April 27, 2012

Take charge of the curation wave with these slick tools

A Twitter best practices page on Scoop.it curated by Debra Askanase.

Why Scoop.it, Bundlr, Pearltrees, Storify & Pinterest should be part of your Web marketing plan

Second of two parts. Also see:
Top tools to help you curate business content

Guest post by Gianluca Fiorelli

Target audience: Businesses, brands, social marketers, SEO marketers, website developers, Web publishers.

gianlucaIn the last couple of years, the tools available to content curators have really taken off on the Web. Some are worthy of the hype and have partly changed the nature of content curation (Pinterest anyone?), and others have a great user base in the content marketing field but are less known to social media or SEO marketers.

Below I’ll list and describe the most interesting ones. It’s a very personal selection, so please add your own favorites in the comments.

Scoop.it: An all-in-one solution for content curation

Scoop.it is probably the best site for content curation right now. Even though it offers several ways to share the content you curate in your Scoop.it magazine on your social sites and to embed on your site, it’s mainly meant to be viewed on the Scoop.it site.

The final product is a magazine, where it’s possible to publish content suggested by the Scoop.it suggestion engine — from the sources you have set up, from its bookmarklet, and from the other curators you’re following on the site itself.

The overall quality of the curators present in Scoop.it is quite high, even though you must dig to find the truly remarkable ones. The system suggests users related to your topic. But if you want to explore topics you’re not curating, the Scoop.it search system is not the best one.

Scoop.it offers the opportunity to republish your curated content on your site: via widget, which you can configure as you want, and via RSS feed. If you have a WordPress or Tumblr blog, you can connect it with your topic page and republish your curated content there.

Scoop.it is a freemium product, and the free subscription is powerful enough for your typical content curation needs. But if you want to use your brand, your own domain/subdomain and have analytics (and connect your magazine to Google Analytics), then you need to subscribe to the Business plan.

For more insights about Scoop.it, read this post, which Gabriella Sannino published on Search Engine Journal, or this great guide by Chris Dyson on his blog.

Bundlr: Clip & save text clips, images, video and more

Bundlr is a “clipper site.” Think of it as Pinterest but not limited to just images and videos. In fact, with it you can clip and save in your bundles practically everything you find relevant online: text clips, images, video, code snippets and more.

Bundlr, as with any curation content tool, lets you share on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google Plus what you have clipped, and it lets you add your note about the clip. This is especially interesting for social content curation. Moreover, the page can be curated by more than one curator or can be kept private if you are curating a topic for internal use only (both available in the pro version only).

Bundlr lets you embed your topic page in your own site, too. The embed will get updated as constantly as you continue to clip new relevant quotes and images about your selected topic. Another way to embed a page in your site is via RSS.

Alternatives to Bundlr include:

  • Snip.it is in beta and very Facebook oriented.
  • Bagtheweb.com is a mix between Scoop.it and a clipper site. Its most interesting functionality is that you can create a network of “bags” to create a deeper curated content experience about a topic and its subtopics.
  • Clipboard offers the opportunity to embed (or share on social networks or with a link) just one clip. For instance, click this link.
  • (Oh, yes) Pinterest.

Storify: Curate coverage while adding commentary

Storify fulfills perfectly the “chronology” concept of content curation. With it, it’s possible to narrate a story aggregating the best content about the same topic from different sources, while commenting on it and offering your own vision about the event presented, as this Storify by Charles Arthur about sexism in the web marketing industry nicely displays.

For this reason, it is now widely used especially by journalists, but also by tweeps and bloggers who write about current news. If you haven’t checked it out yet, I really suggest you give it a tryout.

The list of sources Storify lets you build your story from is impressive:

  • Storify itself
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • YouTube
  • Flickr
  • Instagram
  • Disqus
  • Tumblr
  • SoundCloud

You can also grab content from StockTwits, GetGlue, Chute and BreakingNews. Finally, the opportunity to search on Google and embed URLs you may have saved in your favorites or from your RSS reader makes Storify’s potential even grander.

Obviously, the stories you create can be exported easily to your WordPress site (both .com and .org), Tumblr and Posterous. You can also mail your stories directly to the subscribers of your newsletter if you are using MailChimp. Finally, you can share your story on Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus via social buttons.

Be aware that while Storify is easy to use, it’s not that easy to create a story that grabs your readers. This post by Dave Copeland, Do’s and Don’t For Using Storify, describes perfectly how to create a story that won’t leave your readers indifferent.

Pearltrees: Compelling visual and social components

Pearltrees is one of the content curation sites on the rise among content marketers. At first glance, it’s not that different from any other social bookmarking site:

  • You have a browser app that lets you “pearl” the page you’re visiting.
  • You can connect your Twitter and Facebook accounts to your Pearltrees account.
  • You can import the links you may have saved in Delicious.

What makes Pearltrees unique is its visual and social nature. It lets you organize your interests into pearls (let’s say “topic”) and Pearltrees, which amount to folders where you can add the pages you pearled in a branch. On the social front, any other curator expert in your topic may ask to team up with you (and vice versa).

The social nature of the site is not limited to the cooperation between curators though. As soon as you create your pearls, the system will start presenting you related pearls, which can be added to yours in toto or just the branch you are most interested in. For instance, in a pearl I created about SEO, I added the one about Python, a topic that interests me, but I am not absolutely an expert of; hence it is better for me to rely to the deeper knowledge of another curator.

Finally, as any content curation site, it is possible to share your pearls externally (Twitter, Facebook, email — or embed them in your site. But you can also share pearls internally to, say, your curation team and those who picked a pearl from you in the past. An interesting function is the ability to export all the links present in your categorized pearls in an RDF file, which can be easily opened with Excel.

Why do I need to curate content?

There are at least six reasons for considering content curation as a tactic in your Web marketing plan.

1To conquer the Long Tail. From a strict SEO point of view, to have a section of your own site dedicated to the curation of the best content related to your market, or to dedicate a section of your blog to it, is a powerful way to enhance the Long Tail reach of your site.

You need to follow the principles of content curation — discover, add value commenting and providing perspective, credit the sources — in order to not simply push duplicated content onto your own site. Tools like Scoop.it, with the opportunity they offer to export your curated content feed into your site, make this operation easier.

2To find sources for original content creation. Another second reason is that by curating content you can collect, find and reuse (always crediting the original source) great ideas and information, and then use that in turn to create great original content.

Sure, for some specific topics it may be very hard to find content online, but don’t forget that a world outside the web exists with tons of sources, which can be easily collected and curated, as I explain in this video I shot for Distilled:

3To find great contacts for link-building outreach. This is almost a natural effect of content curation. To discover and share only the best content online (and offline) about your niche puts yourself on the radar of the content creators, a fact that can lead you to:

  1. Having them linking to your curated content.
  2. Establishing contact with them and possibly collaborating with them.
  3. Creating the opportunity to create original content with them.

To create original content based on the content you have curated can be an excellent method for obtaining linkbacks from the sources you cite and use.

Also, social content curation is perhaps the best way to fulfill the objective of any RSS (Really Simple Stalking) plan, as it was described by Wil Reynolds at the last LinkLove conference.

4To obtain a great number of social signals for your site or social media profiles. Every well-executed content curation action tends to attract readers and to generate a great amount of social signals (tweets, +1s, likes).

Just take as an example the “anti-Google” posts Aaron Wall writes from time to time on SEObook. They are a classic case of “Elevation Content Curation,” as Aaron in those posts usually drafts a more general trend or insight from a mass of daily musings, which he widely credits with links and citations.

Another example is what Expo Comic Mx did so to obtain better results from its Facebook page: to post a tender photo set featuring a happy Stormtrooper family using the photos of Kristina Alexanderson. That photo – a great example of targeted content curation you can see at right – has obtained more than 13K likes, 756 comments, and was shared more than 7,000 times nowadays.

5For branding, ORM and reference traffic. The explosion of Pinterest, even though now it has evolved into a more complex social marketing tool, is a wonderful example of the benefits of being active and using content curation platforms.

Creating a qualified presence for your brand in those kind of sites, practicing a wise content curation activity, and being participative with other curators has been demonstrated as a relatively easy way to enhance the thought-out knowledge of a brand. It helps in dominating the SERPs for your brand name (which is great if you have Online Reputation Management issues), and it provides a constant flux of organic traffic to your site; traffic that – as happened with Pinterest – can become really big if those curation content sites you are using become widely known to the masses.

Finally, from a strict SEO point of view, the active use of content curation sites helps in making of your site an entity to Google’s eyes, which is now essential in order to gain authority and relevance and not being considered just a minor presence on the Web.

6To become an authority in your industry

Curating the best sources about your industry on your site and using your social media profiles as a medium to share your discoveries can really help you in obtaining the objective of becoming an authority and reference in your industry.

The reason is simple to understand: If you share, comment and credit only the best sources, then people will tend to look at you as an authoritative source of information, and the creators you cite will start desiring to be cited by you.

And we all know what it means to become an authoritative source on Google.

Gianluca Fiorelli loves to be known as father of two wonderful sons and luckily married to a great wife… and professional SEO, who will always consider himself an eternal student. He operates in the Italian and Spanish market with his own SEO consulting agency, and now internationally – offering International SEO Consulting with IloveSEO.net. You can find me on Google+.

Top tools to help you curate business content (Socialmedia.biz)

How to become one of the most respected companies in your industry (Socialmedia.biz)

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