Higher Education Marketing

Increase your college’s visibility with content curation

Date posted: February 1, 2013

Colleges and universities know the importance of creating and carrying out an effective content strategy to meet their audiences’ online needs and expectations. Their strategy usually first focuses on college-created content: branded homepages, program pages, blog posts, etc. But a college’s brand goes beyond this content and includes the college’s values, interests, and community. Because it strengthens and enhances these aspects of your brand, content curation is a great complement to content creation and should be integrated into your general higher ed marketing strategy.

What exactly is content curation?

“[Curation is] the act of continually identifying, selecting and sharing the best and most relevant online content and other online resources on a specific subject to match the needs of a specific audience” - Ann Handley, as quoted in the excellent Effective Content Curation in Higher Ed article by Georgy Cohen Curation is much more than pushing a share button, it requires that you make explicit the value of the content you are sharing and that you organize this content to meet your audience’s needs. For that, you need to make sure the content is relevant to your audience and consistent with the college’s brand and message. Your content curation plan needs to be aligned with your overall content strategy.

How does content curation work?

Content curation is based on 2 phases:

- Content Discovery: this phase focuses on finding relevant content for your audience. It can include the RSS feeds of blogs of community members, Twitter with specific hashtags and keywords, content found on social media platforms where you are active (Facebook wall, LinkedIn, Pinterest boards, etc.) and other content curators online.

- Content Production: You now give context to the content you have selected to make it easier for your audience to relate to it. In other words, why do you think they should care?

The content curation process

    • Plan: Decide on what you want to achieve with content curation: position your college as an authority? Strengthen links with your community? Setting out clear goals will determine the sites and the type of content you will curate.
    • Pick tools:  Tools should be based on your strategic goals and the type of content you want to share. Pinterest is great for pictures and videos only, whereas Tumblr offers a much wider range of possibilities. Scoop.it is one of the tools we recommend to share content. It offers automatic suggestions for the category, gives the option of adding a comment, and allows you to create themes to be shared with other content curators that you can follow. You can also download a bookmarklet (bookmark that allows you to share directly from the page you find interesting). But there are many other content curation sites for higher ed.
    • Discover and produce: Use these tools to add context and create your own content.

Content Curation in Higher Education

  • Repeat: Schedule time every week to curate content. Develop your community on curation sites by following fellow-curators, commenting on the content they share and sharing what they do. Also, ask directly for feedback from the community.

You can add your college-generated content to the content curation process, but the focus should really be on sharing other people’s content. For a few examples of colleges and universities that are leveraging content curation, take a look at what Texas A&M University does on Pinterest, Walden University does on Twitter, or what Smith College does on Tumblr. 

How can content curation benefit your college?

  1. Position your college as a leader: If your college’s goal is to position itself as a leader in healthcare programs, it only makes sense for you to try to become a reference in healthcare in your area. Curate content that interests the whole local healthcare community: news, research, hospital news, technical outlets, internships, tips, etc. If you only share and credit the best healthcare sources, and identify key influencers in your field, you will be looked upon as an authority in terms of healthcare content and people will come to you and your site.
  2. Increase credibility thanks to a mix of college-generated and community-generated content: Content curation allows you also to curate content created by your students, partners or other key members of your community. For instance, curating YouTube videos created at your school by various partners will tell your prospects more about the college they are applying to than your college’s official videos. Student-generated and community-generated content adds credibility to your content.
  3.  Develop relationships and engagement within your community: A direct outcome of curating content from your student and your community at large is to strengthen links with this community. Georgy Cohen reminds us that “curation enables us to build relationships and reward on-brand content creators” by sharing their content.
  4. Enhance your college's SEO efforts: Content curation also increases your brand visibility by increasing traffic to your site. Bringing organic traffic to your site, having Google identify you as an entity and creating link building outreach are only some of the SEO advantages of content curation.

Does your college have a content curation plan? Please share your experiences here!


Passionate about web and content marketing, I write about all things social media in higher education.