Twitter – Curator’s Best Friend

By being a content curator, you are performing a service for your
audience – you sift through the infinite ocean of content and bring the
best to their attention. By helping them you are earning their trust.

But who is helping you? Where do you find that best content?

Millions of people share links on Twitter every day: breaking news
they want their followers to pay attention to, opinion pieces they find
insightful and practical advice they think their followers can benefit
from.

You can use the collective work of all these Twitter users to find
the best content to share with your audience. The stream of tweets fly
by and overwhelm anyone who tries to read them. 64 million tweets are
created daily, and this number from early June is already outdated. How
do you cut through this noise?

The realization of the value of Twitter as a voting and annotation
tool that can be used for web content discovery is not new. Services
like TweetMeme scour Twitter for links and present the most popular
ones on their website. There are two issues that make this approach not
very practical for content curators.

You don’t want to share old news. If you
publish stories that all your readers have already seen, you are not
adding much value. By the time an article is very popular, it’s too
late for you to share it.

You want to share content that is most relevant to your audience and to your chosen topic.
However, the most popular links that rise to the “top of the charts”
are usually general news of broadest appeal – the release of iPhone 4,
the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, etc. If you are curating news
about scuba diving or another narrow topic that is important to a
smaller well defined audience, but not beyond it, they are not going to
climb to the top.

They key is to follow the right people. You don’t want my opinion on
which articles on horse riding you should read today. Trust me, you
really don’t. However, you might want to listen to me when it comes to,
say, computer programming.

Almost every topic has a community of mavens
on Twitter around it – trusted experts on that topic, who seek to pass
knowledge on to others. A lot of stories start in the small group of
mavens before they explode into broader popularity. These mavens know
what is going on in the area of their interest and are likely to be the
first to discover interesting articles.

Here is a story of how one article became popular.

The article Researchers: HFCS is much worse than table sugar
was published in the environmental news magazine Grist earlier this
year. It went to be tweeted almost 400 times and reached a significant
audience. It achieved what Twitter calls resonance. Let’s trace how it
happened.

The author of the article was naturally the first to tweet the link
to it. Shortly after that people in the community of foodies noticed
the article and started tweeting it.
Here is one of the first tweets:

Who is Kim Severson? She is a food writer at The New York Times and a published author of a book about chefs.

Ruth Reichl, a former editor of Gourmet and a food writer, noticed Kim Severson’s tweet and added her own:

Soon, additional foodies noticed and retweeted. Some just pointed to
the article. Others editorialized and added their comments. Here are
some of these early tweets:

From there, more and more people who followed these foodies became aware of the article.

What can we learn from this story?

Find who are the mavens on the topic you are curating. Follow them
and watch what articles are becoming popular among them. This content
is not only “safe” to share, because it’s “vetted” by the mavens, but
it’s the most “share-worthy” content. So by sharing it, you associate
with the buzz of what the mavens find relevant, and thus really add
incredible value to your audience.

This  is a guest post by Eugene Mandel.  Eugene is a co-founder of MustExist – a social content curation startup based in Silicon Valley. He tweets at @eugmandel.