When it comes to social media content, one of the key distinctions I make with my clients is original versus curated content.
Original content is created by your company -- images might contain your logo, blog posts will live on your website, etc. They'll be shared on your social media profiles and email newsletters, toward the goal of positioning your brand as a trusted expert.
Curated content is created by other people -- then shared by you in your social media posts, and possibly link roundups in blog posts and emails. You're still positioning yourself as an expert when you share curated content, albeit to a lesser degree since it takes more effort and knowledge to develop your own content than it does to find and share someone else's.
If you're sharing someone else’s image, you always want to credit the original source -- otherwise you may seem like you're implying you created it and that could get you into trouble.
If you're sharing an article that was published by someone else, it'll be obvious that you're not the original source -- since the link will direct people to someone else's website. In this case, crediting the original source is not necessary but it's still nice. Doing so can help you get the original source's attention, in which case they might bump up your post's engagement with a "thanks for sharing" comment.
Why Share Curated Content?
As mentioned above, you can communicate your expertise on a certain topic by finding and sharing content related to your niche that your audiences will find relevant.
To not come across as lazy or a spambot, it’s best to add your own perspective when you share curated content. As opposed to just copy-pasting the headline of an article, for instance, you would want to give your audience some context as to why you have shared it.
When you simply copy-paste the headline in your social media copy, or just post a link with no additional text -- you might seem like you didn't even take the time to read the article, that you're just posting it to post something. From your audience’s perspective -- why should they take the time to read something you possibly didn't even take the time to read yourself?
Another reason to share curated content is that creating quality content takes time, and you have to feed the social media beast! Given that it’s recommended to post on social media about once per day (at least) for best results, unless you or your team are focused exclusively on content creation, you’re going to have to supplement original content with third-party content to fill the gaps in your timeline.
Even if you did have the resources to post exclusively original content with enough frequency, this wouldn’t necessarily be advisable, since only sharing branded content might make you seem a little too "me me me".
As such, the ideal online presence consists of a mix of original, branded content and curated, third-party content.
Where Can You Find Third-Party Content to Curate?
Sometimes the perfect article, image, or video comes to us -- we stumble upon it in one of our social media feeds and immediately think, “this is perfect to share on my brand’s [or my client’s] social media profile!”
Unfortunately, this fate-driven method is not a sustainable content curation strategy.
Rather than sharing third-party content when it comes to us, your best bet is to “batch” your content curation efforts and schedule these posts in advance.
Below is a list of my favorite places to find content to share, starting with my favorite source.
6 Places to Find Third-Party Content to Share
I discovered EpicBeat earlier this year through AppSumo, an awesome website that offers lifetime memberships to business tools for a one-time cost.
While a lifetime membership to this tool is no longer available on AppSumo, you can get EpicBeat for $50 per month through AppSumo Briefcase -- a monthly subscription which gets you access to a bunch of other business tools as well.
I would recommend this route to anyone, as long as you have one other tool in their list you would want to use, seeing as EpicBeat costs $49 per month on its own if you purchase through their website.
Enough about price! Why is this my favorite content curation tool of all time?
Simply because EpicBeat is a breeze to use, does a great job at surfacing the best content, and gives you so many options for how to slice and dice your search results.
Depending on your niche, you could exclusively use this one tool for all your curation needs.
Once you’ve signed in to EpicBeat, you would enter your search terms, such as “content marketing”. You can choose to save this term as one of your “saved searches” if it’s something you plan on searching for again in the future.
By default, the search results will show you the most shared content in the past month, ranked by relevance.
You can change the time frame, filter by country, and sort content by different factors, such as number of total shares, amount engagement on specific social networks, etc.
You can also choose to only see specific content formats (i.e. articles, ebooks, videos, etc.) and content types (i.e. how to, guest post, etc.)
For each article, you get detailed information such as word count, article sentiment, reading level, and time to read.
Ever since I've discovered EpicBeat, it has become my clear favorite! As a bonus, you can also use this tool to discover influencers in your niche, and sort them by most active -- to find people who are most likely to share your content.
If you don’t want to shell out the $50 per month for EpicBeat, and you weren’t lucky enough to get in on the lifetime offer (rumor has it that it’ll be back soon!), you could try BuzzSumo.
Their basic paid plan costs $78 per month, but you can use a limited version of BuzzSumo for free -- wherein you can only see the top 10 most popular content pieces for different keywords and you’re limited to 5 searches per day.
In terms of functionality, BuzzSumo also lets you sort results by many of the same parameters as EpicBeat (i.e. content type, country) with a few less options, and they don't give you the same detailed information about each content piece.
They also have an influencer search tool, similar to EpicBeat’s, which they let you sort by bloggers, influencers, companies, journalists, and "regular people".
A good option if you’re okay with the limitations of the free account, or if you can pay the monthly amount and prefer this tool to EpicBeat!
A lot of people who work in my field absolutely love and swear by PostPlanner. It’s not my favorite, though I see how maybe it could be more useful for people working in different niches!
One benefit of this tool above the previous two, is that it has a built-in social media scheduler. This could be useful to you if you want one tool that can take care of both content curation and social media scheduling functionalities.
Post Planner's basic plan, which would suffice for content curation purposes, costs $36 per year.
Once you log in, you'll see a list of "Popular" topics on the left -- such as Marketing, Technology, Quotes, Funny, etc. Clicking on one of these lets you see the top content, sorted by "new", "this week", "this month" or "all time".
Unlike the previous two tools, PostPlanner doesn't allow you to select custom date ranges.
You can also view content for 19 specific industries that they've listed, view written (text only) status update suggestions, or search for specific search terms.
I haven't seen great results from their custom search term section, a lot of the content that comes up for certain topics seems to be at best random, at worst spammy. I've rarely found something I want to share from this section!
The only section worth viewing for me, with the niches I currently curate content for, is their "Marketing" section, under "Popular", but even this is subject to content that I wouldn't find shareworthy. Still worth a look, though, considering how many people adore PostPlanner -- you might just be one of them!
When Google bafflingly killed their popular Google Reader tool a few years ago, Feedly emerged as the new best option for following specific blogs.
I use Feedly to follow my favorite blogs, and see all their latest posts in one easy-to-scroll-through place.
They have a great smartphone app as well, making Feedly ideal for browsing on-the-go.
You can share articles directly from the Feedly app or website, but I usually add them to Pocket, an app for saving content to read later, then once I’ve read them -- add them to my list of articles to share on my or my client’s social media profiles.
A basic Feedly account is free and allows you to follow up to 100 news sources, which will be more than enough for most people!
You can also organize the blogs you follow into different folders, which is useful if you're following blogs from different niches and want to browse latest blog posts by category.
5. Google Alerts
If you want to find content about ultra-specific topics or track mentions of your brand name (or your competitors) in the news, Google Alerts are a good bet.
You simply add in a few search terms you want to follow and Google will email you a daily digest of articles featuring those terms -- for free!
When you track generic terms, your Google Alerts results can include a lot of low-quality content, since they aren't sorted by popularity or relevance -- but it can be a great tool for tracking specific terms for which you want daily updates.
6. Twitter Search
Another free source of relevant content that you might have to wade through a bit to find the gems is Twitter Search.
When you enter a term in the Twitter Search box, you'll be taken to a page where you can sort results by "Top" or "Latest" -- I recommend the former, since it will show you the most popular content relating to your search term, so it's more likely to be higher quality.
The "People" tab is useful if you want to find experts who have your search term written in their Twitter bio -- these people could be good sources of content to share as well.
You can also sort search results to view exclusively tweets with videos, images, article links, and broadcasts.
You can browse Twitter search results on your browser or their smartphone app.
Let’s Get Curating!
There are many more tools that people use for content curation, but these six are the ones that I personally use when searching for third-party content to share on my social networks and those of my clients.
With the exception of BuzzSumo, which works very similarly to EpicBeat so I’ve largely abandoned it since I got a lifetime subscription to the latter, I use a combination of these tools to find content that other people will appreciate.
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Once you've curated your third-party content, you'll want to make a plan for when you're going to share it!