By Heidi Cohen published December 8, 2014

How To Curate Content Like A Pro: 8 Lessons (Examples Included)

curate content imageContent curation taps into the power of existing owned, social, and third-party media to enhance and extend your content marketing resources.

This does NOT mean content curation is free. Rather, it’s more cost-effective than brand-spanking-new content and maximizes the full potential of your existing content.

To ensure we’re on the same page, here’s my definition:

Content curation assembles, selects, categorizes, comments on, and presents the most relevant, highest quality information to meet your audience’s needs on a specific subject.

Curated content is neither an aggregation of existing content nor references or links to supporting information. While content aggregation looks LIKE content curation, it lacks unique commentary.

Content curation adds editorial value through a personal perspective and commentary that integrate your 360-degree brand.

Curated content isn’t just sharing or aggregating other people’s content. Content curation can be totally new, original content that you publish for the first time.

COHEN - Content Curation - Image 1

3 reasons for content curation

Based on research data, the three key reasons to add content curation to your content marketing plans are:

1. Marketers lack content-related resources. Content marketers are constrained by the inability to create sufficient content, people resources, and budget.

2. Customers seek purchase-related information on their own. This often happens before marketers realize the customers are in market. This is true for both B2B and B2C customers.

3. Promotion by itself doesn’t yield great results. You can’t keep promoting your own information and hope to break through the clutter.

8 examples of how to curate like a pro

To help you curate content that breaks through the clutter and supports your business objectives, here are eight examples of content curation selected by attendees of my Content Marketing World workshop.

1. Curate other people’s research

Example: The Ideal Length of Everything Online by Kevan Lee of Buffer

Selected by: Stine Andersen, Brand Movers (Denmark)

Lee creates a great piece of curated content in which he collected the best of other people’s research. He organizes the information to give readers an overview of the most relevant research. Further, as a good content curator, Lee adds extra value to the content by including his own commentary.

Lee offers link love to all sources. He goes one step further to provide a roundup in the form of an infographic.

COHEN - Content Curation - Image 2

Actionable tips:

  • Collect relevant research on a key topic for your readers. Become the go-to expert by sharing other people’s research.
  • Add your own commentary. Don’t just leave the information dangling for your audience to understand.
  • Augment curated content with useful visuals. Lee added an infographic to attract more attention. Consider the array of vehicles you can use such as photographs, videos, and presentations.

2. Spotlight the best images in your niche

Example: World’s Coolest Offices from Inc. curated via Huffington Post

Selected by: Jennifer Ristic of Point To Point

World’s Coolest Offices is a great example of how to curate images and make them your own. Use vibrant and engaging photos to draw in readers. In this case, the images are put together so that readers must keep clicking.

Of further value from a curation point of view is that this article was curated on Huffington Post where it gave full credit for the piece and linked to the original.

In Ristic’s words, “The Huffington Post has mastered the art of content curation as an integral part of providing newsworthy and appealing content at an incredibly fast rate every day. While Huffington Post’s editorial staff generates a large volume of unique content, it curates existing content aligned to human-interest topics.”

Actionable tips:

  • Leverage the power of images. Draw in your audience with images to encourage further engagement.
  • Add a curation section to your ongoing content. Think like a publisher and choose some of the best stuff on the web for your readers.

3. Curate your comment section for new insights

Example: Simon Dumenco’s Six More Media and Marketing Buzzwords That Must Die from Ad Age

Selected by: Kim Adams, Vitamix

Dumenco curates commentary from a previous column of his that received a ton of social shares and comments. He drives new traffic to his older column by referencing and linking to it. He utilizes user-generated content and gives credit where credit is due. It’s an easy-to-read, shareable piece of great content.

Actionable tips:

  • Mine your highly shared and commented posts, talks, and other social media activity for high-quality information in which your target audience is interested.
  • Cross-link to older content. Don’t forget to go back and link to the new column in the original post. This helps your search optimization and keeps your content fresh.

4. Get influencers to help curate epic content

Example: How 10 Winning Salespeople Spend 15 Minutes Before a Sales Call on the Salesforce blog

Selected by: Jennifer Tribe, Auvik Networks Inc.

This is a classic list post that collects input from 10 sales influencers. It’s great content that makes the readers feel like they’re getting the inside scoop from a bunch of pros.

The words “winning salespeople” in the headline add a juicy appeal to the target readership while giving these influencers extra incentive to share the post with their followers.

This is an example of original curated content. Further, apart from the brief introduction and conclusion, this post is 100% contributor written.

Actionable tips:

  • Get the influencers in your niche to help you create curated content. Take a page from Lee Odden’s Epic Curated Content playbook. Set up a theme and ask influencers.
  • Sweat writing an amazing title. Titles count. Make sure your curated content pulls in readers.

5. Make the boring and mundane universal and fun

Example: You may not realize how important trucking is to our daily lives

Selected by: Alison Turner, Ryder System Inc.

This example should be in every content marketing playbook. Heck – it’s on BuzzFeed. It shows how to connect a boring business, namely trucking and transportation, to the average reader.

In Turner’s words, BuzzFeed tells how the trucking and transportation industry impacts the average person’s life in many ways every single day in a digestible, easy-to-understand format. While transportation may not be sexy, it’s a component to nearly every other industry.

Actionable tips:

  • Draw product connections for readers. Don’t assume that your readers have your wealth of knowledge. Make connections simple and obvious.
  • Get your readers to have fun. Not everyone is a stand-up comic. Take a page from BuzzFeed and find amusing GIFs that connect to your products and company. It even uses Tim Gunn from Project Runway.

6. Get your audience involved

Example: 20 Amazing Examples of Brand Content Marketing Hubs from B2B Marketing Insider

Selected by: Erin Winker, Aetna

B2B Insider Michael Brenner encouraged members of his audience to share their favorite brand content marketing hubs. It’s a useful example of content curation. You don’t have to do all of the work yourself. The objective is to extend your relationship with your target audience.

Actionable tip:

  • Ask your audience directly for input. Brenner made it easy for members of his audience to participate. They just needed to supply the names. Basically, he outsourced the research phase of his content.
  • Make it easy for people to participate. Understand that under 10% of your audience will contribute to your efforts. Streamline the work involved to increase involvement.

7. Create a regular curation column

Example: Unverified Voracity Says Let’s Win Football on MGoBlog

Selected by: T.J. Basalla, HP

MGoBlog, one of the most successful and funniest college football blogs, posts a regular feature called Unverified Voracity. Curated content makes for a useful way to build your thought leadership in a specific niche.

Like any good piece of curated content, Unverified Voracity is more than just a collection of links on college football. MGoBlog proprietor Brian Cook adds strong doses of his unique humor and commentary.

Actionable tip:

  • Be the tastemaker in your niche. Comment on the news in your category. Take a tip from Cook: Add some humor and personality.
  • Gather and organize the information. Curation is more than just a dump of links. Add value for your audience.

8. Gather other people’s ideas

Example: 5 Amazing Things I Learned at #CMWorld That You Can Use in Your Content Marketing Efforts on The Connecticut Innovations Blog

Selected by: Brandon Gearing, Connecticut Innovations

This curated roundup should be a staple of every conference producer and attendee. It’s a great way to show your love for the people who presented.

Where possible, get a photo of the presenter or some special commentary that everyone else isn’t already sharing on Twitter.

Actionable tip:

  • Extend the reach of live events with post-event wrap-ups. Curate the highlights or data from a conference or presentation. Of course, it’s critical to add your own commentary so that you’re not just copying other people’s content.
  • Add context for your target audience. This is a key aspect of content curation that many marketers miss. You must answer: “Why is this content important for me?”

Bottom line

Content curation done well extends the life of your existing content and enables you to add commentary and context to other people’s content.

Take these eight content curation lessons and add a unique piece of content for each to your ongoing content marketing plans by involving influencers and your audience.

The best part about these eight content curation lessons is that they can be used by any type of business, B2B or B2C, sexy or boring.

What other ways have you used content curation in your content marketing mix?

Looking for more insights on content curation and other powerful content marketing tactics? Check out our guide to Building the Perfect Content Marketing Mix: Execution Tactics.

Image courtesy of Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Author: Heidi Cohen

Heidi Cohen is an actionable marketing expert. As president of Riverside Marketing Strategies, Heidi works with online media companies and e-tailers to increase profitability with innovative marketing programs based on solid analytics. During the course of 20 years, Heidi has obtained deep experience in direct and digital marketing across a broad array of products including soft goods, financial services, entertainment, media entities and crafts-oriented goods. Heidi shares her actionable marketing insights on her blog. Find Heidi Cohen online at Twitter @heidicohen, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Other posts by Heidi Cohen

Join Over 170,000 of your Peers!

Get daily articles and news delivered to your email inbox and get CMI’s exclusive e-book Get Inspired: 75 (More) Content Marketing Examples FREE!

  • http://marketingautomation.company/ Manni

    Hi Heidi

    Thanks a lot for showing the perfect line between curation and creation.

    • heidicohen

      Manni – Understand that content curation can be totally original content. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

  • http://workado.com Sandy Mallach

    A perfect combination of what’s out there and what YOU have to say about it, and even bringing new relevance or insight on something that we may not have caught or considered. I like the first example of the curated content you gave. Nice.

    Sandy @ WorkadoApp

    • heidicohen

      Sandy –

      Content curation always requires adding context and commentary. The true power of content curation is the metadata than you add to your own content to extend its life.

      Happy marketing,
      Heidi Cohen

  • Shai Geoola

    What an amazing piece, thanks for sharing and providing examples Heidi! This is something we can start implementing right away! Cheers

    • heidicohen

      Shai —

      The important take away from these examples is that you have multiple options for curating content to achieve your business goals.

      Make sure that you give attribution where appropriate.

      Happy marketing,
      Heidi Cohen

      • Shai Geoola

        Absolutely, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

        Cheers

  • heidicohen

    Big tip of my hat to my Content Marketing World workshop participants for contributing content curation examples to this piece!!!

    Happy marketing,
    Heidi Cohen

  • Michael Gerard

    Very informative post Heidi!. . And I like the “actionable tips”.

    As great as someone’s original, created content may be, readers want other opinions and perspectives; and if you can bring it to them through curated content, then you’ve increased your value add. That said, it’s always good to shoot for a mix of 65% created, 25% curated and <10% syndicated content.

    • heidicohen

      Michael–

      I agree that curated content enables you to extend your reach by adding value to other people’s content. BUT appreciate that you can curate original content as well as existing content.

      Happy marketing,
      Heidi Cohen

  • http://www.rangoutlet.com Hemant Khatri

    This is great and very informative article. I also like “actionable tips”. Thanks for sharing with us, Heidi!!!

    • heidicohen

      Hemant–Thank you!!!

      Adding actionable tips is one way to extend other people’s content and make it your own.

      Also, examples by themselves don’t help readers unless you explain how to use the information.

      Happy marketing,
      Heidi Cohen

  • Alex Periera

    Needless to say, excellent article! I have done curation before but the suggestions being given here, seem to take this process to an another level altogether. I especially liked ‘getting influencers to help curate the content’ and also comment curation. Just recently I have started out on my own and planning a blog section in my website tyler-media.com and these tips would go a long way to help me come up with some great and enticing content, since I have no time to create original content.

    • heidicohen

      Alex-

      Thank you.

      Many marketers overlook the real value of content curation. It’s more than just sharing other people’s content.

      Happy marketing,
      Heidi Cohen

  • http://www.BeVisibleAssociates.com Betsy Kent – BeVisible

    Hey Heidi, this is one of the most useful pieces I’ve seen on curated content. Thanks so much for sharing.

    • heidicohen

      Betsy,

      My objective is to provide guidance to enable readers to take their content marketing to the next level.

      Happy marketing,
      Heidi Cohen

  • http://www.cyberink.co.za Andrew Marshall

    Very useful article Heidi! Thank you!

  • Chas S

    Great article! One quick question, what are the legal issues regarding using someone else’s original content on your own site? Is permission required if proper credit and link to the original content is provided?

    Thanks!
    Chas

  • Laura Landoll

    This is a great post; very helpful. I hope you’ll excuse my dumb question here…but I want to take what you’ve shared here and start using it as part of my content marketing efforts. However, my company does not have a presence on LinkedIn nor a blog. Are those the only ways companies are pushing out their curated content? I’m looking into List.ly to help me with curation. Is there a way to incorporate List.ly into our customer emails? Is the answer to my question: get a blog and start a discussion on a LinkedIn group?

    • heidicohen

      Laura–

      Just as any professor or school teacher will tell you that there are no “dumb” questions, there are no shortcuts to content marketing.

      Before you jump in and select a set of content tools, you must create a content marketing strategy that includes content curation.

      My recommendation for a firm just starting out with content marketing, is to determine what your business goals are, who your target audience is and how you’ll measure the results of content marketing back to your objectives.

      Audit the content you already have in-house. Determine what to keep, what to refresh and what to delete. This will help you to know where you need new or more content. It will also help you to curate your own content.

      Then plan your content creation and curation as part of an overall plan.

      Happy marketing,
      Heidi Cohen

      • Laura Landoll

        Heidi,
        Thank you for your counsel and taking time to reply to my post. I’ve shared this insight with my colleagues and we’ll consider curation as part of our strategy. I also need to get started on auditing our content. Thanks again!
        Laura

  • Alex Bashinsky

    Very beneficial post! Thanks a lot.

    • heidicohen

      Alex,

      Glad that you found the article useful.

      What’s important is to integrate content curation into your 2015 content marketing plans.

      Happy marketing,
      Heidi Cohen

  • Spundge

    This is probably one of the best articles that we have read this year. Thanks for writing this.

    • heidicohen

      Spundge–

      Thank you so much!

      I hope that you incorporate the actions into your 2015 content creation and distribution.

      Happy marketing,
      Heidi Cohen

  • Robert Thorpe

    Great to see someone finally lay it out how it is Heidi.

    I totally agree with finding the happy medium between original and curated. You can clearly tell the difference between a passionate original curated list and someone who has just googled ¨Best of¨ etc and compiled it in a list quickly.

    Have a look at Robin Good´s Content Curation page, some great tools on here I am sure you will find useful. contentcuration.zeef.com/robin.good

  • Hooda

    Hi Heidi, thanks for sharing your knowledge! Still not clear on how curation of images works though. Can i take images from anywhere for my site as long as I cite the source? Or do i have to have an agreement with the site i am sourcing the images from?

  • Hooda

    As with your huffpost example http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/01/worlds-coolest-offices-20_n_1930437.html?ir=India
    Do they have an agreement with Inc. ( or every source they curate from) or do they just post /curate from anywhere , images included , and just link to the source.

  • Clara

    Heidi, this is a very helpful list. Curating content is definitely a must. I usually use DrumUp (www.drumup.io) for content curation as well as content scheduling. It might be a good addition to this list as well.

  • Francis

    Hi Heidi,

    I am just starting to create a blog at francisnoces.com (HR and job niche) and reading at your post (have been by the way) it motivates me to do further than the usual. I will definitely dig in, much of my articles/post will be from a curation concept like buzzfeed. One example is this: http://francisnoces.com/social-media-strategy-your-profile-photo-will-affect-your-job-search/ It was curated by dailyinfographics which they curated from avidcarereast.

    My only concern is if I am doing it right. I mean copyright / plagiarism.

    Also, I am doing curated news, regional based.