When developing social media messaging, there is often a knee-jerk reaction to constructing a post per channel. This is not an unfounded best practice. We often see good social media marketers crafting unique posts for each channel based on network constraints such as character count, media limitations, calls to action, and so forth.

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Let’s be realistic regarding start-ups and SMBs. Most brands are struggling just to post to social consistently.

Why? Well, the factors can be many:

  1. You can’t afford someone to do it full-time.

  2. You feel like you’ve said all you can say about your brand.

  3. You’re not sure what content is resonating with your customers and what is not.

  4. You haven’t figured out that most social media posts won’t even be seen unless you’ve assigned a media placement budget for it.

  5. You’re not convinced social’s doing anything anyway.

The fifth point is probably most aggravating to a marketing professional because, in most cases:

  1. Your client has tried social media for themselves. It’s complicated, confusing, and feels like a COLOSSAL time-sink.

  2. Your client is not familiar with best practices for social media.

  3. In many cases, brands have limited knowledge of their customer, demographics, and persona.

  4. Businesses cannot fathom funneling MORE money into something they already think does not work.

In these cases, I’d recommend creating content so that it can be utilized across your social graph. Yes, I know, this is NOT best practice. Nevertheless, when you have a risk/tactical adverse client you know needs social media, it’s often better for them to have something over nothing at all.

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Enter the “create once, use many” methodology.

Let’s say, for example, you are working with a client you have minimal access to. It is in your best interest to maximize the opportunity with that client to aggregate content for distribution over an extended period of time.

Example — creating content for a conference or live event:

  1. First, you need to determine the social media channels you will target for this content.

  2. Then put together the equivalent of what photographers would refer to as a “shot list.” This will be a content list of items you hope to aggregate during the event. Let’s say it will be photos and video.

  3. Now you need to have a basic understanding of the types of content that you want to collect during this time. More often than not, they will be photos, video, and audio. You also can get a lot of mileage out of digital white papers and presentations.

  4. Next, determine what type of content you will create. This can range from “behind the scenes” to “man on the street” footage, to a corporate industrial overview of products and services, to the traditional sitdown interview with a focus on a particular topic or pain point.

  5. Decide whether you will distribute the content on the fly, in pseudo-real-time, or if you intend to polish it and distribute it at a later date. I have often used “street teams” of young social professionals to infiltrate and collect content during an event.

  6. SIDE NOTE: You can never have enough content. So take advantage of the opportunity to shoot as many photos and videos as you can and record every interview possible. The material can always be repurposed at a later time.

Now, this is where the rubber meets the road. How do you intend to take one piece of content and distribute it across multiple social channels in a way that feels appropriate to that particular network or audience? This, ladies and gentlemen is an art form. It is part schedule, part storytelling, part channel-specific audience expectation.

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Allow me to explain this practice in content marketing. Let’s take the example of a five-minute video with your lead customer.

  1. A five-minute interview with a customer will not be perfect in one take. Also, keep in mind that no one in their right mind is going to sit around and watch a five-minute YouTube video. Therefore, you want to do a little post-production and cut out any errors, gaps, and irrelevant content.

  2. Now take another look at the content and see if it can be parsed into several sections. The sweet spot will be roughly 30 to 45 seconds for YouTube. Shorter clips of 10 to 15 seconds make great content on Instagram and Vine.

  3. Now let’s take it upon ourselves to develop a teaser campaign for this content. Establishing several social media posts (perhaps even a short blog post) that talk about an upcoming educational interview with a celebrity client might spur the interest of your audience base.

  4. Now you can liberally distribute those videos across your social channels over some time subject to your particular campaign directives.

  5. To further clarify the fourth point, one might write an engaging blog post about the interview and the back history of the interviewee. The blog post would include one of the more profound and more prolonged video clips. Follow up by distributing other critical points in a shorter format against the appropriate channels.

Now we have taken one video and constructed a multi-channel distribution program from the content. This approach can be compelling with any number of content elements. With a SlideShare presentation, for example, you could pull one slide and make it a powerful Facebook panographic image.

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One Size Does Not Fit All

In this little mantra, I bestow upon clients and social media teams that we should repurpose content and envision what channel it’s best suited for and size and resize appropriately.

For instance, a horizontal video could be:

  • A live feed

  • A still-frame graphic from an email that leads to the video on an article page

  • A summary of a presentation

  • A trade-show loop

  • A square format now works for MOST social media wall posts

  • A vertical of this video now works for story/TikTok executions

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Alert To Content Creators!!!

A word of warning – this will take a bit more planning in your shortlist because you’ll want to address compositional position to meet both horizontal and vertical execution.]

  • Find your ‘sweet spot’ in your equipment that will allow for the content in the center to work for both horizontal and verticle without getting cut-off.

  • Keep in mind you should record audio, even if you don’t use it as it might make converting to closed captioning easier.

  • Think timing — If the whole clip is 2 minutes, mentally start to parse where your edits will be to tighten it up for shorter clips. Even better, script a few takes at various speeds.

Above all, spend time crafting the best product possible. To paraphrase Ricky Bobby: If it ain’t compelling – it’s boring.