Content Repurposing (aka Content Recycling) is the process of utilizing pre-existing content, converting it into new forms and presenting it in new ways to expand its reach and lifespan. This way, you can squeeze as much mileage out of an idea as possible and reach a more vast and diverse demographic.
Content Repurposing can mean different things. It could mean dusting out the old archives and bringing back old content, it could mean snipping and packaging content for different platforms, tailoring it specifically to each audience, it could mean elaborating on ideas, or it could even mean remolding others’ data and ideas to fit your personal brand and message. Leverage existing content to drive further engagement.
A case for repurposed content
People love familiarity and predictability in new and different packaging. Approaching the same idea from different vantage points, zooming in and out, and gaining new perspectives is stimulating and holds our attention. We enjoy adding little bits of knowledge to our pre-existing repository, and repurposed content does just that.
At first glance, repurposing content may seem like a cop-out, recycling old ideas instead of generating original ones. But that isn’t the right way to think about it. High-quality content can spin off more high-quality content, and your audience can benefit from both. The key is to add value to your content and add your personal spin to it. Your audience will come for the content but will come back (and stay) for YOU.
Repurposing and revamping content should be a part of every content operation. It is much less cost-intensive and much more time effective than producing something completely original. Operate smarter- and harder. But mostly smarter.
There is no need to reinvent the wheel. The ideas that fascinate us are fundamentally still the same. Use that to your advantage. So build on the raw data, and on the work that others have done, then add value to it.
Let us look at a few reasons why we repurpose the content we put out:
1. Stay relevant / Connect with your audience
The data and fundamental concepts you build upon aren’t necessarily original or new, but the way you repurpose them and the way you communicate the facts and your perspective to your audience is what is original and creative. That is where you make an impact. That is what counts.
Repurposing content allows you to use relatable and relevant examples that connect better with your target audience. It always helps to map the core message onto real time, recent examples that easily speak to your audience.
Fashion and Lifestyle magazine Lucky, has mastered the art of staying relevant. Their audience consists mainly of readers that are interested in everyday products. This means that to connect with their audience they need to ensure the products they talk about are always relevant, even if they’re no longer new. That’s why Lucky Magazine’s article on eye creams is titled “Best Eye Creams to Try in 2022”. Always staying relevant.
2. Less content, more reach
Repurposing and Revamping content makes it much easier to scale and can exponentially increase reach. Create content in every medium of communication. Personalizing the same content to the platform you’re sharing it on will allow you to reach all kinds of demographics of people, allowing your content to extend to all audiences.
3. Optimize for algorithm
More than 50% of website traffic comes from organic search results (BrightEdge, 2019), and updating and refreshing content to optimize for the search algorithm can increase organic traffic by more than 110% (more than double!). When you have multiple pieces of content centered around similar targeted keywords, search engine crawlers will generally recognize you as a source of authority.
4. Consistency and time management
Churning out new and interesting content regularly and keeping a steady high standard is nearly impossible. It too easily leads to burnout. Repurposing content is one of the best ways to accelerate the process of content production without cutting quality.
5. Reinforce your message
Repetition causes familiarity and recognition. The Marketing Rule of Seven states that buyers need to hear your message seven times before they’ll close the deal. Even if you aren’t selling a product, you are selling an idea. The currency is the audience’s attention and interest. Grab it. Don’t let go. Repurposing goes a long way toward reaching this quota.
6. Know more, know better
You’re an evolving individual, you have an evolving thought process. Looking back on old content, you will realize that things have changed. Your thought process has changed and you will have different insights. New information has entered the space. Shedding new light on old content, and realizing how much you have changed and how much of your thoughts have stayed the same is an interesting thought experiment. You can even reflect on the changes for more content.
7. Stay in the game, update!
Information is constantly being taken to task and questioned, and new facts and insights are always popping up. It’s important that your content stands the test of time. Repurposing content often means revisiting old information and updating insights and conclusions. You owe your audience credible information.
Which content needs Repurposing?
Every green content
Repurpose content that is relevant and useful. Content that will stay relevant for a while. Repurposing content that is already yesterday’s news is of use to no one. Do not waste your effort. Time is precious.
1. Listen to the data. Always!
The data never lies. Always follow the data. It is your North Star. A simple analysis of your stats and the traffic on each post will give you a comprehensive picture of how to move forward. What content is popular, and what content isn’t?
2. Listen to your audience. They create the data.
Listen to your Audience, they will tell you what they want. They will tell you what is interesting, they will tell you what isn’t. Your Audience is your data, but with prettier and sometimes more ruthless commentary.
How to Effectively Repurpose Content?
1. Create a clear structure
Construct your content so that it remains coherent throughout. Don’t lose the plot. Create a direction that the content builds towards, don’t beat around the bush and waste time. Cut to the chase. Write clearly. Be Short. Be Crisp.
2. Follow the data trail
The data tells you everything you need to know. Analyze it well. With the right insights, you will know exactly which direction to head. Tailor fit your content to your audience. Their preferences, time zones, attention spans, and preferred medium of consumption. Trends will tell you what to expect and what to prepare for. They will help you stay ahead of the curve and following trend lines will generate more traffic.
3. Adapt the content to each platform
Every platform has a unique vantage point and favors a particular format of content. Instagram is more pictorial while Twitter is for small chunks of text, like statistics, quotes, and facts. Youtube Shorts, Tik Tok, and Instagram Reels optimize for short video clips that capture your attention. Each platform appeals to a particular demographic. Adapt your content to appeal to your target audience.
4. Convert long-form content to biteable chunks
Although on average screen time hasn’t reduced, people are consuming smaller and smaller pieces of content at a time. YouTube Shorts, TikTok, and Instagram Reels capitalized on our ever-shortening attention spans, and you should too. Creating small bite-sized chunks of content captures attention. These short clips communicate the most distilled form of content. Your content should be short and pack a punch. If you grab their attention, you open the door to your wonderland of content. They will jump down the rabbit hole themselves.
Types of content repurposing
The versatility of content and platforms today allow for core ideas/concepts to be converted into every form of media. The art of repurposing content to cater to your given audience is what sets you apart from the crowd. This is the greatest skill and will get you the farthest reach and traffic. It will allow your content to be accessible to every demographic of users.
- Podcasts & Video → Clips, YT Shorts, Reels, Tik Toks, Transcripts, Books
- Blog Posts → Guides, Email newsletters, Book, Twitter Threads, LinkedIn
- Visual Content → Infographics, Pinterest Boards, Instagram Posts
- Statistics → Tweets
- Quotes →Tweets, Instagram Posts, Facebook Posts
While in most cases content is chopped down into more palatable, easy-to-digest pieces, content can also be generated by being expanded upon. Content repurposed through elaboration if you will. Clinical Psychologist and author Dr. Jordan Peterson (albeit controversial) is a good example of this. The genesis of his infamous books ’12 Rules for Life’ and ‘Beyond Order’ stemmed from a Quora post a list of rules to live by. In the books (and lectures), he expands on particular rules.
Tim Ferriss, the entrepreneur, and podcaster is also a great case study on content optimization. His book, Tools of Titans, is a collection of answers to the five questions he always asks guests on his podcast. He repurposed audio long-form content into short bite-sized blog pieces that he later compiled into a book.
Yuval Noah Harari, the Israeli Psychologist and author repurposed his bestselling evolutionary novel Sapiens into a graphic novel, adding visuals to accompany his storytelling and data. This was very effective in bringing in the audience of non readers that were apprehensive of word dense non fiction books. The graphics made everything easily digestible and understanding became much easier.
Major content repurposing mistakes
1. Intellectual theft or plagiarism
Repurposing your own content is great and should be an active part of your content strategy. But that’s as long as you’ve put in the work yourself. If you’re repurposing content that you haven’t done then you’re stealing. Not only is it wrong but it also opens the door to legal disputes and other problems that arise when you take credit for work that isn’t yours.
Your audience will also be quick to call you out on it if they catch on, and it’s likely that they will. From there it’s a downward spiral. This doesn’t mean that you’re not allowed to build on other people’s work of course. Simply ensure that you’ve asked for their permission prior and that you give them credit where it’s due.
You can create incredible repurposed content pieces by reviewing, retweeting, reacting, or discussing other people’s content as long as you keep the above points in mind.
2. Not experimenting with formats
Being afraid to experiment and try new things can be one of the biggest mistakes when it comes to repurposing content. Don’t be afraid to actively try new types of content and see how your audience reacts. Keep in mind that the platform you choose will have an impact on the way your content performs. If you have a podcast, try writing a post about it, or perhaps tweet the key takeaways from your book. The possibilities are endless, just make sure you’re adding value every step of the way.
If you’re using TikTok or Instagram, then keep in mind that short video snippets tend to do much better and this is a trend that’s likely to continue. Alternatively, if you’re creating longer forms of content then pick a platform that actively supports your style of content.
3. Ignoring The Data
Andrew Shulz, the NYC-based Stand up Comedian realized something interesting before releasing his comedy special. The traffic on the shorter clips was exponentially higher than those on the hour-long specials, even though overall, the consumers were spending over an hour watching his content. Instead of releasing his work as an hour special, as was the norm, he released shorter clips. Ingenious. Simple. Data Driven.
Ignoring the data can cost you dearly, that’s why it’s important to constantly gauge how your audience reacts and to what specifically.
4. No value addition
Repurposing content without bringing value to your audience is pointless. Especially when updating older content. If you’re bringing back older content then it’s crucial to ensure that the new content has important information or added value that was lacking in the older content pieces.
Doing this gives your audience a chance to see relevant content that’s still valuable for the time period while allowing you to create multiple content pieces from older well-performing content. In addition to this, it demonstrates that you’re knowledgeable within your niche as you’re able to constantly update yourself and your audience about important events, adding value.
A great example of a brand that achieves this added value in the content they repurpose is mattress company Amerisleep. In their article “Best Mattress of 2022”, they demonstrate how you can beautifully use data or content about existing products (older mattresses) but add value through repurposing it by mentioning how it compares against newer products they’ve released across a range of categories. It’s a great way to remind customers about existing products while showcasing newer additions. Along with heaps of useful information buyers might need to know.
5. Choosing quantity over quality
Sometimes in order to generate a considerable number of content pieces while repurposing content, creators will justify quantity over quality leading to a number of mediocre snippets that don’t add any value whatsoever. Here are some things to avoid doing while repurposing content in order to prioritize quality and value:
- Spinning Articles: This is a slightly deceitful writing technique used in SEO where what appears to be new content is actually just old content that doesn’t have any added value. This is a great way to lose the interest of your audience.
- Writing extremely short posts: While trying to increase the volume it might be tempting to generate a large number of short posts but keep in mind that these can’t provide any value and may not even rank. This is not just a waste of time but annoying for the reader as well.
Consider dropping the frequency and focusing on the quality of each content piece you’re repurposing and in a few weeks, you’ll have more than enough to provide decent value while still retaining the interest and respect of your audience.
Content is powerful. Your time is precious. Repurposing content is the most
effective and efficient content marketing strategy in your toolkit. Use it to stay
consistent, stay relevant, and for SEO. And always follow the data, let it be your North star, it will never lead you astray. Listen to your data, and listen to your Audience. Do not be afraid to experiment with every medium of content. Content is versatile. Ideas will propagate regardless of the medium.