Repurposing Content: Digging Up Digital Gold

stick figure with wheel barrow of gold

On the web, content is king.  Website owners are constantly pressed to produce new and valuable pieces of it for their readers and users.  Coming up with all that material can be a  frustrating job.

For large corporations, the vast amount of content that gets produced on a continuous basis means that companies have significant back catalogs of print, video, and audio content that have previously been released and forgotten about.

These back catalogs often sit on hard drives, collecting proverbial dust, but the reality is that they are, in fact, gold mines waiting to be exploited.

When working with our clients on content strategy we try to be creative with content sourcing and treat content repurposing as “low hanging fruit”.

Content repurposing is all about digging into that old content, sifting out the gems, and finding creative ways to repurpose it into something new and useful.

Here are some simple pointers and tips on how to go about successfully repurposing content sourced from back catalogs in order to create useful and valuable new works.

Perform a content audit

Content can pile up quickly, especially for businesses who’s core operation involves publishing content.

It isn’t uncommon for some websites to have thousands of pieces of content in the back catalog, and even smaller websites can easily have hundreds.

That content can’t be utilized and repurposed until someone figures out exactly what’s available and what can be done with it.

To get to that point, the best route to take is a content audit.

A content audit is just like a financial audit, except instead of pouring over the books and going through the numbers with a fine toothed comb, it’s the back catalog of content that gets closely examined, with each piece being accounted for and documented.

Once a content audit has been performed, website owners or managers can easily review what material is available to repurpose, and what complementary materials can potentially be combined or used together.

This will make it much easier to come up with creative new ways to repurpose old content in valuable and profitable ways.

Cross media types

One of the simplest ways to repurpose content is to change it from one type of media to another.

A fantastic article may have already run its course, and simply republishing it probably won’t do much good, but by using it as the script for a video or a podcast, that content can reach out to a whole new set of users, and provide those who’ve already read the text version with a new way of absorbing the material.

The same can be done in reverse. A great podcast or video can be transcribed and edited into an article to be redistributed.

The key with this type of repurposing is that not all users like all delivery formats. Some people will happily read a long article, but fidget in their chairs after the first minute of a video.

On the flip side, some people can’t get enough rich media, but find long articles boring or even difficult to read online.

By crossing media types when repurposing content, the material can not only be creatively repurposed for existing audiences, but also to each new audiences who would otherwise never have seen it.

Aggregate and combine

Another fantastic way to repurpose content is to group and combine material on similar or related topics into larger omnibus pieces that can be used for a number of purposes.

For instance, a website with a huge back catalog of content on pet related materials could combine all of their articles on dog training into one large manual or book.

Combining content into larger volumes provides a simple and easy way to repurpose old material into something new without the need for significant editing or a significant amount of new work to be done.

It isn’t uncommon for these kinds of anthology volumes to be sold, and the practice is common with book publishers who will often put together omnibus collections of particular authors, classics, or other related topics and subjects.

Another great use for content combined and repurposed in this way is as giveaways to be used for marketing purposes.

For instance, websites and businesses that build email contact lists often give away some type of carrot to entice people to join their newsletters.

Combining old content into a new edition makes for an easy to create, and essentially zero cost giveaway item that provides solid value to readers.

In a Nutshell..

Content sitting forgotten in back catalogs is like a physical asset that a business has stored away to collect dust when it could be producing revenue. It’s a complete waste.

Not only does old content have significant value – even before it’s repurposed – but making use of it is often so simple, so easy, and so low cost, that it just doesn’t make sense not to dig in and find new ways to give it life.

Performing a content audit is often the first step, as it allows webmasters and managers to obtain a thorough understanding of their inventory of back cataloged content and how that content might be reused and repurposed to meet new ends.

Once the back catalog has been combed through, the ways content can be repurposed are many and varied.

Transforming content to a different type of media, and combining content on similar topics into larger works are just two of the many ways that material can be given new life.

Over to you…

Have you thought about your old and existing content? Can it be repurposed to provide more value for your digital marketing efforts? Share your tips and experiences below…

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Omar is MD & Chief Strategy Officer at Sandstorm Digital. His experience includes 10 years in traditional marketing and advertising in the Middle East and a further 10 years at two of the largest media agencies in the UK. Follow Omar on Twitter for updates on the latest in digital, branding, advertising and marketing.

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