We live in the year 2020 and brands are still cutting and pasting their content across all their channels. And they have the nerve to call it a strategy. Before I fan myself and start in with the bless your hearts, let’s talk about why mass-blast posting is a hot mess.
As you may know, each digital and social media platform whether it be Facebook, Instagram, your newsletter, blog, blah blah blah has its own unique vibe. People have specific content and experience expectations based on the platform they’re on. Tweets have a certain character length, Instagram Reels are informal, attention-grabbing, and far from stylized and Facebook continues to be a data vampire, but I digress.
Consumers expect you to deliver not only an experience that aligns with the platform format, behavior, and personality, but they don’t want their time wasted with duplicative content. Imagine your uber-fan. To quote Depeche Mode, they just can’t enough. And imagine their disappointment when they realize your newsletter is basically a rehased Instagram post. You end up looking lazy at best, incompetent at worst. No fan wants to know you’re dialing it in.
So, it’s unlikely that a single piece of content can be copied exactly as is onto each platform without modifying it. Basic content repurposing includes changing the sizes/formats of images or videos and modifying your text to fit the next platform — but we’re not talking about that kind of game.
We’re talking about content upcycling, which up-levels your content strategy. Lots of jargony “ups” to cope with, I know. We’re going to get through this.
Content upcycling implies you’re intentional by design. The idea is akin to a hub and spoke model only the hub an image, a video, or a blog post. Not only are you considering content in the context of its distribution (i.e., where it’ll land), but you’re also adapting components of that original piece of content to make something new, fresh, and superfine.
Let’s say you sell luggage. You’re a start-up and you’re all about increasing brand awareness. You want your prospects to know you’ve got the best carry-on on the block. Nothing compares to you, as Prince so sagely crooned.
Maybe you partner with an influencer, one of those jet-setting, preened to perfection types because someone on the internet told you influencer marketing is a smart way to achieve your goal. This influencer is superstar when it comes to video content and whenever she holds up a product, the masses start clicking. After months of negotiations, she’s tasked to deliver a how to pack for a weekend getaway video using your hero product. She’s also throwing in some tips because she’s good like that.
With repurposing at its best, you might cut up the video for the tips and post them on Twitter and Facebook with a link to the original video. You might even upload the video to your product detail page because social proof! Right?
Content upcycling kicks that recycling nonsense in the FACE, embarking on a different journey. Upcycling is about designing content in the context of where you’re publishing it, so you can provide each platform with the best content for that platform.
Let’s run with the awareness, top-of-funnel objective. You’re thinking parts of the video would be terrific as targeted Facebook and PPC ads. When negotiating with your influencer, you might ask them to record an alternate intro and outro to their contracted video, taking into account the audience for the ads you’re buying is no longer their fan base. Maybe they introduce themselves and end with a specific call-to-action that promotes the brand’s owned properties — i.e., it’s commercial AF. Maybe they record another outro that promotes a discount for your most valuable customers — a video you share in an email to your VIP list.
Upcycling can also mean making sure each iteration of your content (starting with the original how-to video) becomes more upscale. Here’s what versions of that original piece of content could look like:
- An illustrated infographic or image of the influencer’s suitcase, diagraming her packing technique and making call-outs to where she places her items and any additional products she might use. You might share this on Instagram or Facebook.
- A follow-up blog post or newsletter where you embed the video, but add additional tips, resources, and tools.
- Use the video to kick off a how-to packing series where you feature your employees, experts, or even customers who share their techniques and tips via video or photos with captions. These can be IG Reels, snippets of tips can be tweets that link to the original content, TikTok challenges whenever the platform loses its hijacked status, etc.
- Add more polish & edits (i.e.: cutting out unnecessary chatter, adding helpful overlays and links, adding a brand-focused intro/outro, fixing typos, CTAs in the form of a first-purchase offers. The more focused branded video could show up on your YouTube page.
Content upcycling requires you to get creative with an idea, imagining all the permutations and extensions it could take. Implementing this strategy into your content brainstorming and organizational system saves you from having to recreate the content wheel for every post. Also, it gives you insights into which content variations perform the best, which could drive future iterations of that content.
Your content strategy is the stories you tell to your customers. While people care about the quality and value of the products and services they buy, they always remember the experience they have with a brand above all else — and that starts with your content.
Focus on giving your customers only the content they want and need, when and where they need it, and you’ll stand apart from the cut & paste, rinse-lather-repeat wack pack.
Above all else, don’t waste your customers’ time.