I like the definition from Ann Handley at Marketing Profs: “Content curation is the act of continually identifying, selecting and sharing the best and most relevant online content and other online resources… on a specific subject to match the needs of a specific audience.”
There is certainly plenty of curation about – from Twitter to Expedia, Pinterest to Huffington Post, and whilst it will never be a substitute for content creation it has gained increasing credibility as a marketing tool over the last 12 months or so. There are several reasons for this:
1. There is so much stuff out there that we need to put some order and discipline into trying to make sense of it all.
2. We now have an increasing number of clever, free and easy-to-use tools which allow anyone to become a curator.
3. Increasingly people are starting to see the business benefits of curation.
4. There is a growing appreciation of the discipline of content marketing, the power of good content to make websites (and blogs) more relevant, more interesting and more ‘sticky’. And a better understanding of the relationship between good fresh content and SEO.
5. People are starting to see value in curation as an educational tool.
There are really four aspects to content curation:
• Organising information
• Discovering new information
• Sharing information
• Enhancing or adding value (insight) to that information
Curation to make your life easier
This is really the organising and discovering bit. Curation tools can allow you to curate (and collate) the information you need for your business (and your personal life). So you can find, discover and save information about the things that matter to you far more effectively than relying on the Google search bar.
Curation to help your marketing effort
This is where sharing and adding value come in. You can start to build a following as an authority in your chosen field sharing useful information via Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest, Facebook etc. You can start to provide some thought leadership by adding value to the content you are curating by providing analysis and insight, making the information more accessible, more easy to search or more easy to understand.
Of course curation is, at best, a powerful adjunct to creating good original content to drive your marketing (and content) strategy forward, but realistically most people (and most businesses) don’t have the time to create new material all the time and curation can provide an effective alternative.
Here are some of our favourite curation tools:
Stumbleupon: How much easier it is to get a quick snapshot of websites covering my favourite topics now I have set my browser home page to Stumbleupon. An attractive and really easy to use interface.
paper.li: the ideal curation tool for people (like me) who love print but work increasingly in digital. Curate and compile everything into your own on-line newspaper. There are of course several people curating information on curating. And don’t forget to ‘favourite’ the Mike Farmer Associates ‘Small Business Marketing‘ daily.
Storify is intended to enable people to compile content easily from various social media sources and weave it into stories of their own. Not really convinced.
Pearltrees: allows you to organise sites you are interested into ‘pearltrees’ with a very visual interface. I really didn’t get this one and found it all a bit confusing, but with 100,000 app downloads in a week some people obviously love it.
Flipboard: my favourite curation tool which allows you to curate and compile content relevant to your preferences into a smart magazine style interface – no iPad user should be without it – but only for MAC OS I think.
For the most comprehensive comparison of content curation platforms (ever) have a look at Pierre Trans comparison chart.
I think the key to successful curation (like many things in marketing) is start small and build up slowly. Find a tool you like and start curating the content that interests you for a few days. Then start sharing and adding value to the content and gradually build it into your content marketing strategy.