When it comes to content, your audience is never content. If it’s good, they want more; and if it’s not, they’ve got no time for you. Quality and quantity are both key. Unfortunately, the two are rather difficult to balance, which is where repurposing content comes into play.
If money was no object, that would be one thing. But the whole idea behind building a robust, data-driven content marketing strategy is to get great return on your investment and do so consistently.
Without a clear set of systems in place for maximizing the efficiency and longevity of your content, your program will run out of steam quickly.
Constantly running against the passing days of an overstuffed editorial calendar is the painful death of many a well-intentioned marketer.
Luckily, there is a way to mitigate the stresses of producing fantastic, on-brand material while simultaneously keeping the insatiable content monster fed and satisfied: repurposing content.
Repurposing your content can be a great way to spread your content and amplify distribution, but start out with weak content and you can spread yourself too thin and just end up ineffective at scale.
The key for successful and effective repurposing is to strike a balance between maximizing reach and retaining your content’s integrity.
What follows are a series of checks and balances that can help navigate this fine line between quantity and quality.
Starting Strong Is Key to Going Long
The number-one determinant of success with repurposing content is the quality of content you start with.
Every time you repurpose content, it loses a bit of luster. So it is crucial that you ensure your initial content has the most potential to be spread over multiple iterations.
Content only gets diluted slightly in the first set of replications, but quality can quickly diminish if there wasn’t enough substance to begin with or you attempt to spread the content too far.
The ideal is to start strong, push the content to new channels while preserving a majority of the original power, and then to stop.
In order to succeed with this approach, it is crucial to understand exactly what type and caliber of content lends itself to repurposing and then to learn how to consistently create it.
Repurposing Requires Purpose
Before going through the considerable effort of spinning off your content for various channels, it would be beneficial to know if that content was worth the time and energy.
A beneficial approach to creating high-quality, impactful content is to create engaging material that aligns with your brand’s purpose.
If your brand doesn’t have a purpose yet, action-item number one is to come up with one and do it quickly. You’d be remiss to try and repurpose content that lacked purpose in the first place.
A simple framework for pinning down your brand’s purpose is Simon Sinek’s classic “Golden-Circle” framework.
This straightforward diagram consists of three concentric circles:
- Start with your brand’s “Why,” your purpose for existing
- Work your way out towards “How” you achieve that goal
- Finally get to “What” you do, make, sell, etc.
After you’ve identified your brand purpose, then the next step for building meaningful content is to devise something called an “indirect appeal.”
The indirect appeal is something of inherent value to a large group that you give for free in order to draw an audience in and use to eventually win over potential fans and earn the right to promote your actual product or service.
A good indirect appeal will align with your brand purpose and be attractive to a group that at least overlaps with your target audience.
The last prerequisite for content primed for repurposing is that it be dense with meaning/value and is relatively resource-intensive to produce. After all, the math justifying the repurposing-content equation only makes sense if the cost (in either hours or dollars) of reworking your content is less than making a new piece.
Assuming your content is high quality, purpose driven, and value dense; then we can get to actual strategies and tactics for repurposing.
Trickle Down Content Marketing
People always say, “Content is king.” However, not all content is created equal.
The definition of content is notoriously hard to pin down, anything from a tweet to a full-length film could technically fit depending on whom you ask. So for the sake of our discussion moving forward I would like to impose some structure on the definition of different types of content.
Tier 1 content: any content that is beyond a minute in length, is information dense, and is comprised of “rich media.” (i.e. Audio, Video) as opposed to text or still images.
Tier 2 content: rich media content that is below a minute in length and/or still images. Long-form blog posts also fall into this category.
Tier 3 content: short-form text content and/or social media posts pointing towards other, richer content. Short product descriptions count, as do Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn updates.
My methodology for repurposing content relies on this framework. You don’t have to begin at the top tier, but you must either repurpose laterally, or use derivatives of higher tier content to trickle down to the lower tiers.
This is especially true if you plan on repurposing your content to other platforms on the same tier as your initial content.
Examples of Great Repurposing
Many successful content marketing efforts have achieved their notoriety and success due to intelligent and efficient repurposing.
Because this is such a high-level technique, it can apply to nearly any industry, line of business, or project. The following wide variety of examples can attest to that fact.
Food Wishes is a YouTube cooking channel you might not have heard of, but amongst the foodie community it has an outsized reputation.
Although the channel was acquired by AllRecipes.com a few years ago, the sole proprietor John Mitzewitch is the one who pioneered many of the innovative promotional approaches that made the channel such a hit.
Each week, Food Wishes launches a five- to 10-minute YouTube video walking through a recipe. Accompanying this Tier 1 piece of content is a blog post that elaborates on the video.
The video description links to the blog post and the post has the video embedded. Since the content of each complements the other so well, the synergy is natural and it does not feel overly promotional.
Finally, when it comes time to promote the video on social, Food Wishes will simply tweet a link to the blog, and include the call out that the post contains a video as well.
The Home Depot
Another excellent example is Home Depot’s approach to repurposing content.
Even though they have a staggeringly large operation, Home Depot maximizes the reach and effectiveness of their content by repurposing it extensively.
For example, they will begin by posting a long-form blog article. This article will contain plenty of images and even a short instructional video to assist with the project. The video will also live on their YouTube channel, and the imagery will go into a small infographic for Pinterest.
With this approach, what began as one piece of content becomes four. This not only extends the reach of the original content, but it also serves to help the end consumer.
Pay special attention to the progression of content from high-tier (long-form blog post with video and images), to mid-tier (short-form video + rich media Pin), and then to the most basic tier (Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter post).
Equinox’s brand publication Furthermore also does a stellar job repurposing their content.
Equinox takes a long-form blog post, pairs it with a high-quality video, and then repurposes the video laterally on YouTube, and also pushes it to the next tier on Pinterest.
What all of these strategies have in common is that they take an existing piece of high-quality content and extract a smaller piece to repurpose it in a way that adds additional value.
There is certainly something to be said about being self-conscious regarding aggressive self-promotion. However, if you are creating an initially rich piece of content and then altering it in a way that adds a new value or allows you to reach a broader audience, then you are simply being generous.
This kind of generosity will not scare away customers. If anything, it will earn you their attention, gratitude and maybe even their business.
Building Long-Form Content With Repurposing in Mind
When you see a well-polished content marketing machine like Home Depot or Equinox repurpose content, they make it look simple, easy and almost inevitable.
You might be wondering how you can ensure that your content translates naturally into multiple different platforms and formats. This is a valid concern, and one with a deceptively simple trick to optimizing your content for repurposing every time.
I like to call this tactic “Social Outlining.” Everyone who sat through high-school English is probably familiar with the power of a good outline. Social outlining is when you plan out all the high level details of your piece by creating social posts.
Titling and headlining your piece is done by authoring a Twitter post. After all, most headlines shouldn’t be over 140 characters anyway.
Then the lede of the piece (i.e., the thesis/core message) is created as a succinct, 25-word Facebook post. After that I will gather images for the piece by collecting them into a Pinterest board, and you can see how I’d continue from there.
What makes this method so powerful is that you not only get a great outline. You also make sure that your post has enough depth to be organically repurposed and you have the social posts ready to go the second you’re finished.
The Power of Content Syndication
Syndication is a term that content marketers have borrowed from the world of broadcast media.
Essentially, syndication means a large organization with broad reach gaining the rights to broadcast someone else’s content in exchange for distribution and exposure. Think about how “Seinfeld” reruns on TBS work, for example.
Content syndication has a great potential for benefitting your marketing and online presence, and maximizing the reach and utility of your existing content.
This is a tactic I employ often, in which I create a high-quality piece of long-form content for my blog, and then shop the piece around for syndication on large, established publications such as Entrepreneur or The Next Web.
If you are looking for a place to start, there are many publications in all industries and fields that are open to syndication.
Pay careful attention when reading articles online exactly how the author is credited. You’d be surprised how often you see “this article originally appeared on…” That’s a tell-tale sign of a syndication-friendly potential partner.
The next step is to reach out. In an article I wrote on my own blog a while back, I shared my email template for exactly this type of outreach.
This kind of outreach takes time and patience, and also might require you to have a fairly established reputation.
If you are starting absolutely from scratch, there is another option you can try to help boost the reach of your post. I like to call it “self-syndication.” This is when you take a piece of content you’ve created for your own site and re-publish it on other platforms and properties you own.
In my experience, the two most effective platforms for going this route are LinkedIn and Medium, but again, it depends on your industry. Each of these platforms allows you to self-publish and retain ownership while still having potential to expose your work to many new readers.
Strategically repurposing content over time can also give your content a second win after interest dies down following its launch. Gaining and keeping momentum is important for signaling consistent quality to your audience and also using that energy to attract new audiences.
The Most Underrated Repurposing Tool: Email
While not exactly the most glamorous marketing channel, email is certainly among the most effective. Building and maintaining a strong email list and subscriber base can be a key factor in growing a loyal following.
Due to the fact that those on your email list have given you permission to market, it can be a very effective distribution channel for your content as well.
For example, Warby Parker does an excellent job of repurposing content in a manner similar to those we’ve already discussed. They utilize their email marketing not just for promoting their products, but also as a channel for repurposing their existing high-quality content.
This tactic helps drive relevant traffic to the site, and does so in a way that requires minimal effort.
Be sure to use this technique sparingly (only on your highest quality content) because it can quickly backfire if you inundate your list with too many emails.
Repurposing Content as a Technique
This onslaught of tactics might seem overwhelming, but keep in mind that they should not be memorized item-by-item. Remember that repurposing is not a set list of tactics; rather, it is a methodology and a technique for maximizing efficiency at a strategic level.
Simply focus on pouring your effort into producing high-quality content and then allowing it to trickle down across various channels. Make sure that you tailor each repurposed element to the platform you will be spreading it to, and you will begin to notice results right away.
Not only will you better serve your audience’s needs this way, repurposing will also enable your content to double as additional promotion. Scaling back your content marketing efforts and doubling down on repurposing helps strike the balance between quality and reach.
Not having to worry about constantly creating something new frees you up to put your best foot forward and produce content of substance and value.
What tactics are you using for repurposing content? Which channels have been the most effective for sharing repurposed content in your industry? Share your thoughts with us over on Twitter @DigitalCurrent.