When Should I Repurpose Content? 5 Questions To Ask

When Should I Repurpose Content? 5 Questions To Ask

By Annie ZelmJun 5 /2014

repurposing-contentWe’re all looking for ways to work smarter instead of harder. That’s the beauty of repurposing: It allows us to produce something that feels new without having to start from scratch. Repurposing is always a good call when you’re stuck with leftover chicken — transforming it into a great stir fry, soup or salad makes it more appetizing — but it’s harder to know when to take a cleaver to your content and whip up something fresh.

First, let’s get one thing straight: Repurposing is not plucking a section out of your latest eBook and pasting it into a blog post. It’s reinventing something you’ve already produced, with the goal of achieving something new.

When it’s done right, repurposing content can attract additional search traffic, expand your reach and reinforce your message. So, how do you know when to resurrect that old whitepaper and when to leave it alone?

Here are five questions to ask yourself before repurposing anything.

Do I have something new to say?

Maybe your company released its annual report in the fall, but since then, one of your sectors has really gone gangbusters. The head of that division spoke at your annual meeting and alluded to the successes ahead, but now you have the numbers to back up those predictions. You already have some great quotes from her, and there’s no need to schedule a full interview when a quick email will get you the updates you need.

A recent news story or industry report can also offer a fresh angle on something you wrote last month or last year. Or, if you just hosted your annual conference and have a 45-minute video from the event, pull out the highlights into 2-3-minute snippets or write a summary with quotes from your three best speakers.

Will this appeal to a different audience than the original piece?

Let’s say you sell a recruiting management software. It’s used primarily by recruiters, but recruiters need to demonstrate the value of your software to the C-Suite. A CEO and a recruiter have different priorities, and you should have content that speaks to both. You need to adjust your messaging so it speaks to the goals of challenges of those specific people.

If you’re not sure what those challenges are, you may need to dig deeper into your buyer personas, or the profiles of the people you’re targeting. If you haven’t looked at your buyer personas in awhile or aren’t sure how to create them, check out our handy how-to guide here.

Maybe most of the content you’ve created so far has been tailored to the needs of human resource managers. You’ve covered everything, from applicant tracking and compliance to building a strong corporate culture that retains your best employees. You’ve focused on offering specific, practical tips for recruiters and human resource managers, which is great. But the top executives who sign off on the decision to purchase your software aren’t involved in most of the day-to-day processes, so they only care about the bigger picture of talent management.

Take a closer look at your content and choose a few pieces you can rewrite so they speak more to that group. If you have a piece on how to effectively manage large-group hiring, consider repurposing it so it focuses more on how to effectively structure your HR department so it produces the best ROI when you’re ramping up your hiring. You’ve already done the research, and many of the same points can be applied to both groups, so you’ll have a new piece in no time.

Will it have a unique format?

People digest information differently. Some want to read through a comprehensive guide as they research solutions. Others prefer to take in the information in bite-sized chunks. The preferred format also depends on the channel you’re using to distribute it.

A potential customer skimming through Twitter or StumbleUpon will probably skip over the “ultimate” 15-page guide to recruiting, but an image that illustrates one aspect of it in a powerful way will get her attention. If you already have a sizable piece of content like this, you might as well get as much mileage as you can from it. Pull out the best statistics, quotes and bits of information, and schedule them as social media posts.

Our brains are designed to recognize patterns, so we’re more likely to remember a chart or illustration than a block of text. In fact, a study in the European Journal of Cognitive Psychology showed people retain 65 percent of what they see when they’re presented with text and an image, compared with just 10 percent of information they only read or hear.That means—you guessed it—your content needs to be more visually appealing. Find the 10 most important takeaways from the guide and illustrate them with an infographic.

Brandme.com Brand Manager Eric Thomas offers solid advice on how to make your infographics more inspiring. When you’re serving up existing content in a new, more appealing package that’s more likely to be shared and retained, you can be confident you’re repurposing for the right reasons.

Do I have a new way to distribute it?

If your content has been primarily shared with your 100 blog subscribers, but you have a customer database with 10,000 qualified leads, you’re only reaching a fraction of your target audience. Consider a specific, targeted email that highlights the most popular blog you’ve published in the past month.

Keep your email short and compelling, and focus on a topic your leads will find valuable. Keep in mind most readers will scan, rather than read, so make sure you emphasize key phrases in bold copy and use bullet points wherever you can. Pay attention to spacing—a paragraph should be no more than one or two sentences—and stick with what matters most. For more advice on writing emails your customers will actually read, check out these nine tips from Hubspot.

Is there a new goal I’m seeking to achieve?


  • What’s the purpose of your repurposed content?
  • Who are you targeting?
  • What do you want to tell them that you haven’t told them before?
  • What do you want them to do with the information?
  • How will you measure the outcome?

If you can’t answer those questions, your new content probably isn’t going to be successful no matter how creative or enticing it is.

Sometimes the goal isn’t easily measured, but it’s worthwhile nonetheless. Your goal could be to increase awareness of your brand on social media or encourage more engagement. You might do this by encouraging customers to post questions about your product or service then create a series of posts that answers them, which you can repurpose in several ways.

When it’s done right, repurposing is an effective strategy that can save you time, but it’s not always a shortcut. If you’re relying on repurposed content because you’re always short on time or you feel like you’ve run out of things to write, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons.

Sometimes repurposing can be as simple as rewriting something to optimize search results or reach a new audience. In other cases, it involves design work that can take more time than starting from scratch. But if your repurposed content entices more people, offers them something they want and leaves them hungry for more, it’s worth the time.

Have you created repurposed content that was even more successful than the original piece? How did you do it? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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The Author

Annie Zelm

Annie is the driving force behind content strategy for clients. She uncovers insights about what motivates buyers and uses that knowledge to shape client websites and editorial calendars. Annie brings several years of PR experience gained from working at the amusement park, Cedar Point.