At LocalFresh, we hear time and time again that small businesses just don’t have the time to discover and pass along quality content to their social networks. Most business understand the importance of connecting with their online communities through sharing relevant stories and topics, or as it’s officially called – content curation, but many busy businesses and overly engaged entrepreneurs simply can’t find the time between payroll, scheduling, reports, audits and customer service to establish that connection. The beauty of technology has always been it’s ability to save us time. When it comes to discovering and sharing content, there are some great free technologies that actually can save you time and effort. They also make you seem bigger than you are; always helpful to anyone labeled “small.”
Schedule 20 minutes in the morning and in the evening to get some contact sharing and discovery done. Find a nice comfy seat at home or in coffee shop, open your device and flip through your feeds. Find the article, post, or story that might be of interest to you and your community and set them to Buffer, Tweet or Post. That’s all you need to do in order to start establishing valuable connections with followers, clients, potential leads, other businesses and whoever else is apart of your online community.
Buffer is a fabulous app that allows you to connect and manage your social accounts, and to schedule when to share content. Use it from your desktop or mobile phone, or send a link to your personal buffer email address. The app queues up the content and broadcasts it out based on preset times. Buffer gives you the ability to connect up to four social media accounts for free, letting you choose from Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter. Best of all, it also gives you great stats on how well your sharing goes. Under their content suggestion section, Buffer will even give you ideas about what to publish based on any interests you’ve selected. While most of Buffer’s features are free, the paid version allows you to connect to more accounts and provides access to additional content.
Flipboard bills itself as “Your Personal Magazine,” but it’s so much more than a magazine feed. It’s a way to discover, collect and share news and ideas. With a pleasing card-style magazine interface, Flipboard allows you to select a few of their recommended feeds or set up your own. For instance, your news feed could have NPR, The New York Times, BBC and ABC, while your food feed could contain all the food blogs you subscribe to, as well. Not only that, but you can add in your Twitter feed and all those you follow on Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. By flipping through, you can view the info from each stream in a short attention span, graphically pleasing way. Just tap to read and enjoy an article, tweet or post. Another tap brings up an interface that allows you to share the content on most major social networks. Flipboard is available for free on iPhone, Android, Windows Phones and most tablets.
The demise of Google Reader has left many people scrambling to find a replacement news aggregator. Feedly offers exactly what you’ve been looking for with a simple, easy to use interface. Just like with the other apps, you set up your feeds to include any topics of interest, and then add blogs and feeds into your categories for browsing. Just like Flipboard, you can share any content you come across with ease. Feedly also gives you more than a dozen ways to share, save or tag. You can even use Buffer or apps like Pocket or Instapaper to help share and save. Feedly is available for free in mobile, tablet, browser and desktop versions.
Paper by Facebook
If you are an iPhone addict, Facebook actually offers a decent app to help you find and share content. Paper is an app that incorporates – and nearly replaces – the standalone Facebook app functionality. It also adds a gorgeous scroll and grab feature that allows you to explore sections you can customize to include a wide range of themes and interests from all over the web. From news headlines to the latest in fashion to stories about nature and more, the content offered seems varied and interesting. Paper’s tilt-to-view pictures are fairly revolutionary and it’s user interface is probably the future of app design. The only downside is that you can only share in Facebook or through text or email. It’s also only a one platform beast for now – free on iPhone.
A new entry into the content curation and sharing game is Klout. (You can read my previous post about Klout here.) Klout recently pivoted to become more of a create-and-share content platform, but the app does offer a decent interface to help you increase your Klout score – achieved through rating your social clout – and curate and share content. Klout allows you to select your topics of interests, and then provides you with feeds to stories you might want to share. Klout attempts to match its content suggestions to your individual taste, and will mark stories that you might want to highlight as “On Target” or a “Hidden Gem.” Klout allows you to share on Facebook and Twitter and on Klout’s own network, as well. Klout is free and available for most devices and for browser.