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Content Recycling: A to Z

Sometimes the ideas and words we tap to produce quality content flow mightier than the Mississippi River. Other times, the ideas and words dry up like a long summer’s drought. Fortunately, there are ways to rinse, sort and recycle content by poring over our content libraries for new angles, hooks or slants to continue to meet the demand for quality content that will engage our clients and prospects. Here’s an A-Z recycling content guide that will give you ideas to recharge your creative content batteries.


Articles: Given that articles typically range from 500-2,000 words, you can rework them into shorter chunks for blog posts or tweets. Or, go the other way and use the article as a basis for a research report or white paper.


Blog posts: Short blog posts crave attention. Take the central premise of a post and expand on it to create an article, podcast or video. Or use the insights gained via the comments to add to or create a frequently asked questions section on your website.


Checklists: Checklists are essentially mini-editorial calendars. They are lists of the essential steps to achieve an end. Break out the steps on your checklist to create a how-to document, an enticing graphic, blog posts or a series of tweets. Also consider creating a live demo, video or webcast about working through the steps on the list to achieve the desired result.


Customer feedback: The holy grail of content is getting customers on the record about the advantages of your product or service, especially when they discuss details about how it helped them solve a particular problem. If this is a video or audio file, a transcript is a must. In addition to using customer feedback as a testimonial or basis for a case study or user story, consider finding nuggets appropriate to add to your knowledge base or frequently asked questions list.


Demos: Live product demos with clients or in conference exhibit halls can generate many questions and comments that, if captured, can provide a starting point for blog posts, surveys or even research reports. Those questions and comments may be the basis for a white paper to educate prospects on the benefits of your product or service.


EBooks: EBooks created from scratch will provide you with information to break out for content such as how-to articles, checklists, blog posts, podcasts or videos. Or, you can compile information from these sources and make them into an eBook.


Frequently asked questions: FAQs should be the questions your customers really want answered. Use each question or related series of questions as the basis for a how-to article or explanatory blog post.  Depending on the depth of the question and detail of the answer, you may be able to craft a white paper or buying guide.


Guides: Like checklists, a well-written buying guide is essentially a mini-editorial calendar. It lists features, benefits, comparisons and tips. Each small chunk can become a how-to piece, a tweet, a social media post or even the basis for a survey. Depending on your product or service, you may choose to rework a series of buying guides into an eBook.


How-tos: Any content that discusses how to accomplish a task, meet a goal, or address a need contains several nuggets of information. Because a how-to piece gives guidance in the form of essential, ordered steps like check lists and buying guides do, this material should be written with an eye to repurposing. Create a checklist from the how-to piece, or use it to create compelling graphics, a video or a live demonstration. And, don’t forget to tweet about it. People like to know how to do things that will solve their problems, which will build some buzz for you.


Infographics: As visual representations of specific content, infographics easily form the basis for expanded content. Consider blog posts or tweets discussing individual items from the graphic like the branches of a tree or squares in a flow chart. You can rework the entire content into narrative form as an article, longer blog post  or research report.  Or, you can modify the format to text and create a buying guide or checklist.


Journalists: Really good journalists know how to tell a compelling story. Have you read a story recently that inspired you or featured an intriguing lesson, best practice or idea that could relate to one of your content marketing projects? Perhaps the article could serve as an interesting lead for your next blog post, podcast or video.


Keywords: An understanding of what keywords customers and prospects use to find your website is a great starting point for creating marketing content, especially if customers are searching for you differently than you expect. Consider using the keywords searched for most frequently to write blog posts or articles as well as forming the basis for research reports or buying guides.


Link roundups: As a group of related, relevant, and useful third-party links, a link roundup provides content that can be used in many ways. Think about using individual links as a basis for a short blog post or a tweet. Depending on the theme of the links, you might be inspired to create or improve surveys, articles or research reports.


Magalogs: This combination magazine and catalog provides a lot of content for reuse. Editorial articles can be extracted and expanded as articles for your newsletter, magazine or blog posts. You can use details from catalog listings and product details to create a buying guide or checklist. These can also be the basis for a features and benefits discussion in a white paper or an intriguing infographic.


Notes and memos: Internal memos about things such as product launches, industry analysis, or marketing strategies can be a gold mine of useful tidbits to repurpose. However, make sure you are not releasing any proprietary information.  Customer statistics from a product launch memo, for example, can be incorporated into an article about the state of the market. Sometimes you can use notes or concerns about the industry that are discussed internally as a basis for a white paper that discusses the changing nature of the industry or the market. Or,  a marketing memo detailing specific steps to overcome buyer resistance can be used for a buying guide or tweets and other social media posts to help explain the issues clearly to customers.


Organizational histories: Especially for ever-evolving industries, an organizational history enables you to find content that provides context. Take events from the history of your company to illustrate the history of the technology, the product or service. As such, this document is a useful addition to white papers, it may be the basis for an intriguing graphic, or it can be used in an article or video clips.


Podcasts: These productions often contain detailed information on a problem and its solution; steps illustrating how to achieve an end result; or educational information for  customers and prospects about your industry, sector, or product. This information provides a strong basis for conference sessions or presentations, videos, webcasts or blog posts.

Presentations: A presentation, whether at a conference or elsewhere, is a great resource for content as are the audience’s questions and comments. Use the presentation slides, in whole or in part, as individual items. Record audio and video from the session and create a transcript, podcast and video. Use questions and answers as blog posts or as the basis for a survey.


Quotes: Quotes from customers, prospects, or industry analysts often provide insight into what the market is thinking about your product or service. Use this information as an addition to your frequently asked questions or as supporting materials for your advertisements and press kit information. Depending on the depth and detail of the quote, it may form a basis for an article, a case study or user story or even a white paper.


Research reports: Anytime you spend money and time conducting research, you should plan to repurpose the content multiple ways. You can use industry insights to create a white paper, thought leadership piece, speech, or conference presentation. Create tweets, blog posts, or other social media content from customer insights in the report. Or consider reworking the product or service insights into how-to documents, demos, or video presentations.

Reviews: Third-party reviews of your product or service are like quotes from customers or analysts. They provide insight into what the world thinks of your product or service. As such, they are rich sources of information to use in your advertisements and press kits, to add as supporting evidence to white papers or case studies, and to include in blogs, tweets, and other social media content.


Speeches: Speeches are great content generators. They lend themselves easily to videos, webcasts, podcasts, and transcripts. Think about how to rewrite the speech in the form of an article or as the foundation for an organizational history document. You may want to use sound bites to enhance advertisements or other print materials. Or, you can recycle content from speeches to spark a discussion on social media sites or add to your frequently asked questions..

Surveys: Survey results are often shared via a research report. But they are also great source of social media content, blog posts, tweets, and supporting information for speeches and presentations. Additionally, you can use them in your frequently asked questions and, depending on the focus of the survey, for content in buying guides and checklists.


Tweets: You can expand the central premise of a tweet and create content such as articles, blog posts, podcasts, or videos. Or use a series of tweets and responses to create checklists or how-to articles. They can even be used as supporting information in longer documents such as white papers, research papers or frequently asked questions. However, if the tweet is not original content or points to existing content such as videos, blog posts or article, you may not be able to effectively reuse or repurpose it.


User stories: Rewrite the stories as articles for your newsletter or online resource library, an industry website or business publication. This material also can be combined with a series of case studies or with additional research on the same challenges or market need to create an eBook. Another option is to repurpose articles for a conference session, a speech or to write blog posts or other social media formats.  Select material from case studies, especially quotes or testimonials to include in advertisements or press kit materials.

User-generated content: Content created by your customers or prospects via blogs, social media, online review websites and customer service comments offer ample opportunities for repurposing. You can use detailed feedback as the basis for case studies, videos on your website or supplements to existing videos. Consider using an entire comment string to tell a story in an infographic or as part of an article. And think about repurposing questions and answers and your own responses as the basis of blog posts, surveys, or even checklists.


Videos: Videos provide a rich source of content. First, the video itself can be chopped up into sound bites for advertisements, on your websites or other social media sites. Next, you can make available the full transcript of the video as well as carefully selected bits of the transcript perhaps for different audiences. The transcript also may provide useful supporting information for speeches, white papers, or research reports.


White papers: As a document that is a cross between a magazine feature article and a marketing brochure, white papers are full of thoughts, ideas, and industry-related topics to extract and use in other forms of content.  Discussions of market drivers may make excellent content for a speech or presentation or possibly as the basis for a research report or article. The discussion of features and advantages of a generic solution or your specific solution to the problem can be used as the basis for a buying guide or checklist.

Widgets: Web widgets that are personalized content delivery systems may provide you with some useful nuggets to repurpose. Consider using this information as the basis for tweets, link roundups, or blog posts.  You may also be able to use an analysis of widget use or long-term content provided via the widget as the foundation for a research report, article or presentation.

Webinars: These web-based presentations are a great source for content. Record the presentation and make it available at a later date on your website or as a video or audio podcast. Also create a transcript from the audio recording of the session. Use the slides from the webinar, individually or as a whole, as pieces of content or to add detail to blog posts or articles. Use questions and answers as blog posts or as the basis for a survey or as quotes for advertisements.


X-ed out content: Great content is very focused and addresses a specific question or need. As such, when content is edited, there are often entire thoughts that are removed not because they are not valid but because they are irrelevant.  Instead of simply removing this content, keep a running list of useful x-ed out content. These thought-starters could be the basis for  blog posts, articles, or a series of tweets.


Yesterday’s news: Do you have articles from your company or from other sources? Do they have some interesting points that you can expand on for your next blog post or marketing materials? Perhaps one of the articles has a powerful quote for a speech or client presentation that will capture the attention of your audience.


Zines: Newsletters, e-zines, and even print magazines or newsletters you produce are filled with content you can repurpose. Short news items can be expanded for articles or blog posts. Long articles can form the basis of checklists, buying guides or how-to guides. Additionally, these articles can be broken up into shorter bits as tweets or blog posts. You can extract customer information or testimonials to use as the basis of case studies or white papers.

What did I miss? Share your tips for repurposing content in the comments below!