For those unversed in the art of content curation, this inbound marketing practice refers to the act of finding high-quality content, organizing, annotating and re-distributing it to target audiences. Very well, but how does this help your content marketing strategy, you might ask. Studies have shown that some of the most successful content marketers are using a magic mix of 60% created content, 30% curated content, and 10% syndicated content.
If you want to establish yourself as an authority in your niche, you are expected to deliver the latest, most relevant news from your industry in real-time. You can do this by sharing newsworthy and useful articles provided by other specialist. The ultimate goal of content creation and creation is to become the go-to-place for your customers. This way they will never have to visit a competitor’s website ever again. Sounds good?
The challenge now would be to wade your way through the thousands upon thousands of videos, articles, whitepapers and infographics that don’t have a lot of value in order to discover the ones that are worth your attention. And while there are plenty of content curation tools out there, the irony is that there are actually so many that marketers are having a hard time deciding between them.
To the untrained eye, which focuses exclusively on the type of news stream or collection that can be created, most curation tools look the same. However, each tool was designed with a specific purpose, and failing to make the educated purchase decision might end up sabotaging your content curation strategy.
Why Select Curation Tools Based on an Evaluation Framework?
You will find dozens of articles online that enumerate the best content curation tools. But very few of them actually justify their selection process with a correct evaluation framework. I have tested more than a handful of content curation tools (enterprise solutions as well as smaller-scale software) and identified several criteria regarding technical issues & features that you might want to take note of before adopting a certain curation tool.
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Here are a few features against which you should check prior to making a decision.
#1 Content Organization Options
Is it easy to organize or move your content around? Does the tool satisfy your curatorial needs? The main purpose of content curation tools is to help you identify and organize valuable content. With this in mind, you should check out the software’s basic content organization functionalities, such as:
- Ability to organize with the help of tags, folders and
- Multiple options available for organizing curated content.
- Possibility of copying or moving content between different streams or collections.
- Content arrangement features (juxtaposing streams and collections or featuring specific items)
- Subset creation and duplication
Suggested Tool: Part content analysis, part content curation tool, BuzzSumo is one of the must have software in any marketer’s toolbox. Its functionality is broken down in a few categories: content & influencer discovery capabilities which take into account social signals, alerts for specific names, brand names, links or keywords and competitor analysis features.
#2 Content Discovery Capabilities
A good content curation tool should suggest content based on your interests, your past activity, your followers’ interests, and several other criteria. In addition to this, you should also find out if the platform can create prospective searches. Unlike retrospective searches, which gather what has already been indexed, prospective searches gather information that meets the user’s criteria, as it is published, and then delivers it. Let’s say you are interested in ‘internet marketing’ in the United States. Simply set your preferences and prospective searches will be delivered to you automatically through the channel of choice. Here are a few other content monitoring & discovery features to keep an eye out for:
- Can you subscribe and monitor multiple RSS feeds with your content curation tools?
- Can you import OPML (outline processor mark-up language) with the tool? OPML is an XML format commonly used for exchanging web feeds between various content aggregators.
Suggested Tool: Scoop.it is an elegant content curation platform that promises an endless stream of material. Content is pulled from sources such as Google’s blogging service, RSS feeds, websites or Twitter and organized according to interests. Unlike other rigid platforms, Scoop.it leaves plenty of room for customization, making it a powerhouse for avid curators.
#3 Clearing Through the Clutter
As much as I love reading about the latest development in the digital landscape, there is simply too much content going around on a daily basis. Instead of senselessly scouring the internet in hopes of finding a decent article I prefer to draw all my information from one, reliable, source. You can become that source for your followers if you successfully manage to filter the ‘ew’ from the ‘aw’. Choose a tool that can filter content according to users, keywords, relevance, popularity, date, language, source or hashtags to provide followers with a steady stream of relevant & fresh information every day.
Suggested Tool: FrontPageit is a brand new tool that can be used to organize newsworthy content from around the web. The interface is similar to that of Facebook – only in green and without all the annoying selfies. Each user can personalize his profile and connect with like-minded people. As far as organizational features go, curated content is sorted according to interests, and it can also be found on the user’s profile. FrontPageit’s goal is to filter out the noise in order to provide meaningful content. In order to do this, it selects curators manually.
#4 Navigability and Interface
Another thing that you should consider is the appearance and navigability of your preferred content curation tool. Most internet users will immediately leave a page if it is difficult to navigate, so you should opt for a content curation tool that makes it easy for users to find streams or collection.
Other aspects worth checking out:
- Ability to quickly jump to the front, middle or final section of a collection.
- Ability to navigate directly to a specific item or collection.
- Navigational buttons present on the page.
Suggested Tool: Want to put an end to all the chaos in your content marketing strategy? Kapost can help you. This platform focuses on the ideation, production, distribution and analysis of one’s content marketing strategies with the ultimate goal of gaining the audience’s trust. Kapost also features collaboration capabilities, making it easier for team-members to distribute relevant content across different channels.
#5 Does the Tool Respect the ‘Curator’s Code’?
Before curators came creators. It is of the utmost importance to offer proper attribution and credits to the articles added in a collection. Most content curation tools will automatically add attribution according to the Curator’s Code. If you’re new to content curation, just keep in mind that the original source should be clearly visible. If it’s not, you might have chosen the wrong tool.
Tip: Most content curation tools give some form of attribution to initial sources.
#6 What About Importing & Exporting Features?
Often overlooked features are those of importing and exporting. You can save yourself a lot of time and effort by importing existing streams or collections directly. I recommend that you also take a look at the supported formats (examples: XML, PDF, CSV, OPML etc.).
Suggested Tool: Storify.com has come a long way. It may have preserved the feel of a scrapbook, but it offers powerful features, including the option of exporting stories to WordPress, Posterous, Tumblr and other social media channels. In addition to this, RSS feeds can also be imported for extra material.
Some of the following features may not be considered mandatory, but they can help you increase brand awareness and productivity. When reading a tool’s description, you will notice that it may (or may not have) a reference to an open API which can be queried from your own website or server. This means that it can integrate with other software that you are already using. Other times you will be prompted about branding capabilities, which can automatically add a personalized logo, or name to every piece of content you curate.
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Suggested Tool: If you’re looking for a content curation tool that enables output through API (in this case, the INSPIRE discover & recommendation engine), monitors streams, adds descriptions and tags to curated content automatically and suggest ‘hot’ content, you should probably go for Curata. The plans for this enterprise-level tool start at $499/month.
#8 Clipping Features
For me, convenient clipping capabilities are essential. If you’re also the curate-and-forget type of person, you will definitely appreciate tools that can quickly clip content online. Platforms like Pinterest, Instapaper or Pocket have neat browser extensions that you can use to automatically ‘bookmark’ a page, image, video or portion of text. Please keep in mind that some of them aren’t supported by certain online services and websites.
Suggested Tool: Pocket is the kind of tool that I couldn’t live without. It has saved me from the interminable resource list that I used to mail to myself every time I conducted research on a subject. The tool can be installed as browser extension to quickly bookmark interesting videos, articles or images. Content can be organized with tags and shared on social media later. Pocket also integrates with over 500 apps.
#9 Social Media & SEO
If you’re a writer or marketer you must be thinking about leveraging your content curation efforts. This means that distribution and search engine optimization options play an important part in choosing the right content curation platforms. While some tools simply aggregate content you find online, others come equipped with powerful social media features for channels such as LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter or Pinterest. With them you will be able to schedule when curated content is publish, customize the accompanying message and even embed them on your website. In addition to this, some tools have SEO capabilities which will enable you to rank better on search engines, edit URLs and add title tags & meta-descriptions.
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Suggested Tool: Curation Suite is a relatively new and all-around good content curation tool for WordPress. It is arguably one of the best ways to find, cite and promote content online. As a matter of fact, the platform has recently added a great social discovery & engagement component called the Listening Engine. What I enjoy most about Curation Suite is the fact that it enables you to customize the featured image’s alignment, title, meta-text and tags, thus SEO.
#10 Price Range & Customer Service
Last, but definitely not least, you should take into account the price. Content curation tools that are packed with a plethora of features are generally more expensive than others. There are also free tools you could use, but they generally offer specific features. Once again, you have to determine what you’re actually looking for and how you will be using the content you curate. Create a list of PROs and CONs and read online reviews. This should help with the decision making. The quality and availability of customer service is also important to help you overcome minor glitches.
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Read more: Twitter Launches Curator
Thanks for the good read. Some great points on the use of curation. Many of it plays into the tenets of Big Content, which can folds curation activities more closely into regular creation workflows to help you produce better content all the time. If you’d like to hear about a platform that incorporates all of these elements and more, we’d love to give you a briefing on PublishThis.
Great post. Minor point: Posterous shut down in 2013.
Great post Paul! For content discovery, Buzzsumo is a great option. The premium versions are a little pricey, but can be very worthwhile. As for an affordable curation tool, I highly recommend Publicate.it
With Publicate, you can utilize curation to create branded marketing assets, email newsletters, resource hubs etc and their pricing starts at just $15 per month. They also have a really nice lead-capture option that allows you to collect emails via your Publication. Definitely worth checking out!
Great post. I was recently testing http://segmen.to, a tool to discover content, curate it and publish it on social media, and it’s great in all 3 aspects:
1) Finding content (#4, #7, #8): It allows to monitor different newspapers for specific keywords, to import individual url and automatically import articles tagged in pocket (read/unread and/or filtered by pocket tags) … They are also working on Twitter account monitoring – great!
2) Curate: every article can be commented individually, enabling the marketer to share her own point-of-view, moreover they respect the rule #5 above of the curator code: only original links are shared!
3) Share (#9, #6): Twitter and Facebook integration is already working great; LinkedIn and Buffer are on the way to be released.
What is great is the customer support (#10): customers experiencing troubles in using the tool (especially for the first time) are immediately offer help. All these starting at only 39.- a month. I would say, not really much compared to other much more expensive tools, with far less functionalities.