September Net2 Think Tank Round-up: Curating Content

Claire Sale's picture

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For this month's Net2 Think Tank, we asked you to share your tips, resources, and ideas about curating content at your organization or enterprise. Below, read the curated list of the community responses we received - and share your own tips in the comments!

Here's a quick working definition to get us started: Content curation focuses on using the web to highlight important information in situations where information overload may be a problem. Many organizations today are writing on the web regularly to communicate with their audience. At the same time, information pollution is an increasing problem for the consumers of that content. As Will Coley explains, "when organizations offer clarity amidst the noise, they build trust among supporters"


Topic: What are your best practices for curating content? Share your tips, tactics, tools, and techniques for effectively curating to serve your audience. And, if you've written about curation in the past, share the link with us!



While this month's Net2 Think Tank is now closed, you're always welcome to add your feedback on the subject. Feel free to add your ideas in the comments section at the bottom of this page.


Why Curate?

  • Grow your audience: "I’ve discovered that curation is the best way to build an organization’s following and it’s often the first step in engaging supporters: first as audience members and then as contributors." - from Will Coley's blog post on content curation.
  • Become a leader: "The overarching theme [of curation] seems to center on a few key things. The what has to do with maintaining and adding value to a trusted body of knowledge and the why has to do with providing a service to a busy and information-inundated nonprofit sector. It goes much deeper and broader than this, but those are the highlights." - from Michael DeLong on the TechSoup Forums.
  • Build relationships: "By sharing the information and giving credit to the source where you found the link, you build relationships and a network." - from Beth Kanter on her blog.
  • Build trust through the human touch: "Over the past 10 years, much of the movement in the content world has been driven by machines and crowdsourcing. It’s time to bring the human expert back into the mix, but to give him or her the companion toolkit of great technology and access to crowd wisdom. That way, he or she can truly curate thoughtful content that will cut through the noise, and ultimately rebuild the trust and authority severely damaged by content overcrowding." - from Dermot McCormack on Mashable, recommended via @TechSoup.

Getting Started

  • Curation starts with listening: "Scan and monitor the web for relevant content every day. To find content that relates to my project, I follow lots of blogs of partner organizations and allies through Google Reader (RSS subscription service), as well as by getting news updates from Google Alerts, and friends/colleagues in my Facebook and Twitter newsfeeds." - from Will Coley's blog post on content curation.
  • Know your existing content resources:
    - "Firstly start with a content audit - what does the organisation already have? ensure it is classified correctly and stored in a retrievable way, what percentage of this content could be adapted or refined into different formats? this is always a good starting place then you can move on to newly created content." - from Jenni Beattie on Linkedin
    - "We've assembled a task-force of sorts here at TechSoup to tackle the topic, with all of us sharing the tools, methods, and ideas we have around content curation." - from Michael DeLong on the TechSoup Forums.
  • Understand how others are successfully curating:
    - "The Gertrude Stein exhibit curated by @jewseum uses selection & arrangement to convey a point of view." - Example from Marnie Webb on Twitter
    - "Bruce Lesley is one of a growing number of  nonprofit executive directors and senior leaders that use Twitter.  And, he isn’t tweeting about what he ate for breakfast or one of his personal passions, basketball.   He uses Twitter to curate information related to his organization’s mission and work as a bipartisan advocacy organization dedicated to making children and families a priority in federal policy and budget decisions." - Example from Beth Kanter on her curation blog post.
  • ... and get more curation ideas for beginners from Beth Kanter's Social Media Strategy wiki. This tool includes further reading on the process and tools you can use for curation. 

Best Practices for Content Curation

  • Use various media types to tell a single story: "Mix up the type of content you curate on your blog. Perhaps I’m contributing to the 'Death of American Culture' here, but don’t rely solely on only written blog posts. Experiment with blog posts that are composed of audio clips, video, slideshows, infographics, graphic art, etc." - from Will Coley's blog post on content curation.
  • Be Opportunistic: "Get creative in capturing content. Everyone is so busy these days and strapped for time. I’ve been trying to think of ways to integrate content creation into work and events already happening. I always remind people to document their live events with photos or video. I’ve also tried turning email discussions on listserves into blog posts and opting to record conference call presentations. My next big experiment is recording video check-ins via Skype that take less than five minutes." - from Will Coley's blog post on content curation.
  • Follow the experts: "Find the best curators in my topic and follow them – it’s like sipping fine wine.  You have to be organized and know your sources. And you have to scan your sources regularly." - from Beth Kanter on the Scoopit Blog.
  • Curate your event notes and materials: "We encourage our speakers and our attendees to share their conference materials and notes with each other, and to help them and the community easily share and find these, we use a combination of SlideShare, Google Docs, and tagging to keep things connected [...] We also reinforce the conference tag (11NTC for the 2011 Nonprofit Technology Conference, for example) in our communications to all speakers and attendees and encourage their use of it to help us aggregate community content around the conference. After the conference, we do a round-up of the resources we've been able to identify via that tag." - from Annaliese Hoehling on Linkedin.
  • Create content with a purpose: "I know of a charity who found of over 10k pages on their site only 2k had EVER been accessed externally. Less is more?" - Curation fail from Charles Bagnall on Twitter


  • Bag the Web: "I like Bag the Web; its very user-friendly and intuitive. It also does a good job helping to explain/visualize what 'content curation' is, exactly." - from Amanda Ward on Linkedin.
  • Salesforce Content: "How much time have you wasted searching for presentations, thank you templates, or other development documents? Have you ever communicated with a student about the course schedule, only to realize later that the schedule you referenced was out-of-date? Salesforce Content is probably one of the most over-looked FREE features offers, even though it easily solves the above mentioned issues and more." - from Tal Frankfurt on the Cloud for Good blog.
  • Scoopit: " wants to help curating content, especially for non-profits who could use a great context: being visible and be sure that people who are interested in their cause, want to support or just be part of the debate, have the possibility to interact with them. A publishing-by-curation gives them such a dedicated place. Forget the noise, start building." - from Axelle Tessandier on the Scoopit Blog
  • Locker Project: "Locker Project allows you to archive and curate your own social media content across many channels" - from Evonne on the TechSoup Forums.
  • ... and read this excellent curation tools overview in Social Media Examiner's 8 Ways to Find Great Social Media Content. - Recommended by Beth Kanter

Resources for Additional Content Curation Information 


Post About Your Curation Tips, Tools, or Best Practices!

What did we miss? While this month's Net2 Think Tank is now closed, you're always welcome to add your feedback on the subject. Feel free to add your ideas in the comments section at the bottom of this page.



Thank you to all of our contributors this month! 



About Net2 Think Tank:

Net2 Think Tank is a monthly blogging/social networking event open to anyone and is a great way to participate in an exchange of ideas.  We post a question or topic to the NetSquared community and participants submit responses either on their own blogs, the NetSquared Community Blog, or using social media.  Tag your post with "net2thinktank" and email a link to us to be included. At the end of the month, the entries get curated in the Net2 Think Tank Round-Up.