By Heidi Cohen published July 28, 2014

9 Content Curation Ideas for Bulking Up Your Editorial Calendar

person visiting museum2014 is the year of content curation — the most “rad” format of content marketing right now.

While 93 percent of B2B marketers use content marketing, they’re encountering significant challenges when it comes to creating the quality content needed to satisfy prospects and customers, according to Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs 2014 market research. Specifically, they suffer from a lack of adequate time, have trouble producing sufficient amounts of content, and struggle to get budget.

Creating original content on a consistent basis can require a lot of dedicated resources, both human and financial. So what’s a resource-constrained marketer to do?

Incorporate content curation into the content marketing mix! According to 2014 Curata research, curated content should account for one-quarter of the content marketing your business produces.

pie chart-content marketing mix

Appreciate that content curation is NOT free!!! Content curation requires resources — in terms of employees and budget. In fact, CMI is considering adding a role that’s solely focused on curation.

By definition, content curation incorporates original content — not unlike a museum curator would. Often, but not always, this original information comes in the form of commentary; though in some cases curation efforts can be drawn completely from your company’s own original content.

Top content curation ideas

For content curation to be effective and drive measurable content marketing results, it’s best to use a variety of curation techniques.

Here are nine options for filling your editorial calendar with quality curated content.

  1. Share on social media: This is curated content in its starkest form. It simply involves sharing a few words and a relevant link on your favorite social media channel — a technique that is especially popular on Twitter. For example, Christopher S. Penn has shared his top 5 favorite pieces of content on Twitter since 2009, often including one of his own pieces in his list (though not always). In addition, he uses the hashtag #The5 to help his followers find these social content curation efforts.

web page-smiling guy with glasses

  1. Create new content by adding your own commentary to relevant third-party content: This format is what most people think of when they hear the term curated content, and is an easy way to associate your business with news, trends, and smart conversations that are taking place in your industry.

Taking a page from popular sites like BuzzFeed and Upworthy that have perfected this approach (in fact, they have practically built their brands around it), this technique works particularly well when you craft an amazing title to draw people in.

For example, when Upworthy’s Adam Mordecai curated a video on a 17-year-old with a rare form of bone cancer, he recast the title from My Last Days: Zach Sobiech to This Amazing Kid Got To Enjoy 19 Awesome Years On This Planet. What He Left Behind Is Wondtacular. With the attention-grabbing new title, Upworthy helped the video attract 17 million viewers, reach the #1 spot on iTunes, and raise $750,000 for cancer research.

young man with arms raised-upworthy

  1. Ask experts to contribute to a round-up post or panel discussion: Ask a group of people for their answers to one specific question. Generally, this content is entirely original, in that the responses have not been published elsewhere.

It’s a personal content curation favorite of mine. In fact, I used it to see how 21 experts defined content marketing, asking pros like Lee Odden, Joe Pulizzi, and David Meerman Scott to share their thoughts. As the curator, I crafted the question, and added an original introduction and conclusion.

excerpt-cohen-roundup post

  1. Aggregate curated lists: Lists are a very specific content format; for a list to qualify as content curation, it must collect information from a variety of sources.

Further, the curator must add value to the information by categorizing it and adding commentary where appropriate. This form of curation is great for attracting social media shares.

For example, Jonathon Colman built an epic list of content strategy resources. Like many curated lists, it’s attracted a ton of social love across platforms.

epic list-post example

  1. Work with others to co-create social content: This is a form of user-generated content (UGC) that removes the risks because you, the curator, are in charge of the content and presentation. 

Ask your target audience — including prospects, customers, influencers, social media followers, and the public — to contribute original material to your content. Add a title and commentary to the input.

Lion Brand Yarn Studio is using this kind of curated content in both its online and offline marketing efforts. For example, take a look at the company’s recent blog post regarding an upcoming event highlighting the creativity of its customers:

woman-white cardigan-lion brand yarn example

  1. Invite your fans and customers to help with community-created social content: Rating sites like TripAdvisor use this model to provide and encourage its community to interact on its platform. Unlike other curated content types, this technique isn’t done when the content is published — it continues to evolve and gather new commentary over time.

Here’s an example of Kuychi Rumi. It includes customer ratings and photos!

customer ratings-photos-kuychi rumi

  1. Rank the best: Think Top-10 lists and the like. This type of content curation is golden because it’s a form of ego-bait — the people included on lists like these are personally driven to tell everyone they know about them! 

This isn’t solely an online phenomenon, either. Billboard has done this for years, updating its technique over time to include social sharing and purchasing. 

billboard list example

  1. Select the best tidbits for your audience: The key to content curation success with this format is knowing what will matter most to your readers. The objective is to save your audience time by choosing the best of what’s available and providing one-stop access to it. 

Who’s Blogging What is a good example of this type of content curation. Jeff Ente cuts through the clutter to deliver must-reads to his audience. 

example-most useful posts

  1. Create a gallery: Don’t limit your content curation to text. Say cheese to creating photo galleries that spotlight your products, customers, or employees — remember, we all want our 15 seconds of fame. You should also think beyond your own publishing platform, and create galleries on your social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram.

Clothing site, Dolls Kill encourages its customers to share their Instagram photos by featuring them on its website:

girl holding cell phone selfie-be a doll

The content curation bottom line

Don’t just publish only one form of curated content! You don’t want your target audience to think your curated content is dull, so mix it up with a combination of the techniques described above.

Remember to allocate adequate resources for your content curation to ensure that your curated information provides value to your readers.

What’s your favorite form of content curation and why?

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.

Cover image by Ryan McGuire-Bells Design, via Gratisography

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.

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  • Kayla Hollatz

    Great article, Heidi! My favorite form of content curation often comes in the form of collecting answers from industry leaders on a broad question. It’s a great way to make connections with others in your field and enlighten your blog audience with outside knowledge from important voices.

    • heidicohen


      I agree! I’m a HUGE fan of roundup posts of various forms.

      I’d like to point out that there’re 2 types of curated roundup posts.
      1] Different input on 1 question-A lot of people get asked 1 question.
      2] Panel discussion-A few get asked 2 or more questions.

      Both are created entirely of original content.

      Happy marketing,
      Heidi Cohen
      Actionable Marketing Guide

      • Elokenz

        Well, in that case the border between creative content and curation becomes almost unclear. I think that by interviewing experts about a topic you are now creating and not curating.

        Well, anyway, thanks for this collection of idea @heidicohen:disqus

        • heidicohen

          Elonkenz —

          To clarify, content curation by definition includes original content. Otherwise you’re just aggregating information.

          Contrary to what many marketers think, content curation and original content overlap. It’s not a blurred area. Some forms of content curation are 100% original content.

          Interviews generally come in 3 flavors :

          1] One-on-one – This is NOT curated content. It is a discussion. This tends to be 100% original content.

          2] Many people get the same one question – This is curated content because diverse points of view are being collected and spotlighted. It tends to be 100% original content.

          3] Panel discussion – A few people are asked the same set of questions. This is curated content because it aggregates different points of view on a specific topic with defined questions. It tends to be 100% original content.

          Happy marketing,
          Heidi Cohen

          • Elokenz

            Thanks for your clarification @heidicohen:disqus , I agree with what you wrote here 🙂

          • Elaine Slatter

            Thanks, Heidi, I like your clarification, that makes sense.

  • Josh Light

    Nice work, Heidi. Two questions really quick:
    1) Which one of these techniques drives the most consistent traffic for you?
    2) Which one of these techniques yields the highest ROI for you?

    • heidicohen


      I recommend using a mix of different content curation techniques. Since in general you need to change up your content offering and provide your audience the 5 basic content formats.

      To determine which of these techniques works best at driving traffic and ROI, you must test the different methods for your platforms.

      Happy marketing,
      Heidi Cohen

  • Wayne

    Awesome article Heidi! Really relevant to our startup ( Some of the things you mentioned above a real food for thought on our product. Would love to chat off line about some of them.

  • Yves Nguyen

    All so true Heidi! Content curation is a very important bottom line. I prefer creating original content, and I definitely agree that creative content falls under content curation.

    • heidicohen


      In my opinion both original content and curated content require the addition of visual content.

      Done well both involve creativity.

      Happy marketing,
      Heidi Cohen

  • Jeffrey Walker

    What’s the current best practice ratio on curated-to-original content? Also, one trick we use at Content Carnivores is to auto-hawk immediate engagement of curated posts to determine which one’s are worth sharing again.

    • heidicohen

      Jeffrey–Curata’s research is 1 to 3 or 1 to 4 depending on how you video syndicated content. Also, remember than curated content can consist of 100% original content. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

  • Rob TheGenie Toth

    Ego-bait tactics are a gem. Put someone on a list. Feature them as a hero. Or even give them a mention. Including a quote or excerpt of what they said. Use them as a “best example” in a comparison. Or interview them yourself if possible…

    Ego-bait never fails and the opportunities for it are endless.

    Send them a Certificate your company created to recognize them for X.
    Send them a weird or unique gift with a thank you card.
    Mention their name in a best of or top 10 type list.
    Use excerpts from their content as a quote or a tie-in with your own content.
    Create your own Hall of Fame type gallery and include them in there.
    Create a bio/profile about them, well researched, attractive graphics and format.

    It’s a tremendous tactic indeed.

    • heidicohen

      Rob–To clarify, while some forms of curated content are egobait, not all curated content is egobait. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

      • Rob TheGenie Toth

        Of course. I was commenting on ego-bait itself though. Curated or other. The tactic has worked well for us for years.