Or: A Day in the Life of a Content Curator
The idea for this post started out as a list for all the great content tools out there to help you find the stuff that you – a content curator – should be curating.
It started that way. But in a matter of minutes, I’d already dug up a list about 100 long. It was obvious this list wasn’t going to actually ever be read by anyone.
Many people claiming to be a curator, seem to think of their job as simply throwing huge lists your way. Big, unmanageable, indigestible lists… But since the whole point of content curation is to actually make people’s lives easier, to make some sense out of all the noise out there, these lists sometimes defeat the purpose, when done badly. They are simply laziness.
What I decided would be more useful is to highlight how I actually find the stuff I curate, and share that very specific, limited process with you. As a result, hopefully I’d give something tangible to chew on.
1. You do need tools, but you don’t need all the tools
As I continue this journey to figure out the best practices of content curation, I’ve stumbled across dozens of useful tools to dig up material seemingly relevant to my readers. I am sure a lot of them are great, and just as many are terrible. Unfortunately, the day is only 24 hours long, and I can’t simply spend it clicking tabs and bookmarks to all these services, hoping they’ll serve me something new.
My job after all is not just about re-sharing links. It’s about putting them together meaningfully. So even though there’s a million ways to find content and even more actual good pieces of content out there, it’s meaningless unless I actually carve out some time to make sense of it all, like I am doing right now.
So, what I suggest is you find a few services that seem to do the job, and stick with those. If they aren’t working for you, switch it up, tweak the settings, keep at it. But I highly doubt you’ll have any issues finding content. The tools are all very similar, many of them free, and they’ll all do an admirable job of what they’re supposed to do.
Personally, I rely on a few things for discovery. I have TweetDeck set up with curated twitter lists of the influencers in any given topic, for instance, this list of CMO’s for out CMOhub. And I have narrowed that one down even further by filtering for engagement – I only want to see the stuff getting retweeted.
I also have the same filters set up on key hastags, like #iOT for our hub all about marketing in the age of the internet of things, as well as this hub, our content curation best practices collection.
Finally, I’ve landed on a few good aggregation services that I have been going back to regularly. These are free and easy and serve up tons of stuff I am not finding on TweetDeck: BuzzSumo, Feedly, ContentGems. I haven’t yet picked the winner, and eventually I might pick another service. But these are great, for now.
2. Be a journalist, not just a news reader
Part of your job is reading all these articles. But an even more important aspect is to dig deeper, follow hunches, write down angles, and keep track of all these little magical thoughts that bubble up while you’re consuming the primary sources.
I use Evernote for this. Whenever an idea for a story pops up, I’ll give it a tag and start saving those pieces to Evernote. This might be a list of the people in the article, and eventually I’ll interview them to generate some new, fresh content, that you can’t find anywhere else. Or it might be a list of the companies that keep popping up in all the news articles – what are the main players in IOT? And what can I learn by following them directly, that I’d otherwise miss if I was just reading what surfaced on Mashable?
However you choose to order this, the point is to let your mind freely associate new story ideas as you’re exploring the content mountains. It’s this creativity that will inherently bring value to your readers, and it’s exactly what we need to see more of in our content curators. I think it’s probably the only way the pros ever think up something more original than mere list bait.
3. Present it meaningfully, and beautifully
It’s funny, but a majority of the focus of curation tips seems to be about where to find what you are sharing, and very little thought is spent on how to present it in a way that will be more useful to your audience. I think if you’re simply re-tweeting, or rounding up stuff on your WordPress, you’re doing your readers a disservice. Formal elements, and the way content is consumed is equally as important as what is being served up.
The reason is pretty simple, and it goes directly back to the allusion of the art curator. What would be the point of picking the very best paintings and works of art, if your gallery was impossible to walk through, or if the lights were turned off? Similarly, if you’re doing the hard work of curating content, you better make sure you provide your readers an enjoyable, cross-platform, engaging experience. This serves their enjoyment but it also leads to better conversion and higher returns on your efforts, as a marketer. Curation, after all, is often being done by brands and businesses, so it would be a shame to do all that hard work, for it not to pay off.
Obviously, I use Pressly to curate content in beautiful and engaging way. And so do many other major brands and publishers. Once I’ve rounded up my list of good articles to share, I use the boomarklet and then it’s sent right to the hub I want. From there I can customize, feature and edit that article to be even more useful and engaging on my hub.
I hope this snapshot of the day to day life of a curator helped you out. If you have any amazing services that you can’t live without, or any extra pro tips from your experience, please share in the comments.