Content Curation 101: The Ultimate Guide to Getting Started

To start with this content curation 101 guide, let’s focus on what exactly this approach is. When you think of content curation, how would you describe it?

  • Is it the process of collecting other people’s work and calling it your own?
  • Or is it more about finding and sharing relevant and helpful content, with your own annotations included, about a specific topic for your target audience?

Curata has a perfectly explained definition for what content curation should be:

“Content curation is when an individual (or team) consistently finds, organizes, annotates and shares the most relevant and highest quality digital content on a specific topic for their target market.” – The Definitive Guide to Content Curation via the Curata blog

Content Curation 101 quote

If you’re wondering what content curation looks like, it’s important for you to know there are multiple types, including:

  • Creating an “ultimate guide”
  • Choosing one of the multiple types of roundup content
  • Creating a recommended reading list
  • Collecting a “top” or “best” list

To decide which type to use, you need to know what you hope to achieve with content curation. We’ll get into that in a bit. Until then, you’re probably wondering why you should be following this trend in the first place…


How Can Content Curation Help My Business?

Your daily to-do list is already overwhelming with important tasks as it is. Why should you even consider adding a content curation strategy to that list? It’s time to show you the common reasoning…

The most important benefits of content curation are:

  • You’ll find that it’s cheaper than original content.
  • Results can be highly beneficial to your marketing ROI.
  • You can build key relationships with those you source from.

When you keep in mind why you should implement a content curation strategy, you’ll notice yourself getting sucked into its power. Content curation is an important addition to your existing original content. It shouldn’t replace it but rather work with it.

If you think you’re ready to build your content curation strategy, move on to the next section.

Heads up:

Content curation has a few best practices for you to keep in mind:

  • It is not a once-and-done activity but rather requires consistency.
  • It is only effective if implemented with a human touch rather than fully computerized.
  • Share content that provides value for your audience if you want to see results.
  • Always focus on what your audience needs at that time.

How Do I Start with Content Curation?

Before you even think of getting started though, you need a content curation strategy written out and complete. Otherwise, you’re approaching this as a wandering traveler with no map. These are just some of the elements you need to have in said strategy:

  1. Know what you want to accomplish (goals)
  2. Know what your topics of expertise will be
  3. Select where you’ll curate from
  4. Know how you’ll organize your curated content
  5. Understand how you’ll share your curated content
  6. Arrange how you’ll measure the results

Let’s go into a little more detail about each of the above. This way, you’ll have an even better understanding of what’s involved.


How Do I Build a Content Curation Strategy?

To start curating content, you need to know why you’re doing it and what you hope to achieve with it. This is the time to spell out your reasoning as well as create specific goals, ideally using the SMART goal-setting method. Once you know why you’re doing this and what to aim for, you’re ready to take the next step in your strategy development.

Content curation isn’t effective if you spread yourself too thin. You need to choose a central topic or focus for your activity so that your hard work appeals to your specific audience. If your topic is irrelevant or unhelpful to your target audience, it’s all a wasted effort. Pick a topic that can be relatable and helpful to your customers and prospects. Otherwise, who are you doing this for?

You now know the topic for your curation activity, so it’s time to decide exactly how you’ll determine what to select. Don’t choose just any source for your curated content. Add your selection methodology to your strategy to ensure the highest quality content from your end. Without a vetting process, your chance of error in one way or another will be exponentially higher.

Another element of your strategy should provide a clear understanding of how you’re going to measure the return-on investment or ROI of your content curation activity. Content curation is a cheaper way to add value to your website, but if you don’t track its results, you’ll have no real way to see if it was money well spent. Decide on the metrics you’ll measure based upon your goals from earlier. You should also have a system for how you’re going to analyze these metrics.

A content curation strategy should be customized based upon your business goals, so there will likely be other sections to include beyond the ones here. As long as you include enough to complete the curation process from start to finish with clear results, you’re on the right track.


What are the Tools Available When Curating Manually?

There are times when it’s unrealistic or otherwise impossible to afford the rather pricey curation services available out there. When that’s the case, you’ll have an opportunity to do things your way, the whole way.

There are services out there that are either free or low-cost that’ll help you with your manual content curation. This is a small list of the best ones, and you’ll see that they’re all free unless you want a pro version.

Let’s start with Twitter lists. If you’re on Twitter, which you really should be, you can set up or subscribe to lists of user feeds. For example, you can curate the advice and resources shared by industry influencers in their tweets. You don’t have to create your own lists if you don’t want to because your industry’s leaders probably have their own you can subscribe to for no cost.

This is an example of a Twitter list. It has 53 users who share “retweet-worthy content” that might help a professional with their marketing. It’s a great way to find content to share on social media and in your blog content. It’s one of the best ways to curate content without paying a cent.

Screenshot of a Twitter list used for content curation

Another great way to curate content is to use blog newsletter subscriptions. If you have a blog you follow from an industry influencer, track that content to see if any of it would be worth curating for your own blog and social media.

When it comes to actual tools though, these three options can all be of great assistance:

Feedly – a tool that uses website RSS feeds to give you one place to see everything your chosen sites share.

Delicious – a social bookmarks manager that lets you curate content into lists and categories.

Flipboard – a place for you to create your own personal magazine where you can collect and view content from around the web.


How Do I Measure Content Curation’s Effectiveness?

Without a clear idea as to how you’re going to measure your curation ROI, you’re not going to learn its impact. You won’t know whether it all was worth it or not.

There are several key metrics you should pay attention to, but ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which matter most to your established goals.

These metrics can help you get started. Note that they closely resemble the metrics you already follow for your other content marketing efforts.

  • Page views
  • List growth
  • Return visits
  • Visitor growth
  • New partnerships*

*When you curate legitimate content, you have a chance to build a relationship with the source. When this source is relevant to your business, you should consider partnering with them, if this is something your business does.

Use Google Analytics to track the other metrics listed. The tool is essential for measuring your  content curation’s impact. It’s the place to go to measure its ROI.


What are Some of the Recommended Full-Service Content Curation Tools?

If you have the financial resources available, you can make your efforts so much easier by investing in a full-service content curation tool. There are many options out there, but these two are often considered leaders.

Scoop.it – find and curate content based on selected keywords and add your own perspective before publishing on social and your website.

Curata – the ultimate content curation software that offers the ability to collect content, add your own annotations, and share it on your website.

Final Comments

Are you ready to get started after reading this content curation 101 guide? This has been focused mostly on the beginning curator, so you might feel like it’s not enough. If that’s the case, I recommend you use Twitter lists, Feedly, or another tool to track what some of the curation leaders are saying about the process.

If you’re just getting started with content curation for the very first time, did you find this guide helpful? What did you like, and what was missing? Leave a comment with your opinion!