A social media company didn’t publish new content for 30 days. Here’s what we can learn from their experiment.
Let’s face it – there’s enormous pressure to constantly add new content. The good news is you don’t need to reinvent the wheel every time you want to publish something new.
Don’t feel like you can take a break from posting new content? Even the though it can be kind of scary, the only way to increase your growth quickly is to try new things. Tell your boss that if a business can do it, you can do it too.
Buffer is one of my favorite social media management tools and they recently took a month off from posting new content. Fortunately for us, they shared the details of their experiment and their lessons in a recent blog post.
There are some valuable lessons we can learn from their experiment. Use these ideas to increase the amount of content you produce with just a little extra effort, or to free up your time to focus on other projects.
1. It’s ok to re-purpose and repackage your existing content
Buffer didn’t stop posting anything for a month – they stopped posting anything new. They updated some popular articles, incorporated media, added new items to lists they already had, and more. They were creative with how they mixed and matched what they already have to present it in a new way or to add more value.
When you’re able to add these “updates” into the mix along with 100% new content, you’ll be able to free up some of your valuable time without neglecting your blog.
Here are some ideas:
- Share a “top 10” list of your articles/resources with a specific theme. For example, try something like “Top 10 articles from 2015” or “Top 10 resources for addressing poverty.” Whatever your cause is, chances are you have a lot of resources on hand. Gather them together in one post to make a list people will love to bookmark and share.
- Add a few more tips to a list you already have. For example, let’s say you have a list of 20 green gift ideas for the holiday season. Add five or ten new ideas to the list and you have yourself an updated post without having to start from scratch.
- Add a new intro to an existing resource or post. Sometimes an event can occur that makes an older resource of yours suddenly relevant. For example, let’s say you’ve have some lesson plans prepared to teach students about climate change and new legislation on requiring schools to teach about climate change has just passed. Even though you’ve been sharing the lesson plans for a while, new legislation makes this resource both relevant and timely. A new intro is all you need to freshen it up.
2. Share the “old” stuff that is still relevant
Are you only posting your brand new blog posts on your social media profiles and in your e-letter? It’s time to put some of those oldies-but-goodies into the rotation too. Chances are, only a small fraction of your audience saw your post the first time around. And hopefully you’ve gotten some new followers and subscribers since then.
Check your website analytics to see which articles are the most popular. Don’t be surprised if some older articles make it to the top of the list – these ones have had time to get circulated and show up in search engines.
Of course, you don’t want to re-post very time-sensitive material like announcements of conferences, commentary about a specific news event that’s no longer relevant, or seasonal posts. But you’re losing out if you don’t put at least some of your older articles into your social media and e-newsletter rotation.
3. Experiment with different ways to package content
There are a lot of ways you can share information, and a written article is just one of them. Think about how you repackage your existing content into a Slideshare, video, podcast, infographic, or sample social media posts.
There may also be SEO benefits to adding more media to your content. It shows Google that your users are interacting with your site which can give your website a boost in search results.
Here are some ideas:
- Post the PowerPoint of a recent speech on SlideShare
- Put photos from a recent event in a slideshow (I recommend Animoto)
- Highlight the top tweets from a recent event or Twitter chat
- Record interviews when you’re writing a story and turn them into podcasts
- Choose the top findings from a research report and turn it into an infographic
4. Update your most popular posts
It can take a lot of time to create a new story or pull together some great research. Don’t you hate it when you spend a lot of time creating that content and then the post seems like old news after just a couple months?
Change doesn’t happen overnight, and checking in on a project a year or two later can refresh your story bank.
Depending on the type of research, here are a few ideas to help you revive it:
- New/Updated stories
- New Census facts
- A new intro
- Updated list of resources
5. Make your content visual
Making your posts shareable is critical to increasing your traffic. One of the key ways is to make sure every post includes a photo or graphic. Even if you are not too active on social media, your followers might be. From Facebook to Twitter to Pinterest and more, a photo or graphic is what catches people’s eye on just about every social media channel.
Adding images is another opportunity to add keywords that will help boost your SEO. Make sure you file names and ALT tags are descriptive and use dashes instead of spaces in the name.
- Add photos from your own photo bank to your blog posts
- Search for royalty free photos to supplement images from your own photo bank
- Add text overlay to an image to make it stand out
- Find royalty free icons (try iconfinder.com) to make graphics for non-visual posts
- Create infographics to make your content relevant beyond the original publish date
- Create separate graphics for each item in a list
6. Connect with other blogs and websites to ask them to repost your content
An important part of creating content is sharing it with others. Posting it on your own website and social media channels is great, but to continue to grow your audience, ask others to repost your content. This kind of relationship can be mutual – if you post each other’s content, you’ll be able to have the same amount of new content with about half of the work. As a bonus, you’ll get an SEO boost when another website links to yours.
7. Create ebooks to get more email subscribers
If you have a lot of content already, you may be able to turn it into an ebook. Find a topic that many of your visitors are looking for and that would be more useful in a longer format. This could be a compilation your best tips, a list of the top-rated hiking trails of the previous year, plans to build an urban chicken coup, a pet adoption kit for newbies, etc.
This one is all about the packaging. You might already have the information in various places in different formats on your website, but making it short and visually appealing is the key. Hire a graphic designer if you have the budget for it.
Not only is this a great way to repackage your content, it’s also an excellent way to get people to subscribe to your email list. Instead of having the resource available to download from anywhere on your site, create a page that requires visitors to enter their email address in exchange for the ebook. You can ask for more information than an email address if you’d like, but remember that the longer your form, the less likely people will fill it out. Then set up an automated message from your email campaign sending them the download link to the ebook once they’ve subscribed.
8. Create an email drip campaign
An email drip campaign is an automated email series that is sent out at regular intervals after someone signs up for your e-newsletter. There’s a lot of potential here. Buffer saw 3-4 times more engagement with this tactic than with creating ebooks, so it seems like something worth trying.
If you have any step-by-step information, that’s a great fit for an email drip campaign. If you don’t, you still might have some bulky content that would be good spreading out over time. For example, you could create a campaign for some recent research report that highlights the five sections of the report and gives some top-level analysis for those who do not have time to read it word-for-word.
As a bonus, copy and paste those automated emails into blog posts for some extra content and another way to promote your research report.
9. Organize your content in different ways on your website
If you have a ton of content and it’s all organized by date, chances are there are some gems that are pretty hard to find, especially if you have multiple audiences or run multiple kinds of programs.
Help people find what they’re looking for right away by sorting your existing content. This could be as simple as tagging the content, or you might create separate sections for each audience. Then link to those sections in appropriate places on your website.
10. Make time to experiment
You can’t keep doing the same things and expect different results. From doing this experiment, Buffer found a lot of things that worked great, and a few that didn’t. It’s ok to pause one aspect of your work for a little bit to see what might get you bigger results for your organization. The key is to set a specific timeframe and goals. Measure your results so you can learn from your experiment. After reading this post, you shouldn’t be short on ideas!