Content Curation Hacks: How To Keep a Steady Flow of Content Without Going Crazy

Content Curation Hacks: How To Keep a Steady Flow of Content Without Going Crazy

December 19, 2012 6:37 am 7 comments

UPDATE 04/2013: This solution still works (and will until Google retires Reader in July 2013), but I’m currently working on a way to configure this type of setup sans Reader integration. I’ll write a new post once I have something worth your time (most likely closer to June, once different platforms have emerged/evolved and there’s more integration between them).


If it’s your job to curate and share content with your business or community, you know how quickly that can turn to a jumbled mess (or get skipped all together) if you don’t have a simple way to organize and share information. Here’s the system I use to make sure I’m staying on top of industry trends and sharing valuable information with my community.

Sharing and Indexing: Simplified!

I consume all my news (via an organized, filtered Google Reader — explained here) in one of three locations:

I consume a lot of content in the mornings from my phone and iPad, so when I set out to find a system that would work for me, a minimal amount of typing was key. Instead of having different workflows for curating on each device, I looked for universal Google Reader features that are accessible on each platform. The simplest two are starring an article and changing its tags.

About a year ago, I discovered IFTTT (If This, Then That) and it has changed the way I work. It essentially lets you connect different tools to automate processes. This is done through the use of “recipes” (instructions telling IFTTT what to do and when). I created recipes that are triggered when I take specific actions in Google Reader: If I add the tag “buffer” those posts get sent to Buffer; If I star an item, it creates a new Evernote note from that item. Here’s what the recipes look like:

IFTTT recipes for content curation

You can set IFTTT to send the info to Buffer in pretty much any format you like. Want your tweet to start with “Currently reading:” before the title? Easy. Just add the appropriate text. I like to keep it simple, so I just added the title and the link:

IFTTT configuration

Note: that if your Buffer is full (the limit is 10 stored tweets for a free account), IFTTT it will skip the update.

I also set up an IFTTT recipe to save posts to my favorite bookmarking tool, Diigo. All I have to do is tag a post “keep” and the bookmark is automatically created for me. Diigo allows me to save a cached version of any page I bookmark (in addition to adding sticky notes, highlights, etc.) and then, when I’m looking for info later, it’s also able to search the entire content of all my bookmarks (not just the titles, like Delicious search does). It also has a cool browser extension that tells me how many results I have in Diigo when I do a Google search on a topic (I’ve also got this feature turned on for Evernote). This has saved me a TON of time, especially since part of my job is to stay up-to-speed on changes in digital marketing tools and social networks.

Search results with Diigo extension

Admittedly, the browser search extension is still a little wonky (It’s still in beta and sometimes it doesn’t refresh the article count, etc.), but once I click the link, it takes me to my Diigo homepage and shows accurate results there.

So I’ve kind of automated my Twitter posts (to an extent…the content is still curated by me) and created a nice library of links, so when I get to my office in the morning, all I have to do is go into my Diigo library and pick a link or two to share on my other social networks. I like to use Buffer, because it helps to keep me from posting all the cool content I find all at once.

Discovering Content on Your Social Networks

During the day, I take some quick breaks to scan Twitter to see what’s happening (I’m a list addict…imagine that!), respond to @mentions and look for some conversations to hop in on. I usually do this through Hootsuite, but Bottlenose is really awesome at helping “bubble up” trends and popular conversations so I can get a quick read on what’s happening. Here’s the Bottlenose dashboard:

Bottlenose dashboard

Lots of information, presented clearly and organized well. I’m definitely into that sort of thing.

One of my favorite Bottlenose features to play with is called Sonar. You can run it across your networks to get a visual of what people are saying, but I really like it best for search. Here’s an example of what it looked like a few hours after Google launched their iOS map app:

Bottlenose Sonar

Each of the words is a link and when you click it, it fills the sidebar with the related tweets and drills down an additional layer in the map to show you more info about that keyword. Tons of fun to play around with, but make sure it doesn’t become a time-suck.

Hitting the Pause Button

I usually try to scan my Google Reader once more closer to the end of the day. I’ll bookmark or send items to Buffer, but if there’s something I want to read and I don’t have time to get to at that very moment, I’ll send the article to Pocket. I use an IFTTT recipe that’s similar to the ones I use for Buffer and Diigo. If I add the tag “to read” to a post, it gets sent to Pocket.

Later, when I have time to catch up on reading, I log into Pocket (via iPhone, iPad or desktop) and go through the articles I’ve saved. As I finish reading an article, I either mark it as read or delete it.

If I mark the item as read, I have another IFTTT recipe that will save it as a bookmark to my Diigo library.

So that’s how I manage most of my incoming/outgoing information from news sources. Lucky for us, most of these services are free. The only ones that have free and paid versions where I’ve chosen to go the paid route for added features are:

  • Mr. Reader iPad app: $3.99 for the best RSS reader I’ve ever seen…and I’m pretty sure I’ve seen every single one
  • Diigo Pro: $5/month gives you unlimited bookmark storage/caching
  • Evernote Premium: $5/month gives you a ton of storage and allows you to view notebooks offline and collaborate with other users

Here are links to the IFTTT Recipes I mentioned in the post. I shared them publicly, so you’re welcome to click through to use them as a template to create your own personal Recipes.


So now you know all my secrets. Feel free to ask questions if you have them or let me know if you’re already using any of these tools or if you have other favorites — I’d love to hear your opinions!

  • Robert McKee

    Very informative and well written!

    • Courtney Livingston

      Thank you :)

  • Josh Krakauer

    This just might be the most useful curation tutorial. Ever. Excellent combo (and integration) of newer apps and the ‘classics’.

    • Courtney Livingston

      I’m so glad you think it’s useful! Thanks for the kind words.

  • Tom George

    Nice job Courtney! I am sharing this with the curation community I started on Google + called Content Curation News Tips and Happenings. Would love for you to join! I see you really have a passion for curation.

    • Courtney

      Thanks, Tom! I’ll definitely check the group out. Thanks for the invite and for passing the post along.

  • JessieZubatkin

    Great post! I love IFTTT and have been using them for awhile on twitter. I wanted to share an asset my company company created called 5 Simple Steps to Becoming a Content Curation Rockstar ( ) . This ebook provides more in-depth info on how to dive into each area of curation you’ve outlined above. I’d also be happy to answer any questions. Thanks and keep on curating!