One measure of the vitality of a discipline is the intensity of the debate surrounding it
He was talking about curatorial practice within the context of exhibition making, but his words could so easily apply to almost all aspects of modern day marketing, not least content curation. Though the term content curation has only been actively used since 2010, online content curation has been around, in one form or another, since the mid-1990s; moving from IRC and discussion forums to blogs, news aggregators, social networks, and more recently, content specific channels.
The Content Marketing Institute sees content curation as:
A means by which we either supplement or promote our point of view to our specific audiences within the context of how the “world” is talking about that particular topic
and this in itself suggests that there are different methods of content curation, each consisting of one or more activities. All content curation begins with the collecting and sorting of content, before either sharing or repurposing the content for your audience. Most blog posts and social network shares contain an element of content curation, but it is the content curation tools launched over the past 3-4 years that
- help you establish yourself as a topic or niche authority, and
- help you contextualize your point of view on that topic or niche.
Most content curation tools are good for a very specific purpose, so you should not be limiting yourself to only using one. In this article we will look at three functions, and the tools that support them:
- Curation. Creating topics and themed collections of content, with or without your own perspective.
- Discovery. Easily find new stories and articles on specific topics from a wide variety of sources.
- Contextualize. Creating your own stories that include, and contextualize, external material.
Scoop.it is a great way to both discover content, and to curate and share it with an interested audience within defined topics. Scoop.it is free to join, with multiple paid plans that offer more features than the free account. Registering an account can be done via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Yammer or your email address, and once logged in you can update your profile, connected social networks and email settings. Scoop.it has dedicated apps for iOS and Android, an extension for Chrome, along with apps and widgets for a variety of other services that all make it easier for you to curate on the go.
Your profile page allows you to create curated topics and select topics to follow, while also showing you your community. Your community is made up of people whose topics you follow, or who you are connected to via Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. Exploring topics and scoops can be a little overwhelming at first, but once you adjust to the layout you’ll discover how easy it is to find fresh and exciting content, often from sources you’ve never previously considered.
Although Scoop.it allows you to discover great content, its real power is as a curation platform. Build your authority and audience by focusing on the following:
- Create topic boards, focusing on your niche or area of expertise. For example, if you are involved in SEO, you could create two boards – one dealing with basic and advanced aspects of SEO, and the other dealing with analytics.
- Add 5-10 new stories or articles to each of these boards daily. Ensure that they are from a variety of sources, mixing popular sites with smaller sites to give a better spread of perspective. It is perfectly acceptable to occasionally include a link to one of your own articles.
- Don’t simply post links; include your own comments or point of view. Anybody can share articles and links, but to curate you need to include an opinion or context. What aspect of the article appealed to you? Which parts did you not agree with, and why? What are other industry leaders thoughts on this subject? What are other people saying or writing?
Swayy and Prismatic
Both Swayy and Prismatic operate similarly to Scoop.it when it comes to content discovery, but are considerably different in how the content is sourced and shared. Other users source all content on Scoop.it, while Swayy and Prismatic use a combination of activity on your social networks with predefined topics to generate recommendations. While Prismatic allows you to follow people, topics and publishers, Swayy only allows you to add or remove topics from your dashboard.
Both of these platforms are great for finding and sharing content with your existing audience, but they are not suited to any user looking at also building a new audience through curation. Used in combination with Scoop.it, they can significantly boost your ability to discover unique interpretations of popular topics, with Scoop.it used to then curate it.
Storify encourages you to use content curation to tell a story, using Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and other sources to find material. Unlike other content curation tools that also act as content discovery networks, Storify requires you to already have a story to tell, using the service only to find material to enhance your story. This material could either be what people are saying about a particular event or product, or user generated photographs and videos of a specific event.
Storify simplifies the process of finding user generated material, and then adding this material to your own narrative that can be embedded on your own website. Any stories you create are saved under your Storify profile, increasing your opportunity to expand your audience, and establish yourself as a subject authority. Although it is the user-generated material that ultimately tells the story, your own comments and narrative are needed to contextualize each element and communicate your point of view.
Massive amounts of content are being created and distributed daily, and it is impossible to keep track of all updates within an industry or niche. With content curation you can help your audience make sense of it all by focusing on narrower subsets of particular niches, sharing only the best content relating to it, and exploring the context with your own point of view.
There are many more content curation tools available, and you should not be afraid to try them out, looking at what works best for you and your audience. It is important to remember that content curation is not only about you and your brand, but also your audience, and how you are able to help them.