Content Curation – Definition, Role(s), Tips and Tools
Content curation tools play an important role in the content planning and publishing process.
Before we provide you with our picks for the web’s best content curation tools, let’s go back a step revisit the origins of content curation and the specific role it plays.
A definition of content curation
The most succinct and apt definition of content curation can be found on Beth Kanter’s blog:
Content curation is the process of sorting through the vast amounts of content on the web and presenting it in a meaningful and organized way around a specific theme. The work involves sifting, sorting, arranging, and publishing information. A content curator cherry picks the best content that is important and relevant to share with their community. It isn’t unlike what a museum curator does to produce an exhibition: They identify the theme, they provide the context, they decide which paintings to hang on the wall, how they should be annotated, and how they should be displayed for the public.
The role content curation plays across the social web
- Curated content is more cost-effective than (only) producing original content – It takes a lot of time to produce quality and compelling content from scratch, but a lot of great content that is relevant to your online communities already exists. This is not to diminish the importance of original content, which is still the most powerful form of content marketing, but curated content can supplement these efforts. As a general rule, 80% of content shared is usually curated, while 20% is original.
- Curating content is the human attempt at organising the web – While Google is phenomenal, and serves up results when we need them, nothing beats human interpretation. When humans, on behalf of businesses, locate and share relevant information, they are proactively serving up content that their community may find useful. It is a win / win.
- Curated content is the ultimate form of social (media) giving – Online communities appreciate it when content is shared without an agenda. When you find and share someone else’s content, you’re not only adding value to your communities, but you’re also promoting someone’s else’s content which is appreciated at the other end.
There are a number of associated benefits of curated content including the ability to serve up frequent content and increased opportunities for interaction which can help exposure over time.
How content curation works (as part of the content planning process)
Content planning varies by channel.
The best forms of curated content are evergreen, as opposed to news-based content which has a shorter shelf-life.
Examples of evergreen content include FAQs, how to guides and tutorials, industry definitions and resource lists (like this one).
Imagery also plays a key role in the curated content you locate and re-purpose (as images don’t have to be time sensitive).
Generally speaking, the easiest and most effective place for curation-based content planning is Facebook. Twitter is also suited to this type of content planning, but the nature of this platform places a greater emphasis on real-time curation which can be more difficult to activate in larger organisations.
Using Facebook as an example, a month’s worth of posts featuring evergreen content can be planned the month before they are scheduled to go live and still be relevant because the content is timeless.
However, the best forms of content planning allow for fluidity, real-time adjustments and community interaction.
15 top-notch content curation tools to help content planing
Content curation tools come in a variety of forms, including:
- Aggregation dashboards – multiple source feeds directed at the one place
- Content discovery tools – feeds based on keywords and trending posts / topics
- Discovery and delivery solutions – content disovery and publishing with one tool
- All-in-one solutions – discovery, organisation and sharing from a central source
- Content planning tools – taking your original and curated content and organising for review / approval, and ultimately publishing
Like most social media tools, it’s very hard to find the ‘perfect’ one unless you develop your own one that suits your specific needs (which is why you often need a combination of them).
Below is a list of free and paid tools to that may suit the needs of your organisation, depending on where you are located within the content marketing life cycle.
1. NetVibes.com – NetVibes is one of the original content aggregation dashboards and also still one of the best. The best feature of NetVibes is that there are an abundance of ready made feeds and widgets that can get you up and running in a matter of minutes. Freemium and premium versions are available.
2. symbaloo.com – Did you ever use iGoogle? Symbaloo is almost identical to iGoogle but is presented in a much more image-shaped manner. If you’re looking at a simple and easy-to-use dashboard that aggregates all the forms of content important to you (images, blog posts, videos etc), this is a great way to go. And, it’s free.
3. ProtoPage.com – Completely free, and completely straight-forward. ProtoPage, despite the odd bug or two, is worth consideration as it gives you the most manual control over the content relevant to you. The benefit that Protopage delivers, that most others don’t, is a bookmark-style dashboard which reminds you to manually consult non-blog platforms like Pinterest and Instagram. You can even set up Twitter hashtag feeds to keep an eye on multiple conversations relevant to you.
4. Feedly.com – Feedly has been around for a while but has become more popular since the departure of Google Reader. Feedly allows you to add content by URL, title and topic. It is great for blog post aggregation but doesn’t pull in other forms of content like images which would make it a more complete solution. Free and premium versions available.
5. Individurls.com – One of the most basic aggregators out there and very similar to Feedly.com. The best part of Individurls is the ease in which content scanning takes place and is replicated on your mobile phone for discovery on the move. This one is free too.
6. Google Sites – Another free alternative is Google Sites. This is the least sexy of all the options, but allows you to custiomise a dashboard-style site featuring bookmarks and links to your favourite and most relevant sources.
Content discovery tools
7. iFlow.com – iFlow is a part dashboard, part discovery tool. The interface looks very similar to Google Reader and allows you to find content based on keywords and topics. It is another tool that helps with real-time discovery and sharing.
8. Zite app – Zite a free mobile-only app which finds and aggregates content based on topic and the popularity of individual articles (based on a proprietary algorithm). If you are time poor, and can only dedicate a few minutes per day to content discovery and sharing, Zite is the perfect app to have in your toolkit.
9. ContentGems.com – Monitors 200,000 RSS feeds and social media accounts and finds content that matches your custom keywords. The nicest part of ContentGems is how often it scans the web for new content which really helps with real-time curation. Freemium and premium options available.
10. Scoop.it – Users of Scoop.it speak incredibly high of it mainly due to the user experience and the constant stream of content it serves up. It automatically finds and features comment from places like Twitter and Google blogs that are based on your target keywords and interests. It is also customisable allowing for additional sources to be added to your stream(s).
Discover and deliver
11. trap.it (enterprise solution) – Trap.it positions itself as a ‘smart’ content curation tool, increasing in intelligence and relevance the more you use it. It features more than 100,000 vetted content sources and includes ‘hidden gems’ that have the potential to make your presence stand out.
12. PostPlanner.com (enterprise solution) – While there is some free access to PostPlanner, you’ll need to upgrade to one of the premium packages to really benefit from the content engine feature. PostPlanner is housed within Facebook (as an app) so if Facebook is your primary focus, this might be one worth considering.
The following tools are great if you have the resources (people and budget) to make them work.
13. Curata.com (enterprise solution) – Curata bills itself as one of the only discovery, organisation and sharing tool. It has a number of features that will really only suit big organisations who have high volumes of content to scan, re-purpose and publish.
Content planning tools
14. Kapost.com (enterprise solution) – If you’re a content planner or community manager, you’ll love Kapost. It does away with those pesky excel spreadsheets and gives you a content calendar template which can be added to, reviewed, revised and scheduled in the one place. It also allows you to categorise your posts by channel (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, blog).
15. Compendium.com (enterprise solution) – Compendium is a content marketing platform that helps organizations capture and create original content in a branded hub for distribution to any marketing channel. It is one of those tools that will make social media marketers drool when they see the features and interface.
The final word
As mentioned a few times in this post about content curation tools and content planning, the right combination of tools depends on your goals, needs and resourcing.
In most cases, the free tools can get most of the job done, but if you are a bigger organisation, with more complex approval and publishing processes, the enterprise solutions might be a better fit.
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Since this post was published, we’ve been alerted to a couple more resources and tools that are worth consideration.
Swayy – This web app delivers content suggestion by email each morning based on pre-defined interest areas
Kuratur – The focus on Kuratur is a little different. It aggregates content that features on your website. Worth a look