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Dean Marsden

The Growth of Content Curation Sites

9th Jan 2014 Social Media 7 minutes to read

Full BookcaseContent Curation Sites became huge in 2013. Buzzfeed, Distractify, UsvsTh3m, Worth a Share and many more provide curated content of the trending web stories, images and videos.

For a number of years, niche blogs have been publishing curated topics that help with inspiration and education; Art blogs, design blogs, software blogs and now the most inspiring, funny, shocking, cute and plain odd internet content has been curated into carefully themed blog posts.

The Rise

What fuelled the growth of these sites, especially Buzzfeed? There are a wide number of factors that could have boosted the growth of these websites, below are a few I believe have made it possible.

Social Media

The growth of Facebook and Twitter enables more sharing of our own content and content that users have found across the internet. With half a million tweets sent every day from over 230 million users on Twitter and 1.19 billion active monthly users on Facebook it’s no wonder that content can quickly and easily spread for these sites.

Smartphones and Tablets

Without the mobile device revolution these websites may not have made it big. They enable us to view rich media content wherever we are and more importantly they allow us to take photos and videos without the need for more bulky equipment. Exactly the type of content many of these sites thrive on.

Video and Photo Hosting

Much of this media is posted to Facebook but sites like YouTube, Flickr and other photo hosting sites allow for more content to be published on the web. These photos are then quickly circulated via Social Networks from friends out to wider networks.


The sort of content that is published on these content curation websites relates mainly to the age group of teens to early 30s. It’s this demographic that are the largest adopters of new technology that helps view and share this content.

RedditReddit is one of the most frequently used places to find content to curate.

The Positives

Are content curation websites good for the internet and users? Below are some of the reasons why they are popular for users and publishers.

Engaging Content

Although most of the content on these sites will appeal to a certain demographic, the content relates well to things that interests the majority of users. The content is also often easy to absorb and better suited to quick bursts of reading.

Easy To Share

As with many popular blogs, it’s easy to share content via a blog post sharing button or browser based plugins. People are usually always logged into their favourite social services and clicking a simple Like or Tweet button posts the content with a minimum of fuss. Knowing the content you are about to read can easily be shared if you like it encourages readers to find and share more of this type of content.

Huge Reach

BuzzFeed has a global audience of 100 million readers which they take advantage of by offering advertising and sponsored content for brands. Although it may not be right (or good enough value) for small brands the potential reach for those who can afford it should not be ignored.

Straightforward To Publish

As the majority of their content is from other sources it is typically easier to create the posts, however there is an argument that good curation is more skilled than just copy and pasting content.

BuzzfeedBuzzFeed is probably the most well known dedicated content curation site.

The Negatives

Could content curation websites infringe copyright rules and damage the way we use the internet?

Copyright Issues

Unless the content was created specifically for a post, the majority of the content will have come from another source. Although citing the source alongside media is a common practice there are a degree of potential copyright issues, especially as more posts become sponsored. Here’s one such case.

Thin Content

Most curated content is essentially just images, video and re-used content. Search engine guidelines typically state that if website content provides little new value or information for the user then they are unlikely to appear highly visible in the search results. There’s even the risk of a flat out ban if a site is deemed to offer no value of its own.

Time Sapping

If content doesn’t deliver on its promises (as is often the case with very expressive headlines) time could be wasted for both the post creator and readers. There is so much interesting and engaging original content across the web that it’s easy to get carried away with browsing curated websites.

No ‘Conversions’

Apart from filling the surrounding screen around the blog post content with further related content, there are typically no direct conversions with monetary value that can be implemented to send visitors to. Whilst banner adverts may not work as well in this environment sponsored content certainly can, which in Buzzfeed’s case has made them profitable.

Benefitting From Content Curation Sites

How could website owners benefit from the surge in this type on web content? There are a number of different ways depending on your goals.


The first is to mimic these sites. We’ve seen a few news sites such as Metro.co.uk create list style compilations or oddball stories to attract curious readers. Creating a blog post by only curating content may drive social traffic to your own blog but it is unlikely that it will help your organic search engine performance significantly as these posts are considered thin content. If impressions and social mentions of your brand are key, then this may be an option for you.

Sponsoring Posts

Piggybacking this content with your brand is a quick way to add value to your brand and drive traffic to your own sites. Due to the huge audiences many of these sites now attract, this option may not be suitable for any company or organisation smaller than an international brand. However if you want to reach a younger audience with your brand it’s one of the best ways.

Creating Content

Creating original image content may be seen as a low impact form of marketing, but it’s an option that is likely to be low in cost and low in time. Creating Memes from existing photographs shouldn’t take long and could go viral and whilst video content may take significantly longer to create it has the potential provide better response. The goal of creating images or video is to have something that content curation websites will pick up on and credit back to your website.

Curating Content

Buzzfeed now allows individuals to sign up and become a writer / curator for posts they would want to see. This is not open to commercial groups but an individual account may help you identify what readers want and perhaps help your own website directly by finding out what are the best types of content to sponsor on that site.

Sharing Content

Along with creating unconventional content on your own sites, sharing other website’s content on your own social media feeds is a good strategy. Whilst there’s often the fear this could lose you loyal customers, the value of your tweet being re-tweeted or your Facebook post being re-shared could drive significantly more followers to your profiles and add value to your brand. This could work well if you are a young, trendy business whose audience is the demographic interested in the shared content.

us vs th3m

Usvsth3m is a recent UK contender, notable for being launched as part of the Trinity Mirror group.

Content Curation Sites and Resources

I have put together a list of example sites, sources for gifs, images and videos, plus some tools that can help your curate your own social media feeds into a website of rich media and stories.

Beware: These website may contain content not safe for work (NSFW)

General Sites

Design Based & Art Focused

News Based

Sources of Memes, Gifs and Videos

Personal Content Curation Tools

Whats your opinion on Content Curation Websites? Do you have anymore to add to the list above? Leave your comment in the comments section below.

Image Credit

Full Bookcase Library via BigStock

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