Editors note: This post is an early aggregation of everything I knew about content curation. I’ve since spent 100+ hours compiling even more information and research into one massive post, that far outshines this one, that was published in late 2015. See the new post on content curation.
A good rule of thumb for amazing curation is not just sharing a great link, it’s sharing a great link nobody else has seen. That’s where many go wrong – people try and auto-feed articles into their social accounts, blogs or email newsletters, thinking that by simply sharing SEOmoz or Distilled or whatever, that will automatically mean that people will trust them.
In fact, it’s often quite the opposite. Your constant sharing of the same articles without differentiation makes you a person that is not valuable to follow.
So, make it a practice of sharing a great article to an audience of interested people, who haven’t seen it before. This means that if you’ve discovered something amazing late in the day from one of the most popular content sources, you probably shouldn’t share it.
For example, I saw Rhea Drysdale’s post on SEOmoz early yesterday morning, and noticed that I had not seen the echo chamber of people linking to it, yet, in my Twitter stream. So, I shared it there and on Google Plus, where it attracted positive response.
If I had waited until later in the day, I probably would have leaned towards not sharing it at all, because the post gained steam and I started seeing it everywhere on Twitter. But since it was early, not much had happened and it was still clearly a great post, I shared it.
There is a sense of content degradation that happens with time – one that is caused both by awareness and recency. If they’ve seen it, they won’t care, if it’s old, they won’t care.
One way to battle content sharing over-saturation on a social network is by using another tactic: avoid sharing an article the same place you discovered it. For example, if I was late to the Rhea game and seeing tweets fill up my stream, I would make a quick effort to instead share on Google Plus.
Similarly, if I found something originally on Hacker News, I’d have strong confidence that it wouldn’t be as popular on Twitter, even if it has strong relevancy. Similar with Google Plus – if I see an article there that stands out, there’s a higher likelihood that my Twitter stream won’t have been over-exposed to it.
This is especially true if I see something shared by an influencer – if my network is likely to have seen their original tweet, sharing that content on another network (while cited) is much preferred as it is very possible to have been seen already by my network on the original platform, especially if said influencer and I share traits and a decent percentage of followers.
In the example below, a popular SEO, Yoast, shares on Twitter, and then I quickly after share on Google Plus. I notably also decided to share on Twitter here (because the context changed dramatically), but you can see the difference in success, even in this case.
This follower overlap suspicion can now be confirmed with data through great tools like Followerwonk. Unfortunately, Yoast is the Sun and I am the Earth. As you can see, my suspicion was correct, and many of the people that follow me would have seen Yoast’s original link shortly before.
Great Curation at Scale
This process has interesting implications. If everyone followed this word for word, no articles would get shared. Twitter would be a lot more quiet. Amazing stuff would get missed way more often. For that reason, it doesn’t scale well. It is extremely difficult for everyone to be a great curator.
But the power – and need – for great curation is in consistency. If you have a history of sharing stuff that people haven’t seen, your tweets get read more often. If your tweets get read more often, when you actually share something you want people to read (your own stuff), it is way more likely to be clicked, because people are attune to that consistency.
Curation requires the same things as any content you put out – only with a singular source of origin. If you commit to holding it to that standard, I bet you’ll find a lot more success in sharing content online.