6 Rules for Successful Curation

Jean-Marie Bonthous


If you have a blog, you know that unless you post at least twice a week visitors tend to forget you. You need a flow of fresh, interesting content, to keep people coming back again and again. Sometimes, the inspiration is there: you have the right insights, the right anecdotes or learnings from your work that can make a great post, and you have no problem transforming them into a 500 words blog post. Other times, you just don’t have the subject matter handy. Quality curation is a great way to fill your blog with fresh content. Will replacing original content with curated content harm your image viewers? Not at all, if you do it right. Here are 7 pointers for successful curation.

Stick with you editorial guidelines
When you created your site, you had business objectives in mind, and you formulated a set of implicit or explicit editorial guidelines: “these are the topics that I will write about, because they interest my audience, and because they give me the greater chance of turning them into leads and prospects.” As you turn to curation, stay with you original content guidelines. Make sure that your content not only stays on topic, but that it helps visitors solve problems, make better informed decisions, and progress toward their own business goals.

Be a curator, not an aggregator
Aggregation is a rather brainless task. Just gather all the articles that address the same topics, and post them in the same place. You leave to the readers the task of finding the content that is relevant, valuable, helpful. Curators, by contrast add value. They listen to the ecosystem that deals with their topics of interest, filter the new content, distill them with a specific audience in mind, and display them at the right time and in the right format. As a curator, not only you are a mini-search engine focused on some keywords, but you are a screener, looking at the influence of the authors, and at the value of their content.

Choose topics that have high value for readers
I have heard many times that content needs to be timely, relevant and entertaining.
Content needs to be timely because, in the social web, the attention span of the public for specific topics is ephemeral. Topics trend for a while, based on the launch of new tools, or publication of an analyst report. Then they are rapidly replaced with another topic. Then the initial topic comes back later when there is a new breakthrough in its field. Influence, for example, has become big since Klout, Peerindex and Twitalyzer have emerged. As we get used to them, the topic of influence will fade away for a while, until there is a new platform, or a big acquisition in this field. Learn to move with the ebbs and flows of interest.
Content needs to be tnertaining because people like to be entertained and are used to be entertained, whether its advertising, or whether it’s the increased gamification of marketing offers.
Make sure also the content has high utility value. People don’t just want to be entertained, they want content that shows them how to do things better, faster, more effectively.

Make sure your curated posts have the right keywords built-in
You may be tempted to write about what matters to you, because it’s the issue you are dealing with at the moment. It may or may not be relevant to your readers. Keep a finger on the pulse of what is being written, and what’s trending. This is essential if you want to build traffic. Google’s free keyword analyzer will show you what terms are most competitive. If you are looking for SERP (search engine recommended pages) domination, and want to compete with the big players, pick at your own risks topics defined by very popular, short keywords that have a high level of competition. If you choose this path, you will need to do a lot of blog post promotion to If you want to assert yourself and exert thought leadership in a niche area, go for long, less competitive keywords in niche areas.

Curators are valuable amplifiers. Assert your value for marketers
May by the fact that you choose and share positions you as an influencer, capable to augment the dissemination and amplification of a message. Make sure that you are able to quantify the impact of your amplification: communities reached by your curated content, reach, number of shares and retweets, types of connection and interaction on these networks, and more generally the kind of information that Google Analytics or Postrank can provide.

Inject your opinions
This helps build personality. Readers want to get to know you, as much as discover the content that you are curating. They want to know the person behind the curation. The more insightful, interesting and genuine you are perceived, the more readers will be loyal. The rise of reality show is indicative of the value that people place on knowing the person, not just the story.
If you curate content that sticks to your editorial guidelines, addresses topics that are of interest to your readers, lets your personality come through, contains judiciously-chosen keywords and reaches audiences valuable to marketers, it should boost your influence online.
What in your experience makes curation successful? I would love to hear your comments.

Jean-Marie Bonthous, PhD, is Principal of Seamless Social. He consults and speaks about social media strategy, social CRM, influence marketing, social media analytics, and how to build a social business. He has been a trusted advisor to Fortune 500 companies for 30 years and has led many successful, high-impact consulting projects, including change management during IT-enabled business transformation initiatives with $100 million budgets, balanced scorecard-driven strategy formulation and implementation initiatives, and many strategic marketing and branding projects. He is author of two books on business intelligence and has taught business intelligence and culture change at the Stern School of Business at New York University.

One Response to 6 Rules for Successful Curation

  1. Tom Hood January 22, 2012 at 10:21 am #


    Excellent post and I completely agree. Your distinction between an aggregator and a curator are on point. I find that our eaters love the perspective we offer much mire than just regurgitating others content. I curate using my social networks in the key areas I follow – accounting, CPA Profession, leadership, learning, Maryland, social media. I use this ti quickly filter the critical topics and then feed to evernote where I collect and curate and then tee up my blog posts. Thanks for writing! 

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