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Content demand is rising and making fresh content with declining organic reach seems like a bad idea. Why not make the most of the content you've already paid to produce? To make sure your old content gets seen, you have two options: content recycling and content repurposing.
Content recycling is a term used to define repeated publishing of old content, while repurposing entails producing fresh content from pre-existing material. Content repurposing and recycling have different utilities and drawbacks.
In this article, you will learn all you need to know about content repurposing and recycling, including their respective pros and cons. So let's get right into it.
Content Recycling: A Brief Overview
As the name suggests, content recycling is the act of reusing old content to feed material to the algorithm, a new platform, or a new audience. It is a cheaper alternative to reshooting content and is best for industries where repeating the same core material a few times is acceptable.
How Is It Different From Content Repurposing?
Content recycling might be confused with repurposing, but it is an entirely different thing. Content repurposing entails changing the duration, format, or delivery of old content to create new material, while recycling simply entails reposting material previously uploaded to the same platform or elsewhere. Recycling a song would look like republishing it to Apple Music after it has been on Spotify. Repurposing would look like taking a portion of it to use as a cellphone ringtone.
The Pros of Content Recycling
Content recycling has its advantages which is why it has not been replaced entirely by repurposing. However, some of the advantages are not stationary. They can go up or down in effectiveness. In this section, we will explore how content recycling can be beneficial.
Is Relatively Effortless
The key benefit of content recycling compared to repurposing is that it is quite effortless. If you know how to upload a video to youtube, you know how to upload it to Vimeo. This makes content recycling the obvious starting point for getting your material out there.
However, the extra benefits you can get from the effort that goes into repurposing content are worth it, especially if you use an effortless content repurposing platform like Content Fries. But if you're using manual editors or remote assistants to get content repurposed, then it is far easier to just recycle old content instead.
Allows You To Be on Multiple Platforms
As mentioned earlier, people who know how to upload content to one platform usually know how to upload it to another. This makes content recycling very beginner-friendly. New platforms keep popping up, and one never knows what could be the next TikTok.
If you have content, recycling it can allow you to be on most platforms. However, repurposing improves your odds of being compatible with new platforms. Suppose you had audio podcast material before Instagram became popular.
You would be able to recycle the audio to SoundCloud but would have to repurpose it to even make it uploadable on Instagram. So this advantage is present to a greater extent when repurposing but is also technically valid for recycling as well.
The single greatest advantage of content repurposing is that it saves time. Content repurposing is desired by marketers because it saves time, but recycling saves even more time. But since its effectiveness is limited compared to repurposing, it isn't always the first option for professionals.
The Cons of Content Recycling
Content recycling is not nearly as popular as repurposing. And that's because there are recycling drawbacks that can be offset with a little repurposing. So let's explore what these disadvantages are and how you can dodge them.
When social media feeds used to be chronological, the person with the freshest upload had the advantage of reach. This made content recycling very hot in the early 2010s. People used to repost old pictures on Instagram at better visibility timings and delete old ones that didn't get enough likes.
But then the algorithms shifted to reward the most engaging content. And that's when recycling started incurring duplication penalties. The first way duplicate content is penalized is with algorithms' own ability to detect reposts. This content is prioritized lower in feed placements. That's why you should never recycle content on the same platform.
Poor Audience Engagement
There is another way content duplication is penalized: by poor audience engagement. When you repost an old video to youtube, it gets shown to the same people who saw your old post. In fact, the longer someone watched your last video, the earlier your new upload will reach the same person. When this person skips the post, they are no longer considered "highly engaged" by the algorithm and are not shown your future, fresher posts.
Easier To Miss the Valuable Bits
Finally, the most tragic drawback of recycling content is that people miss valuable bits. In the news business, a reverse pyramid structure is used, with the broadest bulk of value being placed in the headline and the sentence that follow it.
Why? Because no one reads till the end. How often is the most valuable bit of your content in the beginning? If you don't repurpose the heart of your content as a consumable clip, most of your audience might not get to it.
When Should You Recycle Content?
The drawbacks of recycling content might make you feel like you should stay away from recycling. But the fact is that content recycling has its uses. Here are the instances where you should use content recycling:
To Post to Clone Platforms
New platforms that pop up imitating old platforms are ripe for content domination because they have better organic reach. Retrica has become the photo-centric platform for photographers fleeing Instagram since IG's shift to video content. Recycling Instagram posts to Retrica would be a fair move.
To Access an Entirely New Audience
If your followers on Instagram are different from those on TikTok, it will make sense to upload your Instagram reels to Instagram as well. It is easy to do this for platforms that have similar consumption modes. You cannot recycle TikTok clips to a podcast platform or long-form video platform without repurposing them.
Programs to Use:
- Platform Downloaders - If you have uploaded old videos and audio to specific platforms but don't have offline copies to re-upload to other platforms, you can use software like an Instagram Downloader or a Youtube Downloader to get your content.
- Cloud storage - You need a cloud storage program like Gdrive or Dropbox to host your content for ease of recycling. Having your content organized and placed in a cloud folder allows you to access it from any compatible device.
- Scheduler program - Programs that specialize in posting content on your behalf are ideal for content recycling. You can plug them into multiple social media accounts and let them manage posts on your behalf.
Content Repurposing: A Brief Overview
No piece of long-form content is uniform in value. Some portions have a higher value than others. This is true independent of the value. A life coach's webinar will not have the same amount of information in the middle as it does in the beginning.
A comedy movie will not feature the same level of hilarity in each frame. But not every viewer watches long videos or reads through books' worth of text. What's the solution? Using short-form content repurposed from long-form pieces. That's because the alternative is to make short-form content alongside long-form content, which can be pretty expensive.
How Is It Different From Content Recycling?
Content repurposing is different from content recycling in that it entails changing aspects of the content being used as the source material for new material. In contrast, recycled content is used as it is when making new posts on the same or a different platform.
The Pros of Content Repurposing
There are plenty of benefits to repurposing your content if your content is valuable. It is an efficient way to get the most out of the content you make. In almost every aspect in which content recycling is limited, content repurposing is effective. Let's explore these benefits in detail.
No Content Duplication Penalties
The glaring difference between the benefits of content repurposing and those of recycling is that you can repurpose content on the same platform and benefit from it. In contrast, recycling content on the same platform almost always gets penalized (as explained earlier).
If you take a clip out of an Instagram live video and upload it as an IG reel, it will surface in front of people who never check out live videos. In contrast, if you recycle an old reel, your audience who has seen it previously might just scroll past it, signaling the low-interest value of your content to the algorithm.
Higher Audience Engagement
It is easy to forget that behind algorithms and the like and follow statistics are real human beings. Annoying your audience is worse than angering the algorithm. And for all intents and purposes, seeing the exact same thing over and over forces people to tune out.
But that doesn't happen with content repurposing, where the audience is thankful that you've done the heavy lifting of making content easy to consume with engagement-driven modifications like captioning, creating short clips, and boiling down lectures to quote cards. This improves your overall audience engagement.
Pro-Tip: ContentFries can help you create engagement-driven modifications to your content, so it is bite-sized and easy to consume. In a few minutes, with no prior experience, you can turn your content into a large library of content.
Ability To Be On Different Types of Platforms
You cannot recycle an audio podcast onto a video platform or a video clip onto an image-only platform. Content repurposing is limited to platforms that have the same format of distribution. You can recycle youtube videos for other video platforms.
But if you need to upload an image to youtube, it has to be repurposed. An example of repurposing would be to use your keynote headshot as the visual cover for a youtube video.
A Higher Chance of Virality
If you read our piece on the benefits of content repurposing, you'll find our virality recipe. But the gist of it is that the higher the volume of your content, the more shots you give yourself to go viral. Repurposing allows you to give each piece of content an average of 36 shots at going viral. Towards the end of this article, you'll learn how you can turn a video into 36 pieces of content in a few minutes.
Front-seat to the Next Big Opportunity
Finally, the greatest social media opportunity is the one that is yet to come. Content repurposing allows you to be ready to dominate the next big platform. While other creators are weighing their options because they don't want to shoot content in a different format, the individual who knows how to repurpose content can easily turn his entire backlog of content into material that is compatible with the new platform.
In the first 6 months of the advent of TikTok, anyone who had repurposing software and a library of content could have gained a million followers. This is derived from the growth rate of daily content posters on the platform.
The Cons of Content Repurposing
There, of course, are drawbacks to anything, including content repurposing. Since we based an entire business around servicing repurposing needs, we had to look at the downsides of repurposing quite seriously. Here is what we learned.
Repurposing Is Time-consuming
The biggest drawback of repurposing content is that it is time-consuming. And if it isn't your time that goes into it, it is someone else's time, which is usually paid for. ContentFries was developed to save both time and money when it comes to repurposing. We have a good effort-to-results ratio, but you still need to put some time into it.
People Need Skills to Repurpose
The second drawback we realized was that repurposing content was skills-intensive. Most people who had something valuable to deliver were far along in specialized knowledge to also have editing and chopping knowledge.
ContentFries is a straightforward drag-and-drop editor with a 99%+ accurate auto-captioning/transcription feature. Still, you need to watch a 10-minute tutorial to understand how you can make 36 pieces of content from a single value-rich piece of content.
It Reduces Cross-platform Audience Migration
The third drawback of repurposing is one that even we haven't been able to offset. And that is a drop in cross-platform migration. If your content on TikTok and Instagram Reels is the same, your audience doesn't need to move over from one platform to another to get your content.
This can lower your cross-platform audience growth. For this, we suggest making different clips for different platforms to encourage people to follow you on each one, so they don't miss out on anything.
When Should You Repurpose Content?
You should repurpose content in almost every circumstance where you have a content distribution opportunity and the ability to make multiple posts. This includes:
- When you want to dominate all types of social media
- When you want to get the most valuable bits of your content to your audience
- When you want to have more chances to go viral
- When you want to get the most value out of creating long-form content
Programs to Use:
- A video editor - This is needed to create short clips, resize dimensions, and add logos or captions.
- A transcription program - Unless you want to pay a transcriber for every single minute of audio, you should get a transcription program
- A graphic design program - For quote cards, video thumbnails, and other visual material, you'll need a graphic design program with good templates.
- ContentFries - If you don't want to get all of the programs above, you can get ContentFries which features all of the above, in a handy package. More importantly, it makes the process easy enough for a beginner to execute with minutes of experimenting.
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