Cobalt-60 The Cobalt Blog

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: A Marketer’s Guide

By Sue George and William Harris

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Long gone are the days when marketing focused on a few key channels like print, radio and TV advertisements. With the internet, came new and different ways to produce and share content. Today’s marketers are expected to communicate their messaging to key audiences each and every day, not only via traditional media but also using a whole host of internet platforms.

Even for the most experienced marketing pros, the responsibility of keeping your brand’s content flowing across the web can be daunting, even exhausting. It’s like feeding a monster that’s never satisfied. So, in this article, we turn to a familiar mantra of environmentalism — Reduce, Reuse, Recycle — to explore how marketers and business professionals can get more mileage out of their content and do more with less.

REDUCE


In a time when there’s plenty of social pressure to order a bigger coffee or supersize your fries, it’s easy to succumb to the notion that more is better. But it’s not, especially when it comes to marketing content and the effort put into it.

It takes time and money to produce content, and the more you produce, the more it takes, but spending more doesn’t automatically result in a greater reach or more engagement for your content.

Tip #1: Choose Quality Over Quantity
Every day, we’re bombarded with content. Online, we scroll right past a majority of it. Stop and think for a moment about what content is good enough to rise above the rest and command your attention. What do you actually click on and read or watch? If you create more effective, higher-quality content, you’ll need to spend less time — and thus less money — on your marketing.

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Rather than just creating and feeding a steady stream of mindless filler content, get more out of your marketing efforts by intentionally allocating a portion of your time toward planning what content you’ll create and how you’ll distribute it. Think about your customers and reevaluate your marketing strategy. Look at your current content and determine the value of every piece. Who is it helping? How is it helping? Then take a deep breath and let go of any irrelevant content for which there is little or no value-add.

Be clear in advance about the goal of each new piece of content and consider how it all ties together to better tell your brand’s story. Don’t forget to have a strategy in mind for how you will evaluate the performance of that content after it goes out. This will help you choose even better-quality content going forward.

Tip #2: Simplify Your Distribution
You don’t have to post all of your content to every existing platform. Some types of content are better suited for certain platforms. Other platforms may be completely irrelevant to your audience. First, you need to understand how and when your customers communicate; next, meet them there, regardless of the platform.


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Tip #3: Use a Scheduler
There are dozens of apps available to help you plan and schedule distribution of your content. In some case, they’ll even automatically distribute your content for you by posting it to your various platforms however you specify ahead of time.

That said, you should expect to encounter some limitations with most contemporary scheduling tools, especially when used for platforms like Instagram, which intentionally restricts what you can do with preplanned, automatic posting. For example, Instagram doesn’t allow auto-posting of galleries, and you’ll have to go in after the fact and add tags, no matter what social scheduling tool you’re using.

REUSE


You don’t have to create brand new content every time you want to connect with your brand’s followers. It’s ok to reuse existing content or refresh old content and make it “new” again.

In the marketing world, we have a name for the type of content that stays relevant and can be used and reused over time: it’s called evergreen content. It’s not time sensitive, so it’s not immediately outdated after publication; it avoids words like “today” and “tomorrow” and trendy topics. Educational content is a great example of evergreen content: this is why you see so many how-to type articles floating around the internet. The YouTube video about how to refinish hardwood floors today might seem boring to you tomorrow after you’ve finished your own home improvement project, but it could be relevant to your neighbors six months or a year later.

Another advantage of evergreen content is that you can create it in advance and have it on hand because it’ll still be relevant whenever you actually share it. It’s great for filling in content during “slower” times or for keeping the content flowing while you’re away on vacation or busy with other things.

Tip #4: Reshare and Link to “Old” Evergreen Content
The beauty of timeless content is that it can send you traffic through reposts and shares indefinitely, for weeks or even months and years after you created and produced it. So yes, while you should avoid sharing the exact same content over and over and over again, you could reshare it at discrete, appropriate intervals, especially considering seasonality. For example, you could write a post about how to keep your pipes from freezing and then directly reshare it again each winter as temperatures plummet.

Apps like CoSchedule even have ReQueue capabilities to automatically fill gaps in your social media schedule by resharing your evergreen content based on timing and frequency parameters you set.

Another indirect way to keep your evergreen content working for you is to embed links to it in your newer content. That article about freezing pipes could get referenced within or linked as an additional resource at the end of a newer, different article informing new homeowners about how to take care of their properties.

If you do directly reuse your “old” content, try out some of these tricks to keep it fresh: create a new headline, write a different intro to it and/or swap out photos before reposting to give it a new timestamp and bump it back up to the top of your feed.

Tip #5: Spread It Out
Stretch out the influence of certain types of content over longer periods of time by repeatedly directing people to it. Consider the example of an article divulging “Five Tips for Saving for Your Child’s College Education.” Instead of one, single social media post enticing you to read the entire article on your blog, you could construct five different posts, each hinting at a different tip and inviting them to click to read more.

On the video side, you could create several short teaser videos that get posted on social media to draw your audience to watch the video’s full version on YouTube. No one is likely to see all the teasers, but even if they did, it often takes several, repeated exposures for someone to click on and follow through to a key piece of content.

Tip #6: Take Advantage of Throwback Thursdays or Flashback Fridays
Special days like “Throwback Thursdays” or “Flashback Fridays” are socially acceptable ongoing opportunities to reshare “old” content. Start by going back through your old feeds and see what was popular when and then reshare on the appropriate one-week, one-month, one-year (or longer) anniversary. Be sure to include an intro to give some context such as “Remember when we were doing XXX just last year?”. Odds are that if content was popular previously, it will be again. And while you don’t want all of your content to be reused content, followers often enjoy the opportunity to re-experience particularly funny, engaging or significant content.

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Tip #7: Share Content from Others
Share some of the burden of content creation by strategically using key content from others to fill in your own content feed. As an example, a yoga studio might share a link to a relevant article in the New York Times about the benefits of yoga, or a brand might share a post from one of its brand ambassadors about its product or service. When sharing or reposting the words or photos of others, be sure to give credit where credit is due and add context as necessary so your followers understand why you’re sharing what you’re sharing.

RECYCLE


The EPA defines recycling as “the process of collecting and processing materials that would otherwise be thrown away as trash and turning them into new products. Recycling can benefit your community and the environment.

”Don’t worry — we’re not trying to say that your content is trash! What we are saying is that you can recycle much of it.

Tip #8: Turn Dynamic Content into Static Content
Dynamic evergreen content is an especially good candidate for recycling into static website content. For example, take an educational blog post and morph it into how-to instructions on your website or into a handful of FAQs. Or, add the how-to video you shared on social media to your website’s help section. No one ever needs to know that content originally had another initial purpose; often, just a bit of editing will make it fit organically into your site’s static content.

Tip #9: Morph Content from One Platform onto Another
While some kinds of content clearly work better on some platforms, you can often post similar content across multiple channels. For example, you could take the content of a long-form white paper and convert it into one or several shorter blog posts, into a handful or a dozen still-more-concise social media posts or into a video or podcast. Or you could do the opposite and turn a bunch of blog posts into a white paper or e-book. People have different preferences for reading, watching or listening to content, and they use different platforms to consume it; so, if you can find a way to recycle your content among more different channels, you’re more likely to reach a wider audience.

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Tip #10: Create “Best of ...” Posts
At the end of the quarter, season or year, reshare your top five favorite or best-performing pieces of content in one “new” hybrid post. The news media does this every December, highlighting the top stories of each calendar year. Exactly what you pick for your best of content will depend on your market and the types of content you produce.

Tip # 11: Revisit Past Predictions
Remember that prediction you made or the trends your forecasted at the beginning of the season or year? Sometimes it’s fun to repost such content, especially if you put it in context by saying how awesomely right or incredibly wrong you were in a well-crafted intro.

It Takes a Village


Just as the efforts of a single city, state or country to reduce, reuse and recycle won’t save the planet, your content will benefit from the collective contributions of your entire marketing team. That means bringing them together for strategic decision-making about what content you’ll create and if, when and how you’ll reuse or recycle it. When you plan your content well, you’ll end up with a whole that’s greater than any single post. You’ll be able to do more with less, making you and your marketing more efficient and more effective.


Further Reading
Reduce, Reuse and Recycle Your Content: Waste Not Want Not Marketing
Earth Day: Reduce, Reuse, & Recycle Your Marketing Content
Blogging Strategy That Works: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Content To Attract A New Audience
Spring Cleaning: 6 Ways to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Your Content
The 3Rs of a Successful Content Marketing Strategy: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle