April 25, 2011
Liz published this at 7:37 am
What You Share Defines You
Last year, I started experimenting with curating content on Twitter. I had three good reasons. I realized that
- Twitter was no longer an extension of blog, but had become it’s own thing. Like a new summer home where I met a new neighborhood of people, many of them didn’t know my background, my skillset, my expertise, or my interests. A twitter bio doesn’t do much to fill in that.
- The weekly link post on my blog “The SOB Business Cafe” wasn’t as useful today as a filter as it once had been. Not every great post is evergreen enough to wait until Friday for sharing. And a single post collect such things needs to be targeted and niched well with a title that brings home their value. Rearranging that slot in that way would be turning it into a totally new thing. I had other ideas about using that space to feature members of the community.
- Becoming a blogger had given me a way to keep up the writer’s discipline of writing every day — a habit that had built my skills and served me for decades. The idea of curating great content would give a way to keep up the writer’s discipline of reading great content every day — a habit that would build my skills and keep me current in an ever changing business environment.
To say it paid off would be an understatment. While reading for articles to share, I found new thoughts to consider and new ideas to write about. And like blogging, curating content on Twitter taught me more about relationships, social skills and building a network than I might ever have expected.
Here’s how I did that …
Build a Stronger Network by Curating Content On the Go
Don’t think for a minute that I’m exaggerating about the “minutes a day” part. I curate content during commercials on TV and while I’m waiting for people to meet me in a restaurant. At the risk of sounding like Dr. Seuss …
I curate in the morning.
Breaking out save articles without warning.
I curate on a break.
I curate eating cake.
I curate near the lake.
Sometimes I save an article to read and curate while I wait
for a meeting, a phone call, an appointment, or blogger date.
I curate especially during commercial breaks …
Two Ways to Curate on the Go
Actually, I’m not quite as obsessed as all that. But I do curate in the minutes that I used to just sit. Here are two ways I do that.
- When someone shares a great article on Twitter that I don’t have time to read right then, I send the that article to my Instapaper account. When I find I have a few minutes to read a bit, I have a queue of articles that already have my interest waiting to be read. I share the ones I think serve my audience interests and needs.
- I also have a list of publications — standard publications in my niche, writers who say thought provoking and useful things, and outliers who connect ideas in interesting ways. I’ve collected them into sets of bookmarks. About once a week I visit their websites to see what they’ve been talking about and share what I find to be the most useful of their content.
Sometimes I tweet what I find at that very moment. Often I schedule the content I curate so that I don’t binge tweet. I also think about when an article might be most useful to folks. So I try to post articles that require more reading time at night, how-to and building articles or on the weekend, and ways to perform better at work during the week. [I use Tweetdeck to schedule these curated tweets and the only tweets I schedule are curated tweets.]
The ROI of Curating Content on Twitter
The discipline of reading regularly and curating what I prized had more ROI than I’d ever have guessed. Naturally I got closer and more up-to-date with great content, but the return was far more than that. Here are the direct benefits that were a result of investing a few minutes whenever I had the time.
- The content I curated defined me more clearly and differently to the people who follow my Twitter Stream. This single reason is huge. Don’t just be the “sales guy” be the “sales guy who’s up on the latest news and issues.”
- That content began attracting people who want to read the content I curate. I am pre-selecting the Internet for them. Twitter used to be the back door to my blog. Now that new audience sometimes starts at Twitter and then goes to my blog to check out what I’m about.
- When I keep what I curate consistent in content and quality, I find people share it often with comments and RTs.
- When I credit the Twitter name of the person who wrote the article — rather than the magazine or blog — it often starts a relationship between us that wasn’t there before I tweeted that person’s work. Some of those relationships have now moved offline to collaborations. A couple of nice interviews have resulted and some upcoming coverage for an event is happening because of those relationships.
- Offering great content from 8-12 other sources a day also makes it easier to share what’s good on my own blog without seeming a self-promotional jerk.
- I’ve become far more familiar with the “personality” of the publications in my niche. I developed a good sense for each publication’s strengths, standards, and content preferences. i’m still surprised to find how infrequently some of the huge publications on the web update their content.
- Curating content has kept me from staying stuck in the conversation fishbowl that can happen when we only talk with our friends. I’ve learned new points of view, new tools, new techniques, and new strategies from the articles I’ve read.
The ROI of curating content on twitter is the influence gained from incrementally staying in sync with the tools and the culture while still listening to the mainstream point of view. Those bits and articles that we take in from Twitter bring the latest from the self-sorted group. Those we seek out from traditional media bring the outside view. On the edges of each and in between them is where the new thoughts come through.
Curating content gets us to listen too.
The more we listen, the more we know. The more we know, the more we notice. The more we notice the more we can use to figure out what we need to know next.
How can you curate content to tailor Twitter — to make it faster, easier and more meaningful — for the folks who follow you?
–ME “Liz” Strauss
Work with Liz on your business!!
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