There’s definitely a great and not so great way to repurpose content. A single concept can solve multiple needs across a number of channels. The pieces may not be the same, but they’re strategic uses of source material. You can tell when it’s not done right because it seems out of place or spammy.
People repurpose things all of the time. I always look to original hip hop as great examples of repurposing. DJs rework samples of different tracks into new pieces for their audiences. Emcees stitch and sew together lyrics that deliver innovative thought or pay homage to their urban heritage. These musicians look back at the cultural messages from previous artists, putting together what they believe best spreads their own message.
Is this no different than how content professionals bring value to their audiences? You look at what you have to work with, make use of the pieces that work and then take action by making it accessible and enjoyable. Mix tapes, baby!
"Repurpose: Adapt for use in a different purpose."
It’s much less about how many different places you can have a concept exist. It’s more the challenge of how many different ways can we make a concept useful for audiences. If you’re working on content for a smaller firm with a tight budget, making the most of your concepts and source materials goes a very long way towards achieving results.
Use the context of the channel to determine the best use of repurposed content.
Sweet. Let’s start copy and pasting all of our content across different channels.
No! Repurposing content means adapting a concept to serve an additional purpose on another channel, if this is a part of your organization’s content strategy.
For example, an organization may have a ton of member profiles and case studies on their site. These pieces of content are popular with prospective members and people who support that organization. Profiling member success on a channel of current users and customers builds buzz and awareness around the meaningfulness of membership.
There may be a solid string of victories and small wins within this collection of profiles. These wins can become a piece of content on their own and can become a great aside or short feature to accommodate an annual report or success reel. Place this on a channel with a wider audience to generate potential membership leads and general interest, for example.
These two examples of content share the same concept of “member profile,” but the concept ends up in two different channels as two different pieces of content. It serve two audiences within two different contexts: community building and lead generation. Repurposing concepts allows the reiteration of key messaging, reinforcing what you want your audiences to grasp about your organization.
Take concepts further with planning and strengthening how these different elements play a role in the overall content strategy. If you’re looking for ways to revisit older content, you can always audit and improve your overall assets.
The audit is your ally when it comes to repurposing.
The content audit is an important tool for any content strategist or professional because it allows the capability to take a broad look at resources. You see what the organization is capable of accomplishing, what resources are available to you and what current content, concepts and messaging are at your disposal.
The audit identifies the performance levels of concepts and messaging across different channels. This evaluation lets the strategist know what may be worth keeping, what to toss and perhaps what needs a little reworking. A concept can bring content to life on one channel. It doesn’t mean its life is over though.
Remember, repurposing isn’t just copying content from one channel and pasting into another. Take concepts that bring delight, enlightenment or value to your audience and reshape them into content that can do the same on other channels.
Navigating how this works and finding opportunities for meaningful repurposing and how it leads to success is our job as web content strategy professionals.
Lupe Fiasco - “Around My Way” Music Video on Youtube.
Frank Marquardt’s “What Book Reviews Taught Me About the Content Audit” in Contents Magazine.