Repurposing content: A Beginner's Guide

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If there’s one thing businesses seem to struggle with when it comes to content, it’s producing enough of it. In fact, 64% of B2B companies admit they struggledto produce enough content to keep up with their editorial calendars and consumer demand.

But what if you could make the content you’ve already created go even further? That’s exactly the thought process behind content repurposing: making your content go further for you, at less cost, and with a bigger reach to more diversified audiences. If it sounds too good to be true, this is one rare case where it isn’t; it just takes some foresight and planning.

Repurposing content means taking something you’ve already produced, then mashing it up into something new or different, whether that’s a different medium, a new angle, or a changed format. The key is, the new thing you’ve created must be strong and unique enough to stand on its own and meet a different audience at their level. Let’s take a quick look at how you can start thinking about repurposing:

1. Start with a great, big idea      

Before you scramble off to repurpose content, take the content ideation process seriously. As I wrote last month, the key is to tap into a big question or pain point your audience is facing. The kinds of topics that work best are those where you can:

  • Conduct extensive research on the subject
  • Find stats and quotes on the topic
  • Perhaps include a visual component (comparisons, graphs and charts, or even illustrative examples; almost any topic can have a visual component!)
  • Produce something substantial (not a single-sentence response)

2. Conduct extensive research (and stay organized)

Your research is going to be the critical lynchpin that holds all of your content together. This phase should take you the longest, longer than writing your pieces or recording your videos. At this phase, you want to dig way into the details, looking for differing perspectives, new insights, and gaps in what has been discussed.

As you go, stay organized. Keep all the references you pull from in an Excel spreadsheet tab (or use a tool like Pocket or Zotero) so that not only can you flip back to them quickly, but you can also approach the sources of your information with the completed work (people love getting credit!).

You’ll also want to keep all the stats you’re gathering in one place; again, an Excel sheet or Word file might work best, but whatever you have to keep them all at your fingertips and avoid a long hunt when you’re through (you’re going to need easy access to them).

3. Start with the largest format

Now it’s time to build what I’ll call your ‘cornerstone’: the most comprehensive, lengthy, and detailed piece of content you want to create from the research. This usually takes the form of a more permanent piece of content that will be shared on your site as a downloadable resource, something like a guide, eBook, or whitepaper.

This piece is going to be central to your cross-promotion efforts later, as the small pieces you create will reference this large, authoritative piece (thus funneling your leads back on to your website, where you can collect their emails, and so on).

Another ‘cornerstone’ piece is a presentation or event. For example, if you are offered a chance to speak at a conference or to a group, don’t turn it down. As you’ll soon see, there are many ways to take this big content and turn it into all kinds of ‘leftovers’ to share with your audience.

4. Break it down!

This is where it all goes a bit crazy, so hold on tight. Once you’ve conducted your key research and laid your cornerstone, it’s time to take all that data and break it down into other formats. Here’s the clincher: different audiences will learn and consume content in different ways. Some people learn best from reading, others appreciate an illustration or video. Some people have time to comb through a big guide, while others will appreciate the small chunks of information you share along the way. By breaking down your resource, you can meet different audiences in different places with content that’s served up exactly as they like it.

Here are just a few ideas:

Take your research, and create:

  • Blog posts: Break your big post down into smaller ideas and write individual blog posts on them, or arrange the resource into a series.

  • Video blogs: This is especially easy if you’ve already created blog posts. Simply take the topics of the blog posts you’ve already broken out, and discuss them on camera. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but showing your face helps to build trust with an audience, and keeping it short will capture that market which doesn’t want to read.

  • Podcasts: Like videos, these go very quickly once you’ve already broken the piece out into blog posts. Take your topic, and talk about it for a while. You can even bring on guests (influencers, experts, popular figures, etc.) to discuss the issue with you, potentially reaching their audiences as well.

Side Note: Videos and Podcasts can easily be turned into textual content by transcribing them, usually done cheaply on Fiverr or Odesk. Now, you’ll have audio, visual, AND text content to help capture those coveted rankings positions and reach the audience in three ways.

  • Case studies: Did your research come with examples from your own work? You could incorporate your findings into a case study and use it as a means of reaffirming your authority.

  • FAQs: Create punchy, short content that answers key questions without a lot of reading.
     
  • Webinars: Hosting a webinar or a Google+ Hangout on the subject could be another chance to put your face on a solution, while creating interactive content where people can ask questions right in the moment, perhaps helping you refine your research and recognize new areas for research (which can then start this whole process over again).

  • Change your angle: Could you wrap the same content up in different language or with a different emphasis for different markets? For example, I wrote a piece on content marketing, but targeted it directly at entrepreneurs. It’s much of the same information, but tailored to their needs and restrictions. What other markets would be interested in what you’ve created, and how could you make it unique to them?

  • A slideshare presentation: Turn your content into fast, easy-to-consume slides and create a presentation with punchy stats and quick talking points.

Use your stats, and create:

  • Infographics: Turn your data into a slick visual that is fun to digest.

  • Videographics: Like an animated infographic, videographics are a more fun way of consuming statistics and data. By putting your stats to images (and often music), you can engage different parts of your audience’s brain, improving recall and opening new doors for sharing

  • Spot visuals: a visual snapshot of the stat (smaller version of an infographic), like a chart or compelling image that can be shared on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest

Side Note: The visuals you create above are cross-platform; a compelling image can be shared on multiple social channels, incorporated into blog posts and so on. Visual content is among the most versatile, so don’t skip it!

  • Conversations: Head to Google+ and strike up a conversation surrounding your findings, or use the stats as tweets and text posts. You can also use them to fire people up in a forum, if you participate in any.

5. Cross-promote!

I said it before, but one last reminder: All the content you create should interlink and point to each other, ultimately funneling up to your cornerstone resource. Tweets can use stats and quotes to point to blog posts or videos, videos can be used to schedule webinars and events, speeches at events can be turned in to slide decks, and so on.

As you create new resources, don’t let your old ones grow stale; bring them back out and present them in conjunction.

Repurposing content makes a whole lot of sense for businesses large and small. It’s a way to assert authority in an area, reach multiple audiences and create content in multiple formats and mediums that those different audiences will enjoy. No matter how you slice it, it just makes sense.

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