Content curation is the collection and sharing of interesting, informative, or entertaining content from within a particular niche. It’s a great way of establishing a reputation as an authority and gathering followers with a particular set of interests.
For businesses, content curation helps demonstrate expertise, is less expensive than content creation, and perhaps most importantly, contributes towards cultivating relationships with potential clients, customers, vendors, and partners.
In an age where social media and content marketing are blossoming, the sheer amount of content out there — of vastly variable quality — makes finding just the right material to share a potentially time-consuming endeavor.
Thankfully, in the last few years, a number of services have arisen that make both of these tasks somewhat easier. There’s no substitute for the personal touch, and fully automated content curation is not productive, but using services that can at least provide a degree of initial filtering so that you never have to deal with the dross is a boon.
We’ll have a look at 8 different tools (or groups of tools), that will help you find and display the best content for your niche.
Obviously, social networks are the foundational technology of content curation, and learning how to properly search and filter them is an important skill, but we’re going to concentrate on those tools that are built on top of the social media layer and add extra value to the sharing experience.
This is a area that has exploded in recent months, with hundreds of new startups competing. We can’t cover them all, so we’re going to choose the few which best exemplify a type of service.
Content Discovery and Aggregation
Trapit is billed as a “virtual personal assistant for Web content”. That’s a vague way of saying a content discovery and filtering engine. Trapit differs from other content discovery engines in that it uses a combination of artificial intelligence and human editing to surface the best and most relevant content from around the web. Content is clustered into keyword filtered groups called traps, which can be further customized by the user. The algorithm learns from users’ preferences and, with training, traps become highly personalized.
Trapit is based on the same technology as Apple’s Siri, and does a great job of letting curators focus on the highest quality and most pertinent content.
Veooz and Bottlenose
Veeoz and Bottlenose are somewhat similar services that add a layer of search, filtering, and discovery on top of popular social media streams.
Veooz allows users to search for topics and provides basic sentiment analysis while surfacing the most popular tweets, shares, and comments from around the Web.
Bottlenose is a social media dashboard that does much the same thing, displaying the most popular content for a given topic, related searches and hashtags, and most usefully, a list of the trending links. It also has a nifty tool called Sonar, which is a graphical representation of related subjects that users can explore.
Google Alerts is nothing new, but it’s a great way to get a digest of the best content at regular intervals. It can deliver the best and newest content from Google’s News, Search, and Blogs services as an email or via an RSS feed that can be added to Google Reader.
GoodNoows and Other Aggregators
There are dozens of great aggregators out there to choose from, including Google Reader, which all content curators should check out. GoodNoows can collate both RSS feeds and Twitter streams, and has a very useful “Newsstand” function for finding new streams. It has a slick and highly customizable interface that makes it easy to scan through large amounts of content.
Most content sharing is going to be done through social media services like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+, but there are other services that add value to the social media stream, and have features that they lack.
Both of these services allow users to curate material and display it in the style of a newspaper or magazine. They allow content to be organized and formatted in a more aesthetically appealing way than social media services.
Social media tends to spread information out across a variety of sources. Storify allows users to bring those disparate sources together into one place and make a coherent story of them. For example, this story collects together videos and information about the sort of services we’re talking about in this article (check it out, there are some good ones we haven’t mentioned here).
Buffer is a simple little services that lets users schedule their sharing.
One of the difficulties of social media is its ephemerality. Content disappears as quickly as it appears and many potential viewers will miss it. However, there are studies showing that at certain times of the day, people are more likely to be engaging with social media (around 2 PM in some studies, but, of course, that means everyone starts tweeting at 2 PM, negating the benefit).
It’s very useful to be able to load up Buffer with content, and then concentrate on other work. Don’t overdo it though, if you’re tweeting every half hour with Buffer, you’re going to annoy followers.
Zemanta is different from the other tools we’ve looked at. It’s a WordPress extension that finds content based on blog posts that you’re writing. You can then easily add them to your posts as “Related Articles”. It also finds appropriate images and works out the best tags to use for articles.
Feel free to give a shout out to your favorite content curation tools in the comments, and let us know if you have any tips or tricks.