As discussed in the previous blog post, content curation is a very helpful method for small businesses in providing value online. Essentially, I discussed how important it was and a few notes on how it’s supposed to be like, theoretically. This time, we’re going to talk about the nitty gritty – the ACTUAL method for curating content AND the tools I use for it.

Content curation is composed of three main phases:

1. The location of sources

2. The gathering (because, again, I’m a geek and this sounds sooo cool)

3. The scheduling

Let’s get started.

The location of sources

This is where you gather Facebook Pages, Twitter profiles, blogs and websites that are, in one way or another, relevant to your business. Now, whether it’s supposed to be a competitor or not is going to be your choice (but remember, keep your friends close, keep your competitors closer).

To do this correctly, you have to determine what keywords your target audience would use to search for the products or services your business provides. Once you’ve done that and listed them all down on a spreadsheet, do a Google search and determine which websites are most likely to provide value to your audience. You can do this by putting yourself in the shoes of your audience and looking at the website or blog. If you feel that it provides a lot of value, then that’s when you know that it’s a reliable source of information.

Do the same for Facebook Pages using Facebook’s graph search – it’s highly recommended that you choose FB pages that are listed as community pages. This is because it’s highly likely that a brand doesn’t own it AND it’s run by the community you’re serving. From there, find out if it has a reasonable number of likes and engagement (by that, I mean, relative to your target audience, it’s got a lot of people talking about and liking the posts in the FB Page).

You can also use Postplanner for Facebook. This app is very useful because it literally searches for Facebook Pages and even posts that may be relevant to your business.

For Twitter, you can do a hashtag search in the actual Twitter interface and find out who your audience members are. You can follow them from there and, in the long run, determine who are influencers. Influencers, in this specific case, are people in Twitter with a high following and a high Klout score. Take note of these individuals and gather their website or blog links and follow them in their other social places.

It’s important to put them all in one place so you can easily check them out whenever you’re about to schedule content for your social media places. This is where we go to the second phase of content curation.

The gathering

For documentation purposes, I put all the Facebook Page URLs, the blog and website links and Twitter links on an Excel spreadsheet. Back in the old days, I just alt+tabbed my way through the entire process. It looked a lot like this, in fact:

1. Open chrome
2. Open Hootsuite and Facebook
alt+tab
3. Open spreadsheet
4. Copy link
alt+tab
5. Paste link
6. Skim through content
alt+tab

And so on and so forth.

Now, it’s one thing to just have all these links in one place, it’s another thing to get updated with new content or posts. You can get yourself updated through Mozilla Thunderbird – it’s essentially an email client that where you can store your feed list in and get updated via email. You can also use Feedly if you don’t want to have any other window up besides your browser.

Back in the  day, it took me around 2 hours to get a client’s posts all set up for the day.  These days, however, it’s much easier for me because of tools like Postplanner, Curationsoft, Scoop.it, the Facebook Interest list feature, the tools mentioned above, etc etc.

Essentially, these are tools that you can use to store your content – some of them do the searching and the scheduling part for you as well like Postplanner.

The scheduling

I love Hootsuite. Been using it for 3 years now and I’ve not been disappointed (except for that one time when we were charged $300 for the reports – I should REALLY read the fine print). In any case, Hootsuite works best for my clients.

For my personal profiles, however, I use Buffer. During my leisure time, when I surf the web and see something interesting (and provides relative value to my audience), I just click the buffer app button in my Chrome browser and the app schedules it for me.

Now, like I mentioned earlier, it took me awhile to get used to this process – lots of hours spent and mistakes made. But I got to a point where it’s quick and easy and I get most of my day saved up for “me” time.  Here’s a quick recap:

1. Google
2. Postplanner
3. Feedly
4. Scoop.it
5. Buffer
6. Mozilla Thunderbird
7. Facebook’s Interest List feature
8. Facebook’s graph search feature
9. Twitter’s search bar
10. Microsoft Excel

Try these out for yourself and let me know what you think.

Also, here’s a quick template you can modify to help you curate your content.

[Image from DeviantArt user Ganassa]

(If you want tons of damage, go get a Trinity Force – BOOYAH!)