break from the influx of information or the style in which it's presented. The information you need and want to see will evolve.
I find good content through Twitter chats, list posts that recommend "must-follow" experts/blogs on various topics, Twitter lists, etc. It will probably only take you about 30 minutes to find enough blogs that write in your area of expertise to create a repository of thought leaders to curate content from.
That said, I try to follow in the way it makes most sense to share. 90% of the time, that's through Feedly, my RSS reader. Which brings me to tools...
Second, you will want to incorporate the right tools to keep content curation a manageable process.
My process starts with Feedly. As I flip through the unread articles in my account, I do one or more of several things:
Use a tool to schedule content to one of my accounts.
Save a post within Feedly, which automatically bumps it over to Pocket (via IFTTT). I do this with articles that I need time to read and consider what they say and how I want to act on the information. From Pocket, I may delete them, or (more often), they get saved to Evernote where I can reference the information later.
When I run across articles that I can read quickly and the value is clear, I may share using Buffer AND save in an appropriate notebook in Evernote. (I reference the same valuable blog posts over and over again when it makes sense. Putting them in Evernote means I waste less time looking for them.)
Within my Feedly account, I've connected Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Buffer, Pocket, Pinterest, Evernote and any other tools that I have accounts for and use in my content curation process. From Feedly, I can share content from the feeds I subscribe to with all the major networks I use without worrying that I'm being too repetitive. I mix it up!
Third, establish a consistent process that you run through regularly.
It doesn't have to be daily, but keep in mind that if you're scheduling content as part of this process, you want to be engaged with comments, replies, and other engagement that happens as a result.
I tend to curate a little bit almost every day. I used to try to get every post in my reader marked as read each week - by actually reading all of them. Now I'm content to mark them all as read when I want to focus on newer content coming out.
You don't have to read everything. You can't. Don't even try.
Why is content curation important to add to your social marketing mix?
Sharing content from trusted industry leaders shows your followers that you are actively engaged in staying up-to-date with what's going on.
Idea generation. This is my favourite reason for curating content. All those notes that I save in Evernote? Those are almost always blog ideas or supporting information for blog posts.
When I read through the posts in my reader, I spend some time commenting on other blogs. Blog comments have decreased significantly over the years, but their value hasn't declined. The blogger that gets a thoughtful comment these days is more grateful than ever. Each comment you leave on that blog is one small step to building a relationship.
It forces you to get away from thinking about creating content and learn from others. (Well, until you get an idea inspired from something you read.)
A caution about content curation
Read what you share.
Don't fall in the trap of scheduling content you haven't properly vetted just because you don't have time to read. There is no quicker way to lose credibility than to schedule something that doesn't fit your brand and principles.
One final bonus tip
Subscribe to your own content.
Whether it’s by email or through a feed reader, you'll always know that your feed is working and you can mix your own content in with other content you're scheduling to share.
My process is not the only way to do it and you should definitely figure out what works best for you, but I hope this gives you a framework to getting started sharing excellent expert advice that supports the work you're doing!