Guest post by Courtney Seiter
Show of hands: Who has enough time every day to read up on your industry’s news? Oh, and everything new you need to know to market your business? Yeah, me neither. But knowing what’s going on in your space is critical for content creation, competitive intelligence and social media efforts.
To cut through the glut of information to make sure the good stuff rises to the top, I employ a lot of help in the form of content curation tools. These gadgets sift through your feeds, tweets and more to bring you just the news you need in just the way you need it. Some even allow you to easily republish that news to your audience or store it for easy reference.
Here are 7 of my favorite content curation tools and a little information about how they can make you more efficient.
Tool: Google Reader
Use with: Blogs, news sites, Google Alerts, Facebook, Twitter
Why it’s great: This isn’t exactly a groundbreaking tool, but I would be lost without Reader. Plow through all your favorite blogs and sites without ever missing an item, keep an eye on competitors’ blogs, pull in important Facebook feeds, monitor questions on sites like LinkedIn and Quora or even set up Google Alerts for brand mentions to land here. I look for “RSS” or that little orange icon pretty much everywhere I go online. Plus, RSS is involved in lots of the tools below, so starting here is a good idea.
Use with: Twitter, Facebook
Why it’s great: Sometimes you want the social media news without all the social media noise. That’s where trunk.ly comes in. This service collects all the links that you and those you follow share throughout the Web and gives you the option to receive an emailed weekly summary of the best links shared by your friends. It also saves your links in an easy-to-search form, which means you’ll never again have to find yourself scrolling through months of tweets to find that one story.
Use with: Blogs, Facebook, Twitter
Why it’s great: Summify is my secret weapon. Link it to your go-to blogs and social networks, then wait for it to filter the top news from those sources and deliver via RSS, email, web, Twitter or even mobile. I don’t claim to know how Summify’s algorithm works (it considers factors like how many times a story was shared, liked or re-tweeted) but I do know it’s spot-on in giving me the most interesting, most talked-about news in my industry.
Use with: RSS, Twitter, Tumblr
Why it’s great: Percolate synthesizes your RSS and Twitter feeds to produce your own personal “brew” based on the item’s popularity, freshness and a few other factors they’d rather not divulge. Percolate’s extra step is to present the content back to you on a beautifully designed page, where you can react to it with tags and notes as well as see what your friends and contacts thought of it.
Use with: Twitter, Buffer
Why it’s great: StrawberryJ.am is another tool that automatically curates popular stories in your social stream. But! It joins forces with another one of my favorite tools, Buffer, in a way that’s very useful. Buffer lets users choose standard times each day they want to tweet and then load up their queue with great content to be broadcast throughout the day. Using StrawberryJ.am and Buffer together means it’s easy to find the top stories in your network each day and then share them at regular intervals you choose.
Use With: iPad, RSS
Why it’s great: If you need some fresh perspective on your subject area (and you have an iPad), Zite is fantastic. It uses an algorithm that combs through your RSS feeds to figure out what kind of topics you’re interested in, and then produces a news stream in your topic area that DOESN’T include any of those sources. The more you use it, the better the content becomes as it learns from your choices.
Use with: iPhone, Twitter, Facebook
Why it’s great: Smartr is great for travelers or heavy mobile social media users looking for news. It turns your Twitter and Facebook streams into an easy-to-use reader, weeding out everything but links and then displaying them with a headline, one-sentence excerpt and thumbnail image. No more scrolling through dozens of Foursquare check-ins and back-and-forth conversations to get to the good stuff!
Courtney Seiter is Community Manager at Raven Internet Marketing Tools, a comprehensive platform that helps business owners research, manage and monitor social media networks, SEO, online advertising and more. Follow Courtney on Twitter @RavenCourts or on Google Plus.