social media how toThere’s an obvious catch-22 in social media marketing. In order to grow your audience, you need good content. Good content takes time – to research, write, and promote.

But, without an audience, you can’t justify spending the time. You’re trapped. That is, unless you can short the circuit, and get great content without spending tons of time.

That’s where content curation gives you an edge.  This article will explain the benefits of content curation and review some excellent tools.

What Is Content Curation?

Content curation is the process of reviewing and filtering articles and blog posts from across the web.

It is NOT stealing other people’s blog posts and placing them on your site.

Every time you look at Twitter for interesting links from your network or share an important article on Facebook, you’re curating content. But, a robust curation program is much more than using the serendipity of Twitter to find interesting ideas in social media. It is a systematic way to make sure you keep to your publishing schedule.

burden of content creation

Carrying the burden of content creation? Relieve it through curation.

Content curation helps shift the burden of blogging, and even tweeting, to someone else. Once you have access to a great piece of content from another blogger, it becomes easy to write a quick opinion of your own.  Now you have a new blog post of original content, built on top of big ideas that will be interesting to your audience.

The most basic form of content curation is the retweet. You don’t have to come up with every pithy tweet on your own. By selectively retweeting important news from other people, you’re curating a stream of information that’s branded as your own, but built on the ideas from the community of people you follow.

Content curation won’t completely alleviate the need to blog or tweet from scratch, but it can help fill in the gaps to make the content production process smoother and keep you on a regular publishing schedule.

Here are five ways that curation helps you create more content in less time:

#1: Curation Allows You To Easily Do “Roundups” And “Recaps”

Often, synthesizing information is the most useful thing you can do for an audience. Pulling together many different opinions about a news item is a useful way to quickly build on what others have done.

#2: Curation Promotes The Insightful Gems

When used correctly, curation tools allow you to percolate the best ideas quickly. Then, you can reference these pearls in your own writing.

#3: Curating Content Keeps You In-The-Know

The more you train yourself to use filtered and prioritized resources, the quicker you become at forming your own robust insights. That means you can share your own thoughts faster.

#4: Curation Gets Your Voice Out There Fast

Speed has its own momentum. Being an early voice on developing news can build into higher search results and follow-up posts.

#5: Curation Allows You To Share The Love

When you reference someone else’s content, you’ll credit them, driving traffic back to the original source material. Promoting other people’s great work is the best way to make the people you respect into your newest fans.

Curating content is part art and part science. The art is weaving together existing content from others in ways that add value. The science includes knowing how to use the proliferating toolset of social media curation in a way that actually saves time.

3 Great Content Curation Tools

Let’s discuss three tools that can help with the science part, and how to get blog posts, tweets, status updates and more out of curated information.

cadmusCadmus shows you the most important tweets from your network. It analyzes the popularity of tweets within your network and surfaces the most important ones to the top of the queue. Cadmus reviews the tweets of everyone you follow and ranks them based on a number of criteria, including total retweets, retweets from within your network, which tweets you engage with (by reading them, via @reply, etc.) and much more. It updates every time you log in. So, if you log in once per day, you have an automatically curated feed of the most important information on your personal Twitter network.

Cadmus shows the most important tweets from your network. Also note the personal Trending Topics.

Hopefully, it’s obvious how Cadmus helps you curate. By surfacing the biggest and most important stories in your network, Cadmus hands you important news stories in real time. And, the great thing is that this is a fully automated system – all you need to do is log in and the cream immediately rises to the surface. Cadmus is a critical tool to filter what’s important on Twitter.

postrankPostRank monitors RSS feeds and tracks all of the engagement that happens on the blogs you care about. It tracks comments, tweets, social bookmarks like Delicious, and social sharing sites like Digg and Reddit for every individual blog post. Then they aggregate that information into a single engagement score. Their proprietary engagement score shows how engaging a blog post is across the entire social web.

Here, PostRank shows the most popular blogs and posts about social media in the past hour. You can create your own topic list or follow lists already created.

Once you know how engaging the content is from a variety of sources, you can filter out the noise and focus on just the strongest posts. PostRank allows you to filter blogs by only the most popular and engaging posts. That means you can monitor many more blogs and get higher-quality information from them quickly.

By filtering your blog subscriptions through PostRank, then incorporating the filtered feeds into your RSS reader, you get much more impact from the limited time you have to monitor blogs. And understanding what’s popular and engaging naturally allows you to create content around the same topics easily.

pipesYahoo Pipes is the ultimate in machine curation.  Pipes is an incredibly flexible tool that allows you to filter and sort RSS feeds in any number of ways. Pipes reads RSS feeds and filters them based on your criteria. Maybe you want a custom RSS feed that only pulls blog posts about Lady Gaga from the top 50 knitting blogs. You can build that in Pipes.

A sample Pipe that filters certain blogs for posts related to SEO, then exports in date order.

Some examples of filter options include:

  • Include or exclude certain keywords, phrases or tags
  • Mashup data from different sources (e.g., finding Flickr photos based on map locations referenced in New York Times articles)
  • Find blog posts and tweets from specific locations
  • Create a stream of Twitter updates that automatically retweets with certain criteria, with a custom message from you on each one

That just scratches the surface of what Pipes can do. And the great news is that you can clone existing Pipes that have been shared by others, so you can get started without a strong technical background.

Closing Thoughts

There are lots of ways to get inspired to blog regularly. But, content curation supports all of them and makes all of your content production more efficient.

Setting up content curation tools does take a bit of work. But the payoff is large and long-lasting. It’s much easier to create new content when the most important information is being surfaced to you automatically.

Curation also allows you to make social media part of your daily routine without drowning in Justin Bieber references. In short, curation tools help you make better content in less time. You can’t afford not to use them.

What are your thoughts on content curation?  Have you used these methods with any success? Leave your comments in the box below.

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  • Good read, but I think your initial justification of it being a catch-22 isn’t completely accurate. I personally have a small to null audience and I can still justify the time writing and researching to create content. I can understand that having a smaller audience, you feel that your content isn’t going to have a large reach, but if you truly want your blog/company to take off you will need to write that content anyways.

    I think content curation is a good idea, if you are smart about it you can kill two birds with one stone and make it good for SEO at the same time. It’s a great way to continue producing content for your readers when you don’t have a ton of time, a small blog and a very busy week outside of the blog life, since I assume many start like me with a day job.

    I haven’t utilized it enough on my blog, but I do plan to in the future, blended with content solely created by us, it’s a good mix to keep people interested.

  • mcrumph

    It is thoughts such as this that result in my finding only one original posting out of the hundreds of websites I look at. It seems people either don’t have any original ideas themselves or simply don’t have the desire to think hard enough to flush them out, actually write about them in a coherent manner, so they look around for something that will do and then post it.

  • @mcrumph, like everything else, curation can be done badly. If you are simply reposting things and incerase the clutter and the noise, you are not helping anyone, and this kind of curation will not help you.

    I agree with Jamie’s point “synthesizing information is the most useful thing you can do for an audience”. By doing this the curator provides a service for her audience – she spares them the effort of going through the heap of content themselves.

    Roundups and link-blogging are not new, but lately more people started noticing that they are a useful tool.

    Jamie, thanks for the thoughtful post!

  • Jamie!!! What an awesome article – I LOVE discovering new tools!! I’m off to check out Cadmus and had heard of PostRank but yet to dive in. Two thumbs up, my friend!!! 🙂

  • Content isn’t just for blogs though; we need to keep producing quality content for our social networks like Twitter, Facebook profile, Facebook fan page, LinkedIn, etc. And, IMHO, this is where curating OPC (other people’s content) comes into its own. Having tools to assist with this curation is a godsend!! 🙂

  • The Catch-22 is this: if you look at all of the ways you can spend marketing dollars and time, it’s tough to make a business case for spending hours each week to reach a small audience, when you could do something that is “lowest common denominator.” It’s tough to justify the time it takes to produce quality, useful information to the C-suite.

  • Believe me, I have the same frustration. But, I think that we are in the minority in that we review hundreds of websites in the first place. Most web users have their favorite sites, and trust the information they get from those sites.

    I am not saying that you should just republish the “same old stuff” – you still have to find your own unique perspective on the information.

  • Thanks, Eugene – my point exactly!

  • Glad you enjoyed it, Mari.

  • Great points, maybe I am just bias because I am a small time blogger and 90% of the content I write are blog posts for a small personal blog I am looking to market, as opposed to a large company that can’t always justify spending the time for little results.

  • Topsy is my go-to tool for this. For, we cover what’s hot on GitHub by tracking it on Topsy: Of course, it also lets us see who’s retweeting our content: .

    Topsy even peers behind shortened URLs like our own

  • I’m a big fan of PostRank and have written about them in the past, we are going to see a lot more from these guys soon. Insider tip: PostRank labs ( ) has some awesome tools including a browser extension that will show engagement rankings within Google Reader.

  • I like Topsy for searching the zeitgeist – thanks for the tool recommendation for everyone.

  • Yes, Carol and team are doing amazing things at PostRank. Thanks for the Labs tip – there’s a lot to mine in PostRank, and this just scratches the surface.

  • Paulathomas

    This is a whole new concept for me, so you’ve saved me lots of time and stress by all accounts.. am off now to check out the tools.

    Does anyone know the best way to link to content behind a paywall? I ended up buying access to the article in question for the day – it featured me and my company – I then added the PDF to my blog. Is that acceptable? Appreciate any guidance on it as it was the first time I had to figure it out…

  • nathanofsm

    Great article, thanks. i suppose i have always done content curation but hadn’t though of it in this way. clever. thanks

  • Thank you for these links, i have never heard of them and look forward to seeing how they work.

  • What a great article, thank you for introducing me to these tools.

  • Jamie – thanks for giving us “permission” to use other people’s thoughts. 🙂 As a writer, I sometimes find myself stuck in my own head – and feeling as if I MUST create all new, relevant content. But with what I need to accomplish each day, this just isn’t realistic. Besides, I don’t know everything, and having an expert in something speak to my readers and educate them is a huge bonus all around. So, I will do curation (love having a name that makes sense for this) and then synthesize what I’ve found into the salient points. I then send my readers off to the full post to read if they want. Thank you for the tools recommendations – anything that speeds up this process is much appreciated.

  • Great article – but you missed my favorite one – I use this one several times a day, it has become my first place to visit for conversation (before Twitter and Facebook!).

  • I have been doing content curation without realizing that was what I was doing. I’ve been primarily using Google Reader to look through blogs and articles in my niche and then sharing them on twitter. I appreciate the heads up on other tools I can use and I’m going to give them a try.

    I have learned alot from you and appreciate the great information you have to offer.

  • Jamie,
    Great article. As a Business Consultant I learned a long time ago that restating or rewording or reorganizing information is actually of great benefit to others. Even if I have seen a post several times, it may take seeing it that one last time for something new to sink in and be valuable information for me. Often quoting someone else and then putting our spin on it is exactly what our clients need.

  • I had hear of Yahoo pipes, but the others were new to me. Thanks for the info and the “virtual’ kick in the butt needed for me to implement this into my own projects.

  • avilbeckford

    As I was reading the post I was thinking about other ways the content curation tool could be useful. One of the challenges that bloggers face, is coming up with topics to blog about. If we used the content curation tools, and see what others are blogging about, that could give us ideas on what’s trending and also see what aspects of a topic have not been dealt with yet.

    From reading about Yahoo Pipes, I get the sense that it covers blogs that you do not subscribe to, so you are introduced to potential people to follow and potential guest bloggers.

    I have never heard about content curation tools, and I am glad I was introduced to it today. Avil

  • Hi Jamie,

    I haven’t actually heard of any of these tools before. I really like it when people do recaps on the best stuff they’ve read this week.

    I always find great information that I would have missed otherwise. I love reading how different people react to the same piece of content.

    For me, that’s the most interesting part of sharing the same information.

  • Addoway, Inc

    Love the new tools you recommended. I am going to check out Cadmus right away as it sounds pretty interesting and definitely needed. Thank you. Well written post like usual.

  • Avil, you are so right! There are lots of different uses for content curation. I cataloged a number of them here:

    Curation is going to be an increasingly important function of all social media activity – in fact, the Facebook News Feed is a form of curation.

  • Great business model.

    Effective use of tools and time.

    Nothing wrong with researching a topic and offering the “Best of the Best” to your audience.
    Your added insights lets your audience know that you’ve done your due diligence.

    They want information and results. “Do not look behind that curtain!”

    Thanks for the info!

  • avilbeckford

    Hi Jamie,

    Thank you for the additional information on content curation. I found it helpful.

  • Great tools thanks.
    I agree with Tom
    Being a content curator isn’t (or shouldn’t be) a cop out.. it is a value add service for all your readers who don’t have time to read all the stuff you are reading and filter out the really important need to know bits.
    Thanks for the great tool tips

  • I disagree. Here’s why:

    Content curation is great, but it is not effective for building a following from the ground up. Unless you have already demonstrated expertise in and made somewhat of a splash in X space you wish to curate, your presence will not grow substantially.

    The energy needed for “good”, value-added curation is much better spent building a “content kingdom” (network) and creating one’s own content at the beginning stages of any presence-building effort. Otherwise, no matter how insightful your critique of other people’s content, you have not truly put your own thoughts into the social sphere.

    I know that you most likely feel that you were not recommending curation as a winning content strategy on its own, but the title of your post shouts otherwise.

  • Elkodruthers

    Here’s a unique tool for creating your own news channels:

  • Ian, I actually completely agree with you on the title. The original title of this piece was, “Curated Content: the Secret Weapon to Scaling Your Social Presence.” I didn’t have any say in the final title.

    I would never advocate that curated content be even 50% of a social media presence for a business. On the other hand, there are a number of pop and culture websites that are nothing but curation…see,, and the granddaddy of curated content: They are absolutely perfect at contextualizing for their niches – without creating original content.

  • I definitely like the concept (great term in ‘content curation’…never heard it described as such before) but can understand the frustration of those that constantly see it done badly. To do it well, I’d value these guiding principles:

    1) Careful balance between reliance on outside content with an ongoing commitment to one’s own creative output, so that our audience maintains a direct connection.

    2) Always attempting to ‘add value’ to curated content, for example by adding a brief opinion or question to a RT, or writing a follow-up blog post on the subject of other shared content.

    3) Expressing our own perspective through the content selected for sharing. What we curate should reflect the interests and subjects that we wish to become known for with our audience.

    As others have pointed out above, we need to remain alert to not simply adding to the noise but, instead, offering our audiences a compelling mix of our expertise and the hand-picked content that contextualizes it.

  • Interesting. I have been doing this for some time but never had it articulated like this post.

  • jriano

    This is great. I used google reader to check all the RSS channels I like, but it was time consuming, this tools you mention look like a huge time saver for me. Great article.

  • datematchmade

    I have never heard of these tools that you have mentioned in this article but I am certainly going to check them out. I agree content should be fresh and original to keep the readers enthused about what they are reading. Thanks for this article

  • Rina

    Jamie, thanks for the great ideas. I’m very found of content curation and I do it myself daily, as I’m a web editor. But I do think people are still doing it “wrong” or not doing at all, which can be problem sometimes. I translated the texto to portuguese and published it in my blog so I can give it to other people to read – including some that can take great advantage from your words! Thanks!

  • Thanks for that Jamie, I will definitely be following this up. As a visual artist who needs to spend most of her time creating art as well as holding down a part time job, anything that saves me time with my online stuff is greatly appreciated!

  • Good stuff yo. I was only posting content on my site that I’ve created. This was working out great, except it took me a couple of days to formulate and create killer content. I integrated a section where I can post content from other people that is inspiring me (eg: TED talks, others motivation material, interviews). I like this idea because I get to share what I’m most passionate about and people also have something awesome to look at while the pressure slows down for me to produce new content. Thanks for the article.

  • Great post on content curation…and I dont know if anyone commented on your gravatar pic but its awesome….

    Ima have to try these tools..Pipes looks especially interesting…whats that SM mantra? Be useful? Well…this post ought to help. Thnx 🙂

  • sabrina

    As usual great info! Just what I need as a newbie trying to build my blog and following!

  • Jamie, stellar post. I’ve considered myself a content curator for a while now, although I didn’t call it that. Been seeing it pop up as a great term now.

    Also didn’t know about Cadmus.Will check out. I also have a list of 60+ Social Media Monitoring Tools and Platforms that offer Free Trials. Link below.

  • Thanks for the props on the Gravatar pic, but I can take no credit. It all goes to the amazing talent of Check him out!

  • When it comes to writing my own blog, I’ve always struggled with content resources. I never felt I have had enough information from other sites or bloggers to provide broad perspectives. Jamie, how many blogs / articles do you read before you write your own post?

    This is a great article. I will definitely check out those tools you mentioned. I will also shoot you a message on LinkedIn – there’re something I need to ask you.

    Evelyn @evyfindstheway

  • Hi Jamie-
    Thanks for this terrific post! So often I find myself in the position of counselling a client on time management wrt blog posts and have often suggested the approach you’ve detailed so very well here, I hope you don’t mind…this is certainly a post I have to curate!

  • I love the idea of content curation! I have a Twitter account that takes this to a new level. This is combination of feeds of the top news around my local city whether it’s sports, entertainment etc. I have local personal friends who prefer to follow my @SCVBreakingNews account than my real estate social media account. I also love to share other great content in my networks as well to provide a variety. Thanks for the new sites to add to my arsenal. 🙂

  • I found this post through my favorite curator, Jane Friedman, who does a weekly roundup of the best tweets for writers. People RT these a lot on Twitter. Since my blog is focused on memoir (a subset of her niche), I am testing whether to try to learn curating skills with the help of one of the software packages you recommend here. I had only heard of Post Rank before reading this post. My primary concern is that I want to become proficient in social media and offer a service to other writers, but I also want to write myself. I don’t have a day job at the moment, so I am delving more deeply into social media. But becoming a curator seems like a big commitment. I was able to start and keep up a modest blog (208 original posts, 40,000 hits total over 2 years) while holding an executive position, so I have stamina and love to learn. But I don’t know if I should start something that seems this big while I’m in transition to a new job. Advice?

  • As others have noted in the comments, curation can’t be your only content strategy. You can use curation to supplement your own original content, and to keep up to speed on your niche very quickly. That helps you create value for your audience.

    I think that if you treat curation as a side dish, and your own content as the main course, you’ll be in great shape. Hope this helps!

  • Pietro Polsinelli

    There are aspects of curation services that may be of use for everyone. I wrote a blog post: Curation beyond social media

  • Steve, these are all great guidelines. As with all powerful tools, content curation can be used well or used poorly!

  • Thanks for sharing your list, TJ. It’s a great resource!

  • I hadn’t heard of using Post Rank like that, great idea. I’m going to try it also.

  • Great Post and very insightful ! Thanks!

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  • Blogging is hard work! Thanks for making it a little easier with this post.

  • Leo

    What is the best way to credit the author of the post? Is there an already established format as to how it should be displayed at the end or beginning of the post?



  • Joe

    Thanks! I came up with this idea on my own but after reading this it made me feel better about using this strategy…

  • RSS pipe idea is really rocking 😀 i loved it 🙂 Thanks team

  • I get this post, valid points etc but isn’t content curation now being punished by search engine rankings? If what you are doing is merely curating other people’s content, your rankings are not as high as someone who creates their own.

    Don’t get me wrong, brilliant curators are amongst the most valuable people I follow and I know the people that follow and engage with me online find my curation valuable too. I think curation is as useful a skill as creation. Where would we be without news sites and magazines?

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  • Elliott Coleman

    I totally see the benefits of curating but can sopmebody explain the legal implications? How can you show that you are not merely copying other peoples ideas onto your site to increase traffic to promote advertising on your site? is this allowed?

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  • Since this is a two year old post… do you find those above mentioned tools still valid? I love searching for interesting content to Retweet to my followers and take pride in tweeting worth-wild articles. I feel that content curation dies when you have people who seem to only find their tweets on Twitter itself, especially from the same people they follow over and over again. People need to get out and read other sites, connect with new people… it is time consuming, but this way you get a well rounded read and educate yourself more as well. 

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