Jim Spellos of Meeting U. Explains How to Be a Great Online Curator

Being a great social curator boils down to helping your audience stay informed

The best art curators know which artists will boost their cachet, which works will be solid sellers, and what pieces are likely to generate buzz. Social content curation—the act of cherry picking media (articles, videos, photos) to share on pinboard-style networks like Pinterest and Scoop.it—requires an equally comprehensive understanding of audience. What’s the difference between a Pinterest page that’s on fire with user engagement and one that’s slower than a sloth? A mix of fun, shareable content specifically tailored to a narrow audience. We asked Jim Spellos, tech guru and president of Meeting U.,?to share his tips for tailoring content that optimizes brand exposure—and sales.

What websites and apps are emerging as the top curation hubs?

Pinterest is the top one. There’s Paper.li and Scoop.it, which are also great. And I like the mobile curators—­Flipboard and LinkedIn Pulse. The whole idea of curation isn’t as much about the tool as it is the person [who’s curating]. We can make tools look good or bad by nature of the content we post to them. What’s really driving social curation is the people who are identifying interesting content and presenting it within a niche. It’s not about the technology. It’s about the creativity.

Why is it important for small businesses to get in on social curation?

If you don’t get in on it, you become less relevant in the space. It’s almost a keeping-up-with-the-Joneses thing. If you’re not there, you become more conspicuous in your absence. When you don’t find a person on social media, you don’t go, “Wow, that must be a really smart person.” You go, “What’s wrong with this picture?” Marketing is getting tougher and tougher, and content is king. [Influential] content for your business is not just passing on a piece of information. It’s passing on something important right now that has your own point of view and gives people exactly what they want. It’s about getting critical content out [on your social networks] so people continue to follow you.

How can a retailer get in on social curation quickly and easily?

It’s a two-step process. First, you need to get comfortable with one or two tools you like. So it might be a couple of weeks of a retailer figuring out which is the best tool for his or her business. The second phase is ­sending content out that [connects] with consumers.

What mistakes do small businesses make when curating content?

They don’t personalize the message; they just play filter. It’s important for that spin to be there; consumers want to hear your point of view. That’s an important part of the ­curation process.

What makes for a great social curator?

I think great curators are grounded enough to know what their audience needs to hear. The best content is one step ahead of your client, not 14 steps ahead. Folks want content on what phone they should buy next. They don’t want to look stupid. We’re all very afraid of looking uninformed. Give them what they need.