A guide to cross-posting, re-using and updating your content
Writing content – really useful content – requires effort, as I’m sure you know by now. After all you’ve put into each piece, it makes sense to do everything you can to get the most out of it.
First, you’ve come up dozens of content ideas, and carefully coaxed the best one into a complete concept. Then you’ve drafted, re-drafted and painstakingly edited an article filled with tweet-able lines and packed with keywords. You’ve posted it, you’ve tweeted it, you’ve shared it. It gets some views, some likes, maybe even a comment. And now you have to start all over again.
Or not. Maybe there’s a better way.
For example, you can cross-post content on different platforms – not just sharing it, but adapting it into new content to engage specifically on that platform.
Or you can re-use the idea, and the content, as the basis for something different, but you’ve already done half the research, and developed your thinking on the topic.
Finally, you can update your content and publish it anew, a year or even six months down the line.
Let’s delve into these ideas and see how they look in practise.
At first glance, ‘cross-posting’ is just a way of sharing that you’ve written something and trying to get people to visit your blog. It’s quick – you paste in a link to your article, you write a teaser sentence or two, add a couple of hashtags, and that’s it.
You know you need to intersperse these posts with ‘real’ content as well, stuff you’ve written specifically for that platform.
And actually, there’s a way to promote your articles and have a feed filled with targeted, platform-specific content as well.
Instead of just sharing a link with a quick note about your content, you can take the ideas, the outline, even entire paragraphs, from your article, and adapt them for a specific platform.
On Twitter, you can post questions with pertinent hashtags to stimulate a discussion amongst your followers or in your industry. Or you can create a thread, by replying to your own tweets, where you explain a key idea from the article. Just make sure you mark the first on with #thread, so that people know to read the rest.
On Facebook, you could use Live to host a discussion with an expert or a colleague on the same topic as your post. You can pull quotes from your own article to frame the conversation, and then take questions from your audience once they’ve gathered to your Live video. Alternatively, you can use PowerPoint to make a simple slideshow and export this as video content for a quick 30-second clip. Short videos, recorded selfie-style, can be an informal way to start a discussion or emphasise something important as well.
The trick with each of these pieces of content is to draw on the material you’ve already created for your original article. You can use the same structure, ideas and even the exact same sentences in your adapted format, so the writing time is drastically reduced.
Like cross-posting, but not the same, re-using your content involves taking what you’ve already written and doing something a bit different with it. Rather than taking snippets of the article and adapting them for different social media audiences, you take the entirety of the text and use it to create something different.
You might turn an article into a video lecture for an online course. Or if you’ve written a long piece, you could turn it into an e-newsletter series where you present one section per week until you’ve covered the full topic.
How-to guides can be handy as downloadable PDFs. If your reader is likely to want to print them to have at hand while away from their computer, keep the PDF light on photos and graphics where you can.
Guides can also be converted into check lists or worksheets that are a bit more interactive. Yes, these can be a bit more work to develop, but there’s a flip side. They give the customer a practical resource with a solid outcome, and that helps build your authority and reputation, moving them closer to becoming a paying client!
If you’ve used either of the above methods to add more value around your original piece, you’ll often find you’ve received useful feedback and ideas from your readers that you’d like to incorporate. Even if you didn’t, it’s normal to read over something you wrote 6 months or a year ago, and find bits that you’d re-write now, knowing more about the subject, or where information has changed in the interim. The older a piece of content is, the more likely this is to be true.
So, the easiest thing to do then is to update the article with the latest information – you may only need to replace a few hundred words and change a link or two, but you can include the entire piece of content in your calendar much like you would if it were completely new.
You can then reuse the same posts and tweets that you originally used to promote the content to promote it again, and sprinkle in a few which address the updated areas specifically.
Finding the balance
The real art in repurposing and adapting content is to keep the right level of variety in your content without strands becoming muddled and disconnected in the mix. Exactly where that balance is will depend on your audience, and even the topic at hand. Over time you’ll be able to watch your engagement statistics as your audience reacts to your content. With care, you can refine the balance to get the most out of each content idea, whilst creating the maximum value for your audience.
We recommend you use a content calendar and a regular review process, such as the content cycle we described last year. Something as simple as colour-coding the calendar by topic, will let you see immediately the ratio of posts, and help you maintain a balance that works for you.