Everyone knows glass is recyclable. Until last week, no one realized just how far glass recycling could go in a digital environment. A video made for a Corning investor event in February has (much to the surprise of Corning executives and its agency) gone mega-viral on YouTube. With upwards of 8 million views, it's the most-watched corporate video in YouTube history. Maybe even in all of corporate video history.
Every marketer with half a brain knows viral isn't something you can buy in a bottle. And if it was, it wouldn't come with a guarantee. But what smart marketers who invest time and dollars into content creation do know is that reusing and recycling that content can far extend the reach of their message and the ROI of their spend.
Users got there first. Take Sony's breathtaking, award-winning Bravia ads from circa 2006-2007. Users and fans -- not Sony or its agency -- uploaded them to YouTube where they live in perpetuity, garnering in toto some 5 million views.
Small-wonder advertisers got in on the action. Chrysler's ad from the most recent Super Bowl -- less than two months ago -- has enjoyed more than 9 million views on the company's YouTube channel, extending reach and justifying some of that enormous spend on creative.
Yet recycling content is hardly reserved for the big boys. Small business, mom 'n' pops, and even individuals polishing their personal brands online are learning that if content marketing counts, extending the life and reach of that content makes it count so much more.
Simple, right? Only too few marketers make content recycling part of a content marketing strategy.
Slice 'n' dice
The internet runs on content and offers seemingly endless distribution options for all kinds media: text, images, video, audio, you name it. Yet content creation can be hard. It requires thought. Ideas. Strategy. Data. Production. Editing. Originality. Relevance. Targeting.
Once you've produced a strong piece of content, the goal should be to leverage it in different channels, different formats, and different media for maximum impact. Creative is hard. Recycling is relatively easy -- and increasing reach is nothing to sneeze at.
Just as an example, let's say you (or a company executive) is speaking at an industry event. The speech? New content. That's a lot of work. But look at it this way: In the run-up to the event, it lightens the load in other areas. You can blog and tweet about the upcoming talk -- not just promote it, mind you, but drip out tantalizing bits of information or data that will encourage attendance.
The speech is done and delivered. You remembered to do a video of its delivery, didn't you? In whole or in parts, it can go on your site, your blog, YouTube, you name it. Perhaps the audio is appropriate for a podcast. Transcribe the presentation to boost SEO rankings of the audio and video, and perhaps use it as a stand-alone text marketing piece (email newsletter, anyone?).
The presentation itself? Up onto Slideshare it goes. Extract charts, infographics, and other nuggets of easy-to-digest visual data to build short-burst content around.
Can the talk be turned into -- or incorporated into -- a whitepaper? An e-book? Is there something newsworthy in it that's press-releasable? Perhaps it's webinar material with just the right amount of tweaking.
Note: This approach doesn't just apply to a one-off event such as a speech. When a content marketing editorial calendar is mapped, part of the process is to determine how to tweet each blog post, and once a post goes up, how to recycle its essence into other content marketing channels such as articles, video, newsletters, etc.
As you listen, so shall you create content
Customers and prospects are likely shoving all kinds of content in your direction. You could use it -- if only you were listening. What questions and topics of discussion arise most frequently in user forums and in discussion around your brand -- or product category -- in social media channels? Taking a cue from consumer issues, questions, and resolutions enables you to create how-to content, useful FAQs, and user manuals. Listening could even result in content that funnels into product development.
It's doubtful you'll be repeating yourself
Post-Thanksgiving eating is an analogy that could apply to content recycling. There's roast turkey on the big day, followed by turkey hash, turkey sandwiches, the on to cold turkey sliced in salad. Perhaps someone whips up a pot of turkey chili. When you're eating at home, all that turkey is likely feeding the same audience.
That's not necessarily so with content. In fact, it's unlikely. Your own analytics will bear this out, but it's improbable there's terribly significant overlap between your newsletter subscribers, Facebook fans, Twitter followers, and the people who read your blog. Different segments have different content appetites: the form, the length, the medium, and the channel. And in case you haven't noticed, there's a lot of content out there. Brand impressions and engagement count. So do learnings about format, channels, style, and the relative length or brevity of your content. Recycing not only frees you from the burden of being a virtual new-idea factory, but it's also a sandbox in which you can experiment with what's working -- and with whom.
Rebecca Lieb is globally recognized as an expert on digital marketing, advertising, publishing, and media. A consultant, author, and sought-after speaker, she's the former VP of Econsultancy's U.S. operations.
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