4 ways to get more mileage out of old content

Sometimes it’s just a matter of dusting off a vintage story and casting it before new eyes; sometimes it takes a bit of reworking or repositioning.


I’m a ’90s baby.

I grew up during, at least what I believe to be, the peak of Nickelodeon’s programming.

These classic Nick shows represented an iconic part of TV’s pop culture, and had everything from talking babies (“Rugrats”), to a conjoined dog and cat (“Catdog”), to action shows (“Legends of the Hidden Temple”), and pretty much anything else a kid could dream of.

The people at Nickelodeon must have heard my generation’s cries, because in the summer of 2011 they announced they were bringing back classic ’90s programming. The greatest shows ever aired would come back for our enjoyment and to help us reminisce about simpler times.

My early 20-something brethren were as happy as I was: The hashtag #Nickelodeon soared to No. 7 as the buzz of “The ’90s Are All That” block programming exploded. It dominated discussion, which came as no real surprise. People thrive on nostalgia.

What does this have to do with content?

1. You don’t always have to create something new.

Archived content can have a second wind. Comb through content you already have, and find opportunities to make it fresh and relevant.

For example, when spring rolls around, it sets off unpleasant allergies. Have you written about different remedies or tricks to fend off pollen? Rerun the feature, because it’s seasonally appropriate.

If you’ve written about a subject a handful of times, consider rounding up related posts and creating an “ultimate guide” that showcases all your coverage on a subject.

This can save time, money, and resources your company may not have access to. Extract more value from each piece of existing inventory and—voilà—you have a handful of renewed posts.

2. Share archived content.

Articles that were posted months ago but now are buried underneath hundreds of newer stories can still be worth sharing even if they aren’t brand new. Social networks churn through content at breakneck speeds, so there’s a good chance something you posted Monday morning was off the radar screen by lunchtime.

Content shared on social media has a short life span. So if you’ve got great content that was buried quickly, give it a second life online. Chances are good that many readers will be seeing it for the first time (but be careful not to bore people by overdoing it).

Dig out interesting facts or relevant statistics from archived content and present it again. This is a great way to prompt clicks, as you show the reader that the article is still relevant, valuable, and thought-provoking.

Unsure about reviving your old content? Jakob Nielson shared some straightforward user benefits of keeping old content in 1998 that is still relevant today:

  • It may be intrinsically interesting and worth reading even when it’s not news.
  • It can experience renewed interest due to later events.
  • It can have historical interest.
  • It helps with old products.
  • It provides background information and a richer texture for a website.

3. Play on nostalgia.

A few years have passed; perhaps even a decade or two, so it’s time to bring back what caught everyone’s attention at a certain period in time.

Have old coverage of a technology that was going to change the world and then didn’t? Couch it with, “Can you believe we all thought this?” and share it with your audience.

Create best-of lists that reminisce about a subject that may have evoked emotion at one point from your readers. Lists are a great way to get more mileage out of existing content.

4. Share old content with a new audience.

Different audience, different sets of eyes, different first impressions—content posted on your site can have another life on a fresh platform. Submit posts from your past that you’re proud of to content aggregators and sites which showcase the best-of content in a certain niche. This can drive traffic back to your site, build exposure, and not even make you break a sweat.

So dig deep into that proverbial pile of Pogs, Furbies, and Teen magazines and find the content that affected your audience. Your offerings might not be from the ’90s, but classic Nickelodeon is definitely a testament to reviving old content to create a buzz with your audience.

Sit back, take a sip of your orange soda, and let the content flow. How do you repurpose old content to give it a second wind?

Jackie Roy is a digital content associate at TMG Custom Media. A version of this article first appeared on Engage.

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