Everybody likes leftovers right?

The day after Thanksgiving is almost as exciting as the holiday itself: That’s when refrigerator raiders get their chance to assemble the leftover sandwich to end all sandwiches. All the fixings of the feast are there, and the turkey, taters and cranberry sauce often taste just as good the second time around — only they’re in sandwich form.

Marketers should think about their content assets in a similar way: as a smorgasbord of leftover morsels ready to be enjoyed in different ways. It’s likely there’s still some meat left on those bones. Alright, enough with the food symbolism. All the blog posts, video content and long-form content you have published previously can provide value when given a second life. The ideas or data held within a written guest post can be transformed into a live video on social media, for instance, and notch a major marketing success.

A content repurposing workflow can help you extract new value and audience engagement from past content. An old dog might not be able to learn new tricks, but dress him up in a bumblebee costume and you’ve got +100,000 Twitter likes right there! You can take a piece of evergreen content, spruce it up with some current relevance — tree pun ENTended — and use it to attract new audiences or trend off a prevailing social media topic.

There’s nearly endless ways to repurpose content, ranging from simply rerunning past well-performing blog posts to Frankensteining a masterpiece out of some content assets that didn’t go over as well but still have use.

The key point to remember is that no matter what repurposing efforts you pursue, you need a content strategy to back it all up. That means having a built-out editorial calendar and taking other content planning steps to ensure measurable and positive impacts.

What is content repurposing?

There’s a lot of investment that goes into content marketing, not only in terms of real dollars spent but all the sweat capital teams put into ideation, creation, dissemination and evaluation. When it all comes together, the magic is palpable: strong audience engagement, KPIs and outcomes. However, if marketers believe they constantly have to be publishing to stay relevant, there’s a high risk that return on investment is short-lived. It would be a shame if after all that work a stellar piece is left to collect dust after after a quick 15 minutes of fame.

Content repurposing allows marketers to draw continuous value from an asset without having to churn out new material like a cable news network. Not only does it make business sense to the nth degree, but it aligns with a key tenet of modern content marketing ideology: quality over quantity. While there’s a lot to be said for having a steady pipeline of content, outlining ways to tap an existing content asset reinforces a commitment to quality.

The situation is common: You know you have a winning piece, but are hesitant to put it back out there for fear of being a retread — or worse, this time it doesn’t generate the same impact. Repurposing gives marketers a way to retool their content in different forms, like reimagining a text-based blog post into a visual one-pager for sales collateral. This lone example demonstrates the range of advantages repurposing has, as well as the many problems it can be used to solve. There’s no shame in going up for second plates here! On the contrary, it’s encouraged (I lied about the end of food analogies).

What are the benefits to repurposing?

The real question is what can’t be achieved with content repurposing? Such tactics can be applied to all number of content marketing goals. The repurpose is an all-purpose approach that can:

  • Boost audience reach and engagement: Not every reader of your blog will be a follower on social media, and vice versa. Content repurposing enables you to more effectively reach audiences regardless of platform. It’s likely a share of targeted customers or web visitors will miss out on a one-shot piece, so repurposing helps you cover all bases when you take a hot blog topic and make it a social graphic. Not only can this help expand reach, but a unified message across distribution channels will create a cohesive customer experience, which can lift engagement rates.
  • Take you from zero to hero: Not every swing is going to be a home run, so don’t sweat the misses. Baseball players are considered all-star batters if they get a hit in one-third of their chances at the plate. Sometimes the conditions just aren’t right and content doesn’t land, but there’s always a second chance. Maybe a white paper didn’t attract the interest from leads you counted on, but an interactive presentation can present the data or content in an easily digestible way that makes all the difference.
  • Help content serve needs along the marketing funnel: The same ideas expressed in a blog post could be useful when read in an eBook by a different customer further along the lifecycle. Taking editorial content and giving it a sales collateral tweak promotes efficiency, consistency and internal productivity. It’s almost a bit like Pokemon when you think about it — or Digimon if that was your thing. Content starts basic and progressively levels up the more mature the customer becomes; repurposing gives marketers a way to meet each touchpoint need with a proven asset.

How does repurposing work?

Familiar with the environmental three Rs of “reduce, reuse and recycle”? Well the same kind of mantra can be applied to a content strategy: rework, recirc and recycle (look, we even took the third R’s advice already). The three fundamental modes of repurposing break down to:

content repurposing workflow
  1. Rework: Fairly straightforward, this entails a bit of revising, even some form of reshaping, but not wholesale changes. For instance, a blog post that got a lot of traffic on the website can be pared down to essential elements and made into an infographic. The content principles are largely the same, but the new, snazzy visual can unlock further audience engagement benefits while telling the same story.
  2. Recirc: Short for recirculation, this idea relates to the planned reintroduction of content. Type of content matters a lot here, as time-sensitive blogs can’t be pushed at all times of the year. This time, identify evergreen pieces, like how-tos or guides, that can be recirculated to maximum effort with minimal editing needed to get the right context.
  3. Recycle: A plastic bottle that enters a recycling plant oftentimes comes out something completely different yet composed of the same matter (don’t forget the law of conservation!). The same can be done with content. Think, for example, about taking an industry-facing blog post that contains customer survey data and making it a testimonial to use in sales. There’s a bit of a tangent line between the assets, connecting but not intersecting, but this is the type of thinking content marketers need to use in repurposing.

4 innovative approaches to repurposing content

Want more of an idea on how to take a stayed content piece and turn it into a thrift store gem?

Turn a guest post into a live video Q&A

Guest blog posts are great from an SEO perspective, as they’re an effective means for link-building and improving organic search engine rankings. Such blogs also have qualities that can be leveraged in other forms, like authority or a high-profile name. One way to capitalize on those themes is with a live video Q&A hosted on social media with the same guest blogger. This makes an event out of your long-form content, as well as creates further material to mine later.

Craft a blog series out of a webinar

Want to work the other way around and create evergreen content out of a dynamic event? A blog series from a recorded webinar is a great place to start. There are so many good bytes that come out of webinars, but what modern customer is going to sit around for an hour and watch a prerecorded cast? Broken down into a sequence of more consumable blog posts that highlight key moments, the webinar can live on and keep returning value to your content strategy.

Fashion eBook pages into drip email copy

You can bridge the divide between outbound and inbound a bit by repurposing eBook pages into copy for a drip email campaign. Whittling a white paper or even a blog post down to a handful of words needed for email copy would be a task fit for Ron Swanson — but eBook pages provide content marketers nearly ready-made content to repurpose for email use.

Extrapolate a thought piece into a white paper

Short hits of content are great for social media, but serious prospects will want quality materials to learn about you, your product or your industry. Many companies try to push thought leadership in their posts to earn that expertise. When it’s successful, it’s great, but some may be looking for more. Expand your blog ideas into a full white paper to really get to the core of the topic or solution and create a sensible, gradual and informative pathway for consumers.

How to structure a workflow

All the brainstorming about repurposing is great, but until the plan is put into action, it ain’t worth much. To make repurposing a focused, efficient and productive effort, content marketers need to define and design a workflow expressly for the purpose of repurpose. Without a framework within which to work, repurposing is less like seamless content creation and more a messy stab that only drags down marketing in other areas.

Firstly, identify the content you want to repurpose. It all begins with having the assets in mind. Try to be inclusive of diverse pieces slated for repurposing, like choosing both evergreen content and timely blogs, as well as eBooks, white papers and video. Leave nothing out, but make sure to identify specifically which content pieces will be repurposed.

Why? Because your next step is to devise an editorial calendar. Posting all willy-nilly won’t get anybody anywhere. Content production schedules have to be sussed out ahead of time: It’s a requirement for any repurposing to be effective. You need to manage the time between an idea appearing as a blog and appearing as an infographic, or else risk drowning your audience in the messaging.

Calendars work because they sync deadlines. Content marketers must seek alignment in their workflow as well and coordinate repurposing with overall content marketing goals. Most brands have built up a library of content that can be repurposed; and when undertaken, it should always fit a specific objective. If juicing lead gen is a quarterly goal for you, take a past survey question and modify it into a web form. In the same vein, maybe condense a long guide into an eBook and used it as a gated download.

Don’t forget to watch out for duplicate content. Duplication to some degree is a natural byproduct of content repurposing, but assets that contain significant chunks of the same words might be punished by search engines. Marketers can avoid duplicate content in a couple ways: one, by keeping an editorial calendar that would expose any such clashes; and two, by making quality content, no easy repurposes of a blog that’s just filed with a different picture.

After the content’s been published, track the KPIs. Performance metrics are crucial to any content strategy, and that holds true for repurposing. Whether it’s conversions, click-through, email open rates, social media engagement or downloads, pick your measure of success and monitor those numbers.

And finally, keep looking for new ways to repurpose. The more content you generate, the more opportunities for repurposing will arise. If the permutations seem endless, well, that’s pretty much because they are — an editorial calendar would help wrangle that potential, however. Always be on the lookout for ways to transform content or how a blog post could become a podcast, or even a landing page that’s worked into social collateral.

Find purpose in repurposing

If it hasn’t been drilled in yet: Forget whatever that F. Scott Fitzgerald dictum is about there being no second acts in American life. Content can live on and on. A fruitful repurposing workflow will bear bounty time after time and can help advance key overarching goals for content marketing.

Take a look at your cache of resources and appraise your assets of avenues for repurposing. There’s likely grand possibility for deriving new value from old content, a strategy that can lead to a virtuous, self-sustaining cycle.

Dom, an English major and journalism enthusiast, was just happy to get a job out of college writing and editing professionally. That it turned out to be in the burgeoning content marketing industry with Brafton was all the better.