According to URL-shortening platform Bit.ly, the half life of a piece of content on social media is distressingly short.

Based on an analysis of 1,000 links distributed on social networks, Bitly found that the typical half life of a link on Twitter is just 2.8 hours!

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That means that in less than 3 hours, a typical link on Twitter will have seen half of its total engagement. The half life of a link on Facebook is roughly half an hour longer (24 minutes longer to be exact).

In Bitly’s analysis, YouTube stands alone as network with a longer tail for content engagement; the half life of a link on YouTube is 7.4 hours.

All of this to say: the content you invest time and money creating will not thrive organically on the vine of social media for long. If left to its own devices (and without the support of solid SEO keywords), your content may quickly flounder in digital insignificance.

But before you throw up your hands and abandon content marketing all together, there is good news: you can extend the half life of your content with smart repurposing.

Outbrain offers the following succinct definition for repurposing content:

“Repurposing content is the changing of a work’s format and/or intended audience. Changing a work’s format, or medium, could be like reworking one of your Facebook posts in a Twitter post; changing the intended audience could be changing the words in an article for people in marketing to match the vocabulary used in a different field. Repurposing content is also taking a previously used idea or article and using it to support or be a part of a new idea or article.”

As Outbrain suggests, content can be repurposed in many forms. You can:

  • Transform a content-heavy asset (like a report or ebook) into a visual asset (like an infographic or SlideShare
  • Cross-promote a blog post across multiple social-media platforms
  • Incorporate webinars and video assets into email campaigns

Just to name a few options! But as a data-obsessed company, we would never suggest that a content marketer just set out and start repurposing content without a little data to back it up.

When repurposing content, leading metrics — or metrics that measure initial audience engagement with your content, liked Pageviews and social interactions — are a marketer’s beset friend. Here are 3 easy ways you can use leading metrics to drive better ROI by repurposing content:

1. Identify top-perfoming social media posts for recirculation.

With so much content distributed across channels, it can be easy to lose track of which tweets or Facebook posts actually outperformed the rest. But research shows that reposting content can bring in 75% of the engagement reaped in the first posting.

tomtonguz

Image via Tom Tunguz

One quick way to identify your top-performing posts is to sort your content by engagement across a specific timeframe.(Hint: TrackMaven automates this process.) Repost those top-performers to allow them another shot at reaching a broader range of your audience.

2. Test audience interest in related subtopics to serialize top-performing content.

Have a top-performing piece of content that you’ve redistributed to death? Rather than boring your audience by reposting it out over and over again, you can use leading metrics to test related subtopics.

One great way to test this is to tweet out ideas or articles on a few of the topics you’re considering. At the end of the day, the tweets with the most engagement are a great leading indicator of the direction you should go in to expand a piece of content.

3. Experiment with new headlines to repackage under-performing content.

Have a piece of content that never quite popped? Maybe the content quality is there, but you just didn’t “sell it.”

Try reposting the content with different headlines and takeaways on your social channels, and measure the results. If one tweeted headline outperforms the rest, that’s your signal to repackage that post!

But marketers, remember: repurposing bad content won’t magically drive better results. Quality counts! In their content half life research, Bitly added a word of caution to this tale, offering this adage to the power of content quality:

“In general, the half life of a bitly link is about 3 hours, unless you publish your links on youtube, where you can expect about 7 hours worth of attention. Many links last a lot less than 2 hours; other more sticky links last longer than 11 hours over all the referrers. This leads us to believe that the lifespan of your link is connected more to what content it points to than on where you post it: on the social web it’s all about what you share, not where you share it!”

For more strategies to help your content cut through the noise, get your copy of our report, The Content Marketing Paradox!