Content marketing is lunch pail work. It wears a blue collar and sometimes even a dirty blue collar. It’s the guy with callused hands in the boardroom. That’s because content marketing is for doers. After all, who has the time to sit around “thought leading” when there is so much coal to shovel onto the fire?
Believe me. I know. I run content marketing, and I have the blisters to prove it.
If you were to ask me and my counterparts in other companies what our top challenge is the answer would be easy: Producing enough content. The public’s demand for more, coupled with the ephemeral nature of social media distribution, is a brutal one-two punch for those in the trade. Monday’s torrent of attention can become little more than a trickle by Tuesday.
But as I learned in high school wrestling, for every move there’s a counter move. The antidote to content’s short half-life may not be producing more, but rather keeping the window of consumption open longer for the content you do produce. Here are five practical tips for extending the life of your marketing content.
1. Stagger your distribution
Remember, you don’t only control production; you also own distribution. Because social media is constantly moving, it’s important to distribute and re-distribute to maximize the number of people exposed to your work.
Start by sharing a new piece of content on an exclusive basis with your customers, advocates, and prospects. You may even include a short form to capture a little extra profile information on those who access it. Let them enjoy the privilege of exclusivity for a few days.
Then go public. Here are some ideas:
- Post the resource to SlideShare, and use the embed code to display the content on your blog. Now you can track views, shares, favorites, and comments all in one place.
- Tweet links to the post a couple of times per day for a few days; then, once every other day for the next week or so. Vary the timing to make sure you are sharing during business hours worldwide.
- Post to Facebook and encourage your fans to comment on a specific aspect of the content.
- Layer use the asset to answer highly relevant questions on Q&A sites like Quora and Focus, as well as on targeted LinkedIn Groups. You can even tweet your answers pointing your audience back to the source questions.
2. Use your “re-imagination”
The term reimagine is lifted out of Content Rules, by Ann Handley and CC Chapman, and it basically means finding compelling new ways to package your existing content. There are any number of ways in which you can reimagine the content you create; but the concept itself is the content marketing equivalent of “write once read many.” For example:
- Have a bunch of blog posts that share a common theme? Why not roll ‘em all up into an eBook on that topic?
- Maybe you have an eBook that digs deep into a particular subject? You can break out key lines to use for tweets and key chapters to use as blog posts.
Whatever content you have on hand, chances are it can be broken down or recombined to create a way to message on an additional platform without having to reinvent the wheel, so to speak.
3. Serialize your story
In their bestseller, Switch, the brothers Heath encourage anyone seeking to drive change to identify “bright spots,” or small victories, and then replicate the successes. The same idea can be applied to your content marketing program.
Have you created a video, eBook, white paper, infographic, podcast, or webinar that worked especially well? Do it again, but with a twist like focusing on a new vertical market or a new demographic group. Then do it once more but with a different twist. Next thing you know, you’ve created a content series. The benefit is that you don’t have to come up with a fresh idea each time; you simply have to iterate on what has already proven effective.
4. Annualize and update
Like serializing content, updating successful pieces annually is another way to get more mileage out of your production. Technology has accelerated the pace of change across most industries, so what was relevant and accurate information one year, may have lost some of its punch or even be completely outdated the next. Yearly updates provide marketers with an ideal opportunity to materially enhance content that has served their audience well in the past without having to start over from square one.
5. Use what others discard
Take a page from the “nose to tail” dining movement and use all versions — even those you might once have discarded — in your content marketing efforts. Publishing the scraps on your cutting room floor provides you with an opportunity to tell the back story behind your content successes.
For example, when my partner Jesse Thomas blogged for Forbes about the making of an infographic, he used nine rejected versions of The Content Grid v2 infographic to tell his story. Nine. It was the detritus — not the finished product — that made his story so powerful.
These are just five tips, but I am sure there are more. What am I missing? Are there additional techniques you’ve used to create more “staying power” for your content?