Increasingly, content marketers are employing content curation, the process of finding, organizing and sharing third-party content, as a part of their content marketing efforts. Earlier this year, my company released a survey with over 400 marketers where we found that 95 percent of marketers these days report that they are curating content in some shape or form.
It makes sense that marketers are adding content curation to the content marketing mix. After all, the Content Marketing Institute’s own 2013 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks report found that 64 percent of B2B marketers reported that producing enough content was a challenge.
Picking a topic is step one on your path to successful curation for your organization. For great tips on how to pick the right topic and more, download 5 Simple Steps to Becoming a Content Curation Rockstar.
After you pick a topic to produce content around, one of the most common questions about getting started with content curation is where do you get your content? After all, your curation efforts can only be as good as the source of your content.
Here are 14 third-party sources to consider if you are planning to curate content:
1. News feeds: RSS feeds are one of the primary ways to receive targeted content from a specific publication. If you find that a publication is too broad, then you may be able to find a feed for a particular category or section.
For example, the New York Times covers a wide variety of subjects, which are likely too broad for your needs. However, the Times also has hundreds of specific topic pages on countries, organizations, people, and subjects. You can always sign up for a feed to receive content on just your topics of interest. Similarly for most blogging systems, such as WordPress, each category usually has its own RSS feed containing only the content within that category.
2. Social media: Using social media channels like Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Facebook is a great way to discover content from unknown sources — sometimes before anyone else does. Rather than looking for social media posts themselves, the more interesting content often lies within the content linked from the social media post.
For example, in HootSuite, you can subscribe to a Twitter search for a keyword of interest. Instead of paying attention to the tweets in your stream, keep an eye on articles, videos, and images that are linked from the tweets to uncover breaking content. Often you will find content before Google is able to even index it.
3. Archive databases: There are numerous online databases (depending on your topic area and industry) that warehouse archival content that you can leverage. For example, PubMed, run by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has a large index of medical research literature; Cornell University Library’s arXiv.org is a database of non-peer reviewed research papers from a wide variety of science domains; and the U.S. Patent Office’s website contains a large historical archive of patents. If your audience is technical in nature, you may find value in sourcing historical and current content from such sources.
4. Google Alerts: The catch-all method of finding content online is by using Google Alerts. Though traditionally Google Alerts has been delivered through email only, you can now receive these alerts in an RSS feed that can be consumed in a feed reader. While the volume of content from Google Alerts may be overwhelming, you can always filter down your searches using special modifiers such as “site” to restrict your search to a specific site, or “filetype” to restrict your search to a specific file type, such as PDFs.
5. Google Blog Search: While subscribing to feeds from specific blogs is useful, there will always be interesting content published on blogs you may never have heard of. A specific catch-all way of sourcing content by keywords over the blogosphere is through Google Blog Search. Similar to Google Alerts, this content can be delivered through an RSS feed, which can then be consumed in a feed reader. Another alternative blog search engine worth trying is Ice Rocket. Ice Rocket allows you to target your search based on channel; for example, you can search for content on just Twitter or just Facebook. Another unique feature is the ability to search for “big buzz” content — content that is hot right now.
6. Google News: Similar to Google Blog Search, Google News is a good way to source content from thousands of news outlets. Though the line between a blog and news outlet is blurring these days, all sources on Google News are manually vetted by Google, so you are ensured to receive content from a reputable, non-splog (spam-blog) source.
7. AllTop: A few years ago, former Apple Chief Evangelist, Guy Kawasaki, started a site called AllTop, which consists of a directory of pages that displays walls of curated feeds on hundreds of subtopics. To bootstrap your sourcing process, find a page on AllTop that relates to your topic, find the feeds for each source listed on that page, and add them to your feed reader. To accelerate the process, there are browser plugins that will create OPML files from AllTop pages that you can directly import into a feed reader.
8. Crowdsourcing: Aside from different sites and search engines, you can easily source content from within your organization through crowdsourcing. Earlier this year, Intel launched a curated site that contains content that is crowdsourced from its employees via Twitter.
Here are two quick ways facilitate this:
- Option 1: Set up an email alias (such as email@example.com) and instruct your coworkers to email any interesting articles they find to that alias.
- Option 2: Create a Twitter list of all your trusted workers, then ask them to tweet interesting content they find, along with a specific pre-designated hashtag to help you track the conversation.
On a regular basis, monitor the content that is submitted from your colleagues either in your inbox for the first option, or in your social media tool for option 2, and decide what you want to curate and publish from there.
9. Socially curated sites: Crowdsourcing can extend beyond the walls of your own organization. There are many socially curated sites where thousands of users are constantly finding and sharing interesting content on a specific topic. You can tap into that collective knowledge by finding the right subtopics on such sites and cherry-picking the best content from there.
For example, reddit.com is split into “sub-reddits” designated by an “/r/” in the URL. Find the /r/ that is the most relevant to your topic, and regularly review the best content from there. Similarly, on social bookmarking sites like delicio.us, you can subscribe to feeds for specific tags with which users label their content.
10. Email newsletters: You can also subscribe to email newsletters that cover your industry. IAB’s SmartBrief and FierceMarkets provide industry specific roundup newsletters on a regular basis, and are a good starting point.
11. Forums: Not all of your content has to be articles from sites, blogs, journals, or newsletters. Often there is a lot of interesting content that is surfaced up in forms such as Quora and Google Groups that may be worth curating.
12. Multimedia: Increasingly, curators are incorporating multimedia content in their curation efforts. For video content, you can subscribe to channels in YouTube, or subscribe to feeds from there in an RSS reader. For images, try sourcing content from image repositories, such as Flickr, or Instagram.
13. Feed readers: You may already be sourcing sufficient content in a feed reader, such as Google Reader. Within Google Reader you can also search for additional feeds to follow. This allows you to discover additional content sources you may know about or find other popular terms for the content you’re looking for. Google reader is not only a feed reader; it’s also a recommendation tool for additional content.
14. Your public relations (PR) team: Lastly, unlike the sources above, which are online, there are offline sources that can be useful when curating content. For example, it’s likely that your PR team is performing media monitoring on your behalf, scouring the web every day for discussions about your company, competitors, and overall market. As a curator, you will likely be sourcing content from the same places they are. Ask them for a list of keywords and publications they are researching, and add them to your own list of potential sources of content.
That’s a quick list of some of the best places I have seen curators use to source content. Once you have identified the resources you want to use, the next step is to review the content you find through these sources on a routine basis. You can individually monitor each channel in its own respective environment (e.g., Google Reader for feeds, TweetDeck for tweets, your inbox for email newsletters, etc.) and individually contextualize and share anything worthy with your audience. Or, to make these efforts less cumbersome, you can use specialized content curation tools to bring it all into one place in an easy work flow.
Looking for more guidance on managing content curation or other content marketing processes? Read CMI Books’ “Managing Content Marketing” by Robert Rose and Joe Pulizzi.