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Why you need repetition in your content strategy

Why you need repetition in your content strategy Rebecca Lieb

One of content marketing's biggest challenges is coming up with new material.

One of content marketing's other biggest challenges is overcoming something you've been told not to do since you were small: repeating yourself.

By "repeating" I'm not referring to verbatim repetition. You don't want duplicate content issues on blogs or web pages (think of the subsequent SEO penalties). You don't want to tweet the same tweet, or post the same update multiple times to a Facebook newsfeed.

Image source.

But a degree of repetition can be invaluable, sometimes imperative, to successful content marketing initiatives for four primary reasons.

The stream

Your blog has millions of readers. The Facebook page has zillions of "likes." The Twitter stream enjoys an abundance of followers. Popularity can lull marketers into a false sense of security. The rule of thumb, according to Facebook, at least, is that followers/fans miss up to 80 percent of posts. They're away or too busy, the newsfeed's too full, they got distracted, they clicked away, the phone rang, whatever. Plenty of updates fall into the "tree falling in the woods" category of publishing.

Time or season

It's summer. This column is scheduled to publish during the Fourth of July holiday week, and that's what I mean by season. Are you reading marketing trades this week, or are you flipping burgers on the BBQ or splashing in the waves somewhere? Timing can be everything. That business announcement is probably eclipsed during the holidays, as is a well-crafted blog post when the world's attention is diverted by a major breaking news story.

Message reinforcement

There's a reason why you can still sing the jingles from commercials you heard when you were eight years old, or recognize certain brand logos by their silhouettes. While content reinforcement shouldn't ever be verbatim, good stories bear repeating to drive home their meaning.

Channel cohesion

You said it here. Did you say it there, too? Don't forget email, owned properties, and social media platforms. Content can be recombined and reconstituted to inform different channels at different times (this greatly aids message reinforcement, too). The same core messages and stories can be used and reused (I like to think of this as leftovers, much like a Thanksgiving turkey can become hash, salad, sandwiches, or croquettes).

There's no perfect formula for calculating what content should be repeated, how many times, and where. Too many factors feed into that equation: type of messaging, channel, audience, goals, etc. This isn't a call for spam or endless rote repetition. This means instead of "check out our new widget," "check out our new widget," and "check out our new widget," a strategy would be developed to roll out that same message over a predetermined period of time, with variation:

1. Check out our new widget.
2. The new widget looks great in blue.
3. Hey, did you know this widget hit the streets last week?
4. Which version of the new widget do you prefer?
5. Last month we introduced a new widget and X happened.
6. Read what X has to say about the new widget.

Each of these posts or tweets (or if they were longer, articles) might be accompanied by different art, photos, drawings, or video content. None of these messages are overtly salesy. Yet all of them center around a fairly specific promotion or product introduction.

Another way to encourage repetition without having to actually do it yourself is via sharing -- getting fans and followers to amplify messaging on social platforms. Getting them to hit "share" or "retweet" requires really compelling content or an incentive to pass messaging on.

It's a particular vanity of writers, authors, and content creators that believe that once published, content is "out there" and has been seen and acknowledged. Keep pushing the message forward. Repeat yourself -- creatively.

Rebecca Lieb is an analyst in digital advertising/media for Altimeter Group.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

Rebecca Lieb has published more research on content marketing than anyone else in the field.  As a strategic adviser, her clients range from start-up to non-profits to Fortune 100 brands and regulated industries. She's worked with brands...

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