We all know how valuable content is for driving traffic on the web. It’s not just crucial for your site but your social media efforts as well. You may have heard of the concept of content curation. Whether we know it or not (assuming we all have social sharing accounts), we all have curated content by picking it out and posting it to others.

We also may have created our own content for our sites, and we have probably written our own short posts (whether announcements or thoughts) on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. It’s not always easy, though, to come up with great original content on our own. For that reason, we turn to the idea of content curation, with perspectives from two web content experts, Michiel Gaasterland and Beth Kanter.

What is content curation?

Curating content is the process of seeking out the highest quality content you can find to share with your online connections and business audience. Gaasterland references a definition presented by another marketing professional, Rohit Bhargava, that points out the heavy organizational aspect of content curation; typically, a professional in the field focuses on one specific topic.

Kanter emphasizes that content curation is not a matter of amassing links and blasting them out one after another. Instead, it’s a similar task to that performed by a museum curator. A person who excels in content curation has the ability to frame content within a specific theme and find the best individual elements of content that fit the theme.

How content curation is valuable for business

As we all know, many of the businesses and individuals who succeed online do so because they are providing real value upfront to users. Beyond other users feeling like you’ve given them something beneficial, Gaasterland remarks that conveying high-quality content can help define you as a credible expert.

Curation is helpful to people connected to your social media feed, email newsletter, and site. Going online is often an experience of information overload: it’s hard to find the flowers because there are many weeds.

To provide a sense of the sheer amount of content that we have at our disposal, Kanter references Facebook. In 2011, users were generating 72 billion separate instances of content every month. Obviously, a curator isn’t working through every random Facebook status update, but that statistic reminds us how easy it is to produce content these days. We are no longer in the era of the printing press. Increased public access means more filtration.

Major challenges of content curation

Beth Kanter provides a couple of challenges that tend to arise when a person starts the process of content curation:

Timing – A great deal of the information that floats to the top on Google is outdated, especially when you are looking for specific answers to an issue in a rapidly changing field. Figuring out what is currently relevant and what is not is a skill that a content curator must develop. Plus, Kanter points out that the actual process of learning what’s up-to-the-minute and what is not is the curator educated and informed.

Overload – Content curation, as stated above, is intended to get beyond the information overload of the web. However, curators are not immune to feeling overwhelmed by the massive amount of material out there. It’s impossible to stay abreast of everything. Content curators must breathe and remember there are abundant possibilities; not all paths will be followed.

3 best practices for content curation

Here are three best practices provided by Michiel Gaasterland to better focus your efforts:

  1. Zone in – Success on the Internet is determined largely by one’s ability to target a particular niche. Specificity is well-known to help with search keywords (such as longtail ones), but it works with people’s perception of you. The Twitter feed of an amateur tends to be all over the place. The Twitter feed of an expert narrows in on one subject, shaping and branding the authority.
  2. Quality – Remember that it is not a race to see how many posts you can put out in a day. You want only to provide the best. Once your followers realize that your quality control is high, they will pay much more attention to your comments and activity. Remember that people are dealing with the same vast pool of information you are, so don’t inundate them.
  3. Consistency – Although you don’t want to be posting content without maintaining high quality, you do want to post often. Every time someone goes to any one of your social pages, they will ideally see something recent. You essentially want your social presence to feel alive.

Technological know-how

Gaasterland recommends three tools to assist with content curation: Flipboard, Alltop, and StumbleUpon. Note that tools such as these are abundant, and good content can be found just about anywhere: newsletters, Google+ communities, etc. The possibilities are endless. Getting familiar with as many tools as possible will boost your aptitude as a marketer by providing a broader array of options.

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By Moazzam Adnan