One of a content marketer’s main questions is how to use content strategically. For those who don’t have the resources to create all their own content, there’s curation–distributing others’ content in a way that builds trust and brand equity. My observation is that very few people really know how to curate well. Good curation is a component of consistency, timing, and taste. If not done well, curation has almost no impact on competitive advantage for a business or individual trying to grow an audience via social media.
One way to make up for a lack of time or taste for quality content to share is to rely on content aggregator sites. While there are plenty of aggregator/content apps, I prefer to work with simple web-based content aggregators that rely on algorithms or human/algorithm hybrids that reveal highly shared content. This list of content aggregators is my favorite, each providing a unique function or pulling from a unique content data source.
Newswhip – I’ve been testing out Newswhip for several weeks and have been impressed by the virality scoring pulled from Facebook and Twitter, broken down by category and algorithmically incorporating timing factors. In my mind, Newswhip comes closest to achieving what the ideal content curation platform is capable of (but everybody is still pretty far from that ideal).
Rt.ly – Ever since Bitlynews was shelved, I’ve been hoping for a replacement to come along to rank content sharing by bit.ly link. Rt.ly is a new lab project by bit.ly that does exactly that. Data is algorithm-driven and displays rates of click-through. Requires a bit.ly account, but it does provide some much-needed search and filtering options.
Newsmap.jp – I love the visual format of Newsmap.jp. The clean visualization is generated by Google News data and features category filtering and multiple search options. It’s also cool how they display recency and importance by the lightness and size of squares, respectively.
Topsy.com/Top100 – The normal content rankings are no better than Newswhip, but Topsy’s filtering by image is a good way to view photos and pictures currently going hot on Twitter.
Imgur – The image respository for 99% of the images on Reddit. There’s probably a lot of overlap between the two, but because Imgur is so big, this is a pretty good dataset, even though it’s full of memes and random humor.
Viral Video Chart – Now this is cool. Unruly Media pulls together sharing data from Twitter and Facebook, plus blogs (presumably from embeds) to deliver categorized viral video listings, with some fantastic metrics and filtering options.
YouTube Trends Dashboard – It’s ironic that YouTube has access to so much video sharing data, but chooses to give us a tool almost not worth mentioning. But the Trends Dashboard does provide a good snapshot of what’s popular and includes some filtering options.
Algorithm Plus Voting
Reddit – The site has become the mainstream standard that other trending news sites check for ideas. When you spend time on Reddit, you’ve already seen that viral video people are tweeting about. You’ll also realize that Reddit is the crutch for many lazy content curators online. Check topical “subreddits” and the conversation threads of stories for better quality shareables.
Hacker News – The second most popular voting-based, algorithmic content aggregator. While most content is aimed at programmers and engineers and would be considered too technical for the average person, business and tech content is higher quality and more interesting than what comes from Reddit.
Algorithm-Based Plus Human Curation
TechMeme – The big fish among tech blog and news site tracking. The TechMeme team occasionally exercises executive editorial privilege to change headlines and highlight particular content or swap a more comprehensive story with a less complete one.
Blogrunner – Over 12,000 blogs and media sources feed the New York Times-owned content aggregator, which determines topical popularity across the web, then combines headlines from popular news publishers with blogger opinions for any given news story.
While not algorithm-driven, these RSS aggregators can help you quickly find the newest content from popular sites.
popurls – a short RSS feed of headlines and links to the 8 or 9 most recent articles on popular sites around the web, including Reddit, Hacker News, etc.
Alltop – a more comprehensive collection of headlines and links over a broad range of categories. You can even add your own site.
Image credit: Thomas Mathis