Posted by gfiorelli1
When it comes to the Internet, I imagine it as the warehouse where the Ark is archived at the end of Indiana Jones – Raiders of the Lost Ark.
The Ark is that outstanding content someone has produced and that no other will be able to see again, because it is forgotten and hidden between gazillions of other contents.
Apart from the gigantic volume of pages present in the Internet, for a long time, search spam has been making the discovery of reliable sources difficult; and – let's be honest – Social Media has enhanced this issue, because it added even more noise and dispersion. Actually, as Mitchel Kapor said once, getting information off the Internet is like having a drink from a fire hydrant.
To tell the truth, this problem is not new.
What is Content Curation?
- Aggregation, which consists in curating the most relevant content about a topic into one single location. This is the most common way of curating content, and it is at the base of the majority of the content curation services actually present online;
- Distillation, which purpose is to distill the overall noise about a topic to its most important and relevant concept. The best cases of social content curation can be catalogued into this definition;
- Elevation, when curators draft a more general trend or insight from a mass of daily musings;
- Mashups, or to merge different content about a topic creating a new original point of view of the same;
- Chronology, which could be defined as historiographical content curation. Usually it consists in presenting a timeline of curated information to show the evolution of a particular topic.
How to do Content Curation: The Tools
The Discovery Phase and Tools
Actually there are a very large number of sites and tools that help the content curation process, but none is useful without one essential skill: your ability in separate the wheat from the chaff.
That means that at first a curator needs to collect all the information out there about the topic he is going to curate and, then, start selecting.
The best way to collect that information is listening. For instance, if someone would like to start curating the SEO topic, he should have to start visiting on a daily basis sites like SEOmoz, Search Engine Land, Search Engine Watch, and Search Engine Journal, examining the sites/blogs of the people active in those sites, select the objectively most interesting ones, and use two starting tools, RSS and Twitter:
- RSS to track their own content production about the SEO topic;
- Twitter to track the content related to the SEO industry they share.
This discovery phase can be facilitated by tools, two of which – sign ‘o’ times – are not strictly web based but mobile apps:
âZite (for iOs, WebOS and, very recently, for Android too and owned by CNN), is a “Personalized magazine”, which not only offers the opportunity to connect your Google Reader, Twitter and Read it Later accounts in order to have all the content present there in just one place and organized into sections, but also it proposes a large selection of content from other sources it crawled in Internet, and all this content is presented in standard sections like Technology, Politics, Arts & Culture, etc.
You can also add sections based on your specific needs/interests thanks to a sort of “search suggest box”. For instance, I have personalized it with very specific sections dedicated to Content Marketing, Content Management, Copywriting, and all those disciplines that can be included in the Inbound Marketing umbrella.
The “magic” is that with a simple rule of thumbs up/down you can teach Zite which content is the one you really consider relevant and what not. So the next time you access it, the content proposed will be closer to the one you are really interested in. For a curator, this is like having a robotic personal assistant.
Flipboard, (for iOS only, sorry), is another “social magazine”, which can be personalized not only by selecting which sites to be republished on our Flipboard and we want to read the content of, but also from an interesting curators’ list and – especially – adding a bigger number of social accounts we subscribe to: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Instagram, Flickr, 500px, and obviously, Google Reader.
This tool is still in beta (you need to ask for an invitation directly to the site from someone already using it), and it is an almost perfect tool in order to discover what is the most popular content which is published in your stream, for a keyword or for a hashtag and those Twitter lists you may have added.
This is especially useful for three reasons:
- When you log in Strawberry Jam, it syncs with your Twitter account and shows you all the popular links in the previous 24 hours. This is an amazing way to discover what happened when you weren’t online (i.e.: consider my case, living in Europe and sleeping when the Twitter activity is having its peaks in the USA);
- It facilitates the selection of those links, which are useful and interesting for those searches
- (keywords and hashtag, especially) which can be really due a loss of time.
Other tools that can be used for this discovery phase are:
- Evri (for iOs and Kindle Fire), which has the advantage of owning an API which allows to access the data of your Evri “entity” or channels from their site.
- Feedly (for iOS, Android, Chrome, Safari and Firefox), the plus is having browser versions which are always in sync with the mobile apps.
- Factiva (by Dow Jones), a great resource for discovering very authoritative news content.
- My6sense (iOS). This app – apart the classic functionalities of a tool like this – has a very good engine, which is able to understand your tastes and, the more you use it, to present them at the first place. It offers an API for third party development.
- PostPost. It is focused just on Twitter, but it offers the very appreciated function of breaking the content shared in your stream into a faceted navigation (links, photos, videos…) and ordered by priority: First the content from those contacts you interact the most, secondly the content most shared and cited in your stream and, finally, all the rest.
- Delicious, especially now that is starting the implementation of some of the characteristics that made Trunk.ly, which it bought months ago, so popular.
- Faveous, which can be considered a Delicious on steroids. In fact, it can also collect those links you share in Gmail.
- Inbound.org, Hacker News, and any other content curated news site. These sites are a great shortcut to find out valuable content and, even more importantly, other curators specialized in one or two specific topics. In particular, Inbound.org, with its very well thought categorization of the RSS sources, helps considerably the further skimming of the content published.
The Content Curation discovery phase is an ongoing activity, and of every source we should save its RSS in our reader if it's possible in order to commit several useful SEO actions.
The Production Phase and Tools
In the last couple of years, the tools available to content curators literally invaded the web. Some are right now all the hype and have partly changed its nature (Pinterest anyone?), and others have a great user base in the content marketing field, but are less known to SEO and/or Social Media marketers.
Below I will list and describe just those ones that personally I consider the most interesting. It is a very personal selection, so forgive me if I miss some tool (but I invite you to add more in the comments).
My criteria of selection is the following:
- Overall quality of the product;
- Quality of the curators using it and publishing their curated content with it;
- Effectiveness of the content curated publication in the product site;
- Opportunity of publishing the content curated with the tool on our own site (via embed, RSS, widget or API).
Scoop.it is probably the best site for Content Curation right now.
Even though it offers several ways to share on your social sites and to embed on your site the content you curate in your Scoop.it magazine, it is mainly meant to be used as an external property.
The final product is a magazine, where it is possible to publish content suggested by the Scoop.it suggestion engine, from the sources you have set up, from its bookmarklet, and from the other curators you are following on site itself.
The overall quality of the curators present in Scoop.it is quite high, even though you must dig to find the very remarkable ones. The system suggests users related to your topic. But if you desire to explore topics you’re not curating, the Scoop.it search system is not the best one.
As every content curation platform, Scoop.it offers the opportunity to republish your curated content on your site: via widget, which you can configure as you want, and via RSS feed. If you have a WordPress blog (or a Tumblr) you can connect it with your topic page and republish your curated content there.
Scoop.it is a freemium product, and the free subscription is powerful enough for the average content curation needs. But if you want to use your brand, your own domain/subdomain and have analytics (and connect your magazine to Google Analytics), then you need to subscribe the Business plan.
Bundlr is a “clipper site”. Somehow, it is a Pinterest, but not limited to just images and videos. In fact with it you can clip and save in your bundles practically everything you find relevant about an argument: text clips, images, video, code snippets….
Bundlr, as any curation content tool, lets you share on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ what you have clipped and to add your note commenting the clip. This is especially interesting for social content curation.
Moreover, the page can be curated by more than one curator or can be kept private if you are curating a topic for internal use only (both available in the pro version only).
Bundlr lets you embed your topic page in your own site too. The embed will get updated as constantly as you continue to clip new relevant quotes, images about your selected topic. Another way to embed a page in your site is via RSS.
Alternatives to Bundlr.com are:
- Snip.it, in beta and very Facebook oriented;
- Bagtheweb.com, which is a mix between Scoop.it and a clipper site. Its most interesting functionality is that you can create of network of “bags” in order to really create a deeper curated content experience about a topic and its subtopics;
- Clipboard, which offers the opportunity to embed (or share on socials or with a link) just one clip. For instance click this link
- (oh yes) Pinterest.
Storify fulfills perfectly the “Chronology” concept of Content Curation.
In fact, with it, it is possible to narrate a story aggregating the best content about the same topic from different sources, while commenting it and offering your own vision about the event presented, as this Storify by Charles Arthur about Sexism in the web marketing industry displays well.
For this reason, it is now widely used especially by journalists, but also by tweeps and bloggers, whose main topic are current news.
Surely it is a tool that many of you already know and, maybe, experimented, but if you have not tried it yet, I really suggest you to do it.
The list of sources Storify let you build your story from is very big:
- Storify itself
are probably the most common sources, but you can also grab content from these other sources: StockTwits, GetGlue, Chute, and BreakingNews
Finally, the opportunity to search on Google, embed URLs you may have saved in your favorites or from your RSS reader, makes the potentialities of Storify almost infinite.
Obviously, the stories you create can be exported easily to your WordPress site (both .com and .org), Tumblr, Posterous. You can also mail your stories directly to the subscribers of your newsletter if you are using MailChimp. In other case, you can embed your story via a line of script. Finally, it is possible to share your story on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ via social buttons.
Be aware that Storify is quite easy to use, to really be able to create a story that engages your readers is not easy at all. This post by Dave Copeland, Do’s and Don’t For Using Storify, describes perfectly how to create a story that won’t let your readers indifferent.
Pearltrees is probably one of the Curation Content sites on the rise among content marketers.
At first it is not that different from any other social bookmarking site:
- You have a browser app which let you “pearl” the page you are visiting;
- You can connect your Twitter and Facebook accounts to your Pearltrees account;
- You can import the links you may have saved in Delicious.
What makes Pearltrees unique is the visual nature and truly social cooperative nature. It lets you organize your interests into Pearls (let’s say “Topic”) and Pearltrees, which are practically folders where you can add the pages you pearled in a branch. Another interesting function of Pearltrees, as said, is its social cooperative nature, as any other curator expert in your topic may ask to team up with you (and vice versa).
The social nature of the site is not limited to the cooperation between curators though. In fact, as soon as you create your pearls, the system will start presenting you related pearls, which can be added to yours completely or just the branch you are most interested in.
For instance, in a pearl I created about SEO, I added the one about Python, a topic which interests me, but I am not absolutely an expert of; hence it is better for me to rely to the deeper knowledge of another curator.
Finally, as any content curation site, it is possible to share your pearls externally (Twitter, Facebook, email) or embed them in your site. But you can share pearl also internally, for instance to your curation team and those one who picked a pearl from you in the past. An interesting function is the ability to export all the links present in your categorized pearls in a RDF file, which can be easily opened with Excel.
Why do I Need to Curate Content?
There are at least six reasons for considering Content Curation as a tactic to follow in your Web Marketing plan.
Conquering the Long Tail
From a strict SEO point of view, to have a section of your own site dedicated to the curation of the best content related to your market, or to dedicate a section of your blog to it, is a powerful way to enhance the long tail reach of your site.
Obviously, you need to follow the principle of Content Curation as described above (discovers and curates, adds value commenting and providing perspective, crediting the sources) in order to not simply push duplicated content onto your own site.
Tools like Scoop.it, with the opportunity they offer to export your curated content feed into your site make this operation easier.
Finding Sources for Original Content Creation
Another great reason why you should do content curation is that doing it you can collect, find, and re-use (always crediting the original source) great ideas and information, with which you can create great original content.
For instance, using discovery tools like the ones above cited, saving the RSS feed of the best sources about a topic and using tools in order to further select the needed content from those sources (i.e.: Yahoo Pipes and some hacking, as described in this classic post by Dawn Foster).
Sure, for some specific topics it may be very hard to find content online, but don’t forget that a world outside the web exists with tons of sources, which can be easily collected and curated, as I explain in this video I had the pleasure to shoot for Distilled:
Finding Great Contacts for Link Building Outreach
This is almost a natural effect of the Content Curation.
To discover and share only the best content online (and offline) about your niche, puts yourself on the radar of the content creators, fact which can lead you to:
- Having them linking to your curated content.
- Establishing a contact with them, and possibly creating a collaboration with them.
- Creating the opportunity for the creation of original content with them.
To create original content based on the content you have curated can be an excellent method for obtaining links back too from the sources you cite and use.
Then, social curation content is maybe the best way to fulfill the objective of any RSS (Really Simple Stalking) plan, as it was described by Wil Reynolds at the last LinkLove conference.
Obtaining a Great Amount of Social Signals for Your Site (or Social Media Profiles)
Every well executed action of content curation tend to attract readers and to generate a great amount of social signals (tweets, +1s, likes…).
Just take as an example the "anti-Google" posts Aaron Wall writes from time to time on SEObook. They are a classic case of "Elevation Content Curation", as Aaron in those posts usually draft a more general trend or insight from a mass of daily musings, which he widely credits with links and citations.
Another example is what Expo Comic Mx did so to obtain better results from its Facebook page: to post a tender photoset featuring a happy Stormtrooper family using the photos of Kristina Alexanderson. That photo – a great example of targeted content curation you can see here below – has obtained more than 13K likes, 756 comments, and was shared more than 7,000 times nowadays.
Branding, ORM and Reference Traffic
The explosion of Pinterest, even though now it has evolved into a more complex social marketing tool, is a wonderful example of the benefits of being active and using Content Curation platforms.
Creating a qualified presence for your brand in those kind of sites, practicing a wise Content Curation activity, and being participative with other curators has been demonstrated as a relatively easy way to enhance the thought-out knowledge of a brand. It helps in dominating the SERPs for your brand name (which is great if you have Online Reputation Management issues), and it provides a constant flux of organic traffic to your site; traffic that – as happened with Pinterest – can become really big if those Curation Content sites you are using become widely known to the masses.
Finally, from a strict SEO point of view, the active use of the Curation Content sites helps in making of your site an Entity to Google's eyes, which is now essential in order to gain authority and relevance and not being considered just a minor presence in the web.
Becoming a Reference in Your Industry
Curating the best sources about your industry on your site and, especially, using your social media profiles as a medium to share your discoveries, can really help you in obtaining the objective of becoming – if not the – at least one of reference in your industry.
Again, the reason is quite easy to understand: if you share, comment, and credit only the best sources, then people will tend to look at you as an authoritative source of information, and the creators you cite will start desiring to be cited by you.
And we all know what does it mean to become an authoritative source, also for Google.
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