It’s December. As the snow slowly piles up outside, you realize you don’t have time to put out more content this year. You might feel there is nothing left to be done but tidy up your desk, but you’re mistaken. Now is the perfect time for redistributing, refreshing, and repurposing content!
If you have been around content marketing, you have probably heard these words before. Redistributing, refreshing, and repurposing content are thrown around a lot. The terms can blur together, and it can be confusing which of these you should be doing. On top of that, some people pretend they require little-to-no effort. While they are easier than creating something original, they require planning and work. It all becomes confusing very quickly.
This article will explain what redistributing, refreshing, and repurposing content is, why it is valuable, and whether it is right for your work. Let’s get into it!
What is Redistributing Content? Sharing is Caring
Content redistribution is the practice of sharing your content through multiple channels over time. When you put your written or video content on the internet, you will get some attention via search engine optimization and loyal followers, but this will be a small audience. You can attract a large audience by developing channels to distribute your content.
There are three main channels for redistributing your work: social media, mailing lists, and paid channels.
Social media: are you (or your company) active on any social media platform? This is a great place to share your work. While this may seem obvious, you are probably not maximizing your distribution on social media. In fact, you should share every piece of content multiple times over the course of months. Plan your social media activity carefully!
Subscribers: if you plan to get seriously into creating content, you should start building a subscribers list. This is obvious on platforms like YouTube or TikTok, but newsletter subscribers count too. Remember to share your content will all of them!
Paid channels: if you are creating content as part of a business, you should consider distributing your content using paid media. If you are willing to throw money at the platform, LinkedIn will send your content to tens of thousands of people, ensuring your work gets seen. You can also use paid email through publishers to send emails to subscribers. These tactics are effective no matter the size of your business, but they are particularly helpful if you don’t yet have a following.
What content should you redistribute? Everything really, but it is best to focus on content that is already performing well. A blog that flopped the first time you shared it on Twitter is unlikely to take off after posting it a second time, but content that got attention the first time could do well when it is reshared a month later. You are limited mainly by the amount you can share, which is a function of your audience, and the amount of time you can devote to redistribution.
Unlike repurposing and refreshing, redistribution shouldn’t require too much work. Writing a social media post or email will only take a few minutes but can substantially increase the number of people who see the content. While this may seem simple, some don’t put in the effort, possibly because it isn’t as interesting as creating fresh content. It feels like clearing the dishes after making dinner – you already did a ton of work, so the last thing you want to do is more work.
Moral of the story: develop good distribution habits no matter what!
What is Repurposing Content? Maximum Mileage
Content repurposing is the practice of converting one type of content into another. You could turn a blog into a YouTube video or a YouTube video into a blog. This isn’t about transcription, which is essentially redistribution, but rather is about creating something new based on the same fundamental ideas.
Why repurpose content? There are three main reasons, which overlap heavily:
Strategic focus: If you are creating a piece of content, there is likely some reason why. The topic might be relevant to your business, or you might have some expertise or interest in the subject. You can maximize your impact in a specific area by leveraging multiple types of content.
Different audiences: some people prefer to read, others prefer to watch, and still others prefer to listen. Blogs are effective at sharing introductory information, while reports are better for communicating to a specialist audience. Hitting a topic from multiple angles ensures your work is relevant to as many people as possible.
Time savings: being a top-tier content creator is a game of efficiency. You have 24 hours a day – how many publishable words can you get on the page in that time? Writing a blog post based on a webinar recording will be much easier than creating something from scratch.
Of course, you should not mindlessly repurpose work ad nauseum. There are diminishing returns to squeezing more content out of the same ideas. Some content only “works” as one form of media, so repurposing would not add much. Don’t force repurposing if it isn’t necessary.
For that content you are planning to repurpose, where do you start? This is a much bigger topic that fits under your core marketing strategy. Think about the focus of your content, and identify areas of interest critical to you or your business/organization. Make sure you are using repurposing to cover those topics thoroughly.
What is Refreshing Content? A Fresh Coat of Paint
Refreshing content is the practice of updating, editing, adding to, or otherwise improving a piece of content that has already been published. It is like adding a fresh coat of paint to your house – the structure is the same, but it looks brand new!
Why refresh old content? Once your work has been out for a while, you might notice your early hits are not getting the traffic they once were. Your blog post that once held the top spot in Google results has slipped to the second page of results. Google can see that your page has been updated and may give you credit for its improved quality, meaning your organic performance will rebound.
How often should you refresh your content, and which pieces should you refresh? In an ideal world, you should update all your written content regularly, but that isn’t practical. Focus on content that used to perform well but is not attracting traffic now – there is probably some interest in the topic, and the core of the content is likely substantial.
Opinion content is harder to refresh than more educational work, so lean towards the more evergreen informational material. Skip “newsy” stuff – updating it while maintaining quality will be nearly impossible.
One area that is a potential winner is updating work ahead of its time. For example, if you were writing about vaccine safety in 2018, refreshing your content post-2020 would have been smart.
Once you identify the science content that needs to be refreshed, the actual research and creation shouldn’t be complex. Here are some steps to follow:
- Reread that article – identify any areas for improvement or sub-topics that were not adequately covered. Remember to consider images and links!
- Research – investigate relevant resources to get up-to-date sources for your content.
- Update – take the opportunity to improve the content. Include new images, videos, and other rich media if available.
- Edit – go over the entire article. Is the writing clear? Are there opportunities to upgrade SEO performance? Make sure there aren’t any unusual transitions, repetitions, or contradictions.
- Repost and redistribute
Refreshing content requires more effort than redistribution and less effort than repurposing. If you are adding more than a couple hundred words to a written piece, it is often better to publish a new one. This will partly depend on the industry – if you are fighting over a few highly competitive keywords, it is worth doing anything to rank for those topics. On the other hand, if you are creating content for a category with less competition, it is often best to cover more territory.
Refreshing content applies most directly to written work – all you need to do is change the text, but you can also update other types of content. If you have your old video editing file, you can add segments or edit out bits that are no longer relevant. Unfortunately, you can’t replace videos once they are on YouTube, but you can take the old version down if it isn’t performing well. Podcast channels allow you to reupload old episodes with edits if you want, though it is hard to predict how they will perform. There is certainly room for innovation!
Redistributing, Refreshing, and Repurposing Content Strategy
How much time and effort should you be spending on these “re” tactics? It mainly depends on where you are in your content creation journey.
- If you are starting, ignore all of this, even redistribution. Focus on creating good content and literally nothing else.
- Once you feel competent at creating content, you should start refining your distribution strategy. Redistribution is more-or-less the same as distribution. You will be ahead of many other creators if you get the creation and distribution right.
- Refreshing content is mainly about how long you have been actively creating content. I wouldn’t refresh any content that is less than a year old unless there was a compelling reason. If you have been active for a couple of years, feel free to go back and upgrade your early pieces – they would probably benefit from your improved skills. Primarily, I would focus on content that is 2+ years old and has potential.
- Repurposing should mainly be reserved for professionals. As an amateur, you probably don’t have enough time to create content across multiple platforms and distribute it properly while honing your craft.
- For in-house marketers, entrepreneurs, or consultants, repurposing content should be a core element of your marketing strategy. It is better to focus your effort on a single area rather than spread your attention across a broad range of topics. Repurposing is an effective way to achieve this goal, especially in a highly competitive space.
Of course, these are only rules of thumb. When developing your content and marketing strategy, there are many other things to consider. There is no one correct answer, but if you can leverage the tactics of refreshing, redistributing, and repurposing content, you can significantly increase your efficiency and effectiveness as a writer or marketer.