When it comes to content, figuring out which information your audience wants to consume can be incredibly challenging. Whether it’s the social networks or even publishers, figuring out what should show up to the reader is what ultimately defines a content product. Understanding the various types of curation is important for any content creator or content platform. Here’s a list of the various forms of curation that I’ve been keeping an eye on:

Facebook’s Algorithmic Curation

This is the theoretical holy-grail of content curation. How users interact with content determines whether or not it receives increased distribution in Facebook’s news feed. The result is a feed which moves at a steady pace yet by no means overwhelms the user. If this system truly worked, you would like the vast majority of content that’s in your feed.

User-based Curation

Twitter is the best example of this approach. Simply put, it becomes the user’s job to curate which content they are interested in. On Twitter you subscribe to hundreds (or even thousands) of other users and then click on the content that interests you. The people you subscribe to are ultimately the curators and if they do a good job, you continue to follow them.

Curating The Curators

For many people, Twitter becomes overload. Whether you’re concerned that you might miss something, or you simply don’t want to read every irrelevant tweet that someone publishes, companies are being formed to curate those who you already subscribe to. Prismatic, Nuzzle, and others are all examples of companies who are providing an algorithmic (Facebook-like) curation on top of Twitter.

Editorial + Headline Curation

For most publishers, they are aware that not everybody will want to read every article on their site. The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, CNN, Huffington Post, Drudge Report, and other large publishers focus heavily on headlines. These headlines are what the audience uses to determine whether or not they want to read on. It’s similar to how Twitter works with one exception: there’s an additional level of editorial curation. The editors determine whether or not something is published. It’s then up to the audience to determine which articles they like.

Social Voting Curation

Hacker News and Reddit follow this model. Simply put, the audience of the site votes on content that they like. The more votes, the further up the front-page that content goes.

Each of these curation models have pros and cons, but for all the products in the content space, getting the approach right is critical. If you happen to be building your own content product or service, you should be thinking about which of these approaches serve your audience best.