Thursday October 13, 2016

Repurposing Content is Work. Sorry.

Repurposing content

I’m the type of person who really hates buzzwords. Because more often than not, a buzzword just becomes a fill-in for really having nothing to say.

Take, for example, the “deep dive.” What’s a deep dive? Like, specifically, what are you deep diving into? Are you just writing more words about a topic? Why not just say that?

Most annoying of all – for me, at least – is buzzwords oftentimes do the disservice of making things sound simpler than they really are. “Deep dive” ignores all the work and research that goes into making something more valuable for an audience, but when tossed off as an easy solution in a meeting, can make it seem like this form of content can be whipped up in an hour or so. It ignores all the nuance inherent in the content development process and creates an attitude of unrealistic expectations that can bury a business.

In Short? Buzzwords = no good.  

One increasingly popular buzzword is “repurposing content.” So maybe that’s more of a term than a word – but it still works. You’ve likely heard this come up in meetings or conversations as a catchall for how to create more content on a limited budget, or as a technique for getting the most out of content with higher production costs. If you’re planning on making a video, you’ll probably pitch how you can repurpose the content later, for example. But what does this really mean?

In practice, repurposing is “simply” taking information that is relevant in any medium (i.e. statistics, quotes, etc.) and placing them in another medium to maximize your return on the content investment. Quotes in videos turned into infographics, or written up as an article, or presented as an audio download are repurposing examples. These are oftentimes presented as easy wins.

What this often misses, however, is that though you may be taking information from one form of content and placing it in another, you still have to do a lot of work to make this information relevant for your new content form.

In short, content repurposing isn’t as easy as it may seem. The copy/paste form of content production, where content is lazily repurposed without any thought for it’s new format, simply doesn’t work and won’t add any extra value to your content. However, through taking a strategic approach to your content repurposing – one which begins at the early stages of your content production – you can maximize your content ROI and reach a wider audience.

Planning Stages

As a general rule, before developing any piece of content, you should always be thinking of how many avenues a particular message can be effective in.

The first thing I think whenever I have an idea for content is, “What medium would best help communicate this idea?” Trust me, there’s nothing worse than believing you have a fantastic idea for an infographic, only to have it designed, realize you need more words, have the designer redo everything while I add in more text, and so on and so on and whoops, I wrote an article. Only I wasted not only my time, but the designer’s as well. My bad.

It may be that your idea only works in one particular format, and that’s fine, In that case, you can then, say, write a blog post and plan your social media and email promotion as a mini campaign.

But if you see multiple medium options for your idea – which as a heads up, if you are using any form of data or statistics in your content, then there are definitely multiple ways for you to share your information – you should start planning these all out right now.

It’s also important to realize that all pieces of content have equal value. This speaks to both the quality of your repurposed content and the format. Some people prefer to read, some listen, others watch; there’s no reason you should miss out on business because your content doesn’t reach them in their preferred format.

Furthermore, in your mind one might be the “originator” or “source” piece of content, and consequently more valid and worthy of extra effort designing and creating it. But ask yourself this: will your potential customer scrolling quickly through Facebook care? Probably not. If you half-ass something, they’ll notice.

So what does it look like to repurpose different types of content? Let’s go through some of the most common formats.

Video

Let’s start with the format that is the most expensive and the biggest commitment. If you reach the point where you’re sure you want to go through with a video (the previous link will help with that decision) then it’s crucial you come up with a way to repurpose the information you share in the video. The cost of producing one is just too great to not get your money’s worth by repurposing.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Pull out statistics or especially noteworthy quotes from your video and make them into infographics. These can be shared on social media and link back to your video.
  • Accompany a video launch with a corresponding article or blog post that goes into more depth about your message. NOT a deep dive -  *shudders* - just more depth…
  • Extract audio from the video and convert into a podcast or audio download. Ideally this audio will be answers to interview questions. Keep in mind you probably have plenty of B-roll footage left over from your shoot that you can go through for extra content.

Audio

When I say audio, what I mean is any original piece of audio content you might have already developed. This includes episodes of podcasts and one off downloads of interviews, for example. Similar to video, you can basically do all of the same repurposing techniques with audio listed above, but there is one repurposing option you can take that involves a bit of reverse engineering.

Take your audio files and create a video. It doesn’t have to be high production; you only really need one image in the video, which could be something as simple as a logo for your business. Attach the audio to this image using a free program like iMovie, and upload it to YouTube. As popular as audio is becoming, YouTube clips are still much more shareable than other audio streaming formats, like a Soundcloud link. You can even break your audio into short clips, say anywhere from three to five minutes, and upload these as separate videos in a series. You’ll likely get better metrics than you would from audio files  as well, as the stats on video views are much better than audio listens (thanks YouTube!).

Infographics

Infographics are obviously great for social media. They present quick information in an easily digestible format. As stand-alone content pieces, they can do wonders. Uploading them to sites like Slideshare can help broaden your reach, but to further enhance their impact, consider  tying infographics into other content, like a blog post or a monthly newsletter. Use the infographic to accent your content, rather than the other way around. For example, a blog post shouldn’t come off as “Look we made an infographic and we can’t figure out what else to do with it!” Instead, you can use the blog post to go deeper (oh no I’m doing it again) on specific points in your infographic. You can back these up with more research, anecdotal evidence and so on.

Articles and Blogs

Perhaps the most common form of content repurposing involves taking always relevant blog posts and articles and updating them in new formats. Posts detailing your services are ideal here, for example. This could mean transforming a blog post into a printed handout for an event or trade show you’re attending, or even doing something as simple as updating the original, evergreen blog post with new images and sharing on social media.

You can also post this content in multiple places, including writing a note on Facebook or an article on LinkedIn. These will only increase the visibility of your content.

A Global Approach

These are just a few suggestions for how to repurpose content in a way that helps your audience. Repurposing shouldn’t be about meeting a content quota; it should be driven by a desire to share your valuable information in a variety of formats to engage with as many people as possible.  

Yes, it takes more work than what simply tossing the phrase out may lead you to believe, but it’s work that's well worth it. Repurpose your content so that your audience can find it in the places they prefer to consume information, and enjoy the benefits.  

Written by Scott Rogers | Tags: content

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