Sharing the Web With Others, Link by Link
Part 5 of Blogging 101
A couple of weeks ago I was confronted by the fact that I was completely wrong about content curation on the web! Or, more accurately, I was using the wrong definition of curation.
I was under the impression that whenever you shared content on the web, that was curation. That’s wrong. There are actually three types of content sharing: aggregation, syndication and curation, with important distinctions:
1. Aggregating Content
The first is simply sharing links to information. This is actually an essential part of the Web and part of the reason for its creation. Whereas I thought this was curation, this is actually, more correctly, known as Content Aggregation. Two large sites for this type of sharing are Alltop, promoted by early Mac and web adopter, Guy Kawasaki, and PopURLS.com.
2. Syndicating Content
Another type of information sharing is to to share an entire post instead of just a link. This is Content Syndication. Web writers can syndicate their own content, either via services which place the posts around the web, or by self-syndicating by republishing their work on other sites. (You might be able to allow others to syndicate their work on your website or blog, too.) Tumblr encourages its users to “reblog” other people’s writings which, I suppose, is a form of syndication, too.
3. Curating Content
Finally, and here’s where my confusion reigned: Content Curation is not only sharing links to info, but commenting on them. You need to add value to the link, not just share it.
But don’t believe me. Here’s what a pair of experts say.
According to Heidi Cohen, on the Content Marketing Institute’s website:
“Content curation assembles, selects, categorizes, comments on, and presents the most relevant, highest quality information to meet your audience’s needs on a specific subject.”
Or see Susan Gunelius, in “About Tech” on about.com:
“When you review content from a variety of sources, gather links to those sources, share descriptions of that content, add your own commentary to that content, and publish all of those pieces in a single location, you’re curating content.”
Most bloggers, in practice, do both aggregation and curation.
The critical aspect of curation, versus aggregation, is the adding of value in the form of explanations, adding ideas, creating an overview, and reviewing the quality of the information you are sharing. Curation is more work, but often more useful to your readers, too. You actually need to read (or view, hear, or even taste) the work and understand it to curate it.
Even list articles (which we will discuss soon) can include either aggregation or curation.
There are many reasons to curate web content:
- The Web is complicated and big. Curation helps your readers navigate it.
- It can be easier to explain content generated by others than to always come up with fresh content of your own.
- You can inform your readers of the latest thinking on a topic from around the web.
- You can offer reviews and commentary on research, news, events and media related to your own subject specialty.
Sharing and curating content can show off your credentials as a subject-matter specialist. Curation can also help you create a personal or corporate brand. Like the curator of a museum, you are searching for the best content for your visitors and, on the side, becoming an expert in that topic. Instead of sharing in a museum, you are sharing on your blog.
Curation also allows you to mix up your blog’s content. This is a good thing to do on occasion and your readers may love you for it.
How to Use Curation
Many bloggers offer articles with curated content on an irregular basis. It can be embedded in just one part of your article (as you will see below).
You may decide to create a weekly or monthly or even an annual roundup of news for your sector. This can become a regular feature for your blog or business.
If you offer an email or printed newsletter you can offer curated content that complements your blogged info.
Content curation articles are favorites with many sites. One of the earliest and most popular articles on Frugal Guidance 2 is a long, curated post of Alternatives to Moleskine Notebooks.
It is important to ensure that you link back to the source of the curated info and give credit to the author(s).
It’s also important to never simply copy content and post it on your own site, even if you give credit. That’s theft and likely a violation of copyright law. The exception is if the author explicitly gives you permission to repost the material or it is released into the public domain, or has a copyleft or open source license. (There may still be restrictions, depending on the rights offered, say for non-commercial use, or language or country restrictions.) Except for ghost writers, you still should give credit to the authors. [Note: Equating this paragraph with actual, real legal advice would be a horrible mistake.]
Where to Curate, if Not Your Blog
For microbloggers, Twitter and Tumblr are the best known areas for quick curation and aggregation, but blogs, Facebook, any site with groups, even LinkedIn can be used for curation.
Obviously, not all curation works on all sites. The humor and pop links you might share on Twitter and Facebook might not be appropriate for LinkedIn. Likewise an all-biz feed might be great on LinkedIn, but not work so well on Pinterest. (You are welcome to prove me wrong, though.)
Curated info can be effective with lists or in a slideshow presentation, too.
You can curate images (e.g., Photos that Will Make you Love Artichokes), videos (Best Action Youtube Archery Fails), podcasts (Best Podcasts for Magicians), as well as reports, other blog posts, or just about anything else, but mostly stuff available online or commercially. If you regularly review books on Amazon or Barnes & Noble’s sites, you could also curate that info on your own blog.
You can also create a new blog post by curating info from comments in an earlier post: promoting the readers, their content, developing new ideas, and drawing readers to the original post.
You can also curate with video but you should include links in both your video and in the video description. Using audio is more difficult since you can’t show a live link. Make it easy for listeners to find the links on your site if you try.
Finding info to curate
We’re talking about the Internet here, so finding information to curate is not, generally, a problem. The choice is whether you go out searching for the info or have it delivered to your inbox.
Content Aggregation sites are always a good place to start, especially the ones mentioned above, Alltop and PopURL. There are other, more specialized, sites for many disciplines. Another site, Addict-o-matic, will simultaneously search a variety of web resources for you.
You can save a search on Google and get regular updates on what is showing up on the web for that search term.
Use an RSS reader to be notified when a new article is posted to a blog you follow. I use Feedly. Digg Reader has become another popular choice since Google ditched its own popular RSS reader.
You can find experts in all your social media. Twitter is particularly good for this and for finding trending topics. Follow one leader in your area of blogging, then view who they follow (and who follows them) for other potential experts. Find a Twitter Chat about a relevant topic and you can find others interested in sharing on that topic, too.
LinkedIn Pulse is a good place to find writers about various topics. So is Quora (a Q&A site).
Discussion groups on Facebook and Google+ can be excellent places to find info and find other curators in the field. LinkedIn used to be very good for this, but their management of groups has led some moderators to move to other sites. There are still a few good groups on LinkedIn, though.
Newspapers and their online media are excellent sources for news info. (This seems almost too obvious, but with so many people using social media for their news gathering, it bears mentioning. I’m a big fan and subscriber to The New York Times online edition.
Don’t forget specialized niche publications and organizations with discussion groups. You may need to subscribe or join a group to make full use of these. For example, you can find arts related news in The Chronicle of Philanthropy, The Chronicle of Higher Education, the League of American Orchestras, the American Federation of Musicians, Chamber Music America, DanceUSA, the Regional Orchestra Players’ Association, and the International Double Reed Society to name a few I have used (or written for) over the years.
Libraries and research librarians can also point you in the right direction for many topics and publications. Don’t be afraid to ask.
Curation can become a regular feature of your blog or just be an occasional addition. Either way, it can be a valuable tool for your blogging and for your readers.
Title graphic built on a background image of the Metro UI Icon Set from Creative Bloq, Art and Design Inspiration.
Image of man with tablet, notebook and coffee is by Karolina Grabowska, used by permission of Pexels.com
Art Museum image is a scene from the National Gallery of Art of a (curated, of course) Chinese exhibit; the photographer is Theodor Horydczak, from the online catalog of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, DC