Content Curation for Brands
Content Curation – It’s What’s for Breakfast These Days
Content Curation – It’s What’s for Breakfast These Days

It’s a rare morning that I don’t start out by looking at the news. No, I no longer get the newspaper delivered (it’s been years, actually), and I don’t usually flip to the front page of either.  These days I’m most likely to grab my iPhone (often while still in bed, if truth be told) and log on to smartr. This cool app brings me my Twitter stream, but curated to only include links and to strip out Foursquare checkins and other non-news stuff. Smartr then presents those links to me as a news feed. They say they’re bringing you “only the stuff you care about” – and for me, that’s exactly what it does.  [No disclosure necessary – I just love the app.]

Smartr is just one of many tools helping end users manage their ever-growing content streams.  Online tools like, hybrid Twitter/facebook apps Flipboard and NewsMix and timeline-bender Cadmus all help to tame the beast of too much information 24/7.

The Collector - 1965

Understanding and utilizing content curation is important for brands too. Because if your users are streamlining their reading, eliminating the chaff and pulling out only what’s most interesting to them, your messages may be getting missed.  So how do you improve your chances of getting seen, and of engaging with your fans?

I recommend that my clients go “beyond the broadcast” and provide content in Facebook and Twitter which becomes a valuable resource to followers – going beyond only news or specials from the company.  This curated content typically pulls from interesting outside sources and ultimately expands the brand. For many brands, curating outside content can be very scary – it means using content that others have developed to build your brand, and that loss of “control” doesn’t always sit well with upper management.  But a savvy reader who’s got their finger on the pulse of your industry could do an excellent job as “editor,” bringing the best of the web in your niche or vertical directly to your followers and fans.

My blogging colleague Tom Webster suggests that “content curator” might be a job-of-the-future inside some companies, and I couldn’t agree more.  Who wouldn’t want to spend their time reading and absorbing, following and engaging, all in the name of work?  And that curator might also be a community manager, the person responsible for the ongoing awareness, buzz and engagement of the brand in social platforms and communities.

If the lifespan of a tweet is between 5 minutes and an hour, and a Facebook status update lives for two days at best, you’ve got to have a steady stream of good stuff coming at your fans and followers in order to even hope to catch their eye every few days. With some smart content curation you can build a great resource which can attract customers and potential customers alike.

Do you have tips and thoughts on content curation?  The comments are yours.

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About the Author

Stephanie Schwab
Stephanie Schwab is the Principal of Crackerjack Marketing, a digital marketing agency specializing in social media planning and execution. Stephanie is also the founder of the Digital Family Summit, the first-of-its-kind conference for tween bloggers and content creators and their families. Throughout her 20-year career, she has developed and led marketing and social media programs for top brands and has presented on social media and e-commerce topics at numerous conferences and corporate events. Stephanie writes about social media at, sometimes hangs out at Google+, and tweets @stephanies.
  • Great Article Stephanie, I agree that content curation your responsibility is to bring the best of the web in your niche. Feed Curator use your domain expertise on your niche to deliver fresh content for your site.

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  • It seems that every other company in and around this space is coming out of the woodwork and claiming they all do curation now. That's a good sign that the hype is starting to live on. But I'm seeing that we're using the word curation too lightly if you're implying that reading your Twitter stream is an exercise in curation, because you're able to block Foursquare checkins.

    Curation is a means to an end, not the end itself, and I've blogged about this (…/). There is the whole spectrum from light-weight to robust curation tools and platforms out there now, and we (Eqentia) have chosen to play in the robust, end-to-end category where the real value is.

  • Bonnie Morris

    Hi Stephanie,
    Great post! I wonder, though that reading content curated by Twitter lists, could keep creativity at bay. I think part of what makes people smart is their ability to connect the dots between things that would never be on their radar to the things that are. That's where creativity happens, and you need some way to get at that serendipitous content. If you have any ideas, would love to hear them! Instead of smartr, maybe randomr?

    • Stephanie Schwab:Socialologist

      Bonnie, you are so right – and I do wonder, is curation making us move like lemmings towards the same content? Particularly for those of us (willing to admit this myself) who have Twitter streams that don't stray too far from a particular subject territory. Every now and then I try to follow someone farther afield, but following only one or two outliers is definitely not broadening my view all that much, as I rarely see their posts. I have to work on this and brands probably need to, too.

  • Mark Evans

    Might be worth checking out DataSift as well, from the company that brought us the retweet button. They specialise in curation (and will be adding storage soon), their product is mainly aimed at developers though. I managed to get access to the Alpha, the only problem is that it can be a little addictive!

  • Stephanie, great post. There's one thing that seems to keep dropping off the table though when people talk about curation – the archival/content management aspect of the practice. Remember that a museum curators doesn't just display what's coming in the door that day – they manage large archives of content and pull it out for exhibits which they “curate” to provide context but the act of curation goes much further than filtering news in real time.

    Nearly all of the tools you mentioned do a decent job at that but what about the other half of the equation? It used to be people bookmarked for the archiving aspect of curation but even social bookmarking falls short of the full spectrum of needed functions.

    For an interesting and possibly valuable curation experience you might want to take a look at Pearltrees. It's the first social curation community and it provides powerful archiving, organization and sharing functions as well as the ability to collaborate with others on topics of common interest. It is fully real-time in all respects as well. I'd be curious to hear what you think once you've played with it a bit. (Disclosure I'm the Chief Evangelist for the company).

    • Stephanie Schwab:Socialologist

      Thanks, Oliver! You're absolutely right about the archives; in fact, some of the smartest social media people I know have library science backgrounds, and they get social because they're used to managing large amounts of information. I will definitely check out Pearltrees.

  • Comprehensive content curating requires, from our experience, an integrated web presence consisting of multiple Twitter accounts that are “worked” on a 24/7 basis, an organizational web site (not as important as it used to be), a YouTube channel, multiple Facebook pages and a blog. Combined with traditional marcomm outreach to targeted editors, gatekeepers & analysts; this model provides the platforms for engaging customers, initiating conversations, managing communication lifecycles and responding to immediate concerns & developments. A tight group of dedicated & engaged start-up founders can accomplish this level of outreach with a small staff and modest budget. It is the bottom-up way to achieve objectives and impact target markets.

    • Stephanie Schwab:Socialologist

      Yes! You're totally right that this kind of presence can be a bottom-up approach! And I think that's why it's sort of scary to a lot of senior management….but quite well suited to startups. Good thoughts, thanks!

  • Hi Stephanie,
    I completely agree with you that content curation is a great way to help attract some attention and even help to up one's though-leader status. I can also understand why some companies are afraid to do it, because sharing content that isn't theirs may lead a person somewhere that isn't back to them. However, I think people find it most helpful when people can share content from all over the place that pertains to their industry.
    For myself and my company I've come up with a system that I think seems to work. I use two Twitter accounts during the day, my personal (@40deuce) and my company (@sysomos). Through my work account I usually use it to share our own content or interesting content that pertains to our company. However, most people know that I also tweet from my personal account during the day and that I'm connected to Sysomos by being their community manager. From my own account I read and tweet out all kinds of content (most is social media related, but I manage to slip the odd other thing in as well). I do the content curation through my own account, but since I'm so closely associated with our brand, it's as if the company were doing it. For example, I will be tweeting this article out from my personal account, and this method seems to be working for us so far.

    As well, I'm not familiar with this Smartr app, but will take a look at it. Thanks for the tip.

    Sheldon, community manager for Sysomos (

    • Stephanie Schwab:Socialologist

      Sheldon, great to see how you're doing your content curation, I'm sure it will be a model for readers who aren't sure how to separate personal from brand. Really appreciate you sharing!

  • Hi stephanie,
    Glad to be your weapon of choice for content curation.
    I'm curious how you curate once you've found interesting content – do you retweet it? republish it to a blog? or add your own take to it?
    Would love to get in touch –

    • Stephanie Schwab:Socialologist

      Hi Temo – glad to see your team is so closely monitoring the blogosphere! Smart. I do all of the above with content I curate, for myself and for clients. I'll get in touch!

  • gdecugis

    Great article Stephanie: good to see I'm not the only news freak checking out my iphone in bed every morning…

    I run, a publishing-by-curation platform that you might find interesting for you and your clients, based on what you're recommending on content curation.

    We built as a way to very easily create your topic-centric online magazine out of relevant Web content that our users do not create but curate. We aim at making it a beautiful way of not only doing content marketing but also let every individual share their passions or expertise in a format which stands somehow between Twitter and blogging.

    We've been in private beta for 3 months and if you or your readers are interested, I'm happy to send invites. Feedback welcome and needed!

  • I think you're right on. But I'm concerned that this will fall into the hands of “brand management” type folks who will work to curate based on the ideals of a brand rather than share information. Not to get too controlling on it, but I believe that we all need to develop an inner sense (and outer mechanism) for curating content, like you have. And now I shall check out smartr.

    • Agree — and this is why I think it's good for community managers to have some serious content/news judgment experience. I know that when potential job candidates either apply for a position I'm associated with, or look to me for a recommendation, the FIRST thing I usually look at is what they've done with content, and not just experience with a certain platform.

      Then again, as a former news guy, maybe I'm a bit biased.

      • Stephanie Schwab:Socialologist

        Daniel, that's a great thought on how to evaluate a candidate – not just what content they've created, but what they've done with content. Smart. (And hey, great to “see” you – it's been forever!)

    • Stephanie Schwab:Socialologist

      I hope that content stays with the community manager, but who knows, sillier things happen in brand organizations all the time!

  • As part of my curated breakfast, I came across this post and I've got to say I agree, obviously. Smart brands are acknowledging the fact that people do, in fact, consult other sources than their own.

    When I was in the restaurant business it would have been foolish for us to get upset for our patrons eating at other establishments. If someone comes in looking for a pizza place, and you don't sell pizza, there's equity in pointing them to the best pizza joint in town instead of trying to force a sandwich down their throat, literally. It helps to build trust because they start to view you as a resource that provides answers, as opposed to a source that provides products.

    Great stuff, Stephanie.

    • Stephanie Schwab:Socialologist

      Thanks, Andrew! Appreciate being part of your morning!


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