Anyone can be a content curator — by selectively identifying, organizing and sharing the most relevant content on a specific topic or issue online. Some people choose to do it purely manually by finding relevant content by browsing the web, organizing it with tags and other meta-data, and then sharing through a blog post, email or social media channels. Others cobble together and duck tape various tools like Google Alerts and feed readers to emulate the content curation process. Increasingly, people, particularly those strapped for time, are beginning to use emerging content curation platforms like Curata which can seamlessly and efficiently unify the identification, organization and sharing tasks of content curation.
If you are in the process of deciding which content curation platform to employ, here are 14 must haves that you should look at before making a decision.
Identifying Relevant Content
1. Content Collection – Does the content curation platform have the ability automatically collect online content relevant to your topic or issue? This is an absolute must-have and a major time saver. Rather than you having to scour the web for relevant content, a good content curation platform will find that content for you, possibly saving you hours everyday.
2. Diverse Sources and Content Types – Does the content curation platform allow you to curate content from the sources and content types that are most relevant to you? If you are a consumer brand interested in curating User Generated Content (UGC), you may require a content curation platform that enables you to curate videos and picture content. If you are more of a B2B brand, software that can procure and process text content is likely more relevant. Content types also very by industry. For example for companies in medical fields the ability to source scientific journals may be important.
3. Persistence – Does the content curation platform continually find relevant content, not just once, but every day or hour, as and when its updated? Instead of you having to continuously monitor key sources for new updates and content, a content curation platform should continually find content when it is published. This is something that is otherwise tedious to do manually, and there’s no reason a content curation platform should not automate this.
4. Ability to Add Additional Content – Even if the content curation software you choose helps you gather content from around the web, you will still find additional pieces of content that it missed. In these cases, you will need the ability to manually add other pieces of third party content to your collection.
Organizing the Curated Content
5. Intelligence – Does the content curation platform learn based on your work and improve over time? Let’s say you curate 10 pieces of content every week day for a year for 20 minutes a day. In one year, you would have curated 5,200 articles and 43 hours (more than 1 work week) on the content curation platform. That is a lot of time, and a lot of data and feedback that you are providing on your curation preferences. An intelligent content curation platform will use that data to “learn” your preferences and better automate parts of the curation process, reducing your time spent on a daily basis.
6. Tag / Categorize – At first, simply publishing your curated content in a reverse chronologically ordered list or feed may work, but as your collection grows to hundreds or thousands of items, sorting through an endless list does not scale. Instead you will want to categorize and tag content so that your audience can navigate through these facets. A good content curation tool will help you tag and categorize your content, even as your collection grows and grows.
7. Workflow and Editorial Control – The real value of curation is the ability for editors and curators to selectively choose what should be published as well as how it is displayed. Without the selective and explicit judgement of an expert human curator, you will be just left with aggregation. Many feed aggregator plugins often get confused with curation tools, but miss out on this “must have” and are they are not curation tools.
8. Archiving & Indexing – Through archiving and indexing, you can over time built a vast rich repository of relevant topic specific content. By archiving your old content, you can make it accessible for readers at a later time, increasing the shelf-life of your content and making it evergreen. By offering the ability to quickly search over thousands of archived articles on your topic, you can not only become the online newspaper or trade publication of your topic, but you can also become the Google or Library of Congress of your topic as well.
Sharing Your Curated Content
9. Share on Different Channels – Everyone consumes digital content a little differently. When some people wake up in the morning, the first thing place they go online is their inbox, for others its their browser homepage, for some its their feed reader, and for others its a social media site like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn — and that’s okay. As a content curator, you have to ensure that your content is delivered to all these channels so you are not missing out on anyone. Rather than you manually syndicating content to these venues, your content curation tools should support you in doing so.
10. Interact – After you have shared your content, a good content curation tool will support the means to kickstart a community around the content. With community comes the ability to interact with the content, either by allowing the audience to comment on the content, perhaps “like” or rate the best content, or syndicate the content to social media channels where your audience is most likely to interact.
11. Create and Comment – An important aspect of content curation that many forget is the ability to annotate and embellish curated content, either by commenting on curated content, or by creating their own original content alongside the third-party content. If your curation tool does not have this, you will be severely limited in how you build a narrative around your curated content.
12. Measure – Does the platform allow you to measure and gain insight into the content you have curated? The content curation platform should provide insights on which content is the best and most popular. You should then be able to use these insights to both procure and produce a more engaging curation experience.
13. Source Attribution – Does the platform attribute sources and only display an excerpt of the curated content, requiring visitors to go back to the original source? Ethical content curation platforms will attribute the source of the original content, drive visitors back to the original source, an reproduce only a small sample of the original content. Unethical content curation platforms scrape and duplicate content in full and often give no credit to the original author. This is bad content curation at best, and aggregation at worst.
14. API – A good, modern content curation will have an API that enables you to export your curated content and do whatever you may want with it. While using an API may require some technical acumen, it opens up many possibilities with what you can do with the content such as creating a mobile application, or exporting it into your existing content management system (CMS).
Content curation is an emerging space and with that comes a wide variety of tools available. Many are true content curation tools — and many are not. Picking the right tool is important, because if you are serious about content curation, then you will be investing a little time everyday with the tool, and a lot of time overall. If you are evaluating content curation tools, you may be interested in a getting a quick demo of Curata, my company’s content curation platform.