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Content (Curation) is King

Community & Social Media

When it comes to managing content for your organization’s blog, Twitter stream, Facebook page, or Pinterest board, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.  With so much content to choose from, how do you decide what to publish?

Fortunately at last week’s Toronto Net Tuesday, Shannon Harvey, community manager and digital strategist at, was on hand to help sort through the content curation process. She even offered a few of her top tips for expert curation.

First of all, what is content curation? In all likelihood, it’s something you’re already doing; when you determine what content to share with your audience, that’s content curation. Technically, content curation is the process of making decisions about editorial content so that your audience is more involved with your organization. Often this is done by gathering and sharing pieces of information from the internet that will strengthen your brand and enhance your goals.

Harvey used the analogy of a museum throughout her presentation, asking participants to think of their online presence as a museum and of themselves as the curator. As a curator you have to make strategic decisions about what to include in your museum. What is it that will make people want to spend a few hours strolling through your exhibits?

Regardless if you are a full-time community manager or an office coordinator who also manages  social media, it’s important that you think of yourself as an expert in content curation. As an expert, it is your responsibility is to sift through all of the content that crowds your inbox every day and decide what is most valuable to share.

Why bother to curate? You may ask. First of all, curation is a way to define yourself online. When done well, content curation can be just as important to communicating the objectives of your organization as your mission statement.

Harvey provided a number of other reasons to curate, including:

  • to fundraise
  • to conduct competitive research 
  • to extend reach
  • to stay abreast of news 
  • to build credibility 
  • to improve SEO 
  • to conduct target market research 
  • to create a marketing channel
  • to uncover trends 
  • for lead generation 
  • to build relationships 
  • for professional development 
  • to create links 
  • to highlight industry connections

Once you’ve decided that content curation is worth the effort how do you get started? Harvey outlined six simple steps to great curation.

Define Your Topic

Think long and hard about your topic. Is it related to sales & marketing, business, or customer pain points? If the topic of the content you’re posting doesn’t have anything to do with topics you know your audience is interested in, don’t bother posting it. Irrelevant material will dilute your voice.

Harvey suggests that you define one main topic around which your content sharing is focused and then determine several niche topics that relate back to it.

Know your Audience

Who is your audience? Why are they interested in your topic? These are just some of the questions you need to ask yourself when creating content.

Knowing your audience will make it much easier to choose relevant content to share. For example, if you know that your audience is made up of amateur athletes interested in running sports programs with youth you likely would not share an article about volunteering at an animal shelter.

You can gain this kind of insight about your audience through Google keyword searches or even by asking or polling your audience directly.

Find your Sources

There are any number of sources for content, including:

  • Thought leaders - these are well known and respected individuals working in your field. They likely share their own content via a blog, RSS, Twitter feed or Facebook page.
  • News sources - for example the Globe & Mail or Mashable. You can access this content through RSS or an email subscription.
  • Topical - this is content relating to a specific topic, for example “teaching abroad.” You can get this content sent straight to your inbox by setting a Google Alert or by using sites like StumbleUpon, Smart Brief or apps like FlipBoard.

Gather and Filter

When it comes to format types, there seems to be a new and interesting way to share your content emerging every day. Whether you decide to share videos, images, infographics, blog posts, articles, or presentations, make sure you use content from platforms you (and your audience) are already on. For example, don’t start a Pinboard just because you think you should. If your organization doesn’t have a lot of great visuals to share it won’t be worth the effort to get people to engage with you on the Pinterest platform.

Add Value

Using previously published content is great however, Harvey has two important recommendations:

  • Don’t republish content exactly as you find it - add something,  like your organization’s opinion, stance, commentary, before you publish.
  • Remember to properly attribute any content you share that is not original. Need a refresher on how to do that? Visit

Publish & Repurpose

The fun doesn’t stop once you’ve published. Harvey suggests thinking of ways to repurpose content for use elsewhere - perhaps on a different platform or by expanding on the content in a new and different way through a poll or follow up post.

Although Harvey was quick to point out the everyone has their own method curating content, she offered up a few of her own favorite curation tools:

  • Google Alerts
  • HootSuite
  • FlipBoard
  • RSS
  • SmartBrief
  • Pinterest
  • AllTop
  • Reddit, Digg, StumbleUpon
  • Tumbler
  • YouTube, Vimeo
  • Mashable

Watch a demo and discusson of some of these tools in the presentation. 


Presentation slides:

Presentation video:


Content is King, and the

Content is King, and the Curator is Queen!