Content curation is taking off among marketers, says a recent article in Forbes. It’s easy to see why when you look at the explosion of content on the Internet.
Every day –
- 27 million pieces of online content are shared
- 250 million photos are uploaded to Facebook (MBAOnline.com)
- 864,000 videos are added to YouTube (MBAOnline.com)
- Bloggers on WordPress.com (the free platform) write 500,000 posts a day, not counting other blogging platforms.
- The Google Index of webpages hit 49 billion in May 2012
This universe of content is good news for marketers.
Instead of struggling to create your own blog posts or videos day after day, you can mix in some curated content. You’re giving your audience a richer mix including the best available. And you filter what to include, so there’s no damage to your brand.
If you’re not curating yet, it’s well worth exploring.
In this post, I’ll cover what “curating” content means, how to go about it, and some best practices. In part 2, I’ll show you some free tools to start you off.
Content curation defined
If the word is new, think of museum curation. The museum curator finds, collects, organises and displays the best available artefacts on a certain topic. Web curators do the same.
A Content Curator is someone who continually finds, groups, organizes and shares the best and most relevant content on a specific issue online
It’s more easily explained through an example. So let me introduce you to Robin Good, master curator.
Robin is an information publisher, author, public speaker and educator, running the website Masternewmedia and an online unveristy.
He publishes a stable of online magazines that are entirely curated. The only original content is his introduction to each piece. These drive readers to his website.
Robin uses his curated magazines to attract and inform customers and prospects. He’s in information publishing so he curates content on web publishing tools, Internet marketing, ebook publishing, online business models, and other related topics.
He cleverly funnels the content from his magazines into his website.
Column 1, at left, is a feed from his curated magazines . Columns 2 and 3 are original content. He is providing a rich mix of content without having to write it all.
The content curation process
There are 3 steps –
- Finding the best material to curate from
- Organising it to make sense of it for your audience
- Distributing it
You already know what your audience is interested in, so you look for sources that publish high-quality information on your topic.
To do this you need a news discovery tool, like Google Alerts. There are many other tools to choose from, and I’ll introduce some of them in part 2.
Once you’ve selected a news discovery tool, you’ll set it up to give you a regular feed of content.
The word regular is important here. Curation only helps content marketing when you regularly publish high quality content. Think of it like your daily or weekly newspaper – you’d be unhappy if it didn’t come out when you expect it.
You have a stream of content. Next you –
- Select only the best of what’s relevant and throw away the rest
- Group things in a logical manner to give context
- Write an introduction explaining why you’ve selected that content for your audience
Curating content isn’t about publishing hundreds of links that Google Alerts has found for you. That’s aggregation, and it’s the precursor to curation. Actual curation is filtering, selecting, making sense of the best material only. At this point, less is more!
You are the human filter that your audience relies on to present them only the most relevant, timely and helpful information. It is like shopping for presents – you select the gifts you think the person would really like.
You will also need to decide where to publish. It can be on your existing blog or email newsletter. Or you can choose one of many curation platforms. There are free and paid models, online and desktop versions. I’ll highlight some in part 2.
There is little point curating if you don’t share the results (unless it’s for your personal learning). Share on the channels you’re already using to reach your audience, be it your website, Twitter or Google+.
Time for a word about links and fair use. Curating content is not stealing content. You are not going to copy whole articles and republish them as if they were your own. That’s theft or piracy.
Curation means collecting and publishing links. You can use a headline, image and excerpt from the original article. You can embed someone else’s video. There is nothing to stop you linking to any content you like from the Internet.
But follow the rules.
Rules of fair use –
- Use only an excerpt of about 150 words
- Always link to the original
- Write your own introduction explaining why you curated it and how it’s useful to your audience
- Give full attribution. If the author’s name is not visible in the excerpt, put it in your introduction
Here’s an example from Robin Good
Someone may object to you curating their content. If they do, remove it if you can. Content curators are helpful, pleasant, sharing, fair people.
Getting the content mix right
What’s the ideal mix of original to curated content?
Opinions differ. The right mix is always what is right for your audience. Would they prefer more original content from you, because they appreciate you voice? Or would they enjoy the breadth and depth that comes from good curation?
- Created (yours)
- Curated (what you find and collect)
- Contributed (what your visitors, customers or users contribute).
(I’m not going to explore contributed content in this post, as I want to focus only on the why and how of curation. I’ll discuss contributed content in a future post.)
A good rule of thumb is to write what you know best and curate the rest. Take Robin Good. He is an educator, among other things, and the main original article on his site is about the future of learning. His curated content is around his topics, rather than his speciality.
In part 2, I’ll introduce some news discovery and content curation tools. Meanwhile, take a look at the resources below for more on how and why to curate.
My curated videozines
BMW.TV – how one luxury brand curates video.
Do you have questions about curation? Did you find this article useful or not? If so, what did you like about it? If not, what would you have preferred to read about? I’d love to have your feedback.