One of the things my social media friends complain about is people who constantly push out content about themselves: “Buy my book, sign up for my workshop, read my stuff.” Sure, I’d encourage you to use Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and GooglePlus to share your brilliant new blog post, but if you talk only about yourself online, you’re bound to alienate people and lose followers.

In my social media workshops, people ask, “Well, what should I publish then?” Here’s my short answer: Follow interesting people on various platforms, subscribe to publications in your field, and then share the best of that content with others. If you do this consciously, you are a curator, or one who consistently finds, organizes, annotates and shares the best of relevant content.

Just this week, my friend Judy Gombita used the term “mindful curation,” which I love. “Mindful” means you put thought into the content you share. You’re not just blindly retweeting or reposting content.

Like Judy, I’m a mindful user of paper.li, a cool tool that allows you to share content in a newspaper-like format. Among some of my friends, these papers have received a bad rap because users often generate them relying solely on the paper.li algorithm. We all see the result in our Twitter feeds: “The Bob Smith Daily is out!” Who cares?

Savvy Communicator News
I publish this daily with paper.li

Instead, to publish the best paper possible, take the time to edit the content and move stories around. Don’t be afraid to delete content that’s not sufficiently relevant to your audience. My friend Sue Horner does a nice job of this with her Independent Communicator newsletter.

After all, you want to publish stuff that compels people to say, “Wow, thanks. This is really useful!” At the same time, you’ll be helping your followers avoid the firehose of content, which offers us too much at once. Soon people (perhaps including your prospects?) will count on you to provide excellent content. Who doesn’t want to be known as a person who is smart and generous?

Here are some tips to help you get started with curation.

First, find great content.

  • Subscribe to topical blogs and newsletters; use Feedly to follow them and Delicious or Diigo or another social bookmarking tool to tag and save links.
  • Set up persistent searches in Twitter for keywords you’re interested in. Create columns in TweetDeck or Hootsuite so you can see the fresh content.
  • Follow smart people on Twitter and subscribe to Twitter lists of thought leaders in your areas of interest.
  • Get involved in Google+ Communities, where you’ll find plenty of insights around the topics you care about.
  • Subscribe to other peoples’ newspapers on Paper.li; look for those that focus on subject matter that’s most meaningful to you and your followers.
  • Flip through Flipboard on your tablet or smartphone to find interesting stuff.

Now you can share that content:

  • Write blog posts that use others’ information as a jumping-off point; be sure to add your own insights.
  • Share content published by others on your own social media accounts; if the content is visual, consider sharing it on Pinterest too.
  • Use someone else’s post as the basis for a discussion in a LinkedIn Group or G+ Community. Ask a question of members of the group to spark debate.
  • Publish your own newspapers on Paper.li and share them via social media. Consider a Pro account, which gives you more control over branding and advertising, and allows you to delay publication until you’ve completed your edits.
  • Use Storify to gather up tweets around a particular hashtag (great for events); share them on social media or embed them in your blog.

Years ago I saw a great quote by Todd Defren of SHIFT Communications. He said 70% of the content you publish should be curated, and just 30% branded (yours). The rationale? “Because the rest of the world is at least 70% more interesting than your brand; and, promoting external content builds social capital and makes grateful fans of influencers.” Well said!

What’s your best tip for curation?

4 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for the kind words! I’ve been tweaking the content sources a bit to get the right mix for the paper, and I definitely go in and edit every issue. I have been following your excellent lead, so a pat on the back goes to you as well!

  2. Donna,

    Thank you for the excellent write-up on Paper.li. We are both thrilled and honoured to be a featured service in your post. We cherish the publishers like yourself, Judy and Sue who take your role as content curators so seriously.

    There is a mentality out there that “simply sharing” is enough to build awareness and promote businesses, which we know is not the case. There must be consideration, thought and purpose. Yes, it must be mindful!

    We are also making changes on our side as well to help users be more thoughtful about what they share, how they share and when they share. Your example of the Bob Smith Daily is a great example.

    We just did away with the 1-click timeline papers with our latest version of Paper.li (which is great!) and we’ll be looking into papers that seem to just be on a *set it and forget it* course of action, as well as other improvements to help users make better decisions and even to help them share less in some cases.

    Paper.li offers tremendous benefits and can yield awesome results but you’re right: The Bob Smith Daily? Who really cares, anyway. If the publisher doesn’t then his our her community certainly won’t either!

    Thanks for being such a vibrant part of our community.

  3. This is interesting and refreshing. During beta phase I was automatically updating and notifying using the default tools. It didn’t take long to realize that more work was necessary to give the message I’m focusing on.

    I find that I delete at least 50% of the articles that are sourced, and I have a listing of over 50 sites that I hand pick articles from. More than one of those are from publications in this provider. Granted, it takes nearly two hours daily to do this but it is well worth it knowing that every posting reflects my beliefs, and is congruent with what I teach.

    My site is also a Pro which gives the flexibility and branding which is so important to me.

    If people haven’t gone Pro, and are using the automatic features, I highly recommend going Pro as it is great to be personalized and branded.

    Merv Flahr

  4. […] One of the things my social media friends complain about is people who constantly push out content about themselves: “Buy my book, sign up for my workshop, read my stuff.” Sure, I’d encourage you to use Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and GooglePlus to share your brilliant new blog post, but if you talk only about yourself online, you’re bound to alienate people and lose followers. Consider Content Curation >> […]

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