When most of us hear the word curation we immediately conjure up the image of a fabulous art curator tirelessly searching for the perfect painting to complete a collection or the perfect piece for a space.

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But beyond ensuring that the world’s finest galleries are stocked with perfectly suited masterpieces, the word curation also applies directly to the lives of marketers as we think about the necessity to drive authentic value for our audiences by curating content to be shared via various channels.

So what is content curation?

Content curation is thoughtfully choosing content from other brands or individuals that serves your audience’s broader needs or provides value through various marketing channels, most commonly social media or email newsletters.

And successful marketers and their audiences both win with curated content. Your audience gets valuable content that meets their needs, and marketers have the opportunity to increase their content distribution, without increasing their content production.

Overall, curating content builds trust with your audience and delivers value in a way that sharing exclusively your own content won’t. However, these benefits come at a price to efficiency and our workflow as we get caught up spending hours finding the perfect article to share. There are countless expensive tools that support content creation (from PublishThis to Curata), but what about if you want to unlock the benefits of curating content without shelling out a pretty penny for top of the line software?

That’s why we pulled together a list of our favorite content curation tools that yes, are actually free.

Pocket

Pocket is a go-to tool for content curation for marketers, acting as your internet scrapbook of everything you want to save but don’t have time to read right now, or an article you think would be perfect to share in your weekly newsletter or on social media.

The handy browser extension complete with a tagging feature also means that your content can be organized on the go without even navigating away from the article you’re reading.

Zest

Zest.Is suggests is a content creation site powered by marketers for marketers. Users suggest content others may want to share, which then get filtered into your view of the site based on the interests you select.

The other awesome thing about Zest is that you can see how much social traction a given article has produced already so that you can make sure you are providing your audience with content they will want to engage with.

Twitter Lists

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Twitter lists are a marketer’s best friend. They are lists curated by users or brands that group together into one feed the content everyone on that list is sharing. This becomes particularly useful when you’re wanting to curate content from other marketing influencers making a splash in the social game.

You can also create your own Twitter lists that includes hyper-relevant information to your vertical, so even if there isn’t a list already in existence that is delivering the content you need, you can always build your own.

Learn more about how to use Twitter lists and make your own here

TweetDeck

Another Twitter original tool is a go-to for those of us working to curate relevant content our audiences will love. TweetDeck allows you to not only seamlessly keep an eye on your Twitter feed for free in realtime, it also packs a search feature that applies an constant search for any hashtag you add to your deck.

By adding a hashtag stream that is relevant to your business you can be constantly searching for the most recently shared content to keep your finger on the pulse of what others are engaging with and what will be worth sharing with your audience.

Pinterest

Yes, Pinterest! Pinterest is essentially one giant content curation tool, and is gaining traction even in the B2B marketing world beyond what most people assume is a platform better suited for recipes or DIY ideas.

But Pinterest allows marketers to not only easily search for and find relevant content, but to seamlessly share it with your audience within the actual platform.

Final Thoughts:

Curating content is a must for marketers looking to build broad, engaged audiences who derive real value from receiving their communications. Beyond saving you countless hours producing all of the content you share, curating content offers the opportunity to be seen as a thought leader by sharing hyper-relevant content, build relationships with other players in your space, and also deliver real value to your audience.

What tools do you use to curate content? Let us know in the comments below!