An In-depth Guide to Content Curation

Content curation is something that spurs quite a few debates over the web, and its not even about its usefulness or effectiveness - most people agree that content curation can be valuable, but there seems to be some discrepancies about its very definition! Yes, that's what Internet guys fight about; its nature.


So how about we start with some semantics?

What Is Content Curation?

For our purposes, I think the most suitable definition I came across is the one written by Beth Kanter:

"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."

Beth actually goes as far as comparing it with what museum curators do.

However, this was not taken very well by Mel Buchanan, assistant curator at the Hermitage Museum. He actually seems to have been infuriated by the comparison, and wrote a full-blown blog post about why we should stop calling ourselves curators.

This article is not about settling the debate between those who are for or against, but I thought both sides should be presented for the sake of completeness.

For me, its just a case of an evolution of a words meaning. Like the word mobile, which used to mainly be used to say able to be moved in the past, and now in many places to say mobile phone.

Personally, I feel that we can indeed call ourselves content curators if we fit Beth's definition.

Different Types Of Curated Content

At the risk of being flamed by high profile curators and museums, I'm going to make another comparison with museums.

Just like in museums you don't only see paintings (there are sculptures, artefacts, etc.), content curation is not only about blog posts. It can take several forms; blog posts, presentations, videos, ebooks, etc.

1. Tips & Tricks

For example, a post about SEO can be made based on several sources. If I want to share a few tips on SEO, I could be curating them from Google's Webmasters knowledge base, Moz, Yoast, and Matt Cutts blog. And my post would compile the best tips from each source. The post would be highly valuable, wouldn't it?

2. Case Studies

How about a post about a specific SEO strategy, with a dozen of case studies of websites that are using the technique and are seeing an improvement in their rankings?

3. Videos

Lets say your client has a fitness blog, and would like some good content on it. You could make a post aggregating several videos on the same topic, but by different experts/popular YouTube fitness figures. For example: Videos on back training from Elliot Hulse, The Hodge Twins, Ian McCarthy, Marc Lobliner, etc. That would be a great post, with people recognizing their idols/gurus.

4. Anything of Value, Really

Statistics and data, presentations from Slideshare, infographics; it can be anything, really, as long as the information is of high quality.

Some Rules You Have To Respect

1. Quality & Relevance

Make sure the final piece of content you publish is of high value. Get the bits and pieces from real experts. If you land on some questionable content, discard it; its part of what curation is!

2. Add Value

Add your own input (annotations, commentary) to what you are sharing. Its going to make it more interesting and more relevant, and thus adding value.

3. Attribute the Source

Always give attribution to the original source. You don't want to be sued, sent DMCA takedown notices, or be accused of trying to pass off others content as your own by your readers.

The sources are providing you with good content you can share with your audience. The right thing to do is to give them attribution for it, preferably in the form of links to their website.

Why Curate At All?

Content marketing is one type of marketing that is NEVER going to expire. So its wise to invest in good content. Original content is good, but presents the following challenges:

1. It takes a lot of time

I'm not saying that content curation can be done in 2 minutes, but its definitely faster than lets say, creating a 5,000 word peer-reviewed research paper (as opposed to finding this paper and curating 250 words from it).

2. It takes a lot of expertise

Doing something as a hobby (for example weight lifting) doesn't mean that you are an expert at it. In trying to write your own original articles, you might be spreading misinformation.

Plus, if you are an SEO professional posting on behalf of your client, you might not be knowledgeable about the topic or niche. Content curation solves that issue.

Content curation basically allows you to be a museum, without having to make the paintings yourself (Sue me!).

Content Curation Tools

When it comes to tools, I would really advise you to stay away from fully automated curation tools that are basically just scrapers attempting to sound legitimate. Remember that content curation is an attempt to organize the web in a human way. For automatic results, people would just use Google!

The content curation sources that you can use are the ones that allow you to find good content related to your topic, and also those that allow you to easily shared your findings on social networks and your own blog. Here are a few:

  • Tool #1: A single place for everything you want to read.
  • Tool #2: Build engaged audiences through publishing by curation.
  • Tool #3: It's like having a team of savvy spider monkeys searching the web for the best sharable content. You choose the topics. We send you daily alerts featuring a carefully curated list of matching content.
  • Tool #4: Listly is lists made social and fun! If you like lists, you'll love Listly.

Of course, tools are just that; tools! You can also find your own pieces of content using Google, forums, Pinterest (great for finding infographics!), etc.

What do you think about content curation? Are you going to add it as part of your publishing and marketing strategy? Let me know in the comments section below!

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About the Author: Sameer Panjwani

This article is a work of Sameer Panjwani, founder of Mondovo, an all-in-one digital marketing toolset for all your SEO, Social and Analytics requirements.


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