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How to Curate Content the Right Way

Content curation burst onto the scene at the advent of Web 2.0., but curation itself is all around us. Whenever you go into a space that’s been organized especially to cater to you and provide a particular experience, you’re seeing a form of curation.

Retail spaces are carefully curated, restaurants are curated, and even libraries are curated.

The idea of curation comes originally from the world of museums.

There, experts bring together a collection of art where every piece relates to a particular theme. Not only does this help show the relationships between the different pieces, but it can also attract ardent art fans.

Art admirers can be an intense group. When an exhibit opens up that caters to the specialized tastes of a smaller artistic community, they’ll beat down a path to the door. The result: Ticket sales and exposure for the museum and a wonderful experience for the visitors.

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The same is true of all kinds of audiences: Centralize exactly what they want all in one place and they’ll love you for it. That’s especially true on the web, where people often have limited time to seek out amazing materials on the topics that interest them the most.

When you curate content, you’re showcasing the best work on a single topic or theme from all around the web. Then, you’re sharing it with your audience along with your take on each piece.

Why Do Websites Curate Content?

Content curation can be a valuable plank in a content marketing strategy – or the whole strategy.

Some of the most successful viral websites in the world have focused on content curation. We’ve all heard of Upworthy, which drew millions of unique visits a month at its peak. Even today, you will find sites imitating its winning formula in all kinds of verticals.

There are many other reasons why it makes sense to curate content:

Content Curation Fuels Stellar SEO Results.

Curation is phenomenal for increasing the organic reach of your site. When you curate, you have the chance to build a big site faster and fill it with compelling content. Plus, you’ll win a diverse array of backlinks from your niche and from sites that – you guessed it – curation sites.

Content Curation Empowers Social Media.

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Social signals are becoming more important in SEO, and curation helps you rack them up. Most curation sites get a steady stream of shares for their posts, and you can easily learn what type of content really resonates. It’s simpler than ever to keep your Twitter and Facebook humming.

Content Curation Helps Teams Create.

Curation equips content marketing teams to create astonishing things more efficiently. It relieves some of the pressure, so you have time to process and plan. On top of that, you get to see phenomenal content in your niche so you can craft yours to reflect the top trends in your vertical.

How Do You Curate Content?

Content creation starts with three basic ideas:

  • Share an outstanding piece of content from a reputable source.
  • Add cool context and your own perspective to enhance value.
  • Embrace resulting opportunities to engage with your audience.

Of course, there’s a lot to master within these three simple steps!

Step 1: Set Your Goals and Choose Your Categories.

set goals for content curation

Whenever you get started with a new promotional tactic, you should begin with the end in mind.

Convene a meeting of your content team and figure out where the effort to curate content fits in your wider ambitions. Are you starting a new site especially for curation or will curated works appear on your existing site, social accounts, and other platforms?

If you’re starting from scratch, look at other curation sites in your niche for an idea what level of traffic you can expect from your project when it’s mature. If you’re integrating curation into your existing site, whip up reasonable growth targets for traffic and engagement.

From there, you can decide which categories curated content should represent.

Creating categories helps you ensure you don’t end up repeating yourself – a real issue when you’re pulling from a wide range of sources and social accounts that could be surfacing older content. It also makes things a lot faster when you’re skimming for the best items to share.

Some things to bear in mind:

  • Going narrower is good for thought leadership, but going broad gives you more to share.
  • Broader categories usually make it easier to find highly shareable visual content to post.
  • For organizational purposes, it’s best to have 3-5 categories that encompass all content.
  • Avoid using one-time or “joke” tags or categories, which make content harder to find.
  • Aim for a consistent and even spread of new content over all the categories you select.
  • In general, top-level categories you choose should be reflected in your site navigation.

Step 2: Find and Share Outstanding Content.

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To curate content, you need to have steady streams of it from all sorts of neat places.

If you don’t gather enough content from other sites, your audience will have seen everything you have to show them before they get to you – and that’s boring!

There’s thousands of terrific websites out there in most niches, and more are coming online every single day. Still, it’s too clumsy to Google your topic every few days: Results don’t change often enough for you to discover all the latest content.

Here’s how you can do it instead:

Set Up Google Alerts

Setting up topic alerts on Google is the first step when you want to grab the latest on any subject. Content curation sites thrive when they weigh in on the latest news. Alerts will deliver all of those breaking headlines directly to your inbox so you can share and comment on them fast.

Build a Base of Bookmarks

Here’s the thing: Unless a site is your direct competitor, you should feel free to curate content from it. Webmasters and influencers of all kinds love having their content curated and seeing what you say about them, so snag bookmarks from all your favorite industry sites for later use.

Follow Top Social Influencers

Curation is a social game. Others are out there looking for outstanding content, too – so, you can use their findings to inspire and inform you. Keep in contact with those influencers and you may open the door to guest blogging or other collaboration in the future, too.

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Curate Your Own Content

Since your following is always growing, you should assume most of your followers haven’t seen your “greatest hits.” It’s never a bad idea to revisit your own popular content, especially if you have the opportunity to expand and update it for changing conditions.

With the whole constellation of sources worked out, your next aim is to tie together curation with your social media.

A social media management app can ensure that when you curate content, you’ll be able to easily post network-appropriate versions of it to each social account. Follow social media best practices here, using your software to time your posts for maximum engagement with your audience.

Step 3: Add Context and Your Own Perspective.

When they’re just having fun, lots of people get away with sharing content with their friends and family members without adding much – if anything – to it. The stakes are higher for businesses, and so are the standards: If you want to be remembered, you have to add value.

Remember, every piece of content you publish is a preview of the value you can offer.

How can you curate content in a way that sparks conversation?

From easiest to not so easiest, these techniques produce results:

Put the Content into Perspective

When you’re curating, the information you provide along with a link often serves as an executive summary. You can bring up the key points, solicit feedback from your audience, or even stir some controversy if you want to present a contrasting view.

Add Rich Visual Aids

rich visuals curation

We all know that social media posts are generally more effective when they have a photo or an illustration, but this goes double for curated content. A quick photo will get eyes on your social update, while a header image will make it more likely people will read the associated blog post.

Consider a “Weekend Round Up”

Unless your content is cute or funny, odds are good people aren’t tuning in every single day to see what you just posted. Take a page from Inception and go deeper ... by curating the content you curate. A weekly “best of the best” digest is a good way to keep email subscribers engaged.

Recontextualize Content ... with Content

Going a little further, you can always make content better with more content.

You could take an incisive article you posted, look up the raw stats behind it and design an infographic. Then, not only do you have something truly unique to contribute, but you can also get a shout-out and share from the original source.

Another option: Building out “topic guides” that serve as an index of awesome links and key facts for site visitors just getting acquainted with a subject. These can become big, powerful posts that attract lots of backlinks, developing into anchor content or lead magnets.

And don’t forget video: People love it, especially on mobile, and it can give keen insights into your brand. Polished, professional video has its place, but a quick live stream is enough to infuse your curated content with more life and personality.

Step 4: Engage Your Audience.

Last, but not least, you want to squeeze every bit of mileage out of that growing collection of cool content. Having the standard slew of social media features will make it more intuitive, but you can take things a step further if you want to take the plunge into community management.

For example:

Streamline (and Incentivize) Comments

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There are plenty of ways to implement comments onto your site without requiring people to sign up for yet another account. Sure, you want them to register and provide you with more info, but in most cases, it’s faster to get them to comment using Facebook or LinkedIn.

Most blog writers know that when you close a post with a question, you’re more likely to get comments in response. Depending on your brand, you can push the envelope: You might offer a free consultation for the most popular comment or create a “comment of the day” feature.

Build a Community for Your Content

Curation sites tend to attract people with strong opinions and well-developed interests. Be sure you are always engaging on social channels and having one-on-one conversations with your users. As your site expands, consider establishing a group on Facebook or LinkedIn. This gives you a new, more personal marketing channel and strengthens your brand identity as a curator.

Brands That Curate Content Can Thrive in Today’s Fast-Moving Web World

If you curate content right, you’ll add a tremendous amount of value for your audience. And you’ll do it in a way that’s fast, efficient, and fun.

From zany bloggers to prestigious B2B thought leaders, everyone has something to gain when they curate content in a way that aligns with their brand.

Since content curation allows you to accelerate the development of your online platform, it’s a phenomenal way to “find your tribe” in a fraction of the time.

Plus, you’re always doing people the unspoken service of saving them time – by keeping them from having to hunt through the wilds of the internet for the buried treasures in your niche.

Many respected companies are moving toward a content mix that includes about 30% curated content. Some are doing a little more or less, but curation is entering the picture more and more.

Give it a shot: Your results (in traffic, shares, and leads) might surprise you!

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Rob Steffens

Rob Steffens

I am the Director of Sales & Marketing here at Bluleadz. I'm a recent newlywed who enjoys spending time with my wife vegging out and binging our favorite shows or getting some exercise on the Racquetball court.