One of the things my social media friends complain about is people who constantly push out content about themselves: “Buy my book, sign up for my workshop, read my stuff.” Sure, I’d encourage you to use Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and GooglePlus to share your brilliant new blog post, but if you talk only about yourself online, you’re bound to alienate people and lose followers.
In my social media workshops, people ask, “Well, what should I publish then?” Here’s my short answer: Follow interesting people on various platforms, subscribe to publications in your field, and then share the best of that content with others. If you do this consciously, you are a curator, or one who consistently finds, organizes, annotates and shares the best of relevant content.
Just this week, my friend Judy Gombita used the term “mindful curation,” which I love. “Mindful” means you put thought into the content you share. You’re not just blindly retweeting or reposting content.
Like Judy, I’m a mindful user of paper.li, a cool tool that allows you to share content in a newspaper-like format. Among some of my friends, these papers have received a bad rap because users often generate them relying solely on the paper.li algorithm. We all see the result in our Twitter feeds: “The Bob Smith Daily is out!” Who cares?
Instead, to publish the best paper possible, take the time to edit the content and move stories around. Don’t be afraid to delete content that’s not sufficiently relevant to your audience. My friend Sue Horner does a nice job of this with her Independent Communicator newsletter.
After all, you want to publish stuff that compels people to say, “Wow, thanks. This is really useful!” At the same time, you’ll be helping your followers avoid the firehose of content, which offers us too much at once. Soon people (perhaps including your prospects?) will count on you to provide excellent content. Who doesn’t want to be known as a person who is smart and generous?
Here are some tips to help you get started with curation.
First, find great content.
- Subscribe to topical blogs and newsletters; use Feedly to follow them and Delicious or Diigo or another social bookmarking tool to tag and save links.
- Set up persistent searches in Twitter for keywords you’re interested in. Create columns in TweetDeck or Hootsuite so you can see the fresh content.
- Follow smart people on Twitter and subscribe to Twitter lists of thought leaders in your areas of interest.
- Get involved in Google+ Communities, where you’ll find plenty of insights around the topics you care about.
- Subscribe to other peoples’ newspapers on Paper.li; look for those that focus on subject matter that’s most meaningful to you and your followers.
- Flip through Flipboard on your tablet or smartphone to find interesting stuff.
Now you can share that content:
- Write blog posts that use others’ information as a jumping-off point; be sure to add your own insights.
- Share content published by others on your own social media accounts; if the content is visual, consider sharing it on Pinterest too.
- Use someone else’s post as the basis for a discussion in a LinkedIn Group or G+ Community. Ask a question of members of the group to spark debate.
- Publish your own newspapers on Paper.li and share them via social media. Consider a Pro account, which gives you more control over branding and advertising, and allows you to delay publication until you’ve completed your edits.
- Use Storify to gather up tweets around a particular hashtag (great for events); share them on social media or embed them in your blog.
Years ago I saw a great quote by Todd Defren of SHIFT Communications. He said 70% of the content you publish should be curated, and just 30% branded (yours). The rationale? “Because the rest of the world is at least 70% more interesting than your brand; and, promoting external content builds social capital and makes grateful fans of influencers.” Well said!
What’s your best tip for curation?