Go ahead, plagiarize yourself: three places to mine for social media content

It’s a vicious cycle: a business or organization launches a social media channel, posts like crazy for a few weeks or months and then loses steam. Posts become less frequent, so people pay less attention. And when it is time to launch something new or communicate an important message, the audience is less likely to engage with it.

Many times, we start out with grand visions of what we want our social media to look like, only to be hit with the harsh reality that social media is a living, breathing thing that must be nurtured and attended to at all times. We run out of inspiration and ideas.

It is in these moments that social media managers (or others who have had social media management thrust upon them) should look internally — not at their souls, but at their inboxes.

There are likely dozens of places in an organization where content created for one purpose can be reused for another. Plagiarizing yourself (or your sales staff or your customer service team or your human resources department) might be the key to filling your social media channels with fresh content. Consider these three internal sources before you give up on posting consistently on your channels.

Customer Service Responses: Maybe you’re an elected official or agency that hears from constituents regularly. Maybe you’re a company that handles a slew of customer service questions by email. If you (or someone on your team) has taken the time to craft a response to a common question outlining a position or policy because someone has written to you, perhaps it is also relevant to a larger audience. Take a look at common responses to see if there’s a proactive message you can rewrite to share with your followers. If you’re getting a lot of questions from your constituents or customers, it is possible that your social media followers have similar concerns.

Advertising Copy or Graphics: You took the time to come up with (or to pay someone else to come up with) words and images to sell your service, position or product. Why not pull that message through on your social media channels? While you may need to tweak images or strategy slightly to match your audience, the message is likely still sound. In addition, if customers see your message in multiple mediums, it’s more likely to stick with them.

Internal Memos, Documents or Photos: Sometimes we overlook the fact that public-facing programs, projects or products started out as ideas on a whiteboard somewhere behind closed doors in our offices. Behind-the-scenes pictures, video or other tidbits that your team collected or created could add layers to the story of your business and help your followers feel like insiders getting an exclusive peek at your process. And while you’re likely to never link to them directly, internal memos that explain changes to your staff could have language you can repurpose for social media.

In the perfect communications world, all messages, memos, marketing materials and media releases would come from a centralized team to ensure that they were both consistent and also used to their full potential. And while this may be the case at many larger companies, smaller businesses, organizations or busy offices simply don’t always have the resources to make this a reality. When you’re lacking inspiration for your social media channels, remember that your own team might be creating content without even knowing it.