Content curation tools play an important role in the content planning and publishing process.
Before we provide you with our picks for the Web’s best content curation tools, let’s go back a step revisit the origins of content curation and the specific role it plays.
The role content curation plays across the social Web
Content curation has risen in significance for a number of reasons:
1. Curated content is more cost-effective than producing (only) original content. It takes a lot of time to produce high-quality and compelling content from scratch, but a lot of great content that is relevant to your online communities already exists. This is not to diminish the importance of original content, which is still the most powerful form of content marketing, but curated content can supplement these efforts. As a general rule, 80 percent of content shared is curated, and 20 percent is original.
2. Curating content is the human attempt at organizing the Web. Though Google is phenomenal and serves up results when we need them, nothing beats human interpretation. When humans, on behalf of businesses, locate and share relevant information, they are serving up content that their community might find useful—a win/win.
3. Curated content is the ultimate form of social (media) giving. Online communities appreciate it when content is shared without an agenda. When you find and share someone else’s content, not only are you adding value to your communities, but you’re also promoting someone else’s content, and that sharing is appreciated at the other end.
There are associated benefits of curated content, including the ability to serve up frequent content and increased opportunities for interaction, which can help exposure over time.
How content curation works
Content planning varies by channel.
The best forms of curated content are evergreen, as opposed to news-based content, which has a shorter shelf-life.
Examples of evergreen content include FAQs, how-to guides and tutorials, industry definitions, and resource lists (such as this one).
Imagery also plays a key role in the curated content you locate and repurpose (as images don’t have to be time sensitive).
Generally speaking, the easiest and most effective place for curation-based content planning is Facebook. Twitter is also suited to this type of content planning, but the nature of this platform places a greater emphasis on real-time curation, which can be more difficult to activate in larger organizations.
Using Facebook as an example, a month’s worth of posts featuring evergreen content can be planned the month before they are scheduled to go live and still be relevant because the content is timeless.
However, the best forms of content planning allow for fluidity, real-time adjustments, and community interaction.
Content curation tools come in a variety of forms, including:
• Aggregation dashboards—multiple source feeds directed to one place
• Content discovery tools—feeds based on keywords and trending posts/topics
• Discovery and delivery solutions—content discovery and publishing with one tool
• All-in-one solutions—discovery, organization, and sharing from a central source
• Content planning tools—taking your original and curated content and organizing it for review/approval and publishing
As with most social media tools, it’s very hard to find the perfect one unless you develop your own that suits your specific needs (which is why you often need a combination).
Below is a list of free and paid tools to that could suit the needs of your organization, depending on where you are located within the content marketing life cycle.
—NetVibes is one of the original content aggregation dashboards and still one of the best. The best feature of NetVibes is the abundance of ready-made feeds and widgets that can get you up and running in minutes. Freemium and premium versions are available.
—Symbaloo is almost identical to iGoogle but is presented in a much more image-shaped manner. If you’re looking at an easy-to-use dashboard that aggregates all the forms of content important to you (images, blog posts, videos etc), this is a great way to go—and it’s free.
—Completely free and straightforward. ProtoPage, despite the odd bug or two, is worth consideration as it gives you the most manual control over relevant content. The benefit that Protopage delivers, and that most others don’t, is a bookmark-style dashboard which reminds you to manually consult non-blog platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram. You can even set up Twitter hashtag feeds to monitor multiple conversations relevant to you.
—Feedly has been around for a while but has become more popular since the departure of Google Reader. Feedly enables you to add content by URL, title, and topic. It is great for blog post aggregation but doesn’t pull in other forms of content (such as images), which would make it a more complete solution. Free and premium versions available.
—One of the most basic aggregators out there and very similar to Feedly.com. The best part of Individurls is the ease in which content scanning takes place and is replicated on your mobile phone for discovery on the move. This one is free, too.
6. Google Sites
—Another free option, this is the least sexy, but it enables you to customize a dashboard-style site featuring bookmarks and links to your favorite and most relevant sources.
Content discovery tools
—iFlow is a part dashboard, part discovery tool. The interface looks very similar to Google Reader and helps you to find content based on keywords and topics. It is another tool that helps with real-time discovery and sharing.
8. Zite app
—Zite a free mobile-only app which finds and aggregates content based on topic and the popularity of individual articles (based on a proprietary algorithm). If you can dedicate only a few minutes a day to content discovery and sharing, Zite is the perfect app for your toolkit.
—Monitors 200,000 RSS feeds and social media accounts and finds content that matches your custom keywords. The nicest part of ContentGems is how often it scans the Web for new content, which helps with real-time curation. Freemium and premium options available.
—Users of Scoop.it tout it because of the user experience and the continuous stream of content it delivers. It automatically finds and features comment from places like Twitter and Google blogs based on your target keywords and interests. It is also customizable, allowing for additional sources to be added to your stream(s).
Discover and deliver
(enterprise solution)—Trap.it positions itself as a “smart” curation tool, increasing in intelligence and relevance the more you use it. It features more than 100,000 vetted content sources and includes “hidden gems” that have the potential to make your presence stand out.
(enterprise solution)—Though there is some free access to PostPlanner, you’ll have to upgrade to one of the premium packages to benefit from the content engine feature. PostPlanner is housed within Facebook (as an app) so if Facebook is your primary focus, this one might be worth considering.
These next tools are great if you have the resources (people and budget) to make them work.
(enterprise solution)—Curata bills itself as one of the only discovery, organization, and sharing tools. It has a number of features that will suit only big organizations that have high volumes of content to scan, repurpose, and publish.
Content planning tools
(enterprise solution)—If you’re a content planner or community manager, you’ll love Kapost. It does away with those pesky Excel spreadsheets and gives you a content calendar template that can be added to, reviewed, revised, and scheduled in the one place. It also enables you to categorize your posts by channel (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, blog).
(enterprise solution)—Compendium is a content marketing platform that helps organizations capture and create original content in a branded hub for distribution to any marketing channel. It will make social media marketers drool when they see the features and interface.
The final word
As mentioned a few times in this post about content curation tools and content planning, the right combination of tools depends on your goals, needs, and resourcing.
In most cases, the free tools can get most of the job done, but if you work for a bigger organization, with more complex approval and publishing processes, the enterprise solutions might be a better fit.
Adam Vincenzini is a PR Daily contributor and the managing partner of Kamber, a specialist content marketing and social media agency based in Australia. A version of this story originally appeared on the company's blog. Follow Kamber on Twitter @KamberCo.