Content curation has become a popular method of publishing online, though not without a fight. It has its detractors, critics, and naysayers. In the early days of content curation, it was easy to find such critics with a simple search. But content curation has become so mainstream now that you’ll have to dig deep to uncover those articles today. If you search Google for “content curation” today, you’ll get pages and pages of search results hailing it as modern publishing’s pearl of great wisdom. It appears that content curation is here to stay.
That doesn’t mean it’s easy.
In fact, good content curation requires a keen eye for detail. It’s not like pulling up a blank page and just writing to see what comes out, which is what a lot of blogging is these days. Rather, great content curation requires some time. It could even take up as much time as creating fresh content from scratch, despite the common myth that it’s easier and less time consuming. Of course, if you have automation tools that help you find content to curate, that can save you time. Still, great content in any format requires a commitment.
The essence of curating content is much like curating art for a museum. You pick the best and most relevant sources and content and bring them together to package them into one publishing product. These pieces of content can be disparate and unrelated, but by putting them together in a single package you can tell a story that can’t be told any other way. In many cases, you can shed light on a specific topic by compiling a list of resources or valuable pieces of information on that topic to benefit your audience. Doing it well can establish you as an authority in your technology niche. I hope this resource helps you do that better.
If you’re going to engage in content curation, versus creating from scratch, you need a good reason. Don’t just do it for the sake of doing it. Your audience will know.
Also, be mindful of the five models of content curation. While you need to have a good reason for curating content, you should also use the model that is most appropriate for your audience, your style, and the purpose for which you are curating. And now, without further ado, let’s discuss the 31 best practices for content curation. If you publish technology-related content, I hope you’ll find this list pure gold.
Curation Best Practices Related to Content
- Put your audience first – The first thing to understand about successful content curation is that your audience’s needs come before your own. In other words, find out what kind of information your audience is looking for and put together the best content about that subject. It’s not your interests that dictate the need for content, but the interests of your audience.
- Write an enticing headline – Headline, or post title, writing is a skill on its own. There is an art to it in that a good headline attracts readers’ eyes. The science of title writing involves being effective in getting readers to click on a link to read your article. A good post title should do three things:
- Tell readers what your article is about,
- Entice them to read the article, and
- Increase your chances of ranking well in the search engines by using the best keywords. Take some time to learn how to write a good blog post title.
- Focus your content around a narrow topic – Rather than jump all over the content map, curate content around a specific topic. For instance, if you are an SaaS company that provides financial data to fintech lenders, look for content in a narrow content area that will benefit your audience and demonstrate your expertise. That could be anything from the number of subprime borrowers taking out various loan products to how many digital banks are offering different types of banking products. Make your curated post relevant to your audience and focused on a narrow topic.
- Quality and Quantity are linked – In the early days of blogging, it was quite common to see bloggers post several 300-500 word blog posts throughout the day. Every day. Long blog posts were rare. In the last few years, however, there has been a surge in long-form content, and bloggers are posting less frequently. There are several reasons for this. One of the main reasons is because there is ample evidence that long-form content is better for SEO, attracts more inbound links, gets more traffic, is shared more often, and generates more leads than shorter content. In other words, long-form content is better all around.
- Use the best content on your subject – Further down the page you’ll learn how to find good sources of material for your curated content. For now, suffice it to say that you want to use the best content on your subject. Take your time and look for the absolute best content on the topic you are curating. Your readers will thank you for it.
- Add original content for value – The essence to curating content is to add value to what you borrow. It’s fine to pull together various resources and compile them into one blog post for your audience, but go the extra step of adding original content to what you use and add value to it. This is extremely important if you are cutting and pasting, which is not always the best thing to do. A better practice is to rewrite headlines and content so that it is original and fresh. Only borrow content verbatim when it can’t be avoided or when practical, such as when you are quoting the source. Quite often, the source can say it better than you can, and that’s the best time to quote verbatim. Otherwise, create original content that adds value for your readers.
- Don’t publish too often – How often is the right publishing frequency for you may vary depending on your technology sector, your audience, and your own editorial preferences. When you do publish, create some original content in addition to your curated content. In other words, don’t make every post you publish a curated blog post. Curation is fine, but if you overdo it, you’ll lose members of your audience who are looking for original content.
- Develop your own style – Style is very important in any kind of publishing. It’s defined as that unique characteristic of a publication that creates a recognizable brand by making content easier for the audience to digest. Figure out your own style and be consistent with it.
- Be careful with images – There is a lot of confusion about how to use images online. Some people think if it’s there, then it’s there for the taking. That is not true. There are copyright laws in almost every country that dictate how and when other people’s creations are free to use. When in doubt, you should ask permission. There are a few places where content creators can obtain free-to-use images in the public domain without violating anyone else’s ownership rights. Pixabay, Unsplash, and Pexels are three such websites where visual artists upload their creations for the purpose of others’ use without attribution requirements. If you do find it necessary to use an image from a third-party source, check their terms of service and request permission. Also, be sure to give attribution to the original source of the image.
- Request permission – I can’t reiterate this enough. If you use content created by someone else, ask their permission first. There are some rare exceptions, but unless you’re familiar with those, you should ask permission.
- Give attribution – When you use someone else’s work, or quote them, give them attribution. Link to the original source. Not only does that acknowledge the work of others, but it also increases your own authority, showing others that you care about social conventions, fairness, and good authorship.
- Bring some passion to your work – No one wants to read bland and boring work. Put some passion into it.
- Use trending keywords and hashtags – Circling back around to a narrow focus on a single topic, that’s easier to do if you focus on one or two keywords for your content. Start by performing some keyword research. Which keywords are best for your subject matter, which are most profitable, and which ones are most likely to attract the audience you are seeking? Focus on the best keywords for your content. If you are using hashtags, use the best hashtags for your content with a focus on what is trending.
- Create lists and roundups – Lists and roundup articles are great formats for content curation.
- Diversify your posting style – Of course, there are a variety of different article formats so don’t be afraid to diversify your publishing formats to appeal to different kinds of readers. That’s what content curation is all about. Quicksprout has identified 17 different types of content, and it’s important to note that content curation doesn’t have to be in article format. You can curate content in a video or a podcast, or with an infographic.
- Make it actionable – The best content in any form is actionable. That means you provide useful information that your audience can act upon. That information helps them improve in some way. It can make their business more profitable, help them generate more leads, create new profit opportunities, or just make them happier. Actionable content is valuable content.
- Go back and update – Finally, every now and then, revisit old content and update it. There are several reasons you want to do this. First, content can get outdated. Things change in every industry, especially technology. As often as technology becomes obsolete or is replaced by something newer and more innovative, it’s important to make sure your content is up to date. Also, your sources could disappear. If that is the case, then updating your curated content once a year ensures that you are using the most up to date and relevant content to meet your audience’s needs.
Curation Best Practices Related to Sourcing
Sourcing your content accurately, professionally, and with the proper attribution is just as important as curating the content in the first place. Now that we’ve discussed the best practice for curating content, let’s talk about the best practices for sourcing your curated content.
- Make a list of sources – Start with a list of resources. In fact, you should maintain a database of useful resources that you can check on periodically. This will ensure that you find the best, most relevant, and most actionable content available when you’re ready to start curating.
- Be selective – Be selective about your sources. Don’t just accept everything at face value. Make sure your sources are authoritative and well respected in your technology sector.
- Rely on multiple sources – Don’t just use one source, but curate information from multiple sources. This makes you more credible in the eyes of your audience and will build your authority more quickly.
- Have a priority list of sources – Have a handful of specialized sources that are your go-to sources for specific types of information related to your technology niche. This will get you to relevant information much faster.
- Don’t overlook small fish – Everyone goes to the most popular news sources for the latest information on anything. It’s okay to use Forbes, Wired, TechCrunch, and all the other top-tier sources, but if you dig deeper and uncover those sources that readers are less likely to find on their own, it will make you a more credible and valuable curator.
- Honor the originals – There are myriad ways to honor your sources. First, give them attribution for original ideas. Beyond that, don’t mislead your audience by misquoting or misrepresenting your sources. Make sure you present their ideas, graphics, and content accurately. That doesn’t necessarily mean you always agree with them, nor does it mean you must always be positive. It’s okay to be controversial, and even to disagree, but when you do, make sure you do it respectfully and that you accurately portray their positions on key issues.
- Attribute your sources – To reiterate this, make sure you attribute your sources. When possible, link to them. If that isn’t possible, or practical, at least mention them in your content when you borrow their ideas and content (with proper permission), and quote them.
- Use aggregators – Content aggregators will make your life much easier. Here is a list of content aggregation tools no content curator should go without:
- Curata – Curata is a top-tier aggregator for serious content curators and enterprises.
- Feedly – Feedly allows you to consolidate all of your RSS feeds into one stream, plus you can organize them and categorize them for easy manipulation.
- Paper.li – Paper.li is an automated curation tool that pulls in content from various sources and publishes it for you on a schedule.
- List.ly – List.ly allows you to create lists on the go and publish them on your blog.
- Scoop.it – Scoop.it is similar to Paper.li.
- Pinterest – Pinterest needs no introduction, but through Pinboards you can curate all the visual graphics you can store in one place. Organize them and categorize them as you wish. If you think it’s just for women, think again. You can curate anything on Pinterest. Even technology.
- ClipZine – ClipZine is an interesting tool that allows you to clip things off the Web and curate them into your own magazine. They actually have a Computers & Technology channel.
- The Tweeted Times – The Tweeted Times curates content directly from your Twitter feed.
- WP-Drudge – WP-Drudge is an interesting WordPress plugin that allows you to curate a news feed à la Drudge style.
- BuzzSumo – BuzzSumo is a content discovery tool that allows you to find the best content available in your technology niche so that you can curate it successfully.
- Crowdsource the knowledge – Finally, your best content curation source is your own followers, friends, and fans. Ask them what they want and what they know. In 2019, content curation flows in multiple directions. You are not just a publisher, but you are also an aggregator of information for your audience. Learn from some to teach the others, then change roles.
Best Practices for Curation Promotion and Metrics
- Track and analyze – You’ll never know if your curation efforts are working if you don’t track results. At a minimum, you should know how much traffic you’re getting, where your traffic is coming from, what kind of search engine results you are achieving and for which keywords, and are you getting any engagement from your content? What you don’t track you can’t act on. Be sure you know how content curation effort are impacting your business.
- Align with your social media strategy – Align your content curation publishing strategy with your social media strategy. In other words, if your goal is to position yourself as an authority in your niche, then focus on curating content that furthers that goal. When you share your content, use the text and images that focus on your goals. If the goal is lead generation, make all your content curation and social sharing tactics match with that goal.
- Share your content across multiple channels – Share your curated content across the relevant social media channels for your technology audience. The first step is you find out where your target audience spends its time. You should spend your time there too.
- Don’t overshare – Like content publishing, content promotion can be overdone. You don’t want to bombard your followers with endless links, especially to the same piece of content. Share two or three times a day, and vary the text and images you use when you do share your curated content through your social channels.
- Use trending keywords and hashtags – Once again, just as in your content publishing, share your content using the most relevant keywords and hashtags for your audience and your content.
When you plan your next technology-based content curation strategy, put these 31 best practices into play. You’ll be glad you did!
Allen Taylor is an award-winning journalist, editor of several finance- and technology-focused online publications, and a content marketers of 13 years. Need an expert writer for your next content project? Contact me.