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Advertising is a thriving industry, with over $500 billion in revenue in 2017 alone. For advertisers, these costs span more than just media buys – they include creative development, production, editing and more. From start to finish, the process can be a large investment, sometimes totaling hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars. And once a campaign has wrapped, that content gets put on the shelf to collect dust.

The rise of social media has changed this. No longer is an old commercial stale or out of date. To the contrary, it can be reduced, reused and recycled for social engagement.

Before Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and even the days of MySpace, we had no real way of owning content distribution ourselves. We read or watched what was dictated by brands and media companies. The rise of social media transformed who distributes content. Each and every one of us can share content to the masses as we see fit. That includes content that we like, expresses our current state or communicates a point. So where running an old commercial felt out of place in the pre-social media world, it is now not only widely accepted, but embraced.

The question for brands, then, is which content to use. Not every marketing video or TV commercial will perform. Employing selectiveness and strategic thinking are critical. And that starts with addressing each aspect of reduce, reuse and recycle.


It’s the same premise as old movies. Scarface is infamous not just because it is a great movie, but also because it is continually referenced in our cultural lexicon. Consumers can’t quote all of Scarface (maybe a few can), but almost everyone knows “say hello to my little friend” in the infamous Tony Montana accent. It’s expressive, succinct and relatable. Branded content must adhere to these same characteristics.

The average attention span on social media is 10 seconds. That’s why GIFs and memes are so popular. And why even though Twitter users are given 280 characters, the average tweet is just 33. Consumers are mastering brevity, and they want to engage with content that is succinct and powerful.

That’s why reduction is necessary. While the average length of TV ads is shrinking, the average commercial clocks in between 15 and 30 seconds. On a medium where this is juxtaposed with long-form content, this length makes sense. But on social media, 30 seconds is an eternity. Reducing content to a single punch line or a 10 second snippet is more appropriate for these platforms.

Reuse and Recycle

There’s a laundry list of commercials that are contenders for recycling. Wendy’s “Where’s the beef” is over 30 years old, but still maintains its humor and appeal today. It’s the line – delivered by angry grandmas – that packs the punch. It’s a memorable, branded phrase, that is still hashtagged and referenced in 2018.

Old classics like Coke’s “Mean Joe” ad, Pepperidge Farm’s classic ads and Red Stripe’s “hooray beer” are other contenders. The ad vault is not just an archive; it is a source for social content. And, it promotes branded content that can then be organically shared by others, all without having to spend an additional dime.

Recycling material is particularly relevant during holiday seasons. Rather than investing in new content every year, brands can reuse material from years’ past. The M&M Brand, for example, tweeted an old clip of their Halloween ad in October. They recycled old content to populate their Twitter feed, which gave them relevant and branded content to share with the world. M&Ms are not alone – many brands, like Bud Light, have holiday-related content in their arsenal. Social channels are a great excuse to dust off those old tapes and put them to good use.

The impact of the “reduce, reuse, recycle” mentality is three-fold: a boosted ROI for previous advertising spend, increased branded engagement and a pipeline of relevant social content. The latter is easily the most important. Content is still king and brands can recycle old hits for new engagement with consumers.

Read more: Social Media Advertising; Two Screen Viewing And Customer Behavior