The internet is a wonderful, and scary place. Wonderful because it contains insightful and useful information about just about anything, scary because it actually contains too much of it, and users tend to be overwhelmed and confused by it. There are literally thousands of new videos, hundreds of blog posts and millions of tweets being shared every hour. As a matter of fact, according to recent estimates, it is predicted that, in a matter of years, all the information from the web will begin to double every 72 hours.
Can you imagine the sheer proliferation of content that this will translate into? Content, may it be written or visual, has always taken the center stage when it came to promoting an online business or website. Everybody knows this, but they also know that only 25% of retailers have the time to create it.
The Phantom and Panda algorithmic updates have proven how valuable it is, but not all companies have the time to invest in a content empire. Furthermore, the exorbitant amount of articles already available online make it impossible for a new article to be 100% original.
Whatever you think of writing next has probably already been discussed in the past. Any brilliant idea you may have had in the middle of the night, is probably already being put to good use by someone else. So what can you do?
No, the auto-posting RSS feed plugins and secret software you may have heard about will not work, but if you really wish to add high-quality content to your website or blog, there is a solution: content curation.
What is content curation and why should you invest in it?
If you are having a hard time coming up with insightful and valuable (because nowadays it’s all about value) content for your blog, you can use this convenient alternative. You cannot begin to imagine the amount of brilliant content available online, and you would probably have not been able to discover it were it not for the efforts of brilliant curators, and search engine parameters. Search engines rank content according to relevancy, but not always according to value.
Think of curated content as a museum: it amasses the best that humanity has ever produced. Less than half of the exhibits are displayed to the public eye. This practice reflects the most basic of human needs: to collect and Decalogue only that which is interesting, new, and share it for the benefit of others. At the moment there are different content curation types, which you can learn about in Gianluca’s article on the Moz Blog.
The second reason for which you should be investing in content curation is SEO value. First of all it can be a source of inspiration for content writers, because websites must be regularly updates in order to maintain user interest and please crawlers. On the other hand, there are times when you will simply have no ideas, and instead of abandoning your blog, you can re-blog an interesting article that has been found with the help of content curation tools.
With content curation there is also a possibility of building meaningful relationships with like-minded people. If you gain reputation as a good source of content, your outreach will expand. Remember, that in the face of Google’s Panda algorithm high-quality is the most important ranking factor. In other words, you will have to link the source and also come up with at least 200-300 words of unique text.
Now that we know how content curation can help an online business, let’s take a look at a few things that will help you become a good curator, and a valuable asset to the online community:
1. Ask the right questions, and then listen
Before you even phantom the concept of curating content, you must pin-point what you wish to curate. Ask yourself what you wish to achieve with the content that you curate, whether it is suitable for your business or not, how people will react to it, what they can learn from it etc.
After you have found the answer to these questions you should start searching for authoritative blogs related to your niche. Let’s take SEO for example. Blogs like Moz, SearchEngineLand, SocialMediaToday, the Raven blog, Mashable etc. are a great starting place. The next step is to read articles relevant to your niche, sort them, and share with the community.
2. Become part of the content ecosystem
What people should do (but usually fail to do) is to embrace both curator and creator status. In most cases they consider themselves either curator, or creator, but these terms should not exclude themselves. You can be both of them.
Those who embrace the three-legged-tool philosophy will be more successful, because they are sharing their unique point of view, but also inviting other parties to share their own perspective. Create, collect and contribute are the three “c”s that lead to perfect balance.
3. Curate from social networks and other hubs
You can probably not conceive the power that social media has. Imagine for a second that every Facebook user, creates, without even knowing it, approximately 90 pieces of content each month. Multiply this by 800 million Facebook users, and you will get an idea of the amount of content being shared online. We are living in an era of content abundance, and social networks are an excellent place to find interesting things to curate. Here’s what you can curate content from different social platforms:
- Facebook, the world’s largest social media platform, is also the most difficult one to manage (because the newsfeed has the annoying habit of flooding with updates). What not many people know is that you can create lists of company pages and friends to follow (check the Facebook basics tips list for more info). Once you have found your main sources of inspiration, you can start organising content.
- Google+ has grown significantly over the years, and at the moment it is the second-most influential social media platform. Conveniently enough it is also paradise for content curators. It combines rich keyword search capabilities with easy-to-insert videos, images, infographics, content visualisations etc. All you need to do in order to find the freshest, and best content is to type your keyword in the search books.
- YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine. If videos are relevant to your niche you will be happy to hear that YouTube correctly filters information, according to views, popularity, ratings and relevancy. You can also ad the freshest results filter.
- Twitter is an extremely popular social network, where business people come together. Nevertheless, it is difficult to filter results, especially with so much noise around. In order to sort through the clutter you should set up Paper.Li, an app that pulls from your feed and spotlights the social media users who contributed to conversations in your field.
- Scoop.it truly shines when it comes to finding content. The first thing you must do is to find your Scoop.it topic. It should be related to one of your passions, to your business or common interests. Think carefully before you decide, because you will have to spend some time with it every day if you want it to work.
4. Be consistent
Consistency has a lot to do with time management, and topic selection. First of all, if you decide to invest in content curation you will have to respect a certain schedule. Moreover, you shouldn’t curate old content that is no longer relevant. When you attempt a Google search set the filters for “last 24 hours”.
5. Never steal, only share
Simply posting something written by someone else isn’t enough. You must also voice your opinion after reading the text (if it is written content), and pull out the must important points of the article. Also, try not to use the same article title, as it will compete with the original one in terms of SEO.
If you want to reference to already existing content, always add the source. Stealing is never OK. A great call-to-action is sharing an incomplete post. Never post the whole thing because you will be taking traffic rightfully deserved by the original source.
Image: Mighty June via Flickr.