Content creation is both time-consuming and costly. Yet, it is one of the cornerstones to a company’s successful digital marketing efforts. It is a supreme challenge for digital marketers to consistently maximize the impact of this content.
One of the key dimensions of measuring the success of content is cost — how much money was spent to create and disseminate the content. And then, how much engagement was produced as a result of that investment.
One of the most efficient and best ways we’ve found to boost content ROI is through splintering. This discussion is focused on defining content splintering and exploring ways to repackage the same content in different ways and across various channels.
What Is Content Splintering?
When wood splinters, it creates smaller, unique slivers from the same log. This is where we get the idea behind content splintering. We take a single content topic or idea (I like to call them content assets) and splinter them across any number of channels, using different types of content and strategies.
With splintering content, the most important aspect to remember is that each “splinter” needs to be unique. While each piece originates from the same core topic log and similarities are a given, every new splinter really should and needs to feel new and fresh.
Thus, there’s a distinction between splintering content and simply reposting it in new locations.
✖ Sharing a link to your latest blog on Facebook and then Twitter, Linkedin etc.
✔ Repurposing an existing blog post into an instruction “How-To” video on YouTube
✔ Using a snippet of a blog as landing page copy or an email newsletter
Splinters come in many different forms because there are so many unique content channels and formats to repackage a content asset.
Why Is Content Splintering Important?
As we already mentioned, splintering content is primarily important because it saves money and time and thereby boosts the ROI of your content creation efforts. But, there’s a number of other, smaller benefits that stem from this.
For small companies, the impact of creating more content for less money is definitely the most valuable aspect of content splintering. You can easily create a robust and multi-channel editorial calendar on a limited budget.
Splintering also makes it easier for a small company to explore new channels because very little resources are needed to adapt existing content assets to match a new platform’s guidelines.
While saving time and money is a benefit for all organizations, larger companies generally have the resources available to probe new channels and a much healthier budget for producing new content.
The real benefit for these larger firms is cohesive brand messaging. As organizations begin to utilize more and more channels and content platforms, it becomes increasingly difficult to keep your brand messages cohesive.
With content splintering, many marketing efforts stem from the same, core content asset, which means the tone, voice and message will stay preserved. In turn, this better guarantees that your overall marketing messages are cohesive and don’t feel disjointed as audiences navigate from platform to platform.
How To Perform Content Splintering
Content splintering can be broken down into a three step process:
These steps occur sequentially and simultaneously. For example, you need ideas in order to produce content and ultimately splinter that content, but you’re going to be performing each step continuously. You should always be coming up with new ideas, producing content and finding ways to splinter that content.
Coming up with new ideas is a continuous journey for digital marketers. If you’re like me, then you’re constantly generating new content ideas because ideas are the kernels for all content. Without ideas, we can’t reach the production phase. I am always saving links, jotting down new titles and exploring new content opportunities.
Once you’ve exhausted your own pool of original ideas, however, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the idea roadblock. When this happens, there’s a number of other avenues towards finding content inspiration.
- Take a look at your SEO keyword tools, like Google Ads Keyword Planner, and identify longtail questions commonly asked by searchers or other frequent themes that appear and then adapt those into content assets.
- Browsing community sites like Quora, Reddit or even Facebook to find out what your audiences are asking and discussing the most.
- Check in on your competitors and see what their content offerings look like; sometimes, you can repurpose their content for your own uses!
- Think about the time of the year, what holidays are coming, seasonal activities people are involved in or anything else that is relevant at that time and how you may be able to use it for developing a content asset.
- Dig up past successful content and think about new, fresh ways to package that information.
- Get creative! Audiences are always on the lookout for things they haven’t seen before, so don’t be afraid to take some risks and get creative with your content ideas.
You should always have a plan or editorial calendar in place to visually showcase what’s coming out of your content pipeline. Not only will this ensure that deadlines are met appropriately, but it will also allow you to more strategically plan your marketing ahead of time so the right content assets are issued at the right times.
The production step is where the majority of your time and money will be spent. When it comes to producing content, however, there are techniques to help you make better use of these resources.
- Start with a single content building block — a single concept or basic industry overview — then build it out over a series of blogs or videos that grow increasingly more in depth. You’ll be able to highlight and reuse sections from earlier parts, which will save time. And, these smaller content chunks can make great website copy, landing pages and other materials.
- Conversely, you can also start big and then break it down into smaller pieces. Create a long guide to start that thoroughly explains a topic and then break it into smaller bits. This is especially helpful with video content. Instead of shooting a 5-minute video, shoot 20-30 minutes of content that can be used for multiple pieces. You’ll save a lot of time and money by creating content assets in one swoop, rather than piece-by-piece.
- Don’t be afraid to shuffle the deck, especially when it comes to your website pages. The content that once worked for a landing page may be great information to include on a homepage or other location on your website. This will keep your site feeling fresh and it won’t cost you a lot of production resources to simply rearrange content assets.
With content production, you also have to consider who will be physically sitting and creating content. There’s a couple of routes to take and each has their pros and cons:
- In-house: This is the most common route, especially with smaller businesses that can’t afford to outsource their content creation. You have the most control over in-house content production, but it requires the most amount of time and resources.
- Freelancer: Hiring a freelance content creator isn’t too expensive, especially compared to a larger agency, which makes it a valuable middle ground between the other two options. The drawback is that finding a great freelancer is extremely difficult and there’s no guarantee that they’ll stick around; you may spend more time locking down a great freelancer than expected.
- Agency: Leveraging an outside agency can be a really valuable opportunity for organizations that can afford it. It’s great for visual content, like videos and high-quality images, because they already have the equipment, software and know-how to produce awesome materials. Plus, you’ll have a team of creatives (not just a single freelancer) working on your projects.
If you’re thinking about going with a freelancer or agency, be sure to check out my top tips for finding the right outsourcing solution.
Now that you have generated ideas and manifested those ideas into content assets, you can begin the splintering process. This is where the fun really happens because you’re going to watch a handful of pieces suddenly multiply into a full calendar of engaging content.
The key to splintering is being able to identify key assets within larger pieces of content that can be used elsewhere. This could be as simple as pulling a small quote from a blog that would be valuable material on a landing page or as its own social media post.
Larger splinters can be created by taking, in example, an existing blog post and turning the concept into a video instead. Or, cutting that 45-minute webinar into smaller, more manageable video chunks to be used across various platforms.
You can also use your SEO strategies to guide your splintering efforts. As you shift your keyword focus, you can repackage existing content assets to accommodate these new terms.
As I mentioned earlier, all of the steps of content splintering happen continuously and simultaneously. You shouldn’t only be thinking of content ideas, but also new ways to splinter existing and future materials.
In other words, think about repurposing old content as much as you are formulating new ideas. This will stretch your content ROI exponentially!