I get a particular thrill from finding little-known restaurants that serve amazing food. My greatest hits list includes elk tacos at a highway diner, cinnamon rolls at a downtown hole-in-the-wall, and – perhaps my greatest discovery of all – barbecue from a trailer in a parking lot. (Seriously, it’s good barbecue!)
The discovery process for great content has a similar thrill. How great does it feel to share a bit of awesomeness that few others have found?
Without a doubt, sharing great finds on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social networks is a smart way to with your followers. Did you know 25 percent of Tweets contain links and 56 percent of retweets contain them?
People love a good content share. And in order to give the people what they want, sometimes you’ve got to dig a little deeper. Here are 17 unexpected places to look:
1. Email newsletters
We look at the inbox every day, but how often do we search it for great content? Perhaps we should consider email the original content discovery engine. You make your interests known (by signing up for newsletters), and your inbox delivers tailored content. Newsletters are often filled with hand-picked links of interest. The best ones have one or two new pieces of content that you can share each day. Here are a few to consider:
Managed by Dave Pell, this daily newsletter contains the day’s most fascinating news – a Top Ten of interesting links from around the web, often starting with current events and meandering into fun, off-beat, interesting links.
The Daily Digg
The newsletter offshoot of Digg.com, this daily email brings you up to speed on the top stories from yesterday with an uncanny knack for highlighting potentially viral content. Digg’s algorithms and users help identify the day’s most important stories, which you can glean for uniquely shareable content.
Sign up by clicking the Daily Digg link in the menu bar of the Digg homepage.
Author and illustrator Austin Kleon is one of the most unique marketing and motivational minds out there, and his newsletter reflects his eye for design and his keen curation of content off the beaten path.
The Zen Habits newsletter delivers Leo Babuta’s popular insights into simplicity and peace. The stories here could provide a good balance to the marketing and social media posts in a stream.
Newsletters from SmartBrief cover a vast array of topics and professions – 150 to be exact. The daily newsletters of curated content focus on a particular industry, and you can browse a deep list of topics to find ones that suit you (Tech and Business topics is a good place to start).
5 Intriguing Things by Alexis Madrigal
A senior editor at The Atlantic, Alexis shares links that span a wide range of topics – technology, science, culture, just to name a few.
Pro tip: Once your inbox fills up with quality newsletters, you can manage them with Unroll.me, a service that rolls all your subscriptions into a daily digest. You can still click on individual links and read all the copy, and you get to do so from a slick dashboard with minimal impact on your inbox.
Reddit helps identify a wealth of valuable content as discovered and voted on by its deep user base. Specialized subreddits focus on a single topic and can be an ideal place to monitor up-and-coming links you can use. The full list of subreddits covers just about any topic you could imagine. Here are a few that might be relevant for digital marketers:
Pocket is a multi-dimensional content finder. First and foremost, you can use the app like nature intended: Save the articles you find online to read later. Inside the app, Pocket will even notify you of what stories are popular and trending.
Beyond the basic functionality of Pocket, there are some neat ways that the company helps highlight particular types of content. The Pocket blog features popular posts about timely events like the Oscars and the Super Bowl. And particularly helpful is the Twitter offshoot @PocketHits. The account tweets three to five great pieces of content daily.
Use Topsy to search popular stories around a chosen topic – you can even go so far as to home in on links, tweets, photos, videos or people specifically. The results page displays the top content that was shared recently as well as how many folks are talking about it.
Topsy earns bonus points for its social analytics and social trends, which could be great seeds for ideas on your next piece of content.
5. The quotes page on Goodreads.com
Oftentimes, you will want to share more than just great articles. A good quote, perhaps?
If so, Goodreads is a worthwhile stop. The quotes page on Goodreads pulls out the best snippets from books and authors, as chosen by the large community of Goodreads users. Here’s a selection from some of the top quotes:
- “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” – Dr. Seuss
- “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” – Bernard Baruch
- “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” – Mae West
6. The Latest
Built as a way to monitor what’s hot on Twitter (without actually monitoring Twitter yourself all day), The Latest prides itself on quality curation of top links. To accomplish this, the site polls a number of top influencers on Twitter and extracts and measures the links they share. The top ten links get added to the Latest homepage and are updated as new best-of links surface. You can also follow top stories on Twitter from The Latest.
Gauging the virality of an article sometimes seems like voodoo magic. How can you tell what people like when there’s so much of it out there? BuzzSumo helps separate the signal from the noise with a tool that collects all vital share stats and spits out a dashboard of top links. You can see what has performed best on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and overall, and the tool also lets you filter by date and content type (e.g., guest posts, video, infographics).
RSS feeds are well-known and loved (less loved now than they used to be, but still), and Feedly is one of the top RSS readers around. At a basic level, you can use Feedly to manage RSS feeds from the sites you follow, but when it comes to unique, unexpected content, try tapping into Feedly’s hashtag search. Simply type a word into the search bar at top and choose from a list of suggested Feedly topics. The results offer a variety of places to subscribe and discover new content.
Curating unique content with a design focus, Sidebar.io provides a daily list of top links that you can grab on the Sidebar homepage or in the Sidebar daily newsletter. A handful of human editors upvote submitted links to determine what reaches the Sidebar homepage on any given day. The results (up to five links) are posted and emailed out.
10. Twitter lists
Many Twitter power users rely on lists to make sense of their huge stream of tweets. Lists are an ideal, minimal way to focus on a smaller number of voices—no @ replies or Retweets show up in the stream for a list, and you can choose which Twitter users get added. A common practice is to set up a list around a topic (e.g., startups, design) or a group of people (e.g., influencers, coworkers). Here are a few handy ones to get started:
- AdWeek Marketing Top 50 – list curated by Mark Schaefer
- Writers at Social Media Examiner – list curated by Michael Stelzner
- Copywriting / Writing – list curated by Unbounce
- Social Media Managers – list curated by Mashable
- The Buffer team 🙂
Want more? Here’s The 101 Best Twitter Lists To Follow in the Twitterverse.
11. Medium collections
The blogging platform Medium has an incredibly deep well of shareable content, much of which is highlighted on the Medium home page. For an even finer degree of curation, you can hop onto collections built by Medium’s users. Here are a few examples:
Two things make Slideshare a great source for original content: 1) the quality of the submissions are top-notch with presentations from some of the top voices in digital marketing, and 2) the content is visual—pictures, graphs, etc.—meaning a huge opportunity for added engagement.
- Netflix Culture: Freedom and Responsibility
- How to Trade a Red Paperclip for a House
- 26 Time Management Hacks I Wish I’d Known at 20
13. What’s Trending on Google+ and Pinterest
Of course, the top social media networks also have a pretty good idea of what content is popular. All you have to do is ask!
Google+ tracks its rising content in a section titled Hot and Recommended. Its algorithms pull up-and-coming content that has resonated on the network or is about to. To reach this feature, click on the Explore link on your top navigation bar, then choose “What’s Hot” from the list of tags.
Pinterest collects its most popular posts on one main page for an easy overview.
14. The Feature
Just as the afore-mentioned Pocket highlights the best content that its users appreciate, the best content from fellow read-later app Instapaper can be found online, too, via The Feature.
The Feature runs on Tumblr, so you can pull up the full archive to quickly browse what’s been shared.
One of the original must-have apps on the iPad, Flipboard has been curating content for years. It takes your interests and responds with a beautifully-designed flip book of articles and stories that fit what you’re into. Flipboard also recently acquired content discovery engine Zite, which could lead to some useful new innovations down the road.
Like Flipboard, Prismatic discovers great new content and delivers it in a beautiful way to your mobile device. You can follow people and interests and send feedback by voting on the stories you like best. The latest version supports reading later and saving stories to Pocket.
Update: As of December 20, 2015, Prismatic has left the content distribution game in order to focus on a new path.
And lastly, here’s something a bit different. The team at Buzzfeed built Fre.sh as a quick view at the fastest rising stories on the web. Many of the top stories have a celebrity-entertainment focus, but the category range is so wide that if you dig deep enough you should be able to find something relevant for your profile.
Bonus: Content suggestions from Buffer
Here’s an extra place to find great content to share: Buffer’s content suggestions. This new feature gives users five daily suggestions to share quickly from right within the app, plus three suggestions sent to a user’s email any time their queue runs dry. The suggestions are hand-picked by the Buffer team and cover a variety of topics and media: quotes, images, and links about marketing, writing, psychology, lifehacking, and more. Here is how the suggestions flow looks from within the Buffer web app.
What unexpected places do you frequent to find great content to share? Care to give away any of your secrets? I’d love to hear where you find neat, new stories online.
P.S. If you liked this post, you might also like The Complete Guide for Finding and Sharing Better Content Online and 29 Free Internet Tools to Improve Your Marketing Starting Today.
Image credit: t_buchtele