I’m not sure if it is ego or a desire to inform our community, but many of us try to post to blogs on a regular basis.  Many companies choose to have their own blog server to host content from their employees.  But this doesn’t always work, especially when your employees already have a community presence before joining the team.  Recently our company has been trying to conquer this very issue.

The first question is “what are your goals”.  For us it is to aggregate blog postings/articles that could be beneficial to both our clients and our employees in a branded and moderate fashion.  We wanted to be able add new entries from RSS feeds to a queue in an automated process and then categorize them and bless them for publication.  Finally the entries should be available for search and review for a definable amount of time from hours to forever.  This seems like a fairly simple set of requirements.  Surprisingly there aren’t a host of companies selling that achieve all of these requirements. 

So what options are available?  Let’s put them into groups by functionality.

Newsletters

This is the largest group of solutions available.  One of the most popular examples is paper.li.  In general they can accept most social media sources, not just blogs.  They also automatically pull and categorize content.  They can have very attractive formatting, but they don’t necessarily attribute content to the original creator especially when you have people retweeting regularly.

Manual Aggregators

These curation solutions give a significant amount of control with the trade off there is a lot of manual work for the curator.  You have to copy and paste URLs and manually assign categories.  An example of this is the open source solution from IBM that is called Collaboration Today.  You will see that tools like this will have the ability to set timeframes for distribution and have approval processes.  They fit all the requirements except the ability to automatically pull and categorize content.

Custom Solutions

As with anything, if you throw enough money, time and resources at the problem you can get exactly what you want.  This is where custom solutions fall.  You can have all the features you are looking for, but you may end up paying considerably more.  In this case the concepts and features are actually pretty simple, so a couple of weeks of time from a good developer could definitely get you a complete solution.

Summary

To make a decision you need to weigh the factors of features, staff impact and cost.  Each of the solution categories can work for you depending on your goals.  Take a number of them for a spin and see how they work.  Check if they can integrate with your current corporate site and branding.  In the end a test drive is really the only way to see if you can live with an off the shelf product or need to go the custom route.