The 5 Course Content Curation Menu You Should Serve

5 Basic Content Curation Types Every Marketer Needs

content curation sells the sizzleMy father always said, “Sell the sizzle, not the steak.”

It turns out that my dad didn’t coin this phrase.  Elmer Wheeler, a salesman and motivational speaker did way back in the 1930s. Content curators should heed his advice.

Just as luring people into your eating establishment doesn’t ensure they’ll do more than drink the water or use the facilities, the same holds for your content. Research shows that you have less than 15 seconds to hook your visitors or they’re gone.

In a restaurant, your goal is to entice people to order a full meal from your menu or at least a few adult cocktails at the bar. As a result, menu copywriting is a specialized and critical component of a restaurant’s content offering. In fact, it’s the only text based content inside the establishment.

As a content curator, offer your target audience a full menu of 5 basic content curation types from which they can choose what they want. To maximize content reach and effectiveness, entice them to select one or more items from each content curation category.

5 Course Content Curation Menu

Here are the 5 basic content curation types. They’re like the 5 key components of a restaurant menu that sell the sizzle not the steak!!!content curation sells the sizzle

Email curation

Email is the beverage course on the content curation menu. Like restaurant drinks curated email takes a variety of different formats, all which contribute to the bottom line. Beverages are a moneymaker whether they’re cocktails with fancy names and top shelf liquor or an over-priced cup of joe.

  • Spotlight email only content. Like a high–priced adult beverage. It delivers quality content. Ian Cleary of Razor Social does a great job of adding targeted email content to drive readers to his blog posts. (BTW–Since most of his posts are lists, they’re also curated content.)Email Content Curation
  • Roundup your own information. Depending on your editorial calendar, offer this basic email on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Include a brief description and photo to encourage recipients to click-through. Actionable Marketing Guide has a weekly email to which we add unique content.
  • Highlight other people’s information. “Who’s Blogging What” curates the best of a variety of different marketing topics. Email Content Curation


Actionable Content Curation Tip:

  • Build your email housefile from the first day. But don’t give into the urge to continually email the same people with the same information or promotion. This will burn through your list, decreasing its size and effectiveness.  (BTW—We’d be thrilled if you would subscribe to our email list!!)

Short content

This is the appetizer course of the content curation meal. It’s what people traditionally consider curated content.

  • Make a list. Lists help simplify information. I discovered the power of lists while teaching graduate school and they became the core of my ClickZ articles. According to’s Nick Kellet, I’m the queen of lists! Need help with your lists? Check out Content Curation Format-Lists
  • Publish lean content. Use either or to curate and share the best of the information in your niche.
  • Participate in online social media gatherings. This is organized content curation around a specific topic. These events and the related content can occur simultaneously or asynchronously. Examples include Twitter Chats, Google Hangouts and LinkedIn Groups.
  • Get out and mingle face-to-face. Take the time to see people in real life. Conferences and Meetups are examples of people getting together for content creation, collaboration and curation while contributing to a real life event on a specific topic.

Actionable Content Curation Tip:

  • Test a variety of short content formats. See where your brand and offering get the best results relative to your time and resource investment. Bear in mind, that it’s important to share other people’s content and to just communicate in real time on social media.

Epic Content

This is the main course of the content curation meal. Most content creators don’t consider major content efforts to be a content curation format because they’re hungry for BIG content that yields BIG results!

Due to the nature of epic content, marketers automatically think massive creation efforts must be original –BUT that’s not necessarily true.

  • Create ebooks, presentations, and/or white papers. These BIG content formats include sections written by a variety of people, the definition of curated content. Lee Odden has perfected this approach for promoting major events. Check out these 10 steps for the secret sauce for epic curated contentEpic Content Curation
  • Coordinate conferences and/or live events. These events include different sessions and speakers focused on a specific topic. Panels are a type of live event that curates different points of view. In addition to live and virtual events, the content can be used for recorded offerings or articles. (BTW–You can meet me at Content Marketing World in September!)


Actionable Content Curation Tip:

  • Create other related content at the same time. The objective is to minimize employee time and resources. To this end, coordinate each aspect of your content strategy. Lee Odden keeps some information separate for related articles for his blog and other platforms.
  • Leverage the power of participant sharing. It’s like social media catnip. Once you’ve spotlighted folks in an article, they’re most likely to share the content across different social media platforms.

Social media curation

Social media are the sides of the content curation meal; they go with the rest of your meal. By its nature social media is all about curation. Marketers don’t have a choice.

  • Share a mix of your content and other people’s content.  On social media promote 1 or 2 pieces about your brand or organization out of every 10 pieces shared.
  • Use a mix of different social media platforms. Don’t put all of your social media eggs in one basket (or dish!). Remember your audience needs to see your message multiple times before they find it credible. Use Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest.
  • Consider other curation based social media sites such as Reddit and StumbleUpon.


Actionable Content Curation Tip:

  • Pay attention to when your target audience is participating on various social media platforms, not just when you’re at work. Test posting at off-hours to see if you get better results. It’s a page from the infomercial playbook. Think “ME” time.
  • Include a mix of other people’s social media shout outs. It’s a way to pay-it-forward.

User generated content.

User generated content (aka UGC) is the dessert of the content curation meal. Like dessert, curating user-generated content is the topping on the meal; it involves your prospects, customers, fans and the public along with their implicit endorsement.

  • Spotlight your customers, their children and their handiwork. Give your target market bragging rights by putting them up on your owned or social media stage.  A number of retailers have taken advantage of Instagram to curate customers wearing their clothes. User Generated Content Curation
  • Interview your peers and audience. Take a page from old media and get input from your fans. Gini Dietrich, author of Spin Sucks, does this on her blog. User Generated Content Curation Format
  • Gather your customers’ ratings and reviews on your site. Customers trust other customers in aggregate. Without ratings and reviews, prospects will go elsewhere. I’ve had better experiences with hotels that ranked 18 on TripAdvisor than higher ranked ones because there was sufficient information to qualify my purchase.
  • Think like a scrapbooker. Scrapbooking is giving your memories a fancy sheen. Ask people who attend live events or just your shop to comment or have their photo taken. Andy Crestodina used a cheap notebook to capture input from Content Marketing World attendees along with their photo.User Generated Content Curation Format


Actionable Content Curation Tips:

  • Get your employees into the content curation act. Encourage your staff to contribute their own content as well as to help gather content in the form of photographs and videos from customers.  Many hospitals put employee of the month photos on display.
  • Go offline with customer photograph curation. Don’t forget that you can even do this in your retail establishment with photographs or a bulletin board.


Regardless of which of these 5 content curation formats you employ, don’t forget that it’s the sizzle the lures visitors in, not the steak.

Ensure that your curated content really sizzles by changing the title or image when appropriate.

Since curated content is expected to reach a quarter of marketers’ content offering, test new content curation formats to extend your marketing cost effectively. Start by using one of each of the 5 basic content curation formats.

What has your experience been using content curation?

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen



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