Curating content is essentially finding other people’s work and sharing it with your own audience via blog, Facebook page, Twitter account, or any other online platform you frequent.
That sounds rather simple, but the impact it can have is profound. Digital marketing experts agree that focusing too much on self-promotion damages your chances of building or keeping a readership. Likewise, successfully curating content can lead to scores of new followers and new opportunities for you in your discipline.
Captivating content curation can be tricky, especially for newcomers. It’s easy to be drowned out by the constant roar of social media. Here are six steps to help you effectively curate content and make an impact on your followers and your brand:
There are two basic styles of content curation to choose from:
1) Sharing links to other people’s articles from your social media profiles; or
2) Writing an article that is specifically about someone else’s blog post, using it as the foundation for your own thoughts.
Both are valid and have a place on your pages; it is up to you discretion to know which style will have the most impact for a given piece.
It is important to note that the latter style provides for opportunities to quote directly from the piece. These can help you rank well with Google and get a higher response rate from you audience. However, you have to make it is obvious to Google that it is not duplicate content by linking to the original source and articulating your own thoughts and quotes.
Even the professional content curators disagree on the optimal ratio of curated content to original content. Some say your pages should feature more original content. Others contend having more curated content yields greater rewards. Most likely, the best answer is the one that makes the most sense for your site.
Therefore, you should always take care to curate your content organically. Trying to adhere to a curation schedule will make your posts feel like a chore and dilute your message. Every piece of curated content should carry with it the wonder of discovery—if you’re excited about an article, your audience will know and respond to it accordingly.
If you’re sharing an article or an infographic, you should do so because you truly believe your readers need to see it.
Content “curation” is a different animal to everyday sharing. The term “curation” alone implies a level of sophistication and thoughtfulness behind every retweet and repost. As a result, you should take care to only repost articles pertaining to your chosen subject and by authors or publications with authority.
However, simply reposting from your discipline’s largest website isn’t going to impress your audience. Most likely they will have already seen and shared that source’s pieces. Great content curation should provide a new dimension to the conversation and should wow with a new perspective.
Discovering relevant and unique content requires careful digging through the depths of the Internet. RSS feeds and curation websites such as Scoop.It!, Storify, and Pearltrees can help you search for the content that your audience craves but may not be able to find on their own. Seeking out deeper content and sharing it will help you project yourself as a thought leader and an authority in your field. You can supplement their knowledge and your own.
A great tip on seeking out more obscure articles is to look through websites that only write about your field once in a while. They can be a content curation gold mine since fewer members of your audience or colleagues will look there for information.
In other words, curate your content ethically.
This should go without saying but you should never repost content that isn’t your original work without providing proper citation. In fact, it might be best to go out of your way to give credit where credit is due. Use hyperlinks, provide the author’s name and the name of the original publishing site—it’s better to be over-cautious when citing your source.
A less obvious but no less vital rule of content curation is to always read the content fully before sharing it. Devoting that kind of time may seem like a luxury with today’s faster-than-light internet culture, but you owe it to yourself and to your audience not to share something blindly. You could end up sharing something that fundamentally differs from your goals and ideals or is not from a reputable source.
Sharing blindly reveals a fundamental disrespect for both the original author and for your audience. After all, how can you expect them to read the piece if you won’t? That disrespect, regardless if intended or not, could undo the trust you worked so hard to build with your followers.
Eventually, you may find sources you completely trust for their reliability, knowledge, and likability. In those cases, you may decide to post their articles without having read them in full. However, this comes after years of reading and careful consideration—it is not a step to be taken lightly or to be rushed. Even in those cases, it is still advisable to scan the articles you plan to share for quality.
Curating content ethically is crucial to building trust with your audience and in your field. Showing respect to your fellow colleagues and writers will earn their respect back, which is indispensable for becoming an authority.
Content curation isn’t meant to supplant developing and publishing original content. The consensus among prominent content curators is that it shouldn’t obscure or overpower your own work but instead highlight it. Put another way, content curation is not a substitute for genuine insight. If you spend all your time parroting the authorities in your field, you’ll be unable to establish yourself as one and will give readers no reason to listen to you.
By providing content from other sources, your writings should shine all the brighter. Content curation is partially meant to give much needed context about your discipline to your followers. The key is to use that context to position yourself as a unique voice on the subject. Content curation is a scaffolding to your own creative process, not the endpoint.
Perhaps the most important piece of advice that every content curation expert expresses is to frame curated content in your own voice. Part of that is ensuring that the content you’re sharing reflects you, your brand, and what you’re building, but it also means so much more.
Sometimes that entails providing an alternate title to an article to make it feel more appealing. Sometimes it could mean adding some comments to a retweeted link. Sometimes it involves stating your opposition to the premises of a certain work. It depends on you and what your aims are in sharing another’s work, but you must filter your curated content through your own perspective to maximize its impact.
When curating content, you must ask yourself why this piece matters to you, and if it matters to your audience, and why. The answers to those questions should be shared as prominently as the content itself. Whether you make an argument for or against it, muse on a tangential topic, or even crack a joke about it, what’s important is that you explore why this piece resonates.
Remember the ultimate goal of content curation is to show why you are to be trusted as an authority in your field. Reposting mutely will not accomplish that—only by sharing your thoughts as well as your curated content will lead to success.
Content curation shows our audiences that we are not mired in hubris or stuck in self-imposed isolation in our fields. It allows us to acknowledge that we stand on the shoulders of giants like everyone else.
But if we curate our content with elegance, with intelligence, and with personality, we can prove that we deserve to stand as giants as well.