Posted to Leigh Carver's blog on February 15th, 2013

How do I Curate Content?

If you follow Volacci on social media or talk to us more than once in a blue moon, you've probably heard us mention content curation. Effective digital marketing strategies include content curation as a key component-- so if you aren't curating, or if you don't know what content curation is, we’re publishing a three-part guide to the what, why, and how of curated content. We've already answered “What is content curation?” and “Why should I implement curation for my brand?” This week, we'll discuss how to get your brand started with curating content.
 
Maybe you're chomping at the bit to get started curating content for your company, or maybe you just want to see if it's something that you can do. While curating content is as simple as finding an article, writing about it, and posting your new article to your webpage, there are several tools and considerations you need to consider.
 
1. Where will your content go?
Before you begin curating content, make sure that your website has the infrastructure to support it. This could range from posting your content in the blog under the #curatedcontent tag,creating an entirely new content type for your curated content in Drupal, or attaching a WordPress installation to your site. Figure out where the content is going to go before you start creating it. If you need to show what curated content would look like to your boss before you get started, I recommend creating a blog (WordPress works great for this) and curating a few sample pieces. This will also give you an idea of how much time it will take you to curate content. (Though the process is slow and challenging at first, don't worry-- it gets easier.)
 
If you only want to curate your content socially (meaning you don't want to host the content on your website), check out Paper.li or Scoop.it. Both are widely used platforms for curating content and cultivating thought leadership.
 
Once you've figured out where your content will go, it's time to move on to the next step:
 
2. Find your content
There are a variety of great listening tools that can be used for curating content. When I first designed Volacci's content curation program, I explored a number of paid and free options. Here's what I came across:
 
  • Scoop.it: DIY instant news magazine, distributed socially
  • Paper.li: DIY instant news magazine, distributed socially
  • Storify: Curate posts from Twitter, other social platforms into larger articles.
  • Jugnoo: A social CRM management platform.
  • Scribit: Reposting and curating premium articles directly to your website.
  • Xydo: Thought leader tracker and content curation tool
  • Intigi: Content aggregator and curation tool
  • Chill: Video curation with up and down voting, much like Digg or Reddit
  • Flocker: DIY instant news magazine, distributed socially
  • LOUD3R: DIY instant news magazine, distributed socially
  • Qrait: Realtime curation platform that allows you to curate from anywhere on the web.
3. Offer your own perspective
You've found a suitable piece of content-- perhaps one that's very informative, or very thought provoking. So now it's time to curate. Write about the article-- summarize it, offer your own perspective on why it was interesting, or wrong, or whatever sort of unique viewpoint you have to offer and add to the original content. A number of curated pieces I've seen follow a fairly simple four-paragraph style. This is a much more basic method than the one Volacci uses for curation, but if you're looking to start a regular, reliable content curation program, this is a good formula to help you get the hang of curating:
 
Article Title
 
Introduction-- State something about the industry, or the article, or the writer of the article.
Quote, paraphrase, or list bullets-- Include the relevant information from the article, or the points you want your audience to take away.
Discussion-- Talk about what jumped out at you. This is where you share your own unique perspective on the content with your clients, thus bringing the true value to the curated piece.
Conclusion-- draw a conclusion and reach out to your audience with a question. This ties up the piece while opening it up for participation.
 
Here's a sample of this method. For my example article, I'm curating a blog entry I wrote several weeks about viral video. Just for fun, my thoughts and perspective will contrast against the curated article.
 
Viral Video: Fluke or Product of Planning?
 
The marketing world talks a lot about viral video, which has been elevated to holy-grail status in content marketing. A recent article from Leigh Carver over at Volacci discusses viral video, and how it comes to be-- or doesn't. The basis of Carver's blog is that a video won't go viral if you create it just to go viral.
 
According to the article,
 
  • If you don't have a massive budget, you can't intentionally create a viral video
  • Videos that are deliberately made for vitality won't go viral
  • All viral videos have components of education, entertainment, and excitement.
 
I agree with Carver that viral videos need to be engaging and elicit an emotional response-- or, to quote Carver, they must "follow the three E's," but I also believe that viral videos can be intentionally crafted by brands with low budgets. Carver claims that an audience will see through attempts to become viral, though in my opinion, as long as the video excites them, they won't care. Technology is cheap, and I think that as long as a video is fun and has good production value, it can be an effective viral marketing tool-- a video may not go viral with tens of millions of views, but it can still be shared around quite a bit and increase the effective of your marketing strategy tenfold.
 
So, if you define viral video as something that gets 30 million views on YouTube, you can't do it without a big budget-- but smaller-scale success can definitely be attained if you're careful about putting together your video. What do you think? If you make a video to go viral, will it go viral, or is that a cheap trick that won't work? Please share your opinions in the comments.
 
This curated sample very neatly follows the formula: In the first paragraph, the author discusses the topic, the industry, and the original article; in the second paragraph, she sums up the content that is being curated; in the third paragraph, she offers her own insight, and in the fourth paragraph, she ties the bite-sized content up neatly, and invites the audience in to participate in the discussion.
 
(Disclaimer: In case you're confused about what stance I actually take about viral video, I think that brands tend to lay it on a little thick when trying to make a video that will go viral-- so, really, brands should focus on the content of their video and whether it speaks to their audience, rather than running after a goose that may or may not lay a golden egg.)
 
Once you've finished your curated piece, get someone close to you to reread it-- preferably, a coworker, or someone else familiar with the industry or topic you're discussing. When I begin curating for a new client, I get outside perspective from as many sources as possible until I'm totally confident that my curation style and topics are on track; I recommend this to everyone, regardless of your knowledge of your industry. It's a great litmus test to make sure that your curated content is accessible: that it's written at a high enough level that you sound knowledgeable about the topic but remain accessible to a non-expert, unless you’re explicitly targeting the intellectual heavyweights. Hitting this sweet spot increases the value of your content because it speaks both to colleagues in the industry and acts as educational material for your customers.
 
4. Post and Share
 
When posting, include a related image or two within your content-- having images included with blog entries significantly reduces bounce rate-- and if you use an image that you don't own, make sure you either give credit to the original photo owner, or include this text on your blog:
 
THIS BLOG claims no credit for any images posted on this site unless otherwise noted. Images on this blog are copyright to its respectful owners. If there is an image appearing on this blog that belongs to you and do not wish for it appear on this site, please E-mail with a link to said image and it will be promptly removed.
 
Post your content on your site with a catchy headline and image. Link to other relevant blogs and pages on your site within the text of your curated content-- for example, if you're a digital marketing agency that provides some killer content curation services, and you mention content curation in the text of your blog, you should probably link to it. 
 
You've put all this work into creating a blog entry-- now, show your hard work off by sharing what you've created with your friends and followers. Use social media to tweet out and post your curated article-- one thing I recommend doing is tagging whoever you curated the article from. So, for example, if you found a great article on Volacci and curated it to add some of your own perspective, you might say on twitter:
 
"Is @Volacci right about viral video?" or "Today we discuss a great article from @Volacci about content marketing"… and then, of course, include a link to your content, and the relevant hashtags. In the case of the example, I would probably include #viralvideo #videomarketing #contentmarketing. Distributing links to the article on your social networks maximizes the effectiveness of your article, giving it a chance to be noticed by someone who might not ordinarily access your website. Even better, @Volacci might retweet your post to all of their followers, thus dramatically increasing the number of visitors-- and potential customers-- to your site. 
 
There you have it. Now you know what content curation is, why it's so important, and how to curate your own content. Hopefully you're as excited about the simplicity and effectiveness of curating content as I am. If you're pumped up about content curation, but are certain you don't have the time, please check out some of the services that we offer here at Volacci-- or maybe even call us and ask for a deeper explanation. We'll be happy to help you-- after all, knowledge, like great content, is meant for sharing.
 
Images courtesy of thoughtsforpaws.com and freedigitalphotos.com