Remember that curation is a content strategy, while tools are tactics in search of a strategy.

Remember that curation is a content strategy, while tools are tactics in search of a strategy.

One of the tactics in the Content Marketer’s arsenal is called “curation”, where you find and republish quality content in a newly “packaged” way.  The idea is that you add value at least three ways — you assemble a package that would be hard to find or gather elsewhere; you contribute some editing and related content yourself; and the UI of the “package” facilitates readership (on different devices and through smart layouts that leverage content in a streamlined fashion) and social sharing.

We’ve tried four of the major services for curation over the past 3-5 years, so I wanted to give you some take-aways about each — Flipboard, Paper.li, Rebel Mouse, and Scoop.it.  I’ll give you a sample of what we have used them for and thoughts on results but first the most important thing I can tell you is that these tools are tactics… in search of a strategy.  What do I mean by that?  Well, too many content marketer’s seem to rush into the latest greatest tool and deploy it as a tactic with no clear publishing strategy (niche, readership, purpose of publication, editorial guidelines, etc.) in hand.  Planning is in order.  And, remember the old adage — if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.  Curating a good publication takes time and consistent effort, so you need to have a clear picture of the end goal and how it will pay off for you.  Remember that curation is a content marketing tactic, not a publishing strategy.

Four Curation Tools for Content Marketers

Online Marketing Magazine

Webdirexion uses Flipboard to publish the new BLIP Online Marketing Magazine

FlipBoard

Introducing BLIP Magazine:  Our newest endeavor is to curate, write for, and edit a new “magazine” with great articles for marketing communication professionals.  BLIP… Google has updated its algorithm… BLIP… there’s another new marketing tool… BLIP… someone has figured out a new tactic for marketing automation.  You get it.

Our magazine is curated with the FlipBoard tool, which allows you to flip pages — just like in old-school magazines.  We like it because it fosters a team curation approach, it is mobile centric (you cannot even register except on a mobile device), and efficient to use.

It’s a relatively new platform, so this tactical tool from Flipboard is still evolving — right now, there are no embedding options available, for example.  It’s easy to get started with your own magazine, but strategically you will need to define your audience, set a publishing focus, then bring your editing team.  What about ROI for the effort?  I recommend you study that with smart use of analytics (I will report on that in a forthcoming post).  For this publication, I am taking the managing editor role with supporting editors and writers from our Webdirexion team — and of course authors with articles from MOZ, Content Marketing Institute, MarketingLand, Social Media Examiner, and several others.  Our publishing goal is to bring you the most useful articles on tactics and strategies for online marketers.

Paper.li

Webdirexion's Digest for Healthcare professionals

Medical Healthcare Matters is Webdirexion’s Digest for Healthcare professionals, curated using Paper.li.

Medical HealthCare Matters focus on Healthcare:  Since we have six clients in healthcare, we use a curation tool that has been around for a while — Paper.li — to publish our weekly “digest” for this industry focus. The digest format is different than a magazine — content may include shorter items, videos, discussions and tweets.  Our Miranda Booher, a former traveling nurse (before she elected to do content triage at Webdirexion), serves as managing editor for this publication.  Our publishing goal here is to serve up a frequently updated smorgasbord of news on medical devices & healthcare services that move health forward.  This is a more mature publication for us and its current circulation reach, including its associate Twitter account (1400 followers), is approximately 4,400.

CoffeeNutHut Digest

Page at this link shows embedded digest from Paper.li.

Our publishing strategy goals are threefold:  reach and inform our prospective target group — healthcare clients; build circulation and readership; and offer exposure to client’s when appropriate.

This platform offers some advanced tactics including assigning a top level domain (we use MedicalHealthcareMatters.com) and embedding a digest in an actual website (click at left to see how we do that at our Coffee Nut Hut site).  Cost for premium features is approx. $9 per month.

Rebel Mouse

Rebel Mouse Microsite

Samsung’s “Front Row” microsite is created on the Rebel Mouse platform.

This is a curation tool we tested and published to a subdomain on Webdirexion — then realized that we were guilty of excitedly using the tool as a tactic in search of a smart publishing strategy.  We’ve since shut it down, but I would recommend the platform for its advanced feature set (create an entire mini-site with the tool, complete with “page” navigation), the ability to brand it and use a top-level domain name, with the added ability to embed it.

The Rebel folks have positioned their app as a tool offering “Turnkey Content Hubs and Mobile Apps”.  According to their site, Rebel Mouse is “Wired for Distributed Reach and Engagement”, and one example is that the app will notify people via email or @reply when their content is featured on your site.  This is the app we would probably look at first for clients seeking an efficient “micro site” solution.

Embedding as a tactic:  We had begun to explore the embedding capacity with sections for healthcare and law firm marketing (another focus niche for us), and the embedding was being done on the same site, Webdirexion, as the main “publication” (on a subdomain of Webdirexion).  In the end the maintaining of a larger effort proved to take too much resource time for us, but the point about embedding I want to make is that you can embed your publication on multiple sites and locations, so this could be a powerful tactic for people with a number of domains and a network of sites strategy.  With Rebel Mouse, we could even embed different sections on different pages — healthcare curations on our healthcare page, law firm articles on our law firm page, etc.  This is not necessarily a great SEO tactic, because you are duplicating content, but it can boost readership and also signal to Google the relevance of certain pages and sections on your site.

Scoop.it

This Scoop.it site was one I curated for a couple of years.

This Scoop.it site was one I curated for a couple of years.

This is another freemium (no top level domain name)/premium (unlock advanced features) curation platform we used for about 18 months.  During that time, I curated and commented (a nice feature — your comments appear along with the items you curate) on B2B Content Marketing Tactics.  I liked some of the aspects of it, but in the end moved on to other tools and tactics on which to focus in the limited time — you know how those hours swirl by in a sea of new and evolving marketing tools.

One unique aspect of this platform is that other publishers can “scoop” your articles into their own publications.  It is possible to do something like this on the Flipboard platform as well.

Note that in this publication, I narrowed the publishing focus from Content Marketing in general, to a focus on tactics more for Business to Business marketers.  This is another key consideration at the publishing/content strategy level — your niche.  Good Content Marketers will always proceed with their “target personas” in mind, and publishers live and die on that concept.  In fact, Content Marketing is really just another term for “publishing” rolled forward into today’s marketplace of evolving tools and tactics.

Proceed from the level of good content and publishing strategy.  Focus clearly both on the goals for your readership and the ROI for your organization.  Then, have some fun!  Do contact us for any help you may require.

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