I’m just going to come out and say it upfront: good (read: effective) content curating ain’t easy. All the tweets and posts and tools out there telling you that curating content is going to make you rich and famous and set your Klout score (should you actually care) rocketing from 14 to 85 overnight are full of horse apples.
The general sentiment of many tweets and posts and curate-o-magic tools out there is that you can quickly copy and paste a little schtuff from here and there, post it to your blog, queue it all up in hootsuite or tweetdeck or whatevs, and that’s it – you’re a thought leader.
Ummmmm, no. There are content spammers, and there are content curators. Learn the difference – and five simple tips to keep you among the effective content curators.
You don’t go to a museum to look at crap (unless it’s a crap museum)
Curating as a profession is most often associated with museums. I love the Wikipedia entry for curator because it calls out one of the most important responsibilities of the role in the opening paragraph:
Traditionally, a curator or keeper of a cultural heritage institution (e.g., gallery, museum, library or archive) is a content specialist responsible for an institution’s collections and involved with the interpretation of heritage material.
Emphasis added on interpretation to make a point: just linking to something without any semblance of thought, or an attempt to make a cohesive point, or adding your own commentary or expanding on is, isn’t curating. It’s content spamming, particularly when done en masse. Let’s take a look at 5 easy-to-understand ways to make your curated content stand apart and keep your followers coming back for more.
5 tips for effective content curation
Better content curating tip #1 – Stop playing the volume game.
I could honestly give a two day old turkey dog how many times my favorite bloggers or tweeters post something. A trillion feeds and handles and tools compete for every iota of my attention at all times, and you won’t get my (positive) attention – the kind that yields results in marketing – by stringing together a bunch of links all day every day and calling it macaroni.
Always put quality first – the high frequency, high quality channels you engage with are probably able to be great on both counts because they have more than one person curating and creating full time. If you aren’t a media mogul with a dedicated staff, don’t worry – pace yourself. I care much more about reading something great (helpful, with utility) than I do about just reading something.
Better content curating tip #2 – You need an opinion
I would never date an opinion-less person. You know the type – boring, agrees with everything, adapts their opinions to those around them. I want your content to take a side, to open my eyes to something, to be sexy AND smart. If you are curating content from a wide variety of other experts and sources, inject your own color commentary. Agree and extend on content that represents your own thinking, and challenge content that could be taken further. There are countless channels I can tune into online and off that simply deliver what is happening as pass-throughs. What value can you add?
Better content curating tip #3 – Dig far and wide
As a consumer of information, you already have more content coming your way in a day than you can even begin to process. I can’t tell you how many Twitter posts I see in a day that are just RT’s of the same article 10 other people I am following have RT’d. I’m not saying don’t retweet good material to your audience, that’s not the case at all . What I AM suggesting is that you stand out when you offer something different.
Look for unique perspectives. Scour for sources that aren’t just the same opinions from the top publication in your industry. I LOVE articles that pull together multiple viewpoints from a handful of experts. Highly effective curated content is more than jjust retweeting – it’s about also creating new articles that pull together content from a variety of sources. The ensuing article may often be better than the originals, because it brings a breadth and depth to the topic that a single article might not have. An example of this is my recent blog post on how creatives can better manage negative feedback – and how stakeholders can better provide it. I scoured some of my favorite blogs, and a few lesser known ones, and pulled together a bunch of really great tips into a single place and added my own insights. It’s performed really well for me.
Better content curating tip #4 – It pays to cite your sources.
When you use content from someone else, it’s really important that you give credit where it is due, for two reasons. 1.) They deserve it. You are using their thoughts – don’t take credit for something that isn’t yours and 2.) Giving people credit will absolutely drive more traffic to your site in the long run. Read this article from Hotblogtips about linkbacks and trackbacks if you aren’t already familiar with how they work. In short, when you post a link within your blog to a blog post on another site, there are means by which they get automatically notified. If they pay attention and visit your site, they may end up deciding to promote your post to their followers or respond to your blog, driving further attention your way.
I take this a step further and tweet my followers about my new post (and tag the authors of the content I curated). This has yielded quite a few RT’s from the authors to their followers as well.
Better content curating tip #5 – Treat curating like you are creating original art.
You can make an argument that This American Life, the nationally syndicated radio program hosted by Ira Glass, is a vehicle for curated content. The pitch is probably familiar to many long-time listeners: Each week, they pick a topic, and then bring us stories gathered from around the country (world) on that topic. They insert commentary and narrative. But most importantly, each episode is typically worth more together than each story within it would be if taken alone. It’s actually the synergy and contrast between the angles and perspectives – the entire story arch across the vehicle (This American Life) itself, both within a single episode and across the series from start to present day, that makes it what it is.
To me, that’s the holy grail of curating content. If two different people curate and distribute the same content (which happens every day times thousands), what makes the experience of your followers more valuable? The answer doesn’t have to lie in a single piece of content, but it must lie in the story arch of the greater body of work, and the more you treat each item you curate as a diamond in the rough that needs some extra cutting and polishing to be ready for your audience, the better your content will perform and the more loyalty you will drive in your followers.