Should bloggers and businesses share old content?
Should bloggers and businesses share old content?
Seems like a silly question, doesn't it. I mean, if a piece is old, that means it's already been shared and people have already read it, so it probably has very little value or interest later on, right?
We are going to dig into why you should indeed be sharing your old content, including which posts and articles to share, some techniques for doing it that keeps them fresh, when to reshare old content, and ways to repurpose those old, but still valuable, blog posts and articles.
Why Businesses Should Reshare Evergreen Content
When a business first starts a content marketing campaign, unless they've hired a blog writer and social media manager, their first challenge is to get started on their blog and come up with a regular blogging schedule. As each new blog post is published, they'll share it to social networks and use it to interest and engage their current set of followers. As the weeks and months go by, the business will gain more and more followers on social media, but none of these new followers will have seen the posts shared before they started following the business.
This is one of the primary reasons for sharing old content. As your social media follower counts grow, your new followers will not have had an opportunity to see your old shares unless they sift through your timeline or poke around your blog archive.
And the fact is, every time you share a post, not even all of your existing followers will see it. On Facebook, your posts are limited in reach by EdgeRank, while on Twitter the activity is so great, posts aren't likely to ever be seen if they aren't caught within the first 2 - 4 hours. On Google+, the lifespan of a post is far longer, but you're still potentially limited. When other people circle you, they get to choose what circles they put you in and the volume settings for those circles, so there's still an element of chance and great timing to have your post seen there.
Resharing old posts is also a fantastic way to ensure regular, consistent activity across all your networks, particularly on Twitter. Once a business has a good sized archive of past blog posts, they can begin to share them daily, then multiple times a day - depending on how much other activity they have and how many old posts they have to draw from.
What Content Should Businesses Reshare?
As suggested above, the content that businesses reshare should be considered "evergreen." It's a term that refers to a post's ability to remain fresh and interesting, even after weeks and months have passed since it was originally published. An easy distinction here on The Social Media Hat is how we have a combination of articles and news stories. I write about breaking news and developments in social media and technology all the time, but after the initial interest has worn off, those stories are almost always relegated to my archive. While I may refer to old stories in other posts, like if I'm talking about an update to Google+ that was reported a month ago, resharing that post as though it is new would be both impractical and perhaps even irresponsible.
For most businesses, the distinction isn't as clear. Most business blogs will contain a higher percentage of blogs and articles, all on topics that are likely evergreen. What needs to be monitored in these cases is whether or not the information presented in the articles is still relevant and correct. If things have changed since the article was originally published, I recommend updating the original post, or adding an entire new one if warranted.
The bottom line: always make sure that the content you're resharing is still interesting, accurate and relevant to your audience.
How Should Businesses Reshare Old Content?
The basic way to reshare old content is to simply share the original article and title. And that's OK sometimes, particularly if it was a really good or descriptive title. But it's usually going to be more effective to try sharing the piece in a way that's different from your original share.
1. Use a different title / description.
While the title of the article on your site and in the share preview will always be the same, when sharing to social networks, your tweet or update description can say whatever you want. Rather than just using the same title, try alternate versions. This is also a particularly effective way to do A/B testing of your titles and refine your approach to titling future articles. Which tweets of the same post perform better than others?
2. Use a quote from the blog post.
Not only is this a great technique for bringing interest to your older pieces, it's also easy to do using Buffer and HootSuite, two tools I will be speaking more about in a moment.
3. Share an image from the post or a different image.
If you usually share your blog posts as links with a link preview, consider sharing an image sometimes instead, just always remember to insert a link to the blog post into the description.
When Should Businesses Reshare Old Content?
So the more challenging question is when should you reshare that old content? Clearly there needs to be some time lapsed between when you originally shared the post and when you start to share it again. How much time depends on how often you're sharing to social media to begin with, and how much old content you have available.
For businesses just starting their content marketing and social media activity, it's best to take things slow. Concentrate on sharing just one or two posts a day to social media, and most of those will be articles or posts from other people. When you have a new blog post of your own, share it, but don't even think about sharing your old posts again until you have at least ten or twelve in your archive.
Once you have a bit of an archive built up, it's time to talk schedules.
First, I recommend that you wait a month or so before sharing the same article, and then have at least that much time between additional shares.
Second, determine you current rate of social media shares and how many shares total you'll need to come up with per month. For instance, if you currently like to have two shares per business day, that's about 45 shares per month. Now, some of those will be your new posts as they're published, and the bulk should be articles and posts from other people that you've found.
What Tools Can Businesses Use to Reshare Old Content?
Just like the original blog post share, the greatest impact can be had when you manually share your post and take the time to craft a social media share that's sure to generate interest and engagement. This is something that I do regularly, particularly on Google+, where I can take an old article and use it to spark an entirely new and different conversation.
For example, in July I published a post entitled, "How Not to Use Google+" that was extremely popular. It sparked a lot of debate and interest. Months later, I shared the same article, but wrote a completely different commentary for it on Google+ as you can see here:
Original Google+ Post:
Reshared Google+ Post:
And if you want to see something really cool, check out the ripples for those posts.
But as I mentioned before, sometimes part of the purpose of resharing old content is to ensure consistent activity. And if you're sharing posts manually, that's unlikely to happen. Businesses should identify the peak times when their followers are active on their respective networks and make sure that the business is sharing relevant information during those times. To be successful, this means utilizing one or more tools.
There are a lot of social media management tools out there, but the one I use the most and recommend is called HootSuite. With HootSuite, you can connect all of your business profiles on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ and share posts! as well as listen for mentions and conversations. When it comes to sharing old content, HootSuite has a couple of interesting options.
My favorite option is to bring the RSS feed from my site into the HootSuite Syndicator and use it to schedule Twitter re-shares of my most recent blog post using the techniques I mentioned above. I will typically tweet a new blog post 2 - 4 times the day it's published and again the following day.
But when it comes to ensuring regular, daily activity, Buffer is still my tool of choice. With Buffer, I can connect the same business profiles, and then set up specific schedules and frequencies for each. I might want to post to my Facebook Page a couple of times in the afternoon, while I may want to keep my a Twitter account buzzing throughout the day. Once I have set up my schedules, all I have to do is add posts and content to each queue and Buffer will share the next post automatically for me.
Businesses should regularly evaluate their followers peak times, as well as other considerations, and schedule their social media shares accordingly.
While this is a level of automation, I also encourage businesses to ensure that they're listening for comments and engagement opportunities. By combining HootSuite and Buffer, you can ensure regular social media activity while still remaining "social" and connected.
How Can Businesses Repurpose Old Content?
In addition to sharing old content, savvy business owners and bloggers can also repurpose that old content. Repurposing content typically refers to changing the original content in some way. Typical examples include:
Read your blog post as an audio podcast.
- Create a presentation slideshow of your blog's points and upload to SlideShare.
- Convert your presentation into a video with voice over and upload to YouTube.
- Create an infograph highlighting your main points and related statistics.
Whenever your repurpose your content, that creates not only materials and activity for other social networks like YouTube, but also additional content that you can share to your primary networks.
As you can see, there are a number of ways in which businesses can and should reshare and repurpose their old content to continue to create opportunities for greater engagement and interest. If you've previously been wary of resharing those old blog posts, I hope this has changed your mind.
If you would like additional help setting up your blog and content marketing strategy, please contact me!
Image courtesy of postbear, Flickr.