Posted 06.03.2024 by Josh Krakauer

Social Curation vs. Creation: How to Find the Perfect Balance

A short but useful guide to social curation, and why most brands struggle to get it right.

Social curation, a buzzword in digital marketing and content strategy, often presents a challenge in its application.

In theory, social curation is straightforward: Selecting, organizing, and sharing the most relevant and valuable content with your audience.

However, the gap between the theory and its implementation can be significant.

At its core, social curation involves more than collecting content – it requires a strategic approach to ensure that the curated materials align with the brand’s goals and add value to the ongoing conversations.

For a brand, though, this can be incredibly complex. You can’t just wake up one day and say “Oh, from now on I’m going to curate interesting content and see my traffic and engagement multiply.”

As a brand, there are many questions to consider when curating content, including:

  • Is the content relevant to our audience?
  • Is the content quality on par with what our audience expects?
  • What value will we add to the content we curate?
  • Will my audience see our content somewhere else before we post it?

I call this moment “when strategy hits”.

To approach social curation effectively, seeing past rosy concepts and focusing on actionable steps is vital.

So, here’s what we’ll do in this article. First, we’ll lay out the cornerstone concepts of social curation (just in case), and then, share our insights on how to include them in an actual, real-life social media strategy.

What is social curation?

Social media content curation is the process of discovering, gathering, and sharing high-quality content from various sources to a specific audience on one or more social media platforms.

The practice goes beyond reposting content. That approach is typical of accounts involved in engagement farming, but brands posting curated content need to understand the audience’s preferences, discern valuable and credible sources, and present this content with their own added value.

The result is a curated social feed.

Social curation will help a brand stand out among the crowd, attract new followers, and keep the audience informed and entertained.

By curating content, marketers can fill gaps in their content calendar, drive meaningful interactions, and be more consistent with their social media efforts.

What is an example of social curation?

An example of social curation would be to search for interesting information, news, or details on specialized sites, select the ones you believe your audience would value the most, and post them on your main social channel along with your opinion or commentary.

For example, it’s fairly common to see tech execs share news they pick up from Hacker News on LinkedIn.

But let’s move away from the theory for a second, and into real-life social curation examples.

In the post below, you can see an actual example of social curation, where KnowBe4 (a cybersecurity company) compiles industry trends in an article and then shares the article on LinkedIn along with their take:


What are the most popular social media content curation tools?

First of all, yes, there are tools for aiding the content curation process.

While far from perfect, they can be useful – particularly, where there’s an abundance of content to curate rather than scarcity.

The most popular ones include names you may recognize: BuzzSumo, Feedly, ContentStudio, Feedbin, and Mention.

Some double down as market research platforms (like Feedly), while others provide social listening features as well (BuzzSumo, Mention).

On top of this, there are two other tools you can use for content curation: One is the ancient (but effective) RSS feed, and the other one is Google Chrome’s Follow feature, which allows you to add websites to a native RSS feed.

What is a social curator?

A social curator is the person responsible for selecting, organizing, and sharing content on social media platforms to engage an audience.

This is the answer you’ll get if you ask your trusted LLM for an answer, but in reality, a social curator is either a social media specialist – copywriter, creator, manager, art director – or an agency that curates content for clients.

In fact, if you search for “social curator” jobs on LinkedIn, you’ll find that there virtually aren’t any job postings looking for social curators or social media curators.

There are roles in social media that require social curation skills, but that’s about it.

How to get started with social curation as a brand

Alright, enough with the theory – it’s time for some practical advice.

To start curating content, we recommend two simple approaches.

The first one is to start curating your company’s internal resources, and transforming these into prime social media material.

Usually, you’ll want to take a look at:

  • Employee-sourced content: It’s not rare to see subject matter experts among teams. Their knowledge is unique and can make up for great curated content. Other employee-sourced content can refer to solutions, perspectives, and ideas in general that align with what you’re after.
  • Customer-sourced content: If your brand offers a product or service that translates into quantifiable benefits that customers are willing to share with you, please curate this content. On top of being one-of-a-kind, it validates your brand and serves as proof.
  • Industry news: Commenting on what goes on and about in your industry is something your audience will value, even when it doesn’t affect your brand directly. Remember, it’s your industry as well, and sharing your perspective can help build trust and authority quite fast.

The second approach to curating content is by deploying an executive social media strategy, where the company’s leaders share and comment on third-party content.

Worth noting that these strategies don’t require execs to be whip-smart in every post they comment on – frequency and consistency are the keys to effectiveness here.

Examples of high-level executives who curate content (or who get content curated for them) range from local entrepreneurs to the likes of Elon Musk and Satya Nadella.

To wrap up this section, a final piece of advice on how not to curate content: Just don’t go for comment-less reshares. Sure, you can do this once in a while, but being consistent at just resharing is not what audiences and algorithms value the most.

Is it better to curate or create content on social media?

You probably know the answer to this question, don’t you?

It’s both, of course.

While most brands lean into curation to get more content out there in less time, content curation can get quite tricky (and eventually, time-consuming) in the long run.

Also, by only curating content, you’d be passing by on the value that only original content provides.

The content your brand creates allows for total control, and it’s how you can showcase your expertise and creativity to its fullest.

A hybrid strategy that combines curation and creation is the most effective path toward a curated feed.

Curated content fills the gaps and keeps your feed diverse, while original content builds your brand’s unique presence and engages your audience on a deeper level.

If this sounds like an ideal outcome, let our expert team help you craft a social media content strategy that blends both types of content.

Contact us today, and let’s keep building your brand together!

Josh Krakauer

Josh Krakauer is the CEO of Sculpt, that B2B social media agency you just discovered. Josh has launched social media campaigns for best-selling books, publicly-traded corporations, and early-stage startups. Josh works from Washington, DC, but still thinks Iowa City is the best city on earth.

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