Are you interested in learning how to create effective content by leveraging information that’s already online? Would you like to learn how to curate useful content and use it to produce results for your business? We’re guessing both of these propositions are appealing to you, or anyone looking to step up their content marketing, so we’ve got some tips to help.

In this article we are going to explain how to find, curate and create effective content that will build your website’s exposure and even forge some useful relationships for you and your business. Effective Content Curation

What is “Effective Content”?

Just throwing around the phrase “effective content” is not very helpful to anyone so let’s break the phrase down for a better understanding.

Content (as used in online marketing) can be defined as…

The textual, visual or aural information that is encountered as part of the user experience on websites. It may include, among other things: text, images, sounds, videos and animations.

 

Effective (often times being unique to each business) is understood as…

Getting results that actually help a business grow. Depending on the business, these results can range from brand mentions to traffic increases to actual recognized revenue.

 

Together… Effective Content Definition

 

Creating content is something that just about anyone can do; creating better content that actually produces tangible results takes creativity, resilience, testing and a little bit of luck. One common, and useful, way to create effective content is through curation. Let’s take a look at how to find, organize and create content from a solid curation process.


How to Find Content to Curate

Publishing curated content is a fantastic way to diversify your content marketing strategy. Not only does it allow you to continue learning by reading content from other authors, but it also helps you to establish useful relationships with these authors as well.

Before you can start curating though you must have an efficient discovery process in place. The last thing you want to do is spend too much time online as it takes away from your other business responsibilities and prevents a good work / life blend. Below are some of our favorite sources for finding great information that you can use in your content development plan. How to Find Content

Our Favorite Ways to Discover Great Content

1. Google

Do a Google blog search for your top industry related terms to see which blogs consistently show up on the 1st page. If your industry is small or niche focused, then a blog search may not yield many useful results. In this case, do a Google search with a search query that has the word “blog” in it.

2. Alltop

Search for your industry and relevant categories on Alltop to see the sites and blogs that they have found to be specific to your search. Even with Alltop allowing submissions, their directories are pretty spot on with the best quality blogs and sites.

3. LinkedIn News

LinkedIn would have fallen under #4 below, but as of January 31, 2013 LinkedIn killed off its Answers section. Their focus has instead been redirected to sharing popular content via their LinkedIn News section, which has proven to be a great resource for finding content.

4. Twitter

No, Twitter is not just for staying updated on the latest celebrity melt-downs. Rather it is one of the most powerful, and often under-appreciated, tools for finding great content. By using either Twitter Search or a tool like Followerwonk you will discover users, hashtags and trends to follow that share content specific to your industry.

5. Google+ Communities

Although still in their infancy, Google+ Communities are quickly becoming helpful sources of content worth curating. By finding communities specific to your industry (preferably those with good moderators and strong followings) you will start getting content you might want to curate right in your Google+ feed. Just don’t let your feed get too noisy or else it will become useless for you.

6. Q&A and How-To Sites

Some of the best content exists on sites like Quora, Mahalo and Grovo. With established audiences and solid editorial and moderation processes in place, discovering interesting and unique content can be very easy on these types of sites.

7. Online Publications

Sometimes smaller industries take a little longer to dive in head first into the online world and make finding new content a little more difficult. By finding popular industry / trade publication websites and blogs you may have a better chance of discovering sources more relevant to you. For example (although not a small industry), Men’s Health (one of the most popular men’s health publications) continues to do a great job of producing online content for its audience.

8. Rich Media Sites

People often forget that some of the most visited / used sites are not the ones we first think about when trying to find something. Sites like YouTube and Flickr are highly trafficked resources that house more content than most know what to do with. In addition, some of the best content tends to come in unconventional forms, like videos and images, that can really help to diversify and differentiate your company’s content strategy.

9. Other Curators

If you’re looking for the shortcut way of discovering new content, then look no further than to other content curators. Many of the sites listed above can be considered as curators, but we’re speaking more to the sites that specifically focus on creating curated content. There’s no better example that comes to mind than Buzzfeed.


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What’s Your Favorite Way to Find Content?

We love trying new tools and processes. If you have something you prefer to do or use, then please let us know in the COMMENTS BELOW.


How to Curate Content

Just as there are a plethora of ways to discover content so goes the same for curating that content as well. New tools for saving and organizing newly found content seem to pop up every few months, but the following tools and processes continue to work the best for us.

The following tools and processes are ones that continue to be the most efficient as they can work seamlessly into most existing processes. If you’re not a fan of trying new tools or changing up your current processes, then pick out one or two and give them a try before writing them off. You might find something you really like. We sure have. How to Curate Content

Our Recommended Ways to Curate Content

1. RSS Reader

Although some find RSS to be a dying technology, we still use it as our primary source of finding, saving and organizing content we like. By using the discovery sources above, we then subscribe to these sources’ RSS feeds, which are fed into and managed by our RSS reader application of choice – Reeder (this made our list of favorite Mac apps and our list of recommended iOS apps for online marketing).

2. Social Bookmarking App

Whether you prefer to read your content in an RSS reader as mentioned above, or somewhere else, one thing we highly recommend as a necessary tool is a social bookmarking app. Some of the most common ones are Reddit, StumbleUponPocket, Instapaper, Delicious, Bitly and Pinboard. Our personal favorite is Pocket due to its simplicity, multi-device support, tagging, reading and sharing features. Often times we don’t have time to read an article or watch a video when we discover it so being able to quickly save and organize something is crucial to the curation process.

3. Evernote

Sometimes you don’t want to save an entire article, but rather just a snippet of text or other piece of content. Instead of saving the entire article that would require you to search for that selection again, use Evernote’s Web Clipping tool to seamlessly save just what you need right into the applicable notebooks you setup in Evernote. Besides this use case, Evernote is one of the few apps that deserves every bit of hype and praise that it gets thanks to its seemingly limitless uses.

4. ShowYou

If video content is your thing, then we have found ShowYou to be one of the most useful, and entertaining, apps available for curation. Not only does it pull in video content from all of your favorite sources, like Reddit, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, but it also allows you to easily save videos that you want to use for curated content later on.

5. Google Drive

Some people just love spreadsheets – and rightfully so. If you’re one of the many that do, then Google Drive can be the perfect tool for saving and organizing the content you discover online. You can either manually input links and articles into the spreadsheets you create or you can leverage a tool like IFTTT (mentioned below) to do it for you.

6. IFTTT

If trying to remember to use a bunch of different tools or steps isn’t your thing, then automate as much as you can. One of our favorite tools to use for curation automation is IFTTT, which allows you to use pre-defined or custom “recipes” to automatically perform tasks for you. For example, let’s assume you like to ‘favorite’ tweets on Twitter to save them for later, but are bad about remembering to go back and read them. Well, IFTTT can automatically send those favorited tweets to your Evernote, Google Reader or Pocket accounts so you remember to go through them.


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How do you prefer to curate content?

If you have a particular process or app that you like to use for curation over everything else, then we’d love to hear about it in the COMMENTS BELOW.


How to Create Effective, Curated Content

Producing curated content is a great way to break the fatigue that you may have from trying to always create original content for your company. As mentioned earlier, not only does it diversify your content strategy, but curated content also helps you to establish credibility and even build some meaningful relationships with other authors.

By using some of our recommended methods of finding and organizing great content you should have no problem collating everything and putting it all into some very useful pieces of curated content. Since there are a lot of different ways to use this type of content we thought it would be helpful to give you a list of some of our suggested ways to create and use curated information. How to Create Curated Content

Our Suggested Ways to Create Curated Content

1. Big Lists

One of the best ways to use curated content is to feature the information into lists (e.g. Top 50 Fashion Designers, 10 Best Los Angeles Restaurants, etc). People love lists and they’re relatively easy to put together….especially if you’ve used our curation recommendations above.

DO THIS:
Take a look at all of the industry-related articles you’ve saved over the past 6-12 months, rank your 25 favorite ones and create a big list of the Top 25 [Industry] Articles from [Year]. Don’t stop there though. Make sure to do some outreach to the authors of these articles to notify them of your list as most will be more than willing to help share the article. And if your list is really good they may even link to it.

 

2. User Generated Content

Often times the most effective content for your business is not the content that someone within your company creates, but rather the content that your customers / users create. Some common examples of user generated content that can be curated and put into useful content for your business are things like product reviews or local business reviews.

DO THIS:
 Setup some Google Alerts for queries like “my company” + “reviews”. As positive, helpful reviews come in save those reviews (using our curation recommendations above) for use in a dedicated page / section of your website. Some companies go as far to create micro-sites dedicated specifically to their customers’ reviews.

 

3. Data Driven Content

It’d be hard to argue that infographics are not amongst the most popular, most shared types of content right now. Well designed infographics that use data driven information continue to garner tons of social shares and valuable backlinks. All of the credit can’t be given to the aesthetics though as more often than not the data that is turned into beautiful visuals are the driving force behind the success of the top infographics.

DO THIS:
 As you save and read articles get in the habit of finding either valuable quotes or statistics and use Evernote’s Web Clipper to save them into specific notebooks (named something like “Data” and “Quotes”). Before you know it you will have an extremely valuable library of useful quotes and statistics to use in your own infographics and data driven, curated articles.

 

4. Social Updates & Comments

One of the easiest types of content to curate is social content. Since some of this content is embeddable, like Twitter updates, grabbing and integrating social updates right onto your web pages or posts becomes really easy. Comments, like Facebook Comments or Disqus Comments, can also be used effectively within curated posts to add validity and depth to your information.

DO THIS:
 Replace your boring, outdated testimonials section on your website with a page that features embedded tweets or screenshots of social comments from customers speaking highly about your business. These little pieces of curated content are great for catching the user’s eye and giving credibility to each statement as an actual photo is typically used.

 

5. Humor

Everyone loves a good laugh so why not use your industry or its related topics to help your visitors laugh a little more? With the tools mentioned above, finding and collecting funny images, videos, audio clips or quotes is very simple and can make your content discovery tasks a little more enjoyable. Curated content pieces that joke about what you or your business does tends to be received and shared very well.

Here are a couple of our attempts at Internet Marketing Humor: Part 1 and Part 2

DO THIS:
 Search through YouTube and Pinterest to find some funny videos and images that others have already found and posted as being humorous content. Once you’ve got at least 10-20 pieces of content to use either create a post, like our examples above, or create a meme on Tumblr to help your content go viral.

 

6. Topic Focused Content

Although we’re not really strong advocates of creating content on sites or platforms that you do not own or control 100% (also known as digital sharecropping), we do believe that some tools can be really useful for curating and publishing content that is not really yours anyways. Since we’re talking about curating content from other authors we do think that leveraging curation tools can be an effective way to build links back to your site and still develop some of those meaningful relationships.

DO THIS:
 Use Storify, Silk or Scoop.it to easily create beautiful, topic based content. These tools help you to leverage existing web content while allowing for easy integration of your own content to produce pages that can become very resourceful for each dedicated topic.

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What’s your favorite type of content to create?

We’re always curious what type of content others prefer to create and consume. Go ahead and share your preferences with us in the COMMENTS BELOW.


Curation Doesn’t Stop at Creation

Don’t waste all of your time and effort curating content if you’re just going to stop at the creation of each piece. As with any content marketing strategy you must spend just as much time and effort, if not more, promoting your content as you did creating it.

Once you have created your content, think about getting it the exposure it needs by doing the following:

The obvious ways

  • Posting it to your company’s blog
  • Posting to your social media channels
  • Including it in your email newsletter(s)

The often forgotten ways

  • Creating a video or audio version (if applicable) and posting those versions to popular rich media sites
  • Creating eBooks out of a series of related content and using these as giveaways for lead generation
  • Running a targeted paid advertising campaign to drive relevant traffic
  • Submit some curated pieces to other, more popular blogs or websites
  • Include links to your curated content in your email signatures, auto-responders and “thank you” pages on your website

Brian Solis Quote on Content Curation

 

Still don’t think curation can produce effective content, and thus, results?

Two of the most highly trafficked blogs on the web are BoingBoing.net and BuzzFeed.com. These two sites are primarily made up of curated content. BoingBoing alone often times outpaces sites like the NY Times in traffic.

The good news is that you don’t even have to curate content at the frequency that sites like these do. Instead you just need to create a few good pieces of curated content and finish the job by promoting it to the right channels.

And if you’re not interested in participating in any of these processes, but like the idea of the results that curation can bring, then we would love to help. All you need to do is ask by scheduling your free consultation.

Need help adding curation to your content strategy?

SCHEDULE A CONSULTATION


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Vinny La Barbera

I’ve been working in online marketing since 2000 and have helped thousands of companies improve their online presence and grow their business through better web / mobile design, development and online marketing.Learn more about me or follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or LinkedIn.

  • Bill Peters

    After using both evernote and springpad, I finally decided to switch to Zimilate for content curation. Evernote was frustrating because I read a lot on my phone and iPad, and evernote only saved the link. That means there’s no full text search, and if the page disappears or changes you’re out of luck. When you email a link to Zimilate from your browser or an app, it actually saves the entire webpage. You can save web pages, images, files, and create notes, which is pretty standard, and their desktop web clipper is great. I’ve found the interface to be cleaner and easier to use across all my devices, especially since Zimilate creates thumbnails of everything you save – really nice for web pages. You can also organize collections hierarchically and with tags, which is a big plus for me. Worth checking out IMHO.

  • Sandra Harriette

    I’m thinking I’m going to start clipping things to OneNote because, as people are saying, content can disappear. That would be the failure proof way to bookmark content for, let’s say, educational purposes.

    Otherwise, about the stuff we just want to read later, there’s so much of it out there! A few years back I took a free speed reading course that was about an hour long. It was a good use of my time because I still implement those techniques to this day and I don’t miss out on quality when I speed read. Even so, I have a lot of stuff from email newsletters, my reader, browser and social bookmarks – just to name a few main ones – and I want to read it in one place lest I feel pulled in too many directions or I overlook something.

    Anyone else struggling with this?