What is Content Curation?

According to author and non-profit social media expert Beth Kanter:

Content curation is the process of sorting through the vast amounts of content on the web and presenting it in a meaningful and organized way around a specific theme.”

Think of it like panning for gold – where you have look through piles of dirt and rock, examine each little piece in an attempt to find that ‘golden nugget’.

A content curator is someone who carefully selects relevant pieces of information and transforms this into content that’s shareable. The content curator identifies the theme and provides the context that makes the content relevant. According to Clay Shirky, author and NYU Professor: “Curation comes up when search stops working. Curation comes up when people realize that it isn’t just about information seeking, it’s also about synchronizing a community.” The essential difference in content curation is that there is a human being doing the sifting, sorting, arranging and publishing.

 What is the role of Content Curation?


The Internet has become a place where massive amounts of information and data are being generated every day. According to ITU, there are 2.7 billion Internet users – almost 40% of the world’s population is online. In addition, every second eight new users join the word wide web (Hubspot). Now think of each of those 2.7 billion Internet users generating pieces of content on a daily basis – you are probably thinking what I’m thinking… information overload!! Through the proliferation of the web anyone has the ability to be a content curator, however you might have heard the saying in the SEO world: “not all content is created equal”  –  this is certainly true.


The Problem: Consumers have too much content. But Brands have too little content.



A content curator offers high value to anyone looking for quality content because through the overwhelming abundance of information available through the web, finding information and making sense of it requires time, patience and focus. This is where the role of brands as content curators comes in, content curation gives brands the ability to become a thought-leader in their industry/category, build their brand audience and create scale through their content marketing efforts.

“Good content is not good enough any more. You need insanely great content that’s on-strategy and incites action. And you need to deliver it in a consistent, ongoing program.”Velocity Partners, a UK based B2B Marketing Agency (check out their B2B Content Marketing Strategy Checklist)

The Process of Content Curation:

Content Curation = Content with Context

Content Curation Process

1.     Content Aggregation

Collecting of content that is relevant to your brand or the brand themes created. An RSS feed is a simple example of a content aggregation tool that pulls information from various sources.

2.     Content Selection

Sorting through the content that has been collected by analyzing and selecting the best and most relevant content that can be used according to your brand or brand themes.

3.     Content Contextualization

Showcasing the best ‘golden nuggets’ of content to your audience in a format that they can easily digest. The value is added here through the ‘contextualizing’ of the content. It is essential that your brand does this in a distinct and own-able way.



6 Content Curation Tools

There are some great content curation tools available on the web to help with the one or more steps in this Content Curation process:

BagTheWeb: Helps users curate Web content. For any topic, create a “bag” to collect, publish, and share any content from the Web.

List.ly: A Tool to help bloggers & brands curate, crowdsource, and engage readers via live embedded list content inside blog posts.

Scoop.it: Enables professionals to share important ideas with the right audiences giving them an opportunity to create and maintain a meaningful Web presence

Curata: Easily find, organize & share relevant content for your business.

Storify: Storify helps making sense of what people post on social media. Curate the most important voices and turn them into stories.

Netvibes.com: A Real-time social dashboard.

4 Content Curation Tips for Businesses

“70% of content [should be] curated, 30% branded. Why? Because the rest-of-the-world is at least 70% more interesting than your brand; and, promoting external content builds social capital, makes grateful fans of influencers.” – Todd Defren

1.     Know your audience:

The content you publish needs to be relevant to your audience in order to resonate and gain traction with your audience. Knowing your audience and understanding their needs are critical for curating a collection that’s going to provide ongoing value over time.

2.     Listening is more powerful than speaking. Less is more:

Listening allows the content curator to become the most reliable filter of quality content. The more content is discarded, the more relevant the final published content is.

3.     Become a go-to source:

Consumer care more about their own problems than they care about your brand or product – your objective as a brand should be to help consumers solve their problems with the final aim of building a loyal audience. A great way to apply this is to your content curation process is to think about the different consumer need stages within buying-stage funnel and curating content that solves for each consumer need stage. Great content that is useful and meaningful will allow a brand to establish authority and become a thought leader within their category or industry.

4.     Leverage content curation to support SEO:

According to Matthew Capala, Head of Search at Profero: In the world where millions of everything is available online (blog posts, articles, books, images, videos, ect), being found is truly valuable for businesses. Effective content curation offers not only the creation of quality content at scale that can rank on targeted keywords in Google, but also an ability to build relationships with key bloggers in your space. If you reference external blog posts in your content curation lists, blog owners will get ping-backs and will likely check out your curated content. You can also reach out to notify the influencers that they they were featured on your list. Over time, those relationships can turn into social shares and backlinks to your content, which are key SEO signals. However, content curation should be a part of your bigger content strategy so make sure you start with user personas and planning to maximize your content curation marketing.

In the SEO space, Moz Top 10 can be a good example of content curation in a form of a semimonthly newsletter. We also recently featured Rosie Siman on Search Decoder, a content curator who manages The Tuesday’s Ten. Check out those great content curation examples to get you started.


In a world where consumers are struggling with information overload and brands are struggling to capture consumer attention; getting noticed and making an impact as a brand is one of the biggest challenges brands face today. Getting and retaining the attention of consumers in a meaningful way has become as valuable as gold. The brands of the future are the ones that see the value in content curation and take advantage of this now as they establish themselves as an authoritative voice and go-to source on the web.

Check out our latest blog post on Search Decoder: Evolve or Perish: How to Succeed in the Digital World


LishaK Bio PicLisha Klopper (@LishKapish) is a M.S. in Integrated Marketing student at NYU, concentrating in Digital Marketing. Before joining NYU she was an Account Manager at BBDO in South Africa and currently she is interning at Story Worldwide in New York as a Strategy and Planning intern. She is highly curious about the evolving world of marketing and digital advertising. Learn more about Lisha here and check out her blog about living in New York City.

18 replies
    • Lisha Klopper
      Lisha Klopper says:

      Thank you Ashwin. Have you used Storify before and if so, what has your experience of it been? I find it great for pulling content from social media channels but the Storify page/output feels a bit like something in between Google+ account and Tumblr page.

    • Lisha Klopper
      Lisha Klopper says:

      Thanks Keisha! Yes, some of these tools such as Storify, BagTheWeb, Scoop.It, List.ly are free and for some of them you can even sign in via your social media profile on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. For Netvibes you can sign in free as an individual and Curata is designed to be used by companies. They are definitely worth checking out! I even used ‘BagTheWeb’ to help me aggregate content for this article 🙂

  1. jacob varghese
    jacob varghese says:

    I recently started using spundge.com. It can also be used for content creation. Can any of the above suggested tools work the same? p.s: I do not work for spundge, I’m just looking to see if there are other options that work the same or better.

  2. click here
    click here says:

    There are very few people who batter know about curation tool but majority of people don’t know even the a.b.c of this great tool. You clearly mention that these are used for collecting information from different sources and sharing with your friends in meaningful way. Very informative post to read out.

  3. Christian Steffensen
    Christian Steffensen says:

    Great read! We are constantly looking for ways to improve our web presence. Curating external sources for our purposes is really an interesting approach. Instead of spending hours rewriting and repurposing other people’s content for our own website, why not link directly and even explain why? I am sure the user will remember which website he came from, especially if you remember to make the link open in a new tab.
    I believe that contextualising is where the gold is buried. Everyone can make a collection of links. Putting it in context is the real challenge.
    Thank you for pushing me out of my comfort zone!

    • Matthew Capala
      Matthew Capala says:

      Thanks for the note Christian. Glad you found this topic useful. On this blog, I have found many times over that curated content most of the times outperforms other forms of content. Curation is also easier to scale. Cheers

  4. Bryan fleming
    Bryan fleming says:

    Great article. I think more people need to know just how much easier it is to curate other people’s stuff than to write your own.

    But I really like how you said that you still need to write a few of your own thought leadership articles from time to time.

    – Bryan

  5. Johne541
    Johne541 says:

    Though it is true I enjoy your writing style, I don’t agree with your main point of view about this one. I do delight in your website nevertheless. keaekfgfeade


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