Sharing other people’s content on social media has a lot of benefits. You can develop relationships, extend your network, and feed your hungry audience even on the days you aren’t publishing new content yourself.
You may be thinking, ‘Great, but where do I find an endless supply of good content to share every day?’
Here’s how I do it.
What to avoid
A lot of people fully automate their third party content curation, which I’ve never done because I like finer control over what’s being shared, whether I’m doing social media for a brand or for myself. There are plenty of tools that will fully automate your content creation if that’s what you want, but chances are your audience will be subjected to five random TechCrunch articles per day (replace ‘TechCrunch’ with another high volume site of your choice). If you’re a company, you also run the risk that you’ll be autosharing conflict of interest content, or websites that heavily feature one of your competitors in their advertising.
So sharing third party content is great, but it needs to be approached carefully. My go-to strategy is mostly automatic, but requires a few minutes per day or a couple of hours per week to implement, depending on how you prefer to work and how many things you want to schedule.
Tools for sourcing third party content
Refind – This is a free content curation service. There are plenty of them out there, but this is my favourite. You choose topics that interest you/your audience, and choose some people to follow (tip: hook up Twitter with your Refind account to make this even easier). Refind will populate a page full of articles you may be interested in.
Over time you can add and refine topics to get your feed the way you want it, and ditch the topics that don’t result in good articles. The only flaw with Refind is that you can’t define language, so if you follow a lot of bilingual people but aren’t bilingual yourself, you’re kind of forced to unfollow them.
Muzli – This is one I came across recently (ironically through Refind). Muzli is a great little browser extension and website that’s a cross between Refind and a feed reader for designers. You pick a design-themed subject, and it populates articles for you from specific websites. You can add populate it with websites you visit the most, suggest sources, and other things.
If you’re not too invested in sharing third party social media content, or you want to see what people read in a niche that’s not familiar to you, Muzli is a good choice. I tend to use it alongside Refind to give me a broader scope of articles.
Feedly – Feedly became my go-to feed reader after Google Reader died, and I love it so much I actually have the Premium version. The Premium version allows you to search through all the articles in your reader for a specific keyword. This is great if I want to source articles about something specific very quickly (e.g. I’m looking for posts about flat design for a blog post roundup). It also flags the most popular articles, which is great if you’re looking to share something you know will be popular.
Tip: If you add a website that posts so frequently it drowns out all your other sources, create a ‘High Volume’ category and assign the website to that.
Pinterest – This is a more obvious one, but useful for finding visual content and sharing it on other networks like Facebook, and even your own blog. Use secret boards (see 7 clever ways to use secret boards on Pinterest) to queue up content to use at a later date.
Buffer – Once I’ve collected a bunch of links, I schedule them using Buffer. The free version of Buffer limits you to 10 scheduled posts and doesn’t include Pinterest, so again I have the paid version. There are lots of other social media scheduling tools out there, so you don’t have to use Buffer if you don’t want to.
Content curation websites and mailing lists
If this all seems a bit much, or conversely you’re looking for even more content, have a search for content curation websites in your niche. These are websites that basically do the same thing as the tools above, but they’re a fixed list so every visitor sees the same results.
Medium is another fantastic place to find quality long-form articles across a huge range of topics.
Once you’ve found your go-to websites, add them to Feedly or bookmark them.
Using third party content to build relationships
It’s not just about what you’re sharing, but who wrote it. Aim for a mix of people you aspire to, people at your level, and people who are new or otherwise need a helping hand. You want to foster existing relationships as well create opportunities for new ones. Build relationships by sharing other people’s blog posts and tagging them in the tweet, making sure to add a thoughtful comment at the beginning so it doesn’t look automated.
For extra credit, do it for interactive content, e.g. make a recipe of theirs and take a picture, or share specific results you’ve got from taking their advice and offer a testimonial; it goes a lot further than a generic ‘Great post’.
Final tips for posting third party content on social media
- Sign up to newsletters in your niche for more great content sources.
- Look for a balance in what you’re sharing; you don’t want to share something everyone’s seen before, but you also want to share something people will actually be interested in.
- A good rule of thumb is: did you enjoy reading it? Did you learn anything? Was it easy to read?
- Share posts with easy to read type, good spelling and grammar, and attractive images (the latter is particularly important for Pinterest).
- Tag the author of the post, not just the company, where possible for extra exposure and better relationship building.
Do you automate any of your social media content sharing? Let me know in the comments!