Museum curators comb the wide world of art and artifacts looking for great treasures to put in their museums. They get paid to look for available work, judge its quality, acquire it, and share it with museum-goers.
Curators must be knowledgeable, demonstrate good taste, and put together exhibits designed to attract visitors. They know how to spot a treasure, and they’re not fooled by cheap copies or inferior craftsmanship. They utilize an extensive contact network for finding what they need, and they’re savvy about marketing their collections. At the end of the day, a curator is part detective, part artist, and part marketer.
When you manage your own social networks, you’re also a curator of sorts. It’s your job to find content treasures and share them with your audience at the right time on the right network. Content curation takes a lot of time, and many tools offer to shave time by curating content and posting it for you. Although these tools can be big time-savers, they vary widely in quality.
Fortunately, you can find a happy medium between using automatic content curation tools and doing everything by yourself. Let’s look at auto-curation, starting with not good examples of automation and venturing toward a balanced approach to curation.
When Automated Content Curation Goes Bad
Once upon a time, I received a tweet saying that my work had been shared in an online magazine. I was a green writer, so I was excited to get any glimmer of attention. I clicked the link and visited the online magazine only to discover that my title was rendering poorly on the page. I tweeted at the purveyor of said online magazine and asked what I could do to make my article look better. The publisher never responded.
I realized I’d been snatched up by an automated content curator, which grabbed online content and spit it out in automated magazine form. The magazine design itself looked acceptable, but the content had no unity, no strategy, and no quality standards (I’d like to think what I wrote was okay, but it definitely wasn’t Hemingway).
In other words, the editor was asleep at the wheel, and the automatic digital "magazine" looked like garbage.
Turning on an automated content curation magazine and leaving it unattended is a bad idea. An even worse idea is to turn on an automated curator, like an RSS feed, and then automatically have it tweet every post that it acquires. This practice reminds me of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, when our heroes venture into Gringotts to steal Hufflepuff’s Cup from Bellatrix Lestrange’s vault.
Except there's a problem: Everything they touch starts to multiply, and they're soon buried in shiny objects.
At some point, someone will develop an intelligent automation tool that will learn from how well your shared content performs. It will be able to anticipate your taste, pinpoint your audience’s wants, and build your content curation stream accordingly.
For now, inundating your followers with unwanted automated content based on keywords or a hashtag, or even content from your favorite bloggers, is never a good idea. Also, never share something that hasn’t passed through some sort of quality gateway. Your followers will drop you faster than Harry Potter dropped the Resurrection Stone.
DIY Content Curation With a Pinch of Automation: the Best of Both Worlds
Some people, myself included, get obsessive about curating everything themselves. They set up little content collection dragnets, haul their catch up to the deck, keep the good fish, and throw back the losers.
DIY gives you the best chance of sharing content of great quality. It also gives you the best chance of never sleeping again. Combing through the catch takes time, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. If you want to maintain tight control over your content curation and sharing, let me give you a few nets for catching great content:
- News.me. News.me monitors your Twitter feed, grabs the content most commonly shared, and emails you a daily content digest.
- Feedly. Set up a keyword or select some publications that you like. Feedly collects everything in a feed that you can scroll through, deciding what to keep or throw out.
- Trendspottr. Trendspottr finds the most commonly shared content based on keywords you supply, and it also evaluates the sentiment around the content, rating it as negative, neutral, or positive. It sends regular, high, and extreme alerts, which gives you a basic indicator of how popular the content is.
- Twitter lists. Note the people or publications who share the best content, and add them to a Twitter list. Scroll through your list (I like to use Flipboard to review my lists because it’s visually pleasing) and decide which content is worth sharing. I like reviewing my Twitter lists because it helps me spot opportunities for shoutouts or social interactions in addition to finding great content.
- Swayy. A free Swayy account lets you assemble content from multiple sources onto a single dashboard.
If you have the time, you like control, and you’re a good judge of quality, then you’ll love DIY curation. If it becomes overwhelming, or if you’re not good at deciding what’s good and what’s not, you might need more help finding and sharing great content with your followers.
Great content curators automate their content nets, but they never automate social media posting. If you need assistance with finding great content and maintaining a regular posting schedule, check out my social media management service.
Also, check out my earlier post on using Pocket to curate content for social networks. You'll find better pieces for your content museum, and you'll curate faster than ever before.
Featured image credit: faungg's photos from Flickr