Repurposing content is one of the easiest ways to fill the slavering content monster’s maw. But how do you decide which piece is worth keeping without investing too much effort in updating? No one wants to waste time on something that’s not worth it.
Here are four tips to help you make intelligent choices.
Tip 1: Create a framework for making decisions
Before repurposing content, put some guardrails in place to keep the project from growing uncontrollably.
Why do you want to spend time repurposing content?
What are your goals?
Are you repurposing content for the top, middle, or bottom of your marketing funnel?
Do you need to refresh outdated content? Or just clean something up a bit?
Are you looking to create pillar content you can use in many different ways?
As you work through your content inventory, keep your goals in mind. They’ll help you determine what’s worth investing in and–maybe more important–what’s not.
Will repurposing content be worth the effort?
Even simple projects can eat up resources. How much time and money do you have to spend on repurposing content?
Which channels need refreshing? For example, you may want to update your blogs but not tackle your videos.
Which topics will you look at? Your genius content on social media marketing might have been cutting-edge in 2015 but is stale today.
What are the knock-on effects of updating a particular piece? What happens to the videos you recorded based on a brochure you want to update?
Tip 2: Understand your audience’s interests
There are pieces you love. Then there’s content your audience loves. They’re different, but you won’t know that until you look at the data. It isn’t worth repurposing content nobody looks at.
Here are some resources to get you started.
Check Google Analytics for website content, blogs, and YouTube videos.
Social media platforms each have metrics, e.g., Facebook page metrics, Instagram insights, and LinkedIn analytics and tools.
Sales and customer experience metrics and reports from online shopping platforms like Amazon, Etsy, and Shopify.
Open and click-through rates for email newsletters.
Once you understand what’s working for you, you know what to focus on.
Tip 3: Fine-tune top performers
Look at the top three to five performers to determine the content your audience likes. That’s where you need to focus your energy as you’re repurposing content.
Review content for timeliness and accuracy.
Does the content still reflect your or your business’s views and values?
Now, look down the list to the next handful. How well are they doing? Can you update them while staying within scope and budget? If so, add them to the list.
Tip 4: Don’t fall in love
Is the content offensive by today’s standards? If so, update or archive cringeworthy pieces.
Remember the comment above about content you love? Here’s where you need to face up to reality. You may have invested a lot of time and money into something, but no one cares. Don’t throw good money after bad.
Most years, I review industry leaders and gather their thoughts for a blog on content trends. Outside of the hand-wringing about AI, however, most “trends” I’ve read about are tactical, not strategic. Like seeds on a dandelion puff, they will disappear before the first winter snow.
Instead, here are content trends for 2023 that I think have staying power.
Content trend 1: AI as an indispensable tool, not a job thief
I don’t know if AI qualifies as a content trend for 2023 but I’d be remiss if I didn’t address it.
Spreadsheets. The internet. Smartphones. Cryptocurrency. Web 3.
Once upon a time, each of these was billed as either the best thing since indoor plumbing or as the end of society as we know it. Other than the internet, I’m not so sure.
Generative artificial intelligence, while a wonderful tool, is not the threat to jobs that some would have us believe. Large language models are fabulous tools for any writer; I rely on Chat GPT and Claude.ai for help with basic writing tasks. But these are just tools, like grammar checkers, thesauruses, and spelling checkers. None of these have put editors out of work; AI isn’t going to replace writers any time soon.
Few technologies end up being used the way inventors originally imagined. While you can do really nifty things with spreadsheets, they haven’t put accountants and bookkeepers out of work–far from it.
Setting aside the serious ethical and moral concerns for a moment, technical issues like hallucinations mean human-authored writing will be needed for a long time to come. If you’ve read any AI-generated content lately, you’ll know what I mean.
Content trend 2: Empathy is a balm for the soul
This may not sound like a content trend for 2023–or any other year–but bear with me.
The human race has been through a lot since the 21st century opened its doors for business. We face increasingly severe global challenges like climate catastrophes, political and social upheaval, and pandemics. Many national economies have been flipped upside down at least twice in the last nearly quarter century. The largest European land war since World War II continues with no end in sight. And, as I write this, a new war has exploded in the Mideast.
We could all use a break.
None of us can fix these problems single-handedly, but each of us can do just a little bit.
A small kindness goes a long way. I’ve noticed how warmly my fellow morning walkers respond to a smile and a nod. And that people in cashier lines seem more willing to chat. It feels like we’re all looking for connection and reassurance from each other.
I’m taking a gentler approach to writing, being a little more playful and a lot more sympathetic to the audience. I’m avoiding fear-based content and leaning into positive messages.
I’m also making the time to check in with clients, partners, and team members regularly, to smile more, and to make small kindnesses a part of my day. If nothing else, it makes me happy.
Content trend 3: Not to repeat myself, but quality over quantity
This may not be a content trend for 2023–it may apply across time. I’ve written about it a lot.
I googled “how many videos are uploaded to YouTube.” The results vary, but you’ll get the gist–a lot!
“3.7 million videos uploaded daily.”
“On average, more than 150,0000 (sic) new videos are uploaded to YouTube every minute, adding up to around 330,000 hours of video content based on an average video length of 4.4 minutes.”
“720,000 hours of video are uploaded every day to YouTube.”
And this is just YouTube! I didn’t enquire about email, podcasts, blogs, white papers, or webinars.
Never mind the unworkable math; we’re drowning in content. Enough already. Besides, I’ve got better things to do than create content all day long.
Thoughtful marketers pursue two strategies:
Repurposing existing content.
Creating quality content, not volume.
I’d rather be known for my writing chops than my ability to vomit up a word count.
Content trend 4: Attention to inclusion and accessibility
Finally, my last content trend for 2023. I find myself relying more and more on accessibility features on my own devices. But when I’m out and about, it’s another story. Badly written signage, poorly designed user interfaces, and fiddly widgets drive me crazy.
My current pet peeve: wait staff who present a heavy hand-held terminal with a small screen to review and pay the tab. More than one of those things has ended up in my tiramisu. And it always seems to come with the assumption that age means technological stupidity.
I have Parkinson’s disease. Sometimes I can’t hold things, and touch screens don’t always work well for me. (I am not proud of the time I told a high school that my master’s degree in computer science was older than his mother.)
Thank heavens designers and content creators are paying more attention to the needs of neurodiverse audiences. Little things like colors, font size and style, and mobility options make all the difference for those of us with challenges.
As I age, I increasingly appreciate these thoughtful little touches that make a website or device easier to use. I like seeing other old geezers like me navigating the world with the help of–not in spite of–technology.
I’ve invited Maureen Ladley of Ladley & Associates to share her recent blog on the importance of understanding audience demographics. While Maureen’s expertise is surveys and focus groups, content creators need to care, too. After all, if you want your audience to hear you, you need to understand who they are and what’s important to them.
I thought Maureen did such a good job of explaining the issue that I re-posted it here. With her permission, of course.
Take it away, Maureen.
Surveys and forms often ask the elemental gender question, but with a shift in how people in the US define their gender, businesses need to give special focus on customer definition.
In a 2019 report on gender identity, the Pew Research Center found about four-in-ten Americans (42%) say forms and profiles should include options other than man or woman (in ages 18-29 it’s 53%). In a related study, the Pew Research Center reports one-in-five Americans (20%) say they personally know someone who prefers personal pronouns other than “he” or “she,” (in ages 18-29, it’s 32%).
Whether you are designing customer profiles or research, here are a few reasons to consider how you are asking the gender question.
Customer experience and expectation
Our clients invest in research to better align with their customers. The goal is to foster stronger relationships, design the right product or service, and gain a customer’s business. We do not want to alienate the audience while seeking to understand them better. If your customers are better served by a broader gender definition, provide it. How we ask questions affects the research respondent experience.
Confirming research recruiting goals, comparing results
Research looks for patterns and differences. In addition to confirming we hit research recruiting goals, use the gender demographic question to look for important insights from the research.
At Ladley & Associates, we use “male,” “female,” “prefer to self-describe,” and “prefer not to say” in our demographic question. However, we will continue to evolve the options to best serve our clients and research goals.
Matching research design to databases
The US Census is changing how they ask questions around sex, gender, and sexual identity. If it’s important to match up your own database, research or profile results to external databases drawn from US Census data, it will be helpful to understand how questions in this area are evolving.
A strategic marketer, Maureen found herself drawn to consumer research. How well do companies really understand their customers? Are we asking the right questions? Have we ignored key findings?
As the Principal of Ladley & Associates, she leads a consumer research firm that is innovative and disciplined, insightful and results-driven, and tailored to the needs of clients who were once in her position.
Have you read the 2021 Orbit Media survey on blog content strategies? Orbit Media has conducted this annual survey for nearly a decade so they have enough data to identify trends. This year’s results show some interesting shifts but the data supports my perspective: good writing wins out over SEO every time.
Blogging is most successful when you have a well thought out blog content strategy, know what metrics are important to you, then track them.
Wondering whether blogging is worth the work? The answer is indisputably yes. Seventy-seven percent of the 1,067 survey respondents agree blogging drives results; 20% say it delivers strong marketing results.
How-to blogs are the most common yet least read format. Content round-ups are much less popular with bloggers but much more appealing to readers. Good news: round-ups are easy to write once you have a process in place. (For a great example of content round-up, see NextDraft by Dave Pell.)
Blog length isn’t as important as content relevance and (ahem) good writing. The survey found the average blog runs a bit more than 1,400 words. That’s not a magic number that guarantees success; blog length should be driven by the content.
In sum, have a content strategy; implement it with well-written text that your audience cares about. If you need inspiration, curate content from relevant sources.
Don’t Let Blog Content Strategies Scare You
Creating a realistic blog content strategy that works for you takes a bit of thought. However, once in place, you’ll find it cuts down on the effort of creating a blog on a regular basis. I wrote a blog on this that will get you started. If you need more help, let me know.
Nothing like crash-and-burn to make me scrutinize my homepage content. What I found was ugly–and I can’t blame it all on WordPress glitches.
I like technology. I update my WordPress plug-ins myself; I pay attention to Google Analytics. Until recently, all was going swimmingly. Then I ran a bunch of routine (ahem) updates and all hell broke loose.
It turns out my hosting service hadn’t run the necessary server updates, thus taking my site down. However, they fixed their problem and brought my site back up the same day. Yay!
Not that I didn’t trust the very nice guy who helped me out, but I checked my website just to be sure. Ack! The updates had thrown everything wonky. It looked horrible. Worse, the homepage content was outdated. It didn’t flow logically. My story wasn’t clear. The reader’s experience was unforgivable. The calls to action I crafted so carefully were almost irrelevant. Ack! Ack!
I did what any recovering project manager does: I created a checklist to be sure every item was addressed. Then I organized it and condensed it for your use.
Websiste Homepage Content Audit Checklist
Take a look at your content.
Are you telling an engaging story?
Is your content organized in a way that makes sense for your audience?
Do your thoughts flow logically?
Is the content current and accurate?
The Reader Experience
Pretend you’re a prospective customer.
Is it easy and intuitive to access content?
Can readers quickly find what they’re looking for?
Will everyone feel welcome?
Do you make it tough to get to your content with pop-ups and videos?
Closing the Deal
Make it easy for someone to take the next step.
Do you have a clear call to action?
Is your contact information easy to find?
Do you make it easy for the reader to contact you?
Do you have social proof like testimonials, case studies and links to your business’s social media accounts?
If you’re not into tech, get some help with this.
Do videos and images load quickly?
Is your website’s homepage meta description accurate? Does it encourage people to click through to your site?
Do keywords accurately support your current business?
Have you set up a Google Business account so you can take advantage of local search?
One Last Thought on Homepage Content
A poorly designed reader experience drives me crazy. Marketing gurus tell you to add a newsletter sign-up and launch at least one video when a viewer lands on a page. Add the legally required cookie statement and you’ve built three barriers to your website’s homepage content. These interrupt the flow and distract the reader. They also give your visitor three opportunities to leave.
That said, website content should support your marketing strategy. Videos and pop-ups can work for the right audience. Just think through what you’re doing.
If you’re not sure or you want to bounce some ideas around, let’s talk.
I’ve invited Shawn Greene, noted author and speaker, to share her step-by-step approach to creating content using sticky notes. She’s generously let me repost her original blog here. While Shawn is known for sales training and instructional design, her method works for almost any content you need to create. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
You need a bunch of Post-its and something to write with.
It helps to use just one size and one color Post-it. However, that’s not vital — use what you have as long as they are large enough to write on.
However, do not plan to use different colors or sizes to organize, prioritize, and so on because that will be counter-productive
Step 1 – Brainstorm
Start thinking and put those thoughts onto Post-its. This should include any thoughts about your objectives or goals even if you think those are already set.
Important! Put just one thing on one Post-it. One idea. One thought. One sub-point. One sub-sub-point. One concern. One way-off-topic. One whatever. I repeat: one thing per Post-it.
As You Brainstorm
Do not analyze. Do not consider. Do not research. Do not check spelling. Do not put Post-its up on a white board as you brainstorm. Do not place each one on a white board and then write on it. Do not organize them. Do not put certain thoughts on one color Post-it and others on a different color. Do not discard thoughts that don’t fit the objective or because they won’t fly.
Just dump all of those thoughts, ideas, concerns, resources, questions, people, etc. onto Post-its.
Keep going until you have a pile of Post-its and come to a lull. Don’t force a continued brainstorm if you feel stuck because the next step will unstick you. Same goes if you don’t feel you have “enough” Post-its.
Find a space that is wide open and smooth (so the Post-its will stick and stay). A clean white board, conference table, window, or door often work well.
You can also create a space by taping flipchart paper on walls, windows or doors, or even white boards. This has the added bonus of being easily transported later.
Step 2 – Lay Out the Post-its and Group Them
Complete this step standing up, unless you’re physically unable to do so, because physical movement is part of what makes the Post-it method work so well. (Do not forego standing because you’re tired or because there is little room. Park the chairs in the hall if you have to.)
Place the Post-its onto the open space. Start by placing them randomly. As you add more Post-its some form of grouping will become apparent, often by topic.
Move Post-its into those now-apparent groups but keep the grouping fairly loose until you have placed all of the Post-its. Do not try to decide if the grouping is “correct.” Feel free to use different kinds of groups, too, don’t try to make them consistent.
The exception to the above are any Post-its covering your objectives or goals. Group and place those somewhere that is in view but separate from the rest.
Throughout this step: physically step back so you can see the whole. Move stuff around as needed.
You may find some Post-its created during the brainstorm do not have a topic or category to which they belong. Add those topics and categories now.
Move Post-its around as needed. Put any that don’t fit off to one side. Put any Post-its covering an introduction or close off to one side, too.
The One Thought Per Post-it No Longer Applies
As you move the Post-its around, other thoughts, ideas and concerns will come to mind. Sometimes it’s best to add notes to existing Post-its, sometimes adding new Post-its is best because you can move them around. Don’t try to figure this out in advance and don’t worry if your approach here is inconsistent. You will organize in the next step.
When the Post-its Do Not Fit the Objectives and Goals
No matter how well considered the objectives and goals were, you may find the brainstormed Post-its don’t quite fit. This occurs in two situations:
(1) The most common situation is the original objectives/goals weren’t quite right.
If the bulk of the content Post-its make sense, pull the misfit objectives down so they don’t distract you. Circle back to these in Step 6 (they often just need edits).
(2) The brainstormed Post-its are not right.
It happens! If you’re absolutely sure the objectives/goals are right, take a break — walk away for a few minutes.
When you come back, take the first set of Post-its down and brainstorm again. (You may want to hold onto the first set because they may apply for other objectives/goals.)
Step 3 – Organize, Including Flow
Once you have the Post-its laid out in rough groups, clean up the groupings and make them consistent, adding or removing Post-its as needed.
Now organize the groups into a flow, experimenting with various versions. Don’t let yourself get stuck looking for the perfect flow. Settle on one that seems okay — you will adjust things later as you develop the program, talk, reference, etc.
Throughout this process – physically step back so you can see the whole. As needed: deal with duplicates, move stuff around, remove things…step back again and repeat as needed.
As you organize, you may find some Post-its no longer seem to fit or no longer seem important. Don’t toss these into recycling yet, put them to one side.
You may also find new thoughts come to mind. Add Post-its, or add notes to existing ones.
Step 4 – Add the Introduction and Close
You may have put aside Post-its with content for the opening/introduction, and close. Add these in the right places.
It’s also quite common to have an outline that is missing an opening/introduction and close. If these are missing, don’t fill them in at this time. Instead, add one Post-it to hold a spot for the opening. and another to hold a spot for the close. You’ll fill these in after you develop the rest of the content.
Step 5 – Prioritize as Needed
No matter what we’re using the Post-it method for, we almost always have more possible content than we’ll be able to use. It’s time to identify priorities and there are two ways to do this:
Add a “P” to priority topics and individual Post-its. Focus on these as you develop the content. Add in the rest only as time and space allow.
Bravely remove anything that is not a priority. (Keep these in case you want to add the content or use it separately.)
Step 6 – Revise Objectives/Goals, if Needed
As noted, it’s common to find the original objectives or goals don’t completely sync with the brainstormed content. They often just need slight edits, for example:
The original objective was “understand new work flow.” The content focused on using the new work flow, so the objective is now “understand and apply the new work flow.”
The original objective was “increase client retention.” The content focused on setting appropriate expectations and agreements, so the objective is now “setting shared expectations.”
Step 7 – Transfer if Needed
We often need to transfer the laid-out Post-its or their content onto something. Common options:
Type them up in outline form.
Stick the Post-its onto paper. Flipchart-size paper is perfect but legal and letter-size work, too. Layer the Post-its like shingles so they take up less room.
Take snapshots. Make sure you can read what’s on the Post-its. If you have to take several snapshots, number them so you have the correct order.
That covers the Post-it method, except to address what to do with all those nifty used stickies: recycle them, of course.
Not Sponsored by Post-its
Post-it is a registered trademark of the 3M company. Though there are many imitators, I have to say official Post-its work the best.
About Shawn Greene
Shawn’s sales expertise is founded in direct experience in selling services — including but not limited to banking. Shawn continues to develop business for Savage and Greene, ensuring our training equips reps to handle today’s challenges.
When Shawn was a sales rep for a training company, she learned her penchant for asking questions, talent as an explainer and writing skills could be combined in “instructional design.” She’s been a professional designer since 1993.
Shawn lives with her husband and monster kitty. For fun, she and her husband play golf, kick back and watch NASCAR, and try to resist the kitty’s attempts to persuade them it’s already dinnertime.
I’ve noticed some interesting content trends in 2021. Some are driven by the economic uncertainties businesses are facing, However, one thing stands out: good writing gets the reader’s attention.
More Focus on the Bottom of the Content Funnel
Instead of casting a wide content net to attract any lead, some of my clients are only looking for qualified prospects. It’s a smart tactic that saves them time and money–and they realize revenue more quickly. They use content rich in descriptions of features, benefits and the details someone would want to know as they research alternatives.
My thought: smart. It’s an approach that lends itself to re-purposing evergreen content, especially when you have a solid understanding of your audience.
Improving the Content Experience
One of my pet peeves is searching for something on my smartphone and then seeing the content blocked by all manner of interruptions. Pop-ups request my email address every time I return to a landing page. Videos start playing, eating up limited public bandwidth. Or I see two short lines of text then have to click “read more,” only to have to wade through even more pop-ups and panels. When I finally get to the content, it’s long-winded and takes forever to get to the point–if it ever does.
Designers and copywriters are starting to pay attention. One of the most positive content trends I’ve noticed in 2021 is these annoying interruptions are less common. Savvy copywriters are driving users to a product or service landing page for in-depth interactions. Content is segmented and organized so it’s easy to read with less intrusive calls to action.
My thought: long overdue.
More Focus on Shorter Pieces of High-Quality Content
Businesses are paying more attention to the customer journey. They’re delivering relevant content in shorter bites (though you can still find plenty of Top 10 Lists and Ultimate Guides). Writing is tighter; headers are less bombastic. Content is tightly focused on a single topic.
My thought: I’m all for anything that encourages good content. WIth apologies to fans of James Michener, we need more Earnest Hemingway–at least on websites.
The Most Unsurprising Content Trend for 2021: SEO Is Still Important
This 2021 content trend would have ranked on any list once Google launched. Big businesses have the budget clout to pay for the obvious keywords. Savvy smaller and niche businesses have learned how to leverage long tail keywords (descriptive phrases) to beat out the behemoths they compete against.
My thought: the search phrase “near me” is a blessing for small businesses because it helps local customers find you. Just make sure you complete your Google Business profile so the search engines can include you in local results.
How Can I Help?
Need some help writing a blog? Don’t know whether you should worry about SEO? Just want to bounce some ideas around? Drop me a line or give me a call; I’d be happy to help.
Have you ever “borrowed” content from someone else’s website? Did you give credit to the author? Sometimes reusing content is perfectly OK (“fair use”) and times when it isn’t, but how do you know which is which?
I invited Kelley Way, an attorney specializing in copyright law, to share her expertise with you. You can find this and other relevant content on her blog.
Take it away, Kelley….
Can I use Content From the Internet in My Work?
I get this question a lot. Sometimes, it’s not even a question – the person assumes it’s fine as long as they [use less than a certain amount/don’t make money from it/clipped it from Google/insert justification here].
Unfortunately, the mere fact that the content is on the Internet and easy to copy or download does not mean that it is free to use. Just like anywhere else, the normal copyright rules apply. When in doubt, assume that the content is copyrighted.
How to Safely Find and Use Internet Content
Good news: you have choices.
Use awebsite that offers free content. If a website tells you that something is free to use, you’re reasonably safe using the content. Some search engines, like Google, also have filters that will only show content labeled for reuse. Just check and make sure that the website is legitimate, and the person who made the content has given permission for others to use it. The Internet is rife with stolen content, so do your due diligence before going this route.
Pay for a license. This is a safer route than the free websites, and it helps support the artists who created the content. There’s still a chance that the content was taken without permission, though, so you still want to make sure that the website is legitimate.
Reach out to the owner directly and ask permission. This option is a bit of a gamble. On the one hand, if the owner says yes, you’re golden; you have a green light to use the content, and they can’t take it back later. On the other hand, if they say no, you’re back to square one and have to find someone else’s content.
Fair use is a legal doctrine that permits the unlicensed use of copyright-protected works in certain circumstances. Criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research are examples of activities that may qualify as fair use.
You may try to rely on fair use, but in many cases fair use is a bigger gamble than the options above. The courts declared that every claim of fair use must be decided on a case by case basis. In other words, claiming fair use won’t stop copyright owners from suing you, and you won’t know for sure that your claim will hold up until the lawsuit is over.
Fair Use Test
Courts use a test to determine whether something qualifies as copyright infringement. You can apply this same test to see how likely you would be to win a copyright infringement lawsuit.
What’s the nature of the use? If you’re using the content in a way that benefits the public (such as for teaching, criticism or commentary), the court is more likely to find fair use. If you’re using the content to make money, the court is more likely to rule in favor of the copyright owner.
What kind of content are you using? Copyright protects creativity. The more creative the content, the more protection it gets. Fiction would get more protection than non-fiction, and an elaborately staged photograph would get more protection than a snapshot of your dinner.
How much of the content are you using? If you’re quoting one sentence from a full-page novel, the court is more likely to find fair use. However, the courts also look at quality, not just quantity. If that sentence is the major selling point of the book, the court is more likely to find copyright infringement.
How does your use affect the market for the content? This may be the most important question. If your use means the copyright owner can’t make money from their own copyright, then the courts will very likely find in favor of the copyright owner. On the other hand, if your use really doesn’t impact the owner’s bottom line, then there hasn’t been a lot of harm done.
If you would like to learn more about fair use, or any of the other options I wrote about, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note that this article does not constitute legal advice, and that an attorney-client relationship is not formed by reading the article or by commenting thereon.