If you’re struggling to publish original content consistently, you’re not alone. The hard truth is that time is at a premium for digital marketers in 2021, and the steady production of fresh, engaging, and value-driven content takes a lot of time and money.
Fortunately, there's a cost-effective marketing strategy that will help enhance your content marketing efforts, drive more organic, and save you a ton of time - I'm talking about content curation.
In this article, we will look at content curation, including its benefits, principles, and some of the best free and paid content curation tools on the market.
What is Content Curation?
Content curation is the process of selecting and distributing relevant digital media content (e.g., blog posts, articles, audio, video, etc.) to your audience via communication channels such as social media, blogs, and email newsletters.
Essentially, you're sifting through the vast content sandbox that is the Internet to find relevant information and strategically share it with your audience.
The operative word is relevant.
You can't simply round up the most popular and trending web content; you need to curate exciting and relevant assets for your audience (i.e., current and potential customers). After gathering useful information centered around a particular topic, effective content curation requires you to re-organize and share the content in an easily digestible way.
To be clear, content curation is different from content planning. While the former focuses on gathering useful content to be strategically shared with your target readers, the latter involves developing topics, deciding which content type to use, and creating strategies for meeting content goals.
To learn more about content planning and some tools to help with this process, I highly recommend reading our recent guide on the topic.
Benefits of Content Curation
In addition to saving you both time and money, content curation provides a wide range of benefits, including but not limited to:
- Improves SEO - With content curation, you're creating more opportunities for social shares, links, and better rankings by providing readers with value-driven and engaging content that caters to their preferences.
- Builds brand awareness - By curating content, your website and brand can spring up quickly and resonate with new readers, building awareness and educating your audience very early in their buyer journey.
- Builds credibility - Remember, your company is just one of the hundreds engaging in ongoing conversions with potential buyers in your industry. Content curation helps your audience see the extent of your expertise, consequently sending trust signals of depth and editorial maturity for your website and brand.
- Establish authority - By consistently sharing top-tier and quality content, your followers will know that every time they encounter a resource in your feed, it's worth reading. You can also add your own unique perspective to the conversation, demonstrating your creativity and subject matter expertise in the process.
- Supports lead generation - Curated content helps drive organic traffic to your website and social channels. More quality traffic equals more subscribers, leads, and potentially paying customers.
3 Principles of Content Curation
I've mentioned this earlier, but it bears repeating, content curation isn't just about collecting the trendiest content on the web and blasting it out to your followers. It needs to be specific, thoughtful, and relevant. Below are three principles you will need to keep in mind as you take your content curation efforts to the next level.
Know Your Audience
Target market research is one of the core pillars of any successful content plan. It's also the first step to effective content curation. To make sure that you're sharing valuable content, you have to research your audience.
One strategy to determine your target audience is to develop audience personas. This approach will help you treat your potential customers as real people, get into their headspace, and thoughtfully consider the most helpful content for them.
Remember, your primary goal as a curator is to collect the most valuable content to share with your readers. Zoning in on your audience personas guarantees that you understand exactly how a piece of content will help them before you hit that share button.
Look to Build Value
Think of content curation as another strategy for delivering value.
Customers want to stay informed, but they also want to save time. But the problem is that, just like you, they struggle to keep up with the latest industry news and trends.
This is where content curation can be a game-changer.
By presenting personalized content to your subscribers, you're giving them the information they want in a digestible way - saving them precious time in the process. With personalized content curation, you're delivering value that allows you to build relationships with your audience that are not solely based on financial transactions.
Balance with Original Content
Just because you can freely curate and share other people's content doesn't mean that curation should take the lion's share of your content strategy. Remember, content curation is just a piece of the content marketing puzzle.
A robust content marketing campaign includes a healthy mix of creation and curation. Once your organization has started generating original blog content, you can focus on providing your audience with a steady flow of industry insights based on specific and relevant topics.
15 of the Best Content Curation Tools
Curating high-quality web content can be tedious. Fortunately, there are a number of great tools available that can help ease the burden. Let's take a look at some of the best.
Flipboard is a free desktop and mobile content curation platform for discovering topics - from personalized news to lifestyle trends - across various content sources. Essentially, Flipboard creates mini-magazines using curated links clustered around a specific area of interest.
After creating these content magazines (also known as "boards"), you can make them publicly viewable and distribute them through social media. You can demonstrate that you're in the know by creating magazines relevant to your readers with links from trustworthy sources. You can even include your original content in the magazines to help people learn more about your business.
Not only is Flipboard a very user-friendly platform, but with respect to pricing, it’s absolutely free!
Formerly known as “Read It Later,” Pocket falls into the category of read-it-later content curators. Instead of maintaining a laundry list of links in an Excel file somewhere, Pocket helps you organize and keep all your interesting blog posts, images, and videos in one place.
It's an excellent platform for cultivating the habit of collecting content to save and share later. The app also lets you discover new content (based on topic) through major publishing companies, famous influencers, and other content curators.
Pocket is a freemium app and upgrading to Pocket Premium ($4.99 per month) lets you access a host of neat features. Perhaps the most notable premium feature is the ability to archive a page permanently - so even if it's taken down for good, Pocket keeps a copy of it.
Sharing your content in a context-relevant and presentable way is one of the keys to successful content curation. Elink.io takes the monotony out of content curation by streamlining the process of saving links and converting them into shareable, viral-worthy content.
This nifty content curation tool lets you convert your bookmarked links into a beautiful newsletter that you can create using templates. Simply copy-paste your links or pull them straight from your bookmark collection, and the app auto-generates the shareable page. Also, you can modify various page elements for a more personalized result.
The free version of Elink.io gives you access to basic features. With the Pro Plan ($12 per month), advanced features like post analytics and team collaboration capabilities are available.
Scoop.it is a hybrid content curation platform and social network. This curation tool - targeted towards content marketers, social media managers, thought leaders, and knowledge managers - allows anyone to create boards in a newspaper-style format that contain shareable content from various sources.
It's a straightforward tool for discovering and distributing high-quality, original content. Begin by searching for your topics or keywords, and Scoop.it will generate a reading list of the most relevant content for sharing and publishing in your profile. There's also an extension for quickly scooping links while you're browsing online.
The free version of Scoop.it lets you track a single topic for two social media profiles. The Pro Plan pricing ($14.99 per month) adds more topic pages, social media channels, and Google Analytics integration.
Powered by artificial intelligence, Feedly is like an RSS feed on steroids.
Basically, it's a content aggregator platform that rounds up topics relevant to your business in real-time. It's also an intuitive way to discover and follow high-authority sites and experts in your industry.
Using Feedly is as simple as entering a URL or using specific keywords, then you can aggregate and browse these feeds and view them in one place. Also, the "Featured" section is an excellent place to start for new Feedly users. Feedly also boasts a strong social media integration, so you can easily share your content links with your audience and team members.
For the free version, Feedly allows you to follow up to 100 content sources. The paid Pro and Pro+ pricing offer significantly more sources and better artificial intelligence relevance.
Unlike most of the tools on this list, Quuu distinguishes itself by being exclusively a content curation platform. It's also the only curation tool on this list where all pieces of content are hand-picked and reviewed by humans.
Quuu focuses on the most critical aspect of curation: content sharing.
There are two ways that you can receive hand-curated content with Quuu. First, the app uses the SocialChief network to directly connect your social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Or you can use third-party scheduling tools like Buffer, Hootsuite, or Hubspot, where Quuu content is delivered straight to your scheduler of choice.
The free version lets you access the most basic features, but you can only automate one social profile. Pro ($5 per month) and Business ($15.83 per month) include Advanced Read Later and Advanced Reader modes and up to 10 and 100 social profiles, respectively.
Although it's primarily a content research tool, Buzzsumo has many features that can help with content curation, allowing you to discover top-tier content and follow prominent influencers.
Buzzsumo's Content Discovery module makes it easy for you to find trending content based on specific keywords or topics. The tool constantly searches the web for the keywords and phrases your potential buyers are searching for. Buzzsumo also allows you to set alerts based on content types, so when any news pops up about your relevant topics, you'll know straight away.
Buzzsumo Free gives you up to ten searches. The paid pricing plans start at $99 for Pro, $179 for Plus, and $299 for Large. Buzzsumo is a hefty investment if you choose the paid route, but the price is more than worth it.
UpContent is another solid content curation tool for discovering and distributing third-party content. UpContent's proprietary technology analyzes millions of articles each month and presents the results in an easily digestible grid format.
Distribution of your custom curated content is also a cinch, thanks to the app's strong integration features with third-party platforms like Hubspot and Hootsuite. Premium content curation features include RSS integrations, custom CTAs, custom article images (it comes with a Shutterstock license), and premium onboarding and support.
The free version of UpContent doesn't offer much because you're limited to one topic and one user. The paid pricing plan starts at $13.50 per month and up to $238.50 for the enterprise-level license.
For expert marketers, Curata is a business-grade platform that specializes in content marketing-specific curation. Curata helps your organization become a sought-after knowledge source by helping you carefully curate only the most helpful information.
The tool aims to deliver relevant suggestions through a machine learning algorithm that adapts to your preferences. Moreover, Curata also gives you the capability to source trending content through various social media channels.
Users can review their collections via an intuitive UI and post them through self-owned platforms and social media channels. Curata also supports your SEO efforts by creating landing pages for trending topics and optimizing long-tail keywords. Curata is recommended for expert curators and can be powerful in the right hands.
Pricing information is available upon request.
DrumUp crawls the internet for the most interesting and relevant content to share with your followers using sophisticated algorithms. Instead of the usual blog post, you're energizing your pages and social media presence with the freshest content on the web.
What I like about DrumUp is that it excels in content distribution.
By creating a smart workflow, you can quickly create, review, and publish curated content. Also, the dashboard features an intuitive UI for scheduling and sharing content pieces on social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. It also comes with a Chrome browser extension for content discovery and blog post scheduling.
DrumUp has a free version with limited accounts, posts per day, and content suggestion streams. The Starter pricing plan ($15 per month) features RSS feed integration, more posts in the library, and removal of DrumUp branding on posts.
If social media is a big part of your content marketing strategy, Flockler is worth checking out. The dashboard is relatively easy to use, and you can either manually add content or create an automated feed by simply linking your social accounts or via an RSS feed link.
Flockler allows you to create appealing curated content using multiple layouts, which you can display on websites and social networks. Flockler also has a WordPress plugin that will enable you to add the tool to the CMS platform with a simple shortcode.
Flockler offers a free 30-day trial, and the Lite Plan pricing starts at $55 per month and goes up to $550 per month for the Premium Plan.
Sniply is a unique item on this list because it's more of a conversion tool. However, this neat little tool supports your content curation efforts because it helps you drive clicks and traffic towards your website.
Basically, Sniply lets you create branded curated content by adding a custom CTA to any target URL. When you create a "Snip," Sniply will generate a unique URL that you can share through your pages and social media accounts. When people click on your custom Sniply URL, they'll view the target URL as usual, but they'll see a prominent CTA button that links to your website (see above screenshot).
There's no free version, but you can give the free 14-day trial a try. Paid plans start at $29 per month and go up to $299 for the Agency plan.
13. Twitter Lists
Without proper organization, the Twitter news feeds can be a mess. Twitter Lists cleans up the chaos by helping you cleanly build curated feeds of Twitter accounts outside of the main feed.
This built-in Twitter feature lets you track and curate content through a more focused environment of groups, topics, or accounts. As many compelling Twiter Lists already exist, you can search for what’s relevant to your business and follow them to save time.
If you're a seasoned Twitter user, the Lists feature can be a powerful curation tool.
Quick, easy, and free - that's ShareIt. It's one of the best tools available if you want to get into the content curation process right away.
For starters, unlike most of the tools in this roundup, ShareIt doesn't require an account. Simply visit the ShareIt website, enter the keyword or topic, and you'll receive a list of relevant content suggestions. Easy peasy!
You can easily share the content suggestions with the social media platform of your choice or via SocialPilot if you have an account.
If you're an old-school marketer, a newsletter remains one of the best tools for curated content as well as news sources. Regardless of your industry, email newsletters are a great way to keep tabs on your favorite publications and influencers. I personally have my favorite SEO email newsletter that I read each week.
As a content discovery tool, newsletters work best if you subscribe to a newsletter relevant to your business and industry. It's also good practice to see what your competitors are doing with their email newsletters. If you're unable to find good newsletters within your space, seize the chance to create your own curated content newsletter.
Newsletters are not only a great content marketing tool, but can serve as an inspiration for content ideas.
Which Curation Tool is Right for You?
Picking the right curation tool depends on the scale of your business and curation efforts.
If you're a marketer who only shares a handful of links on a few platforms, you can probably get away with using free tools. However, if you have a larger operation and consistently share numerous links and content assets across several platforms, you should consider using more complex apps and tools.
Many of the tools I've outlined above offer free or limited trials. I suggest you sign up for a free trial to get a sense of how a specific tool can help. You can then determine if it's a good fit for your organization or not. Remember to avoid blinding sharing content - the point of curating content is to provide your readers with tangible insight and value.
Do you have a favorite content curation tool? Which content curation tool described in the list above do you think is best? Let us know in the comments!