When marketers approach content that needs freshening up, we tend to just wing it. We make changes in a disorganized, disorderly fashion - tweak some copy here, change the headline there, maybe swap out an image or two. This would be fine if we didn’t then expect our content to deliver disproportionate results to our efforts.
If we want our recycled, repurposed, refreshed content to perform as well or better than the original, we need to approach the recycling process differently. To create lift, we need a content repurposing framework, a set of repeatable, reliable procedures.
I call the framework I use for refreshing my old content the 5I framework.
It stands for:
Let’s walk through the framework.
The first step is to identify which content is suitable for repurposing. I’ve covered this before, including using Google Data Studio dashboards to quickly identify which content would benefit most from repurposing. I choose from three categories of content to repurpose, in this order:
- All-stars. This is content that has delivered search traffic and social media traffic in the past - high-performing evergreen content.
- Right topic, wrong time. In the days before predictive analytics, I’d write content that was topically relevant but published at the wrong time. Today, with predictive analytics guiding the way, I will repurpose content during times when those topics are most relevant.
- Good idea, bad content. My blog is over 10 years old. In 10 years, I’ve improved as a writer, but my legacy content remains a snapshot of who I was. I’ll update those older posts and clean them up.
Once I’ve identified and prioritized the content that needs repurposing, I move on to improving it.
When I improve content, I use a checklist to determine what needs improvement. This includes:
- Editing. No content is perfect. There’s always a way to improve writing.
- Format. With the advent of tools like Canva and AWS Polly, adding new graphics or audio is simple and easy. Using my transmedia content framework, one piece of content becomes many.
- SEO. Technical SEO is ever-changing. What was good advice even 6 months ago might be terrible advice now - much less 10 years ago. I run through my SEO checklists to ensure my content complies with today’s best practices.
- Data. There’s always newer, fresher, more relevant data for any piece of content. I’ll find the newest stuff and upgrade where appropriate.
Just because I’ve improved a piece of content, the work isn’t done. Sitting back and waiting for audiences to appear is foolish and ineffective. The third step of content refreshing is influence: distributing the new content to audiences who care about it. This includes:
- Topically-relevant influencers. Using social media influence identification tools, find who would care about the topic of the refreshed content and let them know it exists.
- Original audiences. If a piece of content performed well in the past, find the people who shared it the first time around and let them know of the improvements.
- Search engines. Using tools like Bing Webmaster Tools and Google Search Console, alert search engines of the content change through things like XML sitemaps.
- Email. The venerable newsletter is a reliable way to distribute repurposed content, from blog subscription feeds to weekly newsletters like Almost Timely.
While outreach and influence helps distribute content well over time, if I’m in a hurry to promote content, I need to throw some gasoline on the fire: advertising.
The fourth step of the process is investing in my refreshed content with paid advertising. Depending on how important the content is, this might include:
- Social post boosting. If I want repurposed content to resonate with my existing audience, few things work as well or are as affordable as boosting posts to my social audiences. For just a few dollars, boosting a post increases the likelihood that others will see it and read it.
- Retargeting. Retargeting ads identify people who’ve consumed specific content in the past. Showing ads to those people for the refreshed content is a logical next step, and tools like Google AdWords make it simple to identify audiences who’ve visited specific pieces of content.
- Search ads. If my refreshed content is about a specific, high-value search term, using PPC ads to target that term to the content is a high-ROI proposition.
- Display ads. Depending on the content, display ads and native ads might be a good fit, especially if the refreshed content is video or graphical in nature.
Advertising doesn’t have to cost a million dollars a shot; of the choices above, social boosting and retargeting deliver results for as little as $20-$50 a day.
Finally, the most important part of any campaign is to determine whether it worked or not. Inspecting the content’s results in analytics helps me to understand what worked and what didn’t, setting the stage for additional refreshing of content. Be sure to tag content appropriately in the Influence and Invest stages so that we collect good data for analysis.
The 5I content repurposing framework is a proven, established way to reap new value from old content. Everything I’ve listed here is common sense and shouldn’t feel new or innovative. What’s important is that we approach refreshing content in an established, repeatable way. This is especially important if we have a lot of old content or need to train new people in the process.
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