If you read Carrie’s post about creating content faster and more effectively, you know that storing ideas for later is a great way to make crunch time less stressful.
But where do you get those ideas? One answer is from the content you’ve already created. I’m not talking about republishing the exact thing you did last month or even last year, but rather repurposing it into something fresh that gets attention and supports your brand. Let’s talk about how to do that.
Audit Your Existing Content
You create a lot of stellar content, but not everything in your files is worthy of another pass. Before you start repurposing content, examine what you already have to be sure you’re building on the best of it. Time for a content audit.
A content audit is more than a list of what you’ve created – it’s an analysis of the content on that list. The list is simply an inventory of your products and services. Just as a retailer might take inventory of what’s on the shelves and in the stock room, content creators can record work like blog articles, social media posts, white papers, web site pages, etc.
Once you have your organized list you can begin to audit the content. This will involve reading it, of course, but the final decisions about what you’ll repurpose must be about more than what you like and don’t like.
The Content Marketing Institute outlines five steps for auditing your content. Their steps are for content audits in general, so I’ve defined them for our specific intention of content repurposing:
- Know your main goal. In this case, the goal is finding content to repurpose, so keep an eye out for pieces that promote your overall messaging and contain opportunities for further research.
- Determine which content needs to be audited. Remember to look in all of your channels (website, brochures, social media, etc.). News items, reports on studies, seasonal pieces and other time-sensitive content probably won’t have much to offer, so you may choose to leave them out of the audit.
- Define the data types you need. What information do you need to determine if individual pieces are worth repurposing? The data could include a rating (based on a scale of how well it will work for repurposing) that you give the content.
- Inventory the content you’ve decided to audit. If the amount is small enough to inventory manually, a spreadsheet should work just fine. For large quantities of content, consider a web-scraping tool.
- Audit your content for repurposing opportunities. This could involve another spreadsheet, where you record individual repurposing opportunities within each piece of content. Repurposing opportunities might be a set of statistics, expandable e-book sections or social media posts that inspire blog posts.
We’d like to add a few tips of our own to that list:
- Audit by persona. What persona do you target that needs more information now?
- Audit by customer journey. Are there places in the customer journey that have holes in terms of the information needs of your persona?
- Audit by marketing goals. What key campaigns and marketing goals are you working on that could use some fresh content fast?
Finally, don’t forget that you can group multiple kinds of content together to create new content (a white paper with an infographic, for example, rather than simply looking at the standalone white paper for repurposing opportunities).
It might seem daunting to go through all these auditing steps and record so much information. However, once you develop a solid collection of repurposing opportunities you have a wealth of ideas for generating new content. That’s going to save lots of time in the long run.
More importantly, the careful review of your content will highlight the best aspects of your brand voice and give you a chance to reaffirm your core values and overall business goals.
How to Repurpose Content
Now that you have a good collection of content to repurpose, how do you actually enliven that old content to make it new?
I’m reminded of something I heard in one of my earliest college writing classes: The professor, in teaching the class to enhance creative pieces, used the phrase “Explode the moment” to help us get everything we could out of sentences, paragraphs and stories.
For example, consider this sentence:
As he walked his dog, Nate thought about what he’d make for dinner.
Much more could be said about everything happening here if we explode the moment:
Nate held the leash and trailed behind his trotting papillon. As she sniffed fire hydrants and trees, he debated with himself about dinner. Mac-n-cheese to keep the kids happy, or a nice curry that his wife would gush over?
Now, you’re probably looking for more than turning a sentence into a small paragraph, but you get the point. Basic pieces of information often have more to offer if we look a little deeper.
With marketing content, you have large assets that can be broken into smaller bits which can then be expanded to stand on their own. Better yet, each piece can be repurposed more than one way to spread the messaging across channels.
- Take the chapters or sections of an e-book, and turn each into a blog post.
- Go through one of your long-form blogs and pull out quotes, statistics and blurbs to make 10 social media posts.
- New blog posts and social media updates can in turn be fodder for email marketing campaigns.
When you figure out how to repurpose blog content for social media or develop a new blog series from last year’s e-book, you position yourself as an authority on the topics covered. You also maintain consistency in your messaging and voice.
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Have you figured out a brilliant way to repurpose and freshen old content? Tell me about it in the comments below!