7 Awesome Content Curation Tools for your Social Media Marketing Strategy

Content curation is the practice of finding valuable content and sharing it with your social media followers. For instance, a local Noblesville restaurant might want to share a great review of a California Cab that the restaurant happens to serve. Or a Fisher’s clothing store might want to share a press release of the new spring lineup for one of the clothing brands it carries. Or perhaps that clothing store could share an article on the benefits of freezing jeans versus washing them. The idea is to share content (articles, videos, pictures) that you think your followers will find value in and to establish yourself as a thought leader in your business’s industry. But how do you find that content and how do you share it quickly and easily with your social media followers? I give you 7 content curation tools that will save you time, establish yourself as a thought leader in your business, grow your following, and keep your business top of mind for the services and/or products you sell.

1. Build a Content Feed with Feedly

You could spend half a day checking blogs, doing Google searches, and reading news sites for valuable content that you could share with your social media followers. Even if you bookmarked your favorite sites and sorted them into corresponding folders, it would still take a lot of time to go through each one to catch up on the latest stories and posts. That is why I recommend Feedly. Feedly is an RSS-type reader that is really easy to set up and has a great mobile app which is important when I look at digital marketing tools. Before Feedly, I use to use Google Reader, which was great and very popular but is not around anymore. There are similar tools to Feedly, but it seems to be the most popular. You simply create folders on Feedly and add URL addresses of pages or sites that you want to see the latest stories and posts from. You can also add RSS feeds if the site has one. And there is also a “Discover” option that lets you add popular sites in popular categories.

From Feedly, you can quickly browse the headlines and read the stories you want to read right on the app. You can also quickly share the content via Twitter, Facebook, and other popular social media channels. You can also save the content for later and add tags to the content for easier sorting. You can flip through the latest content or you can flip through content in a folder you’ve created. I usually flip through the latest content and when I see something that I might want to share or read later, I could save the content on Feedly but I save it to Pocket which is my next important tool for content curation.

2. Save Content with Pocket

I love the Pocket app as a reader for my phone. It is an offline reader, which means that it will save the content on your phone allowing you to read the content without needing a wifi or cell signal to load the story. This is great for people who commute on the subway or for those wanting to lower their data and battery usage.

I save all the content from Feedly that I want to read for later or to share with Pocket. Both apps work very well together. When I am on Feedly, I can simply hold down my finger on a story and it will save to Pocket or I can simply hit the Pocket icon on Feedly and it saves it just like that.

Pocket has lots of options, allowing users to customize and use it the way that works best for them. For me, I primarily read the content in the My List section which is all the content I saved. Pocket does save the content according to content types like articles, videos, and images and you can view the content by type. You can also add tags to the content in case you want to sort the content by the client or subject matter. There is also a favorite section where you can save the best content. Pocket has also added a ‘Recommended’ section which serves you content from other Pocket users who have “recommended” content that is similar to the content that you save.

When you click on the content, it opens it up for you to read or look at. From there you can “recommend” the content which then shares it with other Pocket users or you can share it via social media channels, messaging and email. While I could share it directly using the Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn apps, I usually use Buffer to share my content.

3. Share Content with Buffer

So you have some great content that you’ve saved and read in Pocket and now you want to share it. While you could share it directly to each social media channel, I prefer to use Buffer. Buffer is great because you can connect most of your social media channels to it and use one program, Buffer, to share it to one or all of them in one easy step.

There is a free version that allows you to connect some of your social media profiles, but to add more than one for Twitter or any other channel, you have to pay. The other great thing about Buffer is that you can schedule when your content is sent. So when you add the content to one of your Buffer social media feeds, Buffer will save it in a queue for it to be sent on the schedule you have set. That way you can fill up your Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, or Pinterest queue and Buffer will send out the content on a scheduled basis as opposed to right that instant like the regular Twitter, Facebook, and other social media apps do.

You can use Buffer directly from Pocket by clicking on the Buffer icon when you have some content to share. Once you click the Buffer icon, you can then choose which social media profiles to use. You can send the same content to every social media profile, although I’m not a fan of that. The other thing I love is that when you share content in Twitter, you can grab an image from the actual content piece to affix to the Tweet. I haven’t seen this feature on the regular Twitter app and I don’t think it’s a feature on HootSuite either. It’s a great feature because Tweets with images tend to get more impressions, retweets, and likes.

There is also an analytics part to Buffer that shows impressions, clicks, likes, retweets and other metrics. There are other apps that allow you to schedule your content curation like HootSuite but I like the simplicity and UI of Buffer. I’m currently not a paying customer, but as I continue to manage more and more of my clients’ social media profiles, I am seriously considering it to make my work easier and more convenient.

4. Track Content with Bit.ly

The last piece of the content curation pie is the process of tracking the content that you share. Buffer has built in analytics that shows you how much your followers interacted with it as does most other tools like HootSuite. I use bit.ly because it is not tied to any particular digital marketing tool and can be used easily across all digital platforms. Bit.ly is first and foremost a link shortener like owl.y for HootSuite. But it also provides the user analytics of the links that you shorten with it. You can use bit.ly to shorten links for Twitter and Facebook as well as emails and instant messages and any place where you would normally share or add a link.

The other great thing is that you can use it as a link shortener only and shorten campaigned links that you track with Google Analytics. That way people won’t see a long and ugly link containing your campaign info. Bit.ly is free to use but they do have paid options that provide extra services. Bit.ly also integrates well with many of the social media tools, so when you go to share the content, the tool you are using automatically shortens the link with bit.ly. There are other link shorteners and they all work pretty much the same. Just make sure that the one you choose works well with the tools and apps that you use.

5. Discover New Feed Sources with Google Alerts

Now that you’ve got your content curation up and running and everything is going swimmingly, let’s look at what’s next. I am always on the lookout for new ways to find fresh content to share as well as to get inspiration for my own content creation. One tool I like for finding fresh content that my followers will like to see is to use Google Alerts.

With Google Alerts, I can tell Google to search the Internet for content that contains keywords that relate to the content I share and the business I run. For instance, I like to share local news from the Indiana towns of Noblesville, Fishers, and Carmel on Root Digital Marketing’s social profiles as the businesses and clients we serve primarily live in our area of town. With Google Alerts, I can tell Google to search for the town names in the news, blogs or general web. I can choose certain countries to search in. I can tell it to show all alerts or only the best results. And finally, I can tell Google to email me the results or I can make an RSS feed. Since I feed the alerts into Feedly, I choose RSS feed and then add that feed to Feedly under the folder I choose. You can also use standard Google Search terms to limit the results like using the minus sign (-) in front of words to leave them out of the alerts or using the site: operator to limit your alerts to certain sites or using quotes to look for a specific group of words like “Indianapolis Zoo”.

There is a ton of other tools that I have used and continue to use, but I think the above tools will get you started with content curation. While these tools will save you time, they will still take time. And if you don’t have time to manage your social media profiles, to curate content, to interact with your followers and to push fresh content via social media, then you should consider outsourcing your curation and social media management.