Content curation is a popular topic on the web. If you do a search, you’ll find that there are dozens of tools that can be used to pursue this activity, which helps speed up your content production, makes your content more relevant to your target audiences, and expands the reach of your content and brand.
The basic idea? Don’t just create original content. Rather, find existing content that’s relevant to your audience and repost it to an online property you own (e.g., a social media profile, a microsite, a blog).
By providing useful content to your audience, you’ll prove your value to them. You’ll also get the inbound benefit of owning properties that feature content laden with keywords you want to rank for and that link to other sites that have something to say about the topics. Lastly, content curation is an easy way to interject yourself into existing online conversations, potentially expanding your reach by connecting with related audiences.
Where Content Curation Is Used
Naturally, one of the areas where content curation excels is on social media. After all, the two main principles behind content curation — selection and sharing — are at the heart of social media. Many content curation tools, then, are geared toward social media content. They are typically designed either to help you monitor one’s social universe (HootSuite, Buffer, Sprout) or deepen your engagement with your social media audience through digital magazines (Flipboard), “bundles” (Bundlr), “flows” (iFlow), or even “traps” (Trap!t).
While these content curation tools are useful for streamlining social media publishing, they have tangential usefulness when it comes to what has become a core B2B marketing function: blogging.
Common wisdom says that blogging should happen at least once a week to be effective, with blog posts ranging anywhere from 600 to 1,600 words apiece on average. That’s 31,200 – 83,200 words per year.
Writing that much takes a lot of time (or a lot of freelancers, which can get expensive). Content curation tools that are designed for bloggers can help one reduce the time and expense spent on blogging while still allowing one to publish relevant content that will serve all the strategic functions you need a blog to fulfill — namely, juicing website SEO by adding pages, keywords, and links to your site and giving you branded content to share via social media, e-newsletters, etc.
Content Curation for Blogging
Blog articles built through content creation generally take two forms:
- list posts
List posts are a series short digests of articles about a common theme that then link back to those articles. Commentary posts offer commentary on third-party posts and then link to those articles.
Content curation tools can serve two main functions when helping you put together list posts and commentary posts. First, they serve a research function by aggregating content from around the web that you can then select for inclusion in a list post or earmark for commentary. Some tools can also perform the second integrated function — facilitating content production and distribution.
There are a number of platforms out there that can help with blog content curation. Some have even been explicitly built for it. Below are some notes on notable tools for implementing a content curation program to support your blog.
Free Content Curation Tools
If you don’t want to spend any money and just want a tool that is going to help you keep on top of the latest online conversations in your field, a great solution is to start using an RSS reader, most of which are free.
One of the most popular free RSS readers out there is Feedly, an RSS reader that has filled the gap left by the demise of the ubiquitous Google Reader. You can set up Feedly to pull in the latest articles from online publications with RSS feeds or to monitor RSS feeds for keywords so that you know whenever an article with an designated term is published. Using the latter function is a great way to identify publications that you may want to subscribe to.
To recirculate content you’ve identified via Feedly, you’ll need to indulge in some good old-fashioned cut and pasting.
A tool that is similar to an RSS reader but more focused on keywords monitoring is ContentGems. Not only does ContentGems allow you to subscribe to an RSS feed like a traditional RSS reader, but you can also set up your ContentGems account to monitor Twitter and OPML feeds for keywords, grouping keywords into segments called “interests.”
When you identify articles or tweets relevant to your audience, you can curate, comment on, and then publish directly through the ContentGems interface. ContentGems only supports publishing to Twitter, RSS, and WordPress blogs, however (although you can also publish to Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn indirectly via ContentGems’s integrations with Buffer and HootSuite). For those who have a blog built in WordPress and are considering a content curation approach, Content Gems may be an ideal tool to start testing the content curation methodology.
While Content Gems features three paid tiers starting at $9/month, it also has a free option that offers core functionality. The free tier includes everything but the RSS publishing features and simply restricts the number of RSS feeds, Twitter accounts, and keywords you can monitor.
Paid Content Curation Platforms
The true leaders in the field, which offer all-in-one platforms that turn content curation into a cross-channel solution for blogging, social publishing, and even apps and custom microsites, are PublishThis and Curata. Their comprehensive solutions streamline the content curation process so that you can research, author, and publish content to various outlets all in one place.
If you have a high content mandate, these tools can speed up content production significantly. Interestingly, both use industrial metaphors to describe their products in their marketing literature. PublishThis promises to “industrialize your content production” and Curata claims to be “the software platform for a predictable supply chain.”
Like ContentGems, PublishThis keeps tabs on content from around the web by monitoring keywords. It boasts a proprietary semantic search algorithm that gives it an edge over competitors in this area.
With this powerful research and monitoring tool at your disposal, you can create list and commentary posts directly within the PublishThis interface. Then, publish instantly to apps, blogs, email newsletters, and social media platforms. PublishThis integrates with many of the other tools that marketers already use to deliver content across these marketing channels, such as blogging platforms WordPress and Drupal, social publishing tools HootSuite and Buffer, and marketing automation platforms HubSpot, Marketo, and Pardot.
If you need a research tool to aggregate the best of what’s being discussed about ubiquitous topics on the web (e.g., video games or crafting) and publish content about those subjects rapidly and aggressively, PublishThis is a useful tool that will allow you to create curated posts in minutes, upping content production significantly.
PublishThis does not publish pricing but subscriptions can range from $1,000 a month to “hundreds of thousands of dollars” (presumably per year), according to co-founder Mark Kumin, making it an enterprise-level solution for brands that have heavy content mandates. To give you an idea, clients include The Boston Globe, Fandango, Paramount Pictures, and magazine publisher Ziff Davis.
To browse a blog managed using PublishThis, check out Gorilla Glue’s “Inspiration.”
While Curata does have a decent number of B2C customers, where it really shines is as a B2B content marketing platform. It’s explicitly lead and revenue focused, featuring a unique reporting suite that, when properly set up, allows you to assign dollar values to your content marketing activities — an incredibly important feature for today’s B2B content marketers.
Curata’s basic functions are similar to PublishThis. You can use it to track relevant topics via keyword monitoring, build posts within the interface, and distribute content to blogs, email newsletters, microsites, and across social media platforms. Curata integrates with WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla! CMSs, as well as marketing automation platforms Eloqua, HubSpot, and Marketo. It has its own social media distribution interface but also integrates with Buffer. Lastly, it notably features an integration with the popular email marketing platform MailChimp.
You can also use Curata to manage a publishing program with multiple roles thanks to its scheduling tools and user profile settings. For B2B marketers who have multiple stakeholders involved in their content marketing (e.g., engineers who must review technical content before it goes live), these features can be crucial for facilitating content production, approval, and distribution.
Like PublishThis, Curata isn’t cheap, but its pricing tiers are more accessible. An Enterprise account (the highest tier) is $999 per month and includes an unlimited number of users and integrations. The Professional tier is $667 per month but forces you to choose just two integrations (e.g., marketing automation and CMS).
A great option for B2B companies with evolved content marketing programs, Curata’s client list includes Dell, Kelly Services, McKesson, and Xerox.
For an example of the sort of microsite you can build with Curata, visit Alcatel-Lucent’s IT Strategist.
Parting Thoughts on Content Curation
Even if content marketing adoption statistics have dipped slightly in recent memory, content marketing is still an important part of the mix for the vast majority of B2B marketers.
Keeping up with the production and distribution demands of a well-executed content marketing program can be grueling. Content curation tools provide solutions for publishing regularly without relying exclusively on original content, saving time and freeing up bandwidth for strategic thinking.
Some of the more advanced content curation tools — PublishThis and Curata — also provide solutions for managing entire publishing programs and better integrating them with other digital marketing functions. Curata also promises to deliver on helping content marketers calculate the ROI of their efforts — something that all B2B content marketers need to consider.
If you have any questions about the tools cited in this article or just want to talk content curation or content marketing, please leave a comment or contact us.