How to Grow a Following With Other People’s Popular Content

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.

Photo source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dey/

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About the Author, Jamie Beckland

Jamie Beckland creates social and emerging media programs for White Horse, a digital marketing agency, and has built online communities since 2004. Other posts by »




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