The Death of Disposable Content

Rest in peace, throwaway pieces!

This article by Emily Grenen of ICF International originally appeared on govloop.com.

Disposable Content Graphic

If you work in social media, you’re likely quite aware that creating new content is an intensive process. It often requires a good bit of creativity to find material that resonates with your target audience, but that also fits the guidelines that you, a partner, or a client have developed. I find that for myself, that ‘good bit of creativity’ is occasionally lacking. Whether it’s simply that I’ve missed my morning coffee (which I tend to blame most of my inadequacies on), or (when I’ll admit it) the more disheartening lack of brain-power – there are days where I find myself with zero inspiration, dumbly staring at the screen and just willing the social media posts to magically create themselves. So far, despite my most heartfelt wishes, this has never happened. BUT, I have discovered somethingalmost just as magical to help me create social media content…repurposing.

Repurposing old content has spared me from social media silence. Whenever my brain is stalled, I simply turn to the treasure trove of content I’ve already created.

The good news is that repurposing content isn’t just a shortcut. With so many things floating around in the social media sphere, sometimes it’s necessary to recycle content to get its full value. In fact, on pretty much every platform, the percentage of your followers who actually see a given post is VERY low (we’re talking under 5% for a platform like Twitter) – so it is highly unlikely that you’ll be alienating followers by reposting. You’ll simply ensure that more of your audience gets a chance to see your creative content.

So, without further ado, here are three ways that YOU too can save yourself time and brain-power by repurposing your social media content:

1. Reuse the popular stuff.

Don’t let it go to waste! Figure out what has done well with your audience by exploring the data. For example, try exporting post data from the “Insights” tab on your Facebook page. Look back at your older posts – typically anything more than a month old will do – and use any (or multiple) metrics to see what has resonated with the audience. For those with organizational ambition, create a calendar of old posts, highlight which ones have done well, and indicate when you’ve last re-used these well-performing posts so as to be sure not to repeat too quickly. This can be a sort of “popular stuff” evergreen library.

2. Reuse user content.

You’ll have to consider the nature of the platform before you go ahead and do this, but for places like Facebook and Twitter it’s usually feasible. If someone in your social media community asks a question, or offers their own (well-articulated) opinion, and you think it’s worth sharing – then share it! Reference the user who said it – but be sure to keep their full identification private – and post it to your account. For example, the following was repurposed user-generated content on the Smokefree.gov Facebook page (SmokefreeUS):Campaign Content Example

3. Reuse timely content.

One downfall of the normal evergreen library is that it often fails to address seasonal topics, or holidays and observances. But why waste your time making a new post about Thanksgiving when you already crafted a message about turkey and stuffing last November, and the November before that? Save these old ‘timely’ posts in a spreadsheet (create a folder with corresponding images, if necessary). Organize them by month and date so that every month of the year, you have a whole list of posts relevant to that time, ready and waiting for you to post them! So there you have it – before you delete old content from your desktop – think twice! Can you put it into a document or calendar and reuse it at some point?

Emily Grenen is a communications specialist at ICF on the Digital Strategy team.