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Repurposing Content Gives It (At Least) 9 Lives

Charles Samuel

Don’t test this at home, but cats don’t actually have nine lives. (Science confirms it.)

This myth pervaded over the centuries for two reasons. First, cats have been lauded (or deified) since ancient times, so their staying power has persisted in superstitions about them. Second, when they’re not playing piano, cats get into ridiculous hijinks all the time, managing somehow to land on their feet. The latter has to do with their impressive reflexes and dexterity, allowing them to make quick decisions even when staring at impending danger.

Content marketers have much to learn from the survivability of felines—particularly when it comes to extending the life of content online. Repurposing content is a secret weapon for brands that want to get out in front of larger segments of their audience without having to recreate the wheel each time.

There’s a right way to do it, and there’s a wrong way. Let’s start with the basics.

What is repurposing content?

Repurposing content starts with reusing some parts of existing content to maximize and expand the life and reach of that piece of content. It’ll often look different. Blog posts can turn into infographics. A listicle (or list article) can turn into a series of visuals for Instagram—maybe even for TikTok.

It’s like finessing and sautéing leftover holiday turkey for some mouth-watering paninis. Breathing new life into that turkey keeps people coming back for more of what would otherwise simply be leftovers.

The biggest benefits? Time and money. Repurposing content is finding a hundred different ways to use the turkey that’s already spent hours marinating, baking, being stuffed, and then photographed for an obligatory Facebook post telling people how great the #HolidaySpread was.

Brands can scale content marketing efforts by repurposing content that’s already had work put into it. Not enough marketers are really thinking that way, though. Studies suggest only a third of marketers even have a process or system in place to reuse or repurpose their content. Over half are inconsistent with how they go about it.

For content marketers still on the fence, now’s a good time to start.

Start at the finish line

To do it well, you need a content repurposing strategy. Something that doesn’t blindly add items into a content calendar but instead adds the right pieces for the right channels at the right times.

For content marketers, this strategy flips things around by starting at the finish line. What content is worth reusing? How would the audience segment consume this content? Is this for brand awareness or driving demand?

That last question in particular drives a lot of the efforts:

  • Brand building is the main priority. Repurpose content so there’s more creative stuff online for your audiences to consume. For example, you can turn a blog post into images, infographics, videos, and quote cards.
  • Driving demand and building out your funnel are top priorities. Repurpose content so it goes wider and deeper to educate your customer. For example, you can flesh out a blog post or series into e-books, white papers, and webinars.

OK, so you start at the finish line and work backward. But what if your brand has dozens (maybe hundreds) of pieces in your content inventory already? How do you determine which pieces are worth repurposing? Think both analytically and creatively:

  • Look for the evergreen. You might have high-traffic content on your site about the Google algorithm update from 2015 that might not be so useful today. Instead, tap into analytics to find evergreen content from your website that you can turn into content for another channel. You could turn an evergreen blog post into a YouTube video, for example.
  • Look for what’s popular. Prioritize even further by filtering in analytics to highlight your most successful website content. If some pieces are gaining in popularity over the past month, quarter, or year, maybe they’re worth doubling down on.
  • Look for what needs refreshing. This might not be so obvious, so let’s start with that aforementioned 2015 Google algorithm post sitting in your blog somewhere. This might be a great opportunity to update the piece and turn it into timely pieces of content across other channels. For example, talk about the algorithm changes over the past year. Walk people through (via video or audio) what this means for their businesses and their content marketing.

As marketers, progress is better than perfection. And by having a basis for repurposing content, brands can continually iterate on what’s working and reach entirely new audiences.


Chocolate vs. vanilla

Some people like chocolate. Some people like vanilla. (Some people like lavender, but we’re intentionally leaving them out of this.)

Making a chocolate-forward dessert will ultimately look and feel different than making a vanilla-forward dessert. Mostly because they actually look and feel so different—from color to flavor to cooking method. Without drawing up the battle lines, what succeeds as a hit chocolate item might look different than what works as a hit vanilla one. Oreos are great, but vanilla cookie Oreos? That’s blasphemy.

Repurposing content is about breaking through battle lines. Thinking about creative ways to reframe website content, for example, requires thinking about the flavors your audience craves. Are they listening to podcasts? Are they watching videos? Are they engaging with infographics? Reusing content allows for marketers to tap into whole new audience segments because not everybody cares about channels and assets the same way.

Your financial blog may find new life as video walkthroughs for up-and-coming investors looking for sage advice from trusted names and faces. Whether that’s Instagram, Facebook, or TikTok is totally up to you. You may have never reached them with a blog post.

Learn from zombies

When repurposing content, being thoughtful and strategic is better than being reactionary and brain-dead. Zombies walk, move, and eat … technically. They look alive but they’re not alive alive. Bringing your content to life—to real, meaningful life—means reusing evergreen or popular or relevant content so audiences want more of it. Zombie content makes people run in the other direction.

Thinking about how to repurpose content is a component of great content marketing. Not only does it help brands and marketers do more with less, but it also taps into new channels and audience segments. Both of which make content marketing a little more futureproof.

At T3, we help brands take their content marketing up a notch. Ask us how we help brands like yours develop content repurposing strategies that scale content marketing efforts and grow engaged audiences.

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