The popularity of content marketing has risen over the past couple of years and we’ve seen positive and negative effects. On the bright side, there are some great brands putting out some really useful and engaging content. On the flip-side, there are some brands who are putting out keyword-stuffed junk just because they feel like they need to post something. This is creating a LOT of noise, making it more difficult to find quality information and news. So how do you cut through the noise and get to the good stuff?
Luckily, there are some really great (free!) tools available to anyone who wants to spend a little time setting them up. I’m going to explain the process I use to find and filter content. Hopefully, you can take this process and apply it to your own info consumption and save yourself some time and headaches.
Start with a RSS feed aggregator. I’ve been a Google Reader junkie for years and I highly recommend it. I’m subscribed to a lot of feeds (probably too many), but I’ve got a pretty efficient way of browsing through them to find good content. Here’s what my Google Reader looks like:
I use folders to keep things organized and order them from most to least important:
- VIP: The absolute minimum I need to read every day. This includes:
- Go-to sites that break important industry news first
- Sites that publish really good content (research, theory, opinion) that I want to make sure to read as soon as it comes out
- Google Alerts for myself, my office and the clients I work for (including names of key players at each)
- Competitor content
Room 214: A list of recommended blogs from the Room 214 team
R214 Target Bloggers: All the bloggers on our target outreach list (I shoot to have some sort of interaction with one person from this list per week)
SM Sites: Updates from the actual social media networks themselves
- Current tools and…: Blogs from the tools I use personally or at work. I subscribe to these because the tool makers usually hint at upcoming developments or release important announcements via their blogs
- Feeds grouped by topic
In order to filter the noise on these, I run some of them through Yahoo Pipes to make sure I only get relevant info. Mashable is a great example: In my VIP folder, I want super-relevant, important news about social media business and tech, but don’t want stuff like “our favorite photos from…” or “vote for this/that.” So I pull the feeds from the Mashable categories I’m interested in, then set up a filter to block posts from certain authors (the ones I know write the fluff pieces) and specific keywords in the title. It looks like this:
Sidebar: There’s a TON you can do with Yahoo Pipes and I didn’t even scratch the surface. If you’re a little on the geeky side, you should definitely check it out.
So I grab my newly pressed RSS feed and add it to my VIP folder. That way, I can read the important Mashable articles and if I have time, I can read the rest by adding the reverse of this feed to another folder (just copy the original pipe and change the Rules from “Contains” to “Does Not Contain” and create a second feed). I usually subscribe to a feed, watch it closely for a week, then create the pipe if I feel like it’s too noisy. Here’s a link to the Pipe I used in the example. You can copy and tweak it to make it work for you.
Just to be clear: I don’t read every single post that comes through my reader. I scan post titles, looking for specific things like:
- Platform updates or announcements
- New software launches
- Big investment rounds from VC’s
- Changes in key players at major companies
- Volume around a topic (are a bunch of bloggers writing about the same thing?)
Each day, as I get the time, I just work my way through the most recent posts, reading and tagging interesting items as I go. If a particular feed starts publishing things I’m not interested in following, I just go in and tweak that specific pipe to help keep my reader organized.
In all honesty, it’s taken me a while to get this set up and adjusted, but it’s absolutely been worth it. The time-savings and ability to easily get all (or most of) the relevant information in a single place is indispensable. If you do it, I think you’ll agree.