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An introduction to content curation

Author's avatar By Annmarie Hanlon 14 Aug, 2012
Essential Essential topic

Models, tools and tips to help with content curation

Tips on content curationOnline spaces like your website, blog, Facebook page and Twitter accounts need recent and relevant content to retain readers.

To stay ahead, your social footprint needs a regular supply of content. You can create original material or you can ‘curate’ content.

What is content curation?

The definition of the art of content curation is where the publisher (in our case a business looking to use content curation as part of content marketing)  researches and gathers the best content on a niche topic that is aimed at a certain audience, all of which is relevant to their business, and then adds to this content personal opinions and expertise thus enhancing it.

Note that curation is not just repeating earlier information, but it’s about re-interpreting, re-telling or re-shaping earlier stories or images.

The personalisation makes the new content valuable and compelling. Good content curation makes the content feel like something unique and interesting compared to the re-shared content we trawl through every day on the web.  For example, a long article may be re-created as ‘7 ways to ….’ Or the classic stories on websites like Mashable ‘5 stories you missed this weekend’ or ‘3 new ways to use your iPhone’.

Content Curation Models

These are two models I’ve found useful to summarise what's involve. These both focus on the same initial steps of exploring what’s out there, making sense of the material and circulating to your social networks.

Source Model
Francisco Rosales
  • Discovery. Finding the sources of content that are relevant in your industry
  • Organization. Collecting and organizing these sources so they are accessible when you need them
  • Distribution. The tools used to distribute this content properly. Here Francisco talks about Mobile tools.
Beth Kanter The Three S’s of Content Curation:

  • Seek. Keep up-to-date with your field.
  • Sense. Making sense of the information
  • Share. Exchanging resources

Content Curation Tips

1. Use Video and Images

Since the launch of the popular image and video sharing sites Pinterest and Instagram, the curation and sharing of images and videos has become an ever more popular pastime.  Search for images posted by others on a theme relevant to your business to build up your ‘pool’ of material, before adding your own comments.

If you haven’t heard of Pinterest, this month it has opened up membership, so any business can now gain an account, without an invitation.

Harness ‘Pinterest interest’ by creating an account and begin setting up ‘pinboards’ relevant to your business and target audience. You can then use these pin boards to tell the story of your business and who you are (brand back story), what you do (services/products you offer), your brand’s values, etc. You can use a mixture of your own images, images found across the web and even repin other user’s images, and don’t forget to throw in some video content where relevant to keep people on their toes! Video is under-used on Pinterest.

2. Create Online Magazines

Free online magazines are easy to create, and are one of the ever more popular content curation tools available at no cost! Tools like Storify,, and (see below) are just some of the main tools available to create a magazine relevant to your industry and target audience. For this form of content curation to work you must make sure the content is REALLY useful, interesting and above all relevant.  If done well, your magazine should be a one stop shop for the best content relating to your industry, handpicked by you for your audience. If you have time to structure your own blog with curated content this will typically work better.

3. Get Blogging

A blog can be curated in various ways, but one of the most common and successful ways used by top bloggers is to curate content, and then throughout the day publish individual posts including additional commentary or expert analysis, therefore adding value to the original content with each post.

4. Don’t forget Email Marketing

One place people don’t expect to be able to use content curation is in their email marketing campaign. But the reality is e-newsletters work just as well if not better than the online magazines, as you can use curated content for the newsletter, and it will be received directly by a relevant and interested database.

Free Tools

To manage content curation, there are many free tools available. Here are some – do you have others to add?

Tool What it does
Google Alerts You can set up alerts for specific keywords relating to your business and the original content, therefore providing you with additional news and updates, etc. for the additional posts.
Google Reader Allows you to set up feeds of the latest info on specific areas of interest, taking you direct to news that matters to you most, fast.
Delicious Bookmarking tools like Delicious allow you to search for specific areas and see what others have published.
Pinterest Build content around images and videos.
Storify A content platform that pulls in the best content on the web around a particular topic from sources like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Tumblr and other social networks. The free version allows you to focus on 5 topics per month, capture and share content with certain social networks (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Tumblr, WordPress).
Bundlr A way to bookmark, organise and share you find on the web. It looks like Pinterest meets Delicious.

Be Consistent with Quality

It is important that your curated content is high quality and reliable. Take the time to check your sources and their sources, and if you don’t have the time, it is worthwhile hiring either a freelancer or one of your current employees to take on the extra work.

And above all, make sure the curated content accurately reflects your brand, its story and values. Do all this, and content curation can help take your business to dizzying new heights.


Author's avatar

By Annmarie Hanlon

Annmarie Hanlon is the Smart Insights expert commentator on online and offline marketing strategies for business. Annmarie is the MD of Evonomie and author of Quick Win Marketing, and co-author of Quick Win Digital Marketing. She runs social media workshops in the UK and Ireland and shares marketing tips and news in her blog, B2B Marketing. You can follow Annmarie on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.

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