Recycling Content? Upcycle for Added Value

Convertible Tie Clutch

The successful content marketer knows a thing or two about recycling or repurposing their content.  It’s where you take something that worked well for you, like a white paper or a blog post, mix in some new content and produce something fresh out of it.  You’ve probably even done it with someone else’s content, piggybacked off a blog post or something.  There’s so much good content out there and so many people who haven’t read it or seen it, why not?

According to my friends at Wikipedia, “In the strictest sense, recycling of a material…produces a fresh supply of the same material.”

Recycling content – whether it’s ours or someone else’s – allows us to use something that we think is really awesome and try to rework it into something fresh.  Here’s the thing. I don’t think we’re doing such a good job of it.  Not consistently anyway.

Maybe it’s me, but lately the recycled content, mine included, is leaving me feeling less than fresh after reading it.  Perhaps even more important, I didn’t feel like my problem or issue was solved or that I benefited from the effort.

Take a moment to think about it from your audience’s perspective and their view of your marketing efforts, particularly your zest for recycling.  Yes, they may not have heard or read it before, but if they stick around long enough, they’re going to pick up on your recycling efforts. If your content isn’t fresh enough, provides a benefit or a solution, then they, like me, will grow bored or worse, move on.

What’s happening is that rather than recycling, we’re really downcycling. Rather than taking an original work and adding to it to make it better, we’re creating something of lesser value, based on the original thread or concept.

Why not try something new? Try Upycling.

Upcycling takes recycling to a whole new level. A product or material, like a CapriSun juice pouch or Skittles candy wrapper, products made famous by TerraCycle, is made into something of higher value.  The purse or wristlet made with the original materials is far more valuable than the used wrapper on its own, even if that wrapper is recycled.

The same goes for upcycling your content.  Rather than merely recycling it, why not add to it for increased value.  Rework it into a new thought, offer new opinions, ask new questions, based on your original content, or someone else’s in order to create more value.

Content is certainly king, but don’t let it become king in name only.  Give it real power.  Make your content valuable.

Make it surprising.  Make it actionable.  Make it useful.

Upcycling takes thought, creativity and an understanding of what your customer finds valuable.

Think about it. Those candy wrapper purses and bags meet a need, but they do more than that.  They connect the dots for the customer. They provide function, form and the unexpected.  They also provide us with the opportunity to be a part of a solution, and to benefit from it in the process.

What better way to tap into your inner artist than to Upcycle your content? What better way to engage your customer?

I’d like to think a few of my “top posts” hit the mark in going beyond the expected, but there’s always room for improvement.  Take Focus on Content for Real Influence as an example.  It was one that got a lot of traffic and comments.  I recycled a concept when I wrote that post. I had read both Jay Baer’s post and Mark Schaefer’s post on Klout.  I took their ideas and mish-mashed them with my own to create that post.

What could I have done to Upcycle it?

  1. Use it as a base from which to measure other posts, pick two of my own and then use the six metrics I offered to evaluate my relative influence.
  2. Turn it into an evaluation tool that others can use.
  3. Rework it into a video post (you know I love those)…a man on the street video asking random people what makes them take action.
  4. Host a podcast. Interview three influential bloggers on influence…or interview three consumers on influence.
  5. Interview three small business owners with active marketing campaigns and get their take on influence and content. Turn it into a blog post or a case study.
  6. Keep a running log of what posts or content influenced me over a five day period and deliver the results via my blog.
  7. Get my friend Nathan to write me a jingle based on the concepts of influence! 😉

The point is I, and many of us who use content to market, need to put on a thinking cap more often.  Put down the recycling box and pick up the hot glue gun.  Get creative. Go crazy. Upcycle.

Convertible Tie Clutch Image found via Flickr, Groundsel.

What do you think? How can you Upcycle more than you Recycle?

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