In last week’s post I laid out a case for content curation – why it can be a great opportunity for companies to engage with their customers, provide them with valuable information, and establish themselves as a trusted resource and thought leader in their industry. But no matter how airtight that case may be, the fact is theory is one thing, practice another. As Sales Benchmark Index CEO Greg Alexander points out, even if companies decide to adopt content marketing strategies, that doesn’t mean they’ll be successful.

It all comes down to the value of the content you’re offering your customers, and to that end my favorite tip Alexander offers to B2B companies is, “Give away your how-to knowledge.”

I couldn’t agree more. So in the spirit of that advice, here is a run-down of OpenView’s content curation process, with tips as well as a list of tools and other examples of curation models from around the web below.

Step 1: Define & Conquer

Any curation process should always begin with your audience. Once you identify what kind of information your customers are looking for and what issues and topics concern them most, the next step is to organize that information into clearly defined categories. Not only will that help you refine your own search for external content to post, it will help your audience navigate your site and discover posts on the subjects most relevant to each of them, in particular.

For example, OpenView arranges its content into three general categories: Company Development, Customer Development, and Product Development. Within those categories, content is further organized into various topics that are of interest to expansion-stage technology companies. As we’re searching for external content to share we keep these categories in mind in order to assure we find not only the best, but the most relevant articles for our readers.

Step 2: Go Out There and Grab Some Content (Or Better Yet, Have It Come to You)

Once you’ve determined the type of content you’re after, the next step is going out and finding it. This is where thoughts of combing through the internet single-handedly can be daunting, but the good news is, with all the tools currently available, there’s no reason go it alone.

I personally use Google Reader to subscribe to RSS feeds from my favorite reliable industry publications and blogs, and then set aside only the most promising articles I believe will be of interest to our readers. There are scores of additional content curation tools available — for starters, you might refer to this helpful list of the best free online tools provided at the iBlogZone by DiTesco.

Another option that has obvious benefits but may not work for everyone is to get other employees involved. At OpenView, my colleagues recommend interesting articles and content they come across throughout the week, categorizing them and posting them to a central document. I then determine which suggestions are the best/most appropriate to follow up on each day. This approach allows my coworkers with expertise in other areas point me to content and sources I may not be familiar with.

Note: To Share or Not to Share

Since not all content is created equal, when it comes to curating, filtering for quality is key. You should make sure all topics covered are relevant to your audience, that any content you decide to share is from a reputable source, and that you’re avoiding advertisements or PR pieces, no matter how well disguised. Remember, the goal is to become a resource they can trust to provide them with value.

Step 3: Before You Post, Determine What You’re Bringing to the Table

The best content curators provide more than just links and copy-and-pasted content. They summarize. They add their own take. They frame content in such a way that calls out its relevancy to their audience. And if they’re smart they cross-reference related content the reader can access, as well.

Perhaps even more so than finding the right content, it’s this step of making sure you’re adding value that has the potential to be the most time-consuming. Indeed, curating can be a full-time job. The time you spend on it will be dictated largely by how many entries you post and how often, but whatever you decide in this regard, the important thing is to be consistent. Once you’ve determined your workload and frequency, one way to streamline the process is to settle on a standard format for your curated posts and then create a template that either you or a freelancer can follow (for more on working with freelancers click here). When you have a post that you are proud of, be sure to credit the original source with proper citation. Then all that’s left is to tag it / place it in the appropriate category so your audience can find it easily.

But your job’s not done yet.

Step 4: Get Active

Once your curated content has gone live, then the real work begins — promoting it and engaging with your audience. Reaching out to them via social media and providing them with a comments section (that you actively respond to) is a must. After all, curating is all about connecting. With that, I’ll take my cue and hand it over to you for your thoughts. But first, here are a few additional links to more helpful examples and discussion regarding content curation from around the web:

For an even more substantial overview of content curation, check out Beth Kanter’s terrific “Content Curation Primer”. And for more advice on how to become content curation royalty Sean Carton will set you straight over at

The advice in this post largely pertains to doing curation yourself and posting directly to your company’s website. For more on enterprise content curation tools, see this great post by Susan McKittrick at the Content Marketing Institute.

Robin Good has a lot of interesting things to say regarding the importance of your visual delivery of content curation, and what’s in store for the future.

And for more of the best curation discussion in a curated format, head over to Aggregage Central.

Have more thoughts or suggestions for best content curation practices? What are your favorite tools? What sites do you think offer current examples of curation at its best? And what is the next step in curation? Eager to keep the discussion going below.

photo by: anemoneprojectors (no internet at the moment)