In Case You Missed It: Giving your Content a Second Life
By Karen Geier
We’ve all heard the golden rule about social media content: it lives for only a short time, and the audience moves on.
Generating and curating content is a time-consuming process that should take a lot of care and attention to detail. Sometimes, though, you may post something hoping to see a certain amount of lift, and find out it didn’t get quite the reach you were expecting. Should you move on, or is there another way to make sure your content is open to the largest audience?
The double-edged sword of analytics
Analytics have brought so much good to social media, making platforms in their infancy mature quickly to be professional distribution networks in record time. But slavish reliance on analytics might be hindering the actual reach of your work.
Consider apps that choose the “sweet spot” for you to send out updates: this only guarantees, based on the algorithm, that this is that service’s best guess that your content will be exposed to the most people online at a given time. Many variables can make this guess false, such as current affairs, and things like travel days for holidays or natural disasters. But even just the ebb and flow and on-demand nature of life online can mean that your content didn’t get great traction. How can you be sure? Test it over a few bursts.
Content and the long tail
The prevailing wisdom before social media took off was that whatever content you were producing on the web could find a passionate audience due to an idea called the long tail, meaning that fans of just about anything you can dream up exist online and are actively seeking out content that appeals to these tastes. As social media came to the fore and brands got involved, chasing the long tail was deemed wasteful, and brands tried to make a conversational medium into a broadcast medium.
It is worthwhile chasing the long tail, however, because once you start testing your content performance – and after testing repeat postings – you will see a direct benefit from increasing the cadence of your posts.
Gathering content performance metrics
Have a look at the last 60-90 days of your social media posts and their performance. Note the times of day they seemed to perform best, and trends in engagements or comments. This can show you the basics of what is working, but it will also help you accomplish the next step: finding times to repeat your content. Look at the off-hour posts that performed well and write those times down to run your first set of content-repeating tests.
Setting up your test
To test your content, plan your posts for a week, using your traditional times for the first time you post the content, and selecting two-to-three of the “outlier” times to repeat your content. Make sure you’re able to count clicks and engagement.
Don’t repeat the exact update verbatim when you re-post. It’s important to make sure that you have slightly different wording for each repeat. You can say “In case you missed it” to indicate it is a repost if you would prefer to do it that way. This way, you’re getting a sense of the times and the subject lines that perform.
Check after the week to see what the lift looks like for the subsequent posts. If the lift is very small, try again for another week, tweaking your content and times as you go.
Once you’ve optimized your reposts, add them in to one-to-three of your most important posts a month, adjusting if you need to. Don’t go overboard reposting everything. Repost content you’re proud of and you feel has value.
There are a maximum number of times you can repost something before it reaches saturation. Try not to reuse content more than three times. Your best fans will start to lose interest in your feed if they see too many “old” stories.
If Your Tests Fail
It is unlikely you will experience a total failure (a complete lack of attention on a repost), but it is possible that you could get some negative feedback from loyal followers or fans. The best responses to these comments is to thank that person for reaching out to you and to tell them you thought this story would be interesting to your fans and followers, because similar stories have been of interest to them in the past. Don’t derail your tests during this period.
If you spend time creating, crafting, and editing content, you don’t have to settle for a “one-and-done” method of distributing that content. With some analytics and a little work optimizing, your content can live a second and third life (and gain more engagement and shares) over a longer shelf life.