Years ago, the way to succeed in online marketing was to identify popular keywords and spam them on your site until you reached a high search ranking. Later, content came to the forefront and caused an explosion with everyone and their mother writing blog posts. Now, with a veritable glutton’s paradise of content available, it’s harder to succeed with pure creation alone. No, you need to take things one step further, while giving yourself a break; you need to share content created by others.
This is content curation, and it’s the key to success on most social networks today. By curating content on your Facebook page, you show your users that you’re on top of the industry. You know what’s going on. You get all the funny industry memes going around, you’re hip, you’re not like those other tools. By sprinkling in your own content, you show that you’re one of those industry big dogs, that your content is worth taking the same space as the rest.
Content Curation Guidelines
There are a few rules you should follow when curating content.
1: Make sure the content you share is valuable. Value can be subjective – it might just be something short and funny enough that it made you chuckle – but it needs to have something redeeming about it. Ask yourself, is this something my users want to see? If not, don’t add it to your curation list.
2: Make sure you’re not copying too much of the content you’re curating. This is more of an issue when you curate on your blog than when you curate through Facebook. On Facebook, you can share a link someone else posted as a built-in feature. On your blog, you have to create your own link, with its own preview and description. Ideally you’ll copy some of the destination so users know what they’re getting, but you have to avoid copying too much. Too much copying starts to look like content theft.
3: Try to link to the original source of an article, unless you’re making a point. In this case, the only point I can think of that’s a valid reason to not link the original source is to illustrate to your users that the site in question is doing something right or wrong in curation. Otherwise, do the research and share the first degree source.
4: Curate from a variety of sources. If all of your curated content comes from the same place, you start to look less like a curator and more like an affiliate. The key to good content curation online today is bringing a variety of sources and content into one space. Users will come to you because you share content from anywhere they could want to visit; not because you’re always promoting content from 1-2 other sites.
5: Do more than just share with no commentary. You can’t get away with just posting a blind link and adding nothing. You need to add a description, either about the content or about why you’re posting it. Think “round-up post” style value.
6: Curate user content as well. Your users are probably producing great content, and you can direct their energies through contests and the like. Curating user content is basically free exposure and advertising.
7: Be careful with promotion on social networks. Specifically, avoid paying to boost or promote a post that doesn’t link to your site. No sense in paying for someone else’s traffic, huh?
With that out of the way, you’re left with one problem; where the heck do you get all that stuff?
It’s actually surprisingly difficult to go out at the drop of a hat and come back with a half-dozen timely, worthwhile links to share. That’s why the best social curation apps are ever-present on marketing computers. You don’t set aside two hours a week to go find content to curate; you just add content to a list as you come across it in your day to day affairs. This works because, as an industry expert, you’re monitoring the following locations on a daily basis out of interest, not just out of responsibility.
Billing itself as the frontpage of the Internet, Reddit is essentially a huge forum and social network with an incredible amount of traffic. Content can be found scattered throughout thousands of sub-reddits, subforums dedicated to specific topics. You need to find subs that cover the topics you’re interested in, and watch them for content. Typically, users will post new trending content to their favorite subs, and you can pick it up and run with it.
For example, as an Internet marketer, you subs such as /r/socialmedia, /r/advertising, /r/infographics or /r/internetisbeautiful. Run a search for subs using keywords you know are related to your industry here.
Topsy is a search engine with bundled social analytics, with a twist. It focuses entirely on Twitter. Twitter is huge and responsive, on a scale you rarely see elsewhere online. That makes it a great place to find new content, if you can filter it out from the constant torrential downpour of celebrity comments and weird tweets.
Topsy allows you to search Twitter for topics that interest you and see how people are talking about them. You can search through everything, or you can limit your search to tweets with links, tweets with images, tweets with video, or even just tweets from influencers.
3. Google Trends
Of course this list wouldn’t be complete without a Google mention somewhere. Google’s trending sections, Google news, Google+ rising content; it’s all available to be scoured for anything interesting. Set space in your schedule aside to check with each of them once or twice a day, and you’ll have a fairly good level of coverage for your site.
Flipboard is an app available for all three major mobile platforms, though you can use it on your PC with an emulator like BlueStacks just as easily. It essentially allows you to tailor information sources to yourself, creating a magazine of sorts designed specifically for you. The app incorporates 30,000 different topics, which you can follow or ignore as you come across them. Then, the app generates a roundup of headlines and news just for you, which you can access on the go.
5. Industry Influencers
Okay, so this isn’t any one specific source, but that’s because it varies heavily from industry to industry. If I were running a blog about sodas, I’d probably want to follow Coke and Pepsi to see any announcements they make. If I’m working in SEO, I’d follow Moz and Search Engine Journal for updated news and detailed analysis.
Determine which influencers are active in your industry and follow them. Curate their content when you feel it will help your users.