Do More With Less: 5 Ways to Recycle Content Right Now

January 21, 2014 Michael Keshen

Recycle Content

A few months ago, we hosted a meetup for Toronto’s HubSpot User Group to meet other HubSpot users in our area and learn how to better utilize this powerful inbound marketing tool. The night was a big success right from the start, quickly filling up our HQ with a ton of inbound marketing pros of varying expertise.

The night was keynoted by HubSpot’s very own Senior Inbound Marketing Professor, Sarah Bedrick. Sarah was a true delight to be around, instantly fitting in with the Uberflip team and even heading out with some of us to see my band play after the meetup! Sarah wasn’t just fun and games, though – her presentation (which you can watch here) was full of great and practical tips for how to create and leverage content marketing to effectively generate leads for a business.

In this post, I’ll do my best to summarize her presentation on how to reduce, reuse and recycle content, and expand on it with insight from my own experience on the Uberflip marketing team. So, without further ado, let’s dive in!

What is content?

To learn how to repurpose content, it’s first important to really think about what content actually is. Some items might appear obvious at first: blog posts, white papers and videos. What might surprise you is that you probably have other forms of content that you don’t even realize is content. Host webinars? Send tweets? Share photos on Instagram? These are also great forms of content that you can grab from to create new experiences.

Why reuse content?

Whether you work a little bit on content creation or it’s your full-time job, it can take a serious amount of time pumping out new content. First, you have to come up with an idea (which can take a long time even for the best of us), then research, brainstorm, produce and promote. Why would you then let all that hard work only materialize for one piece and then never touch it again?

Let me be clear – I’m not saying that you should write the same thing twice. What I am saying, however, is that there are often ways to explore items only briefly discussed in one piece of content in order to create a new item. So, let’s say you created a blog piece on holiday shopping on smartphones. Chances are, you came across a lot of research on holiday shopping with tablets – great for another blog post!

5 practical ways to recycle content

Below are samples of Sarah’s actionable tips for repurposing content. If you’d like the full list, I’d strongly recommend that you check out the video of her talk here.

Transform

One great way to breathe new life into content is by converting it into an entirely new form. It’s always best to do this when the new piece creates a better experience than the original. For instance, in September 2012 we released a blog post on the sustainability of tablets. This piece was doing fairly well but was very stats-heavy, which was a little difficult to process when reading it in written form. So, what we did was took all of the content within this piece and turned into an infographic. Not only did this save us a ton of time (since all the research was already done), but it turned out to be a much better way to consume the content of the piece. Even though it was recycled content, the infographic ended up being one of our biggest items at the time and got a ton of shares and pickups!

Crowdsource

Sometimes it’s great to ask for a little help – especially when your goal is to engage with your audience. A really quick and easy way to create content is to ask for your audience to contribute. For example, you could tweet to your Twitter followers “What is the most embarrassing marketing mistake you’ve ever made?” Once you’ve collected enough responses, you could then plop them into a blog post. With only a few minutes of work, you’ll have generated a great piece of content as well as built up a stronger connection with your community. Plus, those that have made the cut will likely then want to share your post with their followers. We did just this with a Twitter contest where we gave away an iPad Mini and the only way to enter was by tweeting us their most outdated tech. We got a ton of responses (including many picture submissions), and compiled the best ones into this blog post.

Show and tell

If you’ve come across a bunch of great content pertaining to a certain topic or theme, it’s completely fine to compile this information into a useful form for your audience. For example, we recently published an article entitled 51 Content Marketing Tools that will Make your Life Easier. This was a great piece to create because we are always on the hunt for useful tools ourselves anyway, so we were essentially killing two birds with one stone. In most cases, the sources that you are compiling from will be excited that you’re exposing them to a new audience, which might even inspire them to share your work for you as well!

Bundle

Over time, you may create a bunch of content about a particular topic. Even though this content is already out there, your audience will likely not be able to find all of it (especially in one easy location). In this case, a quick and easy way to generate new content is by bundling these items together into one longer piece. So, if you’ve got 8 articles about email marketing, combine them into a single eBook. Not only will your audience find this more useful, you’ll also then be able to do more with the bundled version because it is more substantial. A person might not be willing to give you their email address to read a single blog post, but they are definitely more likely to in order to read a lengthy whitepaper. In fact, some of our own eBooks stem from content that has been posted on our blog.

Update

Not all of your content will be evergreen, meaning that after a certain length of time it will become outdated. It’s a shame to let all the work you put into a piece fade away over time, which is why it can be great to update past content to become relevant again. This will still require you to perform more research, though will save you the steps of forming the overall structure. For instance, we updated this infographic on B2C Content Marketing Trends with updated stats in order to create this new and more relevant infographic. Be careful, though, because industries can change very rapidly and so you need to ensure that the topic you are updating on is still relevant.

Use extra caution!

Though you might be recycling content, that doesn’t mean that you don’t need to make sure your content is still meaningful. The rules of content marketing will still apply: If you are not providing value to your audience, they will move elsewhere. Worse off, content that is obviously a complete copy of something you did earlier will be off-putting to your loyal followers.

Repurposing content still takes time and effort, so don’t think of it as a way to slack off instead of coming up with new ideas. In fact, reusing content frees up time so you can create even more original content!

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About the Author

Michael Keshen

Michael is a Content Marketer at Tucows.

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