The 5 W’s of Link Curation

In this episode of The Lede, we take you through the who, what, when, where, and why (plus the how) of link curation.

When someone shares a link, and you click on it, and you are moved in some way by it — to action, to inspiration, even to tears — how do you feel about the person who shared it with you?

You likely feel equal parts appreciation and respect. If you’re honest, you might even feel a slight twinge envy. (Damnit, why didn’t I find that link to share first!)

It’s okay.

Being the clicker and the consumer is just fine. Content marketing is an ecosystem, and we all have to play multiple roles to keep it in motion.

But there is no reason you can’t be the link sharer more often. There is no reason you can’t consistently share useful links so that the appreciation and respect of an audience gets directed towards you.

To do this, all you have to do is understand the who, what, when, where, and why (plus the how) of link curation.
Which just so happens to be the subject of this week’s episode of The Lede.

In this episode, the second of our four-part series on content curation, Demian and I discuss all of the following (and more):

  • Is curating links for your audience a worthwhile use of time?
  • Should you be the one sharing outbound links, or is this a task that you can delegate?
  • Why you have to be careful how you share something
  • How do you know what’s worth sharing, and what’s not?
  • Jerod’s ROAR framework for assessing share-worthiness
  • When is the best time to share links? (And how do you know?)
  • How do you decide where to share a link?
  • What do you do when a particular strategy is not showing results?
  • Where do you find links to share?
  • Our completely different strategies for tracking online content (email vs RSS)
  • Demian’s complete list of email newsletters he subscribes to (so he can “curate the curators”)
  • How we use Twitter (hint: it might not be what you expect)
  • A few quick warnings about link curation

And then we get into reader questions:

  • What do you do if you don’t find anything good to share on a particular day?
  • Does an article have to be a certain length to be worth sharing?
  • Can Excel be used as a curation tool?
  • How far should you go to properly attribute “hat tips”?
  • Are there other models or frameworks for curation?

Oh, and you’ll find out why my new nickname is “The Lion King” … though clearly I am still closer to young Simba than mighty Mufasa.

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The Show Notes

Here are the email newsletters and feeds Demian subscribes to:

[episode_ad] [episode_transcript]

Please note that this transcript has been lightly edited for clarity and grammar.

The Lede Podcast: The 5 W’s of Link Curation

Jerod Morris: Welcome back to The Lede, a podcast about content marketing by Copyblogger Media. I’m your host, Jerod Morris.

Last week, Demian and I began a four-part series on content curation. We explained to you why you should be curating content and provided an overview for how to do it effectively.

In this episode, #2 in the series, we delve into the “how” much more deeply; specifically for link curation. We go into a little bit of the “why” specific to links, then explain in detail the “who,” “what,” “when,” and “where” of link curation. Basically, we answer a lot of the questions that you all have been asking us. And yes, we really do appreciate your feedback during the series. In fact, many of you who commented and asked questions in the Google+ discussion for the first episode will hear your names and your questions asked at the end of this episode. So keep the questions and comments coming.

When you plan on an episode being 15-20 minutes, and it cracks 40 and you don’t feel compelled to cut anything out, you know it’s a rich topic with many areas for actionable advice. This one certainly proved to be.

Also, get in your head right now an image of me and of Demian. Now, if I told you that one of us roars like a lion at the end of this episode, who do you think it is? I bet you’re wrong.

Listen, learn, and find out …

Is curating links for your audience a worthwhile use of time?

Jerod: To begin, Demian, let’s do a quick bit of review, and first answer the “why” question. Because curating links for your audience in any meaningful way, whether it be a roundup post, or scheduled tweets, or to post on Google+, requires an investment of time and attention, which we know are two increasingly scarce resources in this day and age.

And frankly, to give you all a peek behind the curtain, we discuss this on our editorial calls occasionally. We discussed it on the last one: Are we wasting our time curating links for Google+ and Twitter? And I say no, we’re not, and for many of the reasons that we stated back in episode one:

      • We’re already consuming the content anyway, so it doesn’t take that much more time to share it.
      • It’s a great way to round out the education we provide at Copyblogger with complimentary, or even alternative, viewpoints.
      • And plus, it’s just a good way to be a good online citizen, to spread the good work of others, as we hope they would do for content of ours that they think their audience might appreciate.

So my question to you, Demian, is do you agree? And if so, did I leave any good reasons out?

Demian Farnworth: Yes. I think I do agree, for the most part, and you covered it pretty well, Jerod.

We all are already reading, and we’re trying to cultivate our audiences, and in addition we’re trying to grow our audiences. We do that through sharing that useful content that will keep people around, will make subscribing to your Twitter feed or your Google+ feed or your blog meaningful to people.

But I also think that it’s a great way to network with the people who created the content. So you’re sharing content, and it’s a great way to introduce your audience to a new topic or new writers. Or you come across somebody whose work you admire, you share that content. You get on that person’s radar, and they get on your audience’s radar too. So it’s a great way to network with those people and within your own audience, and it creates opportunities and creates conversations too.

And I also think, too, that sharing links is just a valuable thing to do. As we’ll talk about later in the show, this idea of sharing links through an e-mail newsletter. There are a number of resources that I appreciate, and when we here at Copyblogger talk about creating that list, when we say that the money is in that list, curating and sharing links through a kind of round-up e-mail post is a successful way, is one good way to build an e-mail list.

Jerod: I noticed a little bit of hesitation in your voice before you said that you agree. Are there any specific reasons why you kind of think the other way, that maybe it’s not a good use of time?

Demian: Well, I think that this is, of course, not the only way to do any of the things that we mentioned. Just because you’re reading doesn’t mean you have to share. I think there’s a good example. Cal Newport runs this blog called…

Jerod: Study Hacks.

Demian: Right. Study Hacks. And it would be safe to say that it’s world famous, right? But I don’t think the guy’s on Facebook. I don’t think he uses Twitter. He doesn’t curate any content. I think about Seth Godin too. Of course, Seth Godin’s sort of an anomaly in that sense. He’s on another plane to most of us. But he’s not out there curating content.

So this is one way. This is not the only way. But for me, I have to balance, and I tend to balance on the other side of things.

If I can’t get around to curating today, I’m not going to lose sleep over it. This is 10% of your workday, if that.

Jerod: And I agree with you on that. So with the “why” out of the way, let’s move on and view this through the other four W’s: The who, the what, the when, and the where.

Is this a task that you can delegate?

Jerod: So who should be sharing links?

It’s very important to remember that you have to maintain editorial control of the links that you share, because they are a reflection of you and your brand. And they’re a tacit endorsement even if you don’t necessarily agree with the viewpoint being expressed. At a minimum you’re saying, “This is worth spending your time reading,” so you can’t let your audience down, because that’s going to erode that “know, like, and trust” that you’re trying to build.

Which brings up this question, which is: Should you be the one sharing links, or is this a task that you can delegate?

So Demian, at Copyblogger obviously, this is a task that has been delegated to us. For our own sites (here and here), the stuff that we do on the side, it’s a task that we handle exclusively. Are there any rules of thumb for making that decision, or is it simply just kind of a case-by-case, you-have-to-make-the-best-decision-for-your-own-situation sort of thing?

Demian: Well, I think it comes down to trust.

We weren’t given reign of the social accounts until we’d been with the company for awhile and maintained and established some form of trust. I do believe that they probably trusted us when they hired us to hand those over, but it comes down to: can the person think?

And the other thing too, you can delegate it, but make sure the person is “drinking the Kool-Aid,” in the sense that they Understand what you’re trying to accomplish, they think like you do, they see like you do. This is not to say that he doesn’t have his opinions that he doesn’t share with you; there might be some things. But the core things that make, say Copyblogger Copyblogger, those convictions have to be held.

And the same thing for you, if you’re going to hire somebody to delegate to do this. Because there are a lot of companies that do. They actually hire social media managers or community managers, and that’s their job, to manage all these communities and social accounts and share content, everything like that. So that person needs to be a person who is toeing the party line, in a sense, and you can trust them.

So I think that’s the rule of thumb: Can you trust them? Do they toe the party line?

Jerod: Right. Like if I came across an article that said, “Is Dave Grohl an over-rated musician,” I wouldn’t tweet that from the Copyblogger account, right?

Demian: (Laughs) I don’t know. I think you could. (Laughing)

Jerod: Yeah, right. (Laughs)

Demian: I think you could.

Jerod: I’d fear for my job.

Demian: Yeah. Brian Clark, by the way, loves David Grohl, so….

Jerod: Yes.

Demian: Right. So you wouldn’t do that. But the other thing too: I wouldn’t share something on Google+ that said content marketing is a waste of time and always has been.

Jerod: Right.

Demian: That would be shooting myself in the foot.

Why you have to be careful how you share something

Demian: Now granted, I could post something like that and say, “Here’s why I disagree,” or “He brings up a good point, what do you think?” Maybe for discussion. But I think that’s where you have to be careful in that sense of how you share it.

There’s a perception that’s being made when you share content, because I have shared things not with the intention of saying “I’m endorsing this,” but I should have been more careful about how I presented it in saying, “Here is a bad idea,” because I got called out for it. Like, “Why would you endorse something like that?” And I’m like, “Oh, you’re right. You’re correct.” So this is the thing of trusting someone to be able to share an opposing viewpoint within the context of how it fits into your company, your organization, your convictions, and what those convictions are.

So you can share that content. But you have to be careful how you do that.

Jerod: That’s an interesting point. Would you say that it’s kind of a social media norm? For example, let’s say on Twitter: If you just tweet a link with the headline, and you don’t say anything else, do you think it’s assumed that you’re endorsing the ideas in that link — to where you have to specify if you’re disagreeing? Like say, “I disagree with this,” and then post the link? Or “Here’s an alternative viewpoint,” then the link, so that people know “Hey, he’s not actually agreeing with this, he just wants me to read it.” Do you think that’s how it’s evolved?

Demian: Absolutely. If you share the headline with the link, you’re saying, “Read this, and I endorse this in some capacity.” If you disagree with it, that has to be stated: “I disagree with this.” And if you can, within how many characters you have, state why. You have to be careful with that sort of thing too.

How do you know what’s worth sharing, and what’s not?

Jerod: Okay. So this brings us to, now, what should be shared? A very important question that a lot of people have. You see all this content. How do you know what’s worth sharing and what’s not?

I spent some time thinking about this, and really I just wanted to come up with an acronym. So I did, and basically it’s a four-step process for figuring out if something is worthy of sharing. And it’s ROAR. Which is somewhat appropriate, because this is all about amplification of ideas and links.

        • R is for “I’ve read it,” or “Someone I have a tremendous amount of trust in has shared it.” You have to be careful with this because remember, if you don’t read something you don’t know exactly what you’re sharing. And I posted this in the Google+ conversation, Demian, that I’ve seen stuff you share. I trust you. Typically if you share something on the Google+ Copyblogger account, I feel comfortable tweeting it from the Copyblogger account even if I don’t have the time to fully read it. Just know that when you do that, you do leave yourself open if you haven’t read it fully.
        • The “O” is, it’s original in some way. There’s no need to contribute to the echo chamber over and over again. Let’s amplify original ideas.
        • “A” is that it’s applicable. Another way to say this would be that it’s useful, and it’s either personally useful to me, or maybe explains a topic I already understand, but in a new way that my audience may find useful. Because remember, it’s about the audience. The sharing is not so much about you, it’s about what the people you’re sharing it with are going to get out of it. So you may understand it already, but if it’s going to help them understand it in a new way, it’s worth sharing. And remember that entertaining can be useful and applicable too. You don’t have to only curate links that are specifically educational or even on-topic. You can stray from it a little bit, whether it’s to personalize yourself a little bit, or for whatever reason, just to kind of break things up a little bit.
        • The final “R” is that it’s from a reputable source. That’s important. I may read a great post, but if it’s on some Geocities-looking site with someone I don’t know, then I’m probably not going to post that right off the bat. I’m going to want it to be from someone reputable, that I trust, that I know.

So if it fits those four criteria — I’ve read it, it’s original, it’s applicable, it’s from a reputable source — I’m probably sharing it, and then also saving it in Evernote to perhaps refer to and share again later. That’s my process.

Demian, do you have any kind of specific process or criteria like that that you go through in figuring out what you’re going to share?

Demian: I would probably say that is the process. I would be so careful with the second clause. But I think the way you stated it when you said “If I share something on the Copyblogger G-Plus, you know it’s probably pretty safe to then share it on the Twitter Copyblogger account.” But that’s the only caveat there in that whole statement.

But otherwise I love the acronym, and my new nickname for you is now “The Lion King.”

Jerod: I like that. I think that’s my favorite Disney movie.

Demian: So you will have to, at the end of this show, roar for us.

Jerod: (Laughs) Okay. I think I can do that. Or at least find a funny audio effect and throw it in here at some point.

Demian: Right.

When is the best time to share links? (And how do you know?)

Jerod: So we’re going to get to the “where” in a minute, because I know everybody has questions about the “where.” Where do you get links? Where do you share them? Really quickly before we get to that, I want to talk about the “when.” Because I think this is often overlooked. I even overlooked it, but I’m starting to find out that it’s really important and relevant.

So the “when” do you share is going to be dependent on your audience, and when they engage with you, your particular kind of content, on that particular medium. The “when” is going to be different for Facebook, for Twitter, for different places. There’s obviously going to be some trial and error involved, so you’ve got to make sure that you’re paying attention, learning from your own actions.

But there are also tools you can use to gather important information. FollowerWonk, for example. That is a place that will allow you to see when the people you follow on Twitter are most active so that you tweet during times when they are most active.

If you use Buffer, for example, you can see analytics for when you post a link, how much action it has received. You can go back day by day and look at this to look for trends. I was recently really surprised to learn that tweeting out each day’s Copyblogger post in the evening, and I usually schedule it around 9:35 PM Eastern time, typically drives more clicks than when we tweet it in the morning. And we used to only tweet it out in the morning, and didn’t do it at later times in the day. I would not have guessed, certainly, that later at night would drive more clicks than in the morning. We can hypothesize about the reasons why, but that’s probably for another episode. But just know that’s a trend that I’ve seen.

And then there are times that are intuitive that do work. For example, links tend to get more clicks during lunchtime, when people maybe have a little bit of downtime at work and they’re browsing. But their commute hours are not so conducive. So pay attention to that.

If you want something to be seen, understand when your audience is active, and then just understand normal human nature and the normal patterns of a workday and of a work week, so that you can strategize for maximum exposure.

Demian, have you found any correlations between times you post on Google Plus, say, and then the activity level that it gets, either plusses or comments?

Demian: No, I haven’t really dug into that. But I’m always sort of surprised.

We’ve gotten in the habit since we shut down comments of doing the “tomorrow’s announcement post,” tomorrow’s teaser post, and I try to post that between 7:30 and 9:30 in the evening (on Google+). And I’m always surprised by the amount of activity that it gets when I come back to it in the morning. But it goes back to what you were saying, that idea that people are paying attention, that they may be at work during daylight hours and not able to check their Google+.

Someone asked me how to create copy that goes viral. On Google+ the way to do that is to create something that’s about Google+ and you’re making fun of Facebook, and that’s a sure winner. But I’ve seen things that we’ve shared and that just sort of erupt. I’ve always just been tracking what goes nuts and what does not, and I’m always kind of surprised. It’s one of those things that it’s really difficult to tell.

For example, sharing quotes on Twitter. It usually does pretty well as far as getting people to retweet. But by far the most popular retweet I’ve ever done was the quote by Will Rogers that said, “Never miss an opportunity to shut up,” and I guess that’s just human nature. That thing just went berserk, and there’s been nothing that’s even come close to how successful that was. So it’s one of those things that when you share, you should be mindful of those times, and use the tools you suggested.

Just constantly experiment, and even if you’re not an analytical hard-nose, you can just sort of keep notes and pay attention to what’s working. It might be a good idea to use an Excel sheet or something like that. But just keep on doing it, and pay attention to what works, and test stuff. Run experiments. “Hey, I’m going to share this and see how it works at this particular time.”

Jerod: And something else that’s helped me, too, is you want to be as process-oriented as you can with this so that you take away a lot of the thinking from the process, so you can focus more on the thinking when you’re reading and figuring out how you want to present the link.

I created a schedule. I know at 7:30 I’m going to tweet yesterday’s post. At 8:30 it’s going to be today’s post. At 1:30 and 2:30 it’s going to be posts from external sites. At 3:30 it’s going to be a podcast, because I know people are going on their commute. So I really tried to sit down and lay that out beforehand so that it allows me to do a lot less thinking while I’m doing all that scheduling. So I know I need this post, let me find this here. Schedule it. Find this here, schedule it. So if you can do that planning ahead of time and get into a rhythm, not only will your audience know what to expect, which is going to help you build that continuity, but it also just helps you do it and stay consistent with it on a daily basis.

How do you decide where to share a link?

Jerod: And that brings us now to the big question, again, which a lot of people have asked us about. And Demian, I’m going to let you run with this one, and I’ll jump in here in a few places. But where do you get links, and then where do you share them?

Demian: Where you share them is wherever you’re hanging out. Wherever your audience is hanging out. If you have a demographic in the market that’s on Reddit, then share content in Reddit. If it’s Google+, then do it on Google+. Do it on Facebook.

The thing to keep in mind, too, is that some people will say “I don’t go on Google+ because I don’t know anybody there.” Instead of saying that you can look at it as an opportunity to network and meet new people. And the same thing can be said whether it’s Facebook or Reddit. But be mindful, because you know on Facebook it’s typically middle-age, middle-class complainers. Wait, did I say that out loud? So you know that demographic. Twitter, I think it’s a little bit younger. Reddit, we know that’s a millennia’s playground. And Google+, there’s quite a different bit of people there too.

So if you have a product, service, whatever that is in your target ideal customer, reader, whatever, is within that social media, jump on and share the content there. And of course, share it on your blog too.

What do you do when a particular strategy is not showing results?

Jerod: And let me ask you something here: Is it safe to say that if you decide to try a Twitter strategy, you’re not making a lifetime commitment? You can go out there and try it for a month and see if it works, and if it doesn’t work, it’s okay to say, “Okay, that didn’t really work, I can stop this and do another one.”

I feel like sometimes people think if they start it they’ve got to do it forever and have the perfect strategy laid out. But sometimes you just have to experiment a little bit, and see if your content, or the way you present it, will strike that nerve or reach that audience on a particular social media site. And if it doesn’t, fine. Walk away, go on to another one. Is that an okay strategy to have?

Demian: Yes. That’s absolutely fine. It fits my personality well because I’m kind of a by-the-seat-of-your-pants guy.

That’s what I did with Medium. I toyed with Medium for about 11 days. And I did that with Tumblr for about 30 days. I did that with Google+, and Google+ seemed to get more traction than anything I’d done, so yeah. It’s a great thing.

Just jump out there, give it a shot and a try, and without a doubt you don’t know until you try.

Where do you find links to share?

Demian: So that’s the where you share it. But where do you find these links?

I think we sort of mentioned this in the first podcast in the series, this idea of “curating the curators,” and we talked about time being the one resource that is irreplaceable, and you don’t want to squander that. I don’t have time to sit and review everything.

It reminds me of Robert Scovil’s strategy. I don’t know if he still does this, but way back when he used to read 1,000 blogs within an hour. Of course we all know he flew through the headlines. If something caught him out he’d actually go and read that. There’s no way I could do that. I have no desire to do that. I don’t have the time to do that. So it’s finding those people, those resources that do that for you.

For example, some of my favorite e-mail newsletters. And I’ll point this out: I like everything to come into my inbox. I spend very little time on social sites looking for content per se. I’ll have an exception to that in a minute, but I want everything to come to my inbox, because I want things to be in one place at one time, and if I’m looking at content and I’m relying to e-mail, all those activities are on place. That’s just the way I like my mind to work. So if I can get a blog to send me, instead of going to the RSS like on feedly, I’ll have them send the subscription e-mail so everything ends up in my inbox, and I can check it.

But there are some very specific e-mail newsletters that I read:

        • One is Quartz, which is created by Atlantic, and they have a daily brief. It’s basically about international and national news.
        • Atlantic’s The Wire does that, too. They show you the top five articles across the web, and they’re usually political, cultural.
        • Then there’s Dave Pell’s Next Draft, and that comes out at the end of the day. It’s kind of the same thing. He sat down and looked at all these sites and found the 10 best articles for that day.
        • The Daily Dig sends out, and those are usually about videos, but they occasionally will have articles of note.
        • I like Farnham Street by Shane Parrish. He does a weekly sort of update of his own blog post, but also of articles that are of note for that week.
        • Moz does a top 10 monthly that is specific to our industry, so that’s really always very helpful, and they’ve chosen ten very good articles. And of course, one of those articles is always one of their blog posts.
        • And then there’s Growth Hackers’ Weekly Digest, that’s another site that’s devoted to sort of the start-up culture.

There is some overlap in all of these, naturally, so you don’t really have to particular attention. You can do some skimming. And by the way, this should not be a long list. You cannot follow every news item, and for the most part your life is probably not about curation. So having said that, if you don’t find anything to curate, don’t. What my process will be is I will look at the list. I will find something that I find interesting. I’ll open it up, and then I’ll save it to Readability to read later. But after having come across it, if I don’t have anything to curate — if I found nothing noteworthy — I won’t share it.

Jerod: So let me jump in here really quickly, Demian, because I think what you just said illustrates an important point, which is that there is no one-size-fits-all process for doing this.

Because for example, for me, I hate using my inbox for curation or for following content. It just doesn’t work for me, because I like to process my e-mails in batch. I like to be really efficient when I’m in there, so I don’t typically stop to take time to look through links. Now, I’ll look through a newsletter and read it, but not necessarily links.

Which reminds me, I’ve got to figure out a better way. Because Dave Pell’s Next Draft, I’ve had that and I keep deleting it without looking at it, and there’s so much good stuff in there. I’ve got to figure out a better way to incorporate that.

But for me, I use feedly. I like to do it with feeds. I’ve got them categorized, and I’ve even got a “must read” feed which, no matter what, every day I at least look at that one. So if I’m crunched for time, I can at least look there. It’s my favorite authors, the most reputable ones, so I can at least go there. And I’ve found that process really works for me, really helps, and I feel like I’m able to find good content to curate on a daily basis.

But again, the point is that works for me. It may not work for you. What works for Demian may not work for you. But through trial and error, and just understanding your own work process, how your own mind works, what you need to do to be able to curate without inviting too much distraction into your day. Figure that out for yourself, and then do it, and obviously you can use different ideas and see if they work for you. But don’t think there’s just some perfect one-size-fits-all answer to that question.

Okay. Sorry to interrupt you, Demian. Keep on.

Demian: No worries. That’s a great point. I think that’s well said. So let me ask you a question, then. Do you use Twitter to curate links? And if you do, how do you do that?

Jerod: I used to, and I really don’t anymore. I find myself actually consuming content a lot less on Twitter.

I like to get on there to interact, and I especially like it both on my personal account and the Copyblogger account to be able to respond to readers if they have a comment, either about one of these podcasts or an article, of if there’s someone I want to reach out to or someone that I want to give kudos for a great article, that kind of thing. I will go do that. But I typically find myself reading my feed a lot less, and I’m going there for specific reasons, whether it’s to post or something like that.

I really have stopped using it as a curation tool, just naturally. I never made that decision, but now that you ask me that question I’m thinking about it, and no. Not really.

Demian: I know. I don’t go there to look at the feed. What I’ve done is create lists.

For example, I created a list of influencers on a specific topic. I did that with all of our speakers at Authority Intensive, so leading up to the conference I had all those speakers in a list, and I use TweetDeck too, because it allows me to quickly scan what they’re sharing. Are they sharing an original content? Are they sharing any content that they’re curating themselves? And I can go and look and share that, too. So that’s the only way I will use Twitter as a curation tool, but I found that kind of helpful. Sometimes I don’t find anybody sharing anything that I think is valuable.

However, I will say this: Brain Pickings, for example, that is the one Twitter user who I think always is sharing some pretty remarkable stuff. I believe she has people doing that for her. But she does really well.

So you talk about feeds, too. There are three feeds that I have that I especially love to pay attention to, and again, they’re curators who are curating the curators.

        • One is called Arts and Letters, and again, it’s cultural. It’s philosophical. It’s sometimes political.
        • Gangrey is a great site. It’s just a blog post where this guy shares great long form articles around the web.
        • And then Longreads is another site that sort of does the same thing.

And I think you mentioned this earlier: If you can’t find anything to share, go back to your archives and find something from there. Which is something that we do here at Copyblogger.

Jerod: And actually, it’s a question that we’re going to get to in the listener feedback, and we’ll just get to it now.

What do you do if you don’t find anything good to share on a particular day?

Priya asked us this: “What do you do if you don’t find anything good to share on a particular day?” And we were talking about this before we were recording, Demian. You don’t share just to share. So if you don’t find anything new on that particular day, don’t share anything new on that particular day.

And so you have one of two choices: You can either not share at all, or go back to your archive, find some really good posts from the past, and bring them back. And I store everything in Evernote, so my process when I find a blog post I like, I summarize it on a note card, type it into Evernote, and then tag it. And so that way I’ve got it there for safekeeping later, and if I need something I can just go through the blog posts that I’ve put in there. I know that each one is really good, and I can almost choose one at random. Or if there’s a specific topic I want, I can go back to that.

But I think the simple answer is, don’t share just to share. Always make sure you’re sharing something good. Kind of have your arsenal there. Have your archive that you can go to if you need it.

Demian: Yeah. Exactly.

A few quick warnings about link curation

Jerod: Let’s continue on here, Demian. I know you had a couple final points on this question of “where”, or even just some general warnings on the topic itself.

Demian: I got this idea from a guy named Eli Parcer. He did this talk where he talked about “beware online filter bubbles.” It’s a pretty popular thing. There are over 3 million views. And basically he was saying that we tend to — and this is conceptually just human nature — we tend to seek and share and consume content that fits our own biases, fits our own prejudices, fits our own views. So we never really quite challenge ourselves.

So my one warning, one thing I just try to do alone, just for the sake of growth and improvement, is to try to read stuff that challenges my own notions. And that would include finding something and then sharing it, and then maybe including why you disagree with it, but trying to find that common ground with that particular content. Because I think that’s the only way.

It goes back to what you said about this echo chamber. It’s avoiding that echo chamber. Because think about it: In an echo chamber people just sort of pat each other on the back. What you want to do to disrupt that is to bring an idea in that challenges somebody’s notions so people aren’t always so willing to pat your back, but maybe to rethink the way they think, or even for you to rethink the way you thought.

Jerod: I agree. And you can do that when you’re sharing.

Again, it kind of comes back to human nature. If you want to get someone to notice you. Now, you don’t do this just to get noticed. But let’s say that there’s someone that you do read, and you even trust and respect them, but you disagree with a particular point they make. It’s okay to say that. And I think most people will have an intellectually honest conversation with you and actually appreciate it, as long as you’re not a jerk about it. Don’t be like, “Look at what this idiot wrote,” but say, “Hey, I’m a big fan of such-and-such, but I disagree with them here.” You can start an important dialogue that way.

Demian: Mmm-hmm. ‘Don’t call people idiot.’ I’m just writing that down. That note.

Jerod: (Laughs) Good.

Does an article have to be a certain length to be worth sharing?

Demian: So what do you think about this? Another reader comment here. Greg Strandberg. He brought up an interesting point. He says that when he’s curating content he goes by article length, and this was his comment. He says, “If there is an article with an opening, a closing, and three bullet points, it probably won’t make it on my curation post. I go for longer on that. I’m biased and I’ll admit it.”

So what do you think about that? And is there a specific length you look for when it comes to what you curate and share?

Jerod: In general I disagree with the statement, but I think whether it’s right for him or not depends on why he’s biased. Is he biased because that’s what his audience wants? Does he have an audience that just comes to him for long form, and that’s what they particularly like? Then okay, I can see that.

But I think in general if you’re just looking at length to suggest to you whether a post is good or not, to me that’s not a great criteria. Seth Godin has a lot of posts that aren’t very long, but they can make an important point in a short amount of time. And sometimes, as we know, shorter writing is harder writing, is better writing. So I don’t think there’s any particular length that makes a post good or not. Again, you want to be audience focused, but I think you’re going to find good content of varying lengths.

Demian: I think the principle that Greg is after is this: When he says “that article has an opening, a closing, and three bullets,” what comes to my mind is sort of the shallow content you might see on the sort of sites. The low-quality, keyword-driven type of articles where they’re just trying to campaign for a particular keyword. And I think that his principle is “This is just shallow content.”

But yes. It’s amazing. I sincerely appreciate people who are able to communicate something, because as you see it, if huge, long posts are hot it would probably be fair to say that it’s almost like a bubble in the sense that they are really, really popular, and a lot of emphasis is put on them. But to be able to see someone say something within 300 words? And that’s something I’ve been trying to push myself to do on my own blog, is to write shorter posts. Because I spend a lot of energy and time on longer form for Copyblogger. But I wanted to kind of experiment and see what I’m doing with shorter content. It is harder, though, to create good content that way.

Jerod: It is.

Can Excel be used as a curation tool?

Jerod: Let’s go back to the topic of acronyms, shall we? Joel Zaslofsky commented in the Google Plus conversation on episode one: He explained his FAOCOS method for curation using Excel. He pronounces it “focus.” I was particularly interested in this because I’ve never had anybody tell me they use Excel for curation. You’ve got a lot of Evernotes, and people will use Pinterest and even Readability, things like that. I’ve never had anybody say Excel.

But the acronym is “Filter, Archive, Organize, Context, Access, and Share.” It sounds very powerful, but I’m not an Excel guy. So I really don’t think it would work for me. But like we said, different people, different strategies are going to work for them.

Demian, have you used Excel specifically for curation, or are you primarily an Evernote type?

Demian: Gosh. I don’t even — well, when we talk about curation too, when he said “Excel,” I stopped reading at that point. That’s what I did. But then I kept reading, and I re-read it again, and I thought, “Wow, this is pretty excessive.”

I think the thing Joel was after, and he can correct us in the comments, is this idea of sort of accumulating. Because we curate and we share, and then we always think, “Where did that one link go that I shared with …” and so it’s gone. So I think what he’s doing is he’s capturing that so he knows where it is. He knows the context that it was found in. So basically he’s building an index, in a sense. I’m not there yet.

And to be honest, when I share something usually my method — I’ve mentioned this before — is open the link up, share it to Readability, at some point find the time to read it. Once I read it, if it’s worthy then share. But after that it’s kind of gone. I don’t have it stored anywhere. Sometimes if I’m working on a larger project, for example, I will use Evernote to clip selections, and that then saves a link back to the site. And that’s a great way to do it, but that’s not really about curation in that sense. So I’m not nearly as precise as Joel.

How far should you go to properly attribute “hat tips”?

Jerod: Now Joel also asked another question, which is very important. He says that he struggles with attribution. “How far am I willing to go to chase down original source, especially if it it’s in dispute when I cite my hat tips? That’s a toughie.” And that is a toughie.

What do you think about it, Demian? How far do you need to go to cite, to give those hat tips, or can you just tweet the link or post it on Google+, and you don’t necessarily need to tell people from where you got it?

Demian: That’s good. I don’t know. I tend to not to do the hat tip unless — I’ll be honest. I just don’t do that. So when I think about attribution, and let me just tell you why I’m thinking this way. It’s because people are sharing content on it. So if you retweet it, that’s the attribution, in my mind.

But say you did something, you share it, and then I think it’s perfectly okay. People are sharing stuff, and I think anybody who’s going to — I want to be kind about this — who’s going to be particular about “I shared that link, and you didn’t give me an attribution back to that,” I think that there are larger issues at hand with that person. I don’t know. What do you think?

Jerod: And to be clear, there’s a distinction between an idea inside of a post and attributing an idea that you have that’s not your own. Of course you have to do that. But this idea of giving hat tips to the person that you got a link from … I don’t know. I don’t really have a hard-and-fast rule for it.

I will do it sometimes, if it’s easy. But I don’t know that I’m really going to go track it down. I found this link somewhere, if I remember who to give the hat tip to I will because you always want to show that appreciation. But I don’t know that I’m going to spend a whole lot of time tracking it down. I would rather spend more time amplifying the good ideas. Because that’s where I think everybody’s going to get more value.

Are there other models or frameworks for curation?

Jerod: And now the final piece of listener feedback that we have, and we do encourage this in the comment sections of all these posts that we do, to give us your feedback. Give us your strategies, your tips, and your questions on this topic of curation. But Vinay explained Rohit Bhargava’s five models of curation, which are “aggregation, distillation, elevation, mash-ups, and chronology.” And this is really a different kind of prism through which to view the curation topic than we are taking. But it is no less relevant.

So I’m going to link to Vinay’s comment in the show notes. because I think he goes on and explains those. And so I think it’s certainly good information to know, and it’s another way to look at this topic. So definitely check that out, and again, if you have comments or questions we can put them in the Google+ discussion section so that we can review them in the next episode.

With that said, Demian, we have gone so far over the normal time that we do for these.

Demian: (Laughs)

Jerod: And I’m okay with it, because I think this topic just kind of naturally went in that direction. But any final thoughts, punctuating statements, on this second episode of the curation series?

Demian: I accept that. I didn’t think it was quite possible to be able to cover so much territory on link curation, but we did it, man.

Jerod: We did it. Yeah.

Demian: I think that deserves a roar.

Jerod: (Laughs) Well … ROAR! (laughs out loud) There you go.

Demian: (Laughing) You practiced, all right buddy.

Jerod: I am definitely editing that out. I’ve got to work on my roar, here. Like Simba sings in “I Just Can’t Wait to be King.” ‘Brushin’ up on lookin’ down, workin’ on my roar.’

I’m probably not making it any better by letting people know that I have that whole song memorized.

Demian: It sounds like it! Dude, that’s crazy!

Jerod: Yeah, I know. It’s my favorite Disney movie. What are you going to do? All right. So before I embarrass myself anymore, let’s shut this episode down. Demian, we will be back next week with episode #3 of the content curation series. And I will let people know our summer posting schedule is coming up, so that episode is most likely going to be posted on Thursday, because we dial the schedule back a little bit during the summer. So episodes three and four of this are likely to be posted on Thursday, both on ITunes and on the blog. So stay tuned for those, and make sure you give us your feedback. We will talk to you next week. Talk to you soon, Demian.

Demian: You too, Jerod. Bye.

Jerod: Thank you for listening to The Lede. Again, if you’re enjoying these episodes, please consider giving The Lede a rating or even a review on ITunes. Don’t forget, also, that you can listen to us on Stitcher. Just go to to subscribe there. And of course, if you want to tweet about the show, e-mail the link to a friend, we’d really appreciate it. Any way that you can help us spread the word. And again, we welcome your feedback and your questions, plus your explanations of what works for you when it comes to curation. And you can do that over in the Google Plus comments section for this episode. You can also tweet us @JerodMorris, @DemianFarnworth. Also a great way to reach both of us.

Next week we’ll be discussing idea curation. How do you organize all of your ideas in such a way that you can access them when you really need them? How do you curate in a way that effectively synthesizes disparate bits of information into coherent ideas for your audience? Tune in, and we’ll all learn together.

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*Credits: Both the intro (“Bridge to Nowhere” by Sam Roberts Band) and outro songs (“Down in the Valley” by The Head and the Heart) are graciously provided by express written consent from the rights owners.