And 3 good tools to get you on the right track
Post by Nikhil Jain
Target audience: Curators, aggregators, media managers, brands, content creators, publishers, marketing professionals, SEO specialists, PR pros, educators, Web publishers, journalists.
We all know the benefits that come with smart content curation, but how do you do it right?
This article outlines what constitutes effective, smart, ethical content curation — and how that makes good business sense, too.
What is content curation?
In the social media world, it’s no secret that technology is a powerful tool that can boost customer satisfaction, but what about devoting resources to enhance your brand’s online reputation?
That’s where a sound content marketing strategy comes in. Even so, many find it difficult to develop original content on a regular basis. In fact, research shows that producing content to attract the right kind of customers is one of the biggest challenges for content marketers.
Enter content curation. With content curation, one can easily locate, organize, annotate and share the most relevant third-party content for followers and audience alike. Not only can content curation gives content marketers free rein to filter out unnecessary content, it also empowers and engages target audiences.
Consider the difference between piracy and curation
However, all is not rosy in the garden of content curation. There are some doubts as to whether content curation is ethical or not, since lawsuits have been filed and whitepapers have been written to discuss the current state of the law surrounding content curation and aggregation.
There’s a continuum between piracy, where content is copied word for word and rewritten without giving credit to the original publisher, and content curation, which strives to collect relevant content and crediting the original sources. Done properly, content curators carefully select certain parts of the content and highlight them, all the while putting a unique spin to the content by providing original annotations or commentary.
7 steps to ethical content curation with a conscience
Step 1: Vary your sources
It won’t do to directly lift content from a single source. Not only will you bore your audience, but your actions tell people about your brand being a copycat, so don’t.
Step 2: Find the best content
You owe it to your audience to deliver the most relevant content that satisfies their need for the right information. Some content curators may curate for the sole reason of impressing search engines or even to increase thought leadership, but at the end of the day, it all boils down to presenting your followers with the content they seek.
Step 3: Retitle all of your curated posts
You don’t want to plagiarize original sources when you curate, so start with changing the title. That’s not only good practice, it’ll make sure you won’t get dinged by the search engines. Tip: think about other aspects the original publisher may have missed, then incorporate words in the title that draw attention to these aspects so as to appeal to your audience.
Step 4: Give credit where credit is due
Make sure you cite and link to the original source where you curate from, and not just another curator. Do your homework and find out who was the original publisher, then properly credit the source.
Not only will you curate better, but the resulting outbound linking also improves SEO, giving your site a nice little boost and telling others just how credible of an information source you are.
Step 5: Say NO to ‘no-follow’ links
If you have “no-follow” links turned on, then you’re depriving your sources of the credit they deserve. “No-follow” links generally make search engines blind to the original source of your curated content, thus depriving them of the much-needed SEO goodness that they deserve.
Step 6: Understand what you’re curating
With so many content curation and aggregation tools available these days, automatic content curation or aggregation is fast becoming the norm. However, issues remain. This was highlighted by Robert A. Geller, president at Fusion PR, who became suspicious and tired of automatically generated newsletters making the rounds on social media networking sites like Twitter. He discovered that some curators are in the habit of merely aggregating content based on keyword results, and that they “had no idea who I was or what my content was about.”
Needless to say, this should not happen at all in ethical content curation. Know your stuff, then curate it so that you’ll be able to deliver the best and most relevant information to your audience.
Step 7: Curate photos in a smart way
Like the image on your original news source? Well, don’t go ahead and reproduce it at full size. Instead, use thumbnails or source your own images under a Creative Commons license, either under Flickr or various other sources.
Tip: Rename it so that the image’s alt text fit the description. This allows search engines to recognize the images (they can’t actually “see” an image so they need signals to recognize it via title or alt text) and rank it accordingly, thus providing a little ranking boost for your content.
Bonus: 3 best tools to get you started right with content curation
Probably one of the best content curation tools these days, Storify is being widely used by curators everywhere — even big brands like Al Jazeera, Cisco and Washington Post swear by it. With Storify, you can build a multimedia-rich timeline and fill it up with breaking news, tweets, posts, photos and videos of your desired content. The way you present curated content is highly customizable, especially if you choose the Storify VIP subscription.
Scoop.it lets pretty much anyone become their own newspaper publisher. Don’t like what you see online? Well, go ahead and publish your new media-rich news source! All you need to do is make use of their Bookmarklet that lets you “scoop” relevant content, then add your own annotations to make it unique and appealing!
Considered one of the most popular curation tools online, Bundlr lets you compile your own collection of content and present it in an aesthetically pleasing manner. After embedding it pretty much anywhere you want, your followers can view this content (and any changes that occur) in real time.
Content curation is being heralded as the next big thing. However, we’re still a long way from ensuring that all content curation practices are ethical. So it’s up to curators, aggregators, media, brands, content creators, publishers and everyone else in the supply chain to think hard and implement safeguards to make sure it’s done right at your brand. Over time, that will enhance the reputation of content curation as an effective tool for brand marketers.