Content ‘Aggregation’ vs. Content ‘Curation’

Thirty percent of online users get their news from a website or mobile app that organizes news stories for them like Pulse, Flipboard or Spun.

A 2012 study from curation software company Curata found that both content curation and content aggregation are strategic elements of content marketing. When done correctly, they create a powerful digital experience, providing valuable content to users while still expressing a brand’s core values.

According to the same report, 85 percent of US marketers and agencies turn to content curation when establishing thought leadership – a jump from 79 percent the previous year, 80 percent leverage curation as way to elevate brand visibility or generate buzz and 65 percent turn to curation as a means of boosting SEO.

Both content curation and aggregation are quite similar. However, there are the four key differences between strategies – listed below. Automation

Content aggregation is the act of pulling in content from a variety of different sources across the web, and publishing them on one platform, website or blog. This process is automated through RSS feeds and offers the distinct advantage of updating content in real-time – a process that can’t be achieved when simply curating content by hand.

Automation is incredibly helpful as the demand increases for timely content that is relevant, informative and routinely refreshed. This process typically requires less editorial oversight and resources. It also offers marketers a huge differentiator: speed.

Curation, on the other hand, can be a far more manual process and allows content marketers to thoughtfully pick specific content that best targets an audience’s needs and interests. While curation technologies have come a long way (and now enable marketers to publish content more efficiently), content curation has historically been much slower and resource-intensive. Targeting

It’s important to understand what you’re trying to achieve when deciding how to publish and organize your brand’s content.

If your content is niche, highly targeted, topic-oriented, and requires real-time monitoring and updates, then content curation is right for you. If your campaign requires high quality content from specific sources, then curation will also most likely offer greater value in the long run.

Both Intel’s digital magazine iQ and GE’s Txchnologist are two excellent examples of branded content curation. These niche microsites are dedicated to specific topics that are important to both brands, such as innovative and technology in the case of iQ and science, energy, transportation and computing in the case of Txchnologist. Both sites require a more manual approach to publishing to ensure that both hubs are producing and promoting the most relevant content on a daily basis. Value

The editorial hand makes all the difference when it comes to the value content curation affords. When a brand or publisher employs an editor or content marketer to manage the publication and promotion of content, the insights they glean from the process can help to inform future editorial and content marketing decisions as well as communication with consumers. Mixture of ‘original’ (new) and ‘curated’ content

The real value comes down to the experience a brand is trying to create for its audience. Aggregation can be especially useful to brands with large content channels to manage, like American Express. AMEX’s OPEN Forum employs a mixture of original (new) and curated content from external sources. This model allows for a certain degree of control that’s absent from other platforms that rely solely upon aggregation, like Yahoo News.

Are You a News Aggregator or a Content Curator?

Having an effective content, and marketing, strategy is all about (1) understanding your audience, (2) showing empathy to their issues and needs in such a way that you establish trust and build a relationship, and (3) being able to help them.

There’s a lot of time spent on researching your audience, listening and engaging on social media, creating and revising content, and in some cases, discarding content and starting from scratch. A content roadmap is a must so you know how to get from point A to point B and ensure that it aligns with your business goals. Thus, it is paramount to have a content strategy, not just for the creation piece, but the curation piece as well.

With sharing information, there are two paths to take – you can be a news aggregator or you can curate content. The key message here is you have to be consistent – no waffling between being a news aggregrator and a content curator. Pick one.

There is nothing wrong with being a news aggregator. The American Marketing Association, The Association of Fundraising Professionals and Who’s Blogging What are some great examples of who does news aggregation well. The important piece to note here is to ensure the news items are resonating with your audience. And that all comes down to keeping a keen eye on your analytics, and promoting news your audience wants to see.

In the case of content curation, my favorites are, Curata and The Huffington Post.

There are some outlets, like member associations, nonprofits and those that specifically brand themselves as such, where news aggregation works. For the rest of us, content curation is the better path.


Beth Kanter writes in her blog, “A content curator cherry picks the best content that is important and relevant to share with their community. It isn’t unlike what a museum curator does to produce an exhibition: They identify the theme, they provide the context, they decide which paintings to hang on the wall, how they should be annotated, and how they should be displayed for the public.”

We have communities that we try to keep happy and we do that through providing content they want to see, that is relevant and resonates for them. That’s why they stick with us. Content Curation is all about providing news that our audience wants to see but also putting it in context of why it is important and relevant.

Below are 5 content curation tips to help you be an effective content curator.

1. Add content curation to your overall content strategy. Determine such things as the topics and themes you want to curate content for, the daily and weekly curation frequency you want to implement, sites you want to use to curate content, etc.

2. Research. This is going to take a time investment in going through a plethora of sites and good, old-fashioned reading to identify the content that makes sense to curate. Determine a checklist of what elements the content must have in order to be shared and create a site list of where this content is located. Have focus. You don’t want to be all over the map. Always keep your audience in mind and focus on things that will help them. Manage your time by using content curation tools like and Feedly.

3. Share the content the right way. That means give your content context. Answer why is this important and relevant to the reader? Provide your take. Your audience is interested in your thought leadership, that’s why they are part of your community. Enable engagement by asking questions and emotionally charging the discussion so it provokes comment. Respond to comments on your blog, social media, etc. Don’t get too crazy with your comments as you want your comments to be on as much point as the content you are sharing is. And, give credit where credit is due, credit the original author and source of content.

4. Be consistent. Be consistent not only in the type of content you share but when you share the content. Consistency builds trust. Your audience will become used to you helping them on two fronts – giving them the relevant content they need to stay in the know, and helping them manage their time so they don’t have to go elsewhere to find it. And, they will like you even more for it.

5. When sharing on social media, be sure to credit the author and media outlet. Some sharing tools may only list the outlet. Go the extra step and mention the author, too!