Content Repurposing Automation: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
Automation: is it all bad or could it enhance your content creation and distribution strategy?
There are plenty of automation tools out there that claim to help you with everything from idea generation through to performance analysis. But how can using these tools really impact you and your content?
Here, I share my thoughts on automation and content repurposing, including which processes you should be automating, and when to avoid automation altogether.
I also reveal the automation tools we use, and how these can help save you time and streamline your content distribution - without impacting your content’s quality.
Keep reading to discover the good, the bad, and the ugly, of content automation...
What do I mean by automation?
When I refer to automation, I mean any type of AI/non-human/automated tool that allows you to remove steps from your content marketing process.
This could be anything that automates the idea generation, content creation, repurposing, or publishing part of your process. Believe it or not, there are tools for every part of it!
It’s amazing how much you can automate when you consider that content marketing is laced with creativity and strategy - two things that I believe need a human touch to be successful. This is why it’s important to think about automation critically…that is to say, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
Why you should automate (parts of) your content marketing process
Now, I’m not going to throw the baby out with the bathwater here. Not all content automation tools are bad. In fact, any tool that can save you time as a business owner is something you should seriously consider.
If you can automate parts of your content marketing process (without compromising on quality), it will save you time and effort and play a wider part in helping you build your business.
After all, you’re a business owner first, not a content creator. There are other things you need to spend your time doing.
Automation tools can even help you save money. They could help remove roles from your business or allow your team to spend their time elsewhere - improving efficiency, increasing benefits, and reducing workload.
But there’s always a compromise with these things…all the results with little effort instantly make me think of fad diets, weight loss pills, or those machines that promise to give you 6-pack abs as you’re watching the TV. They’re usually far too good to be true.
Before I get into those snake-oil, avoid-at-all-costs content automation tools, I want to talk about the tools I do use and recommend.
In fact, there’s one part of the content marketing process that I use automation tools for all the time, and that’s distribution.
How to use automation tools for content distribution
After you’ve created your awesome content and repurposed it into lots of fantastic, multimedia, platform-specific content, you’ve then got the tricky job of distributing it.
Effectively distributing content can feel like a full-time job. It requires organizational skills and deep knowledge of platforms and takes a lot of time and effort.
At Content 10x, if we had to publish all the content we create natively and in real-time it would take hours and hours each day. That’s time that we don’t have. It may even put us off creating so much content and this would have a knock-on effect on our reach, business growth, brand development, etc.
That’s without factoring in the hundreds and hundreds of pieces of content we create, manage, and publish each week for our clients! Automating this part helps us be faster and create more great content.
Automating at the distribution stage allows you to organize all your publishing in one go, as opposed to jumping on platforms as and when. You can upload your content, schedule times for it to launch, and then move on to another task. It is a fantastic way to streamline your content marketing process without impacting your content’s quality.
Here are some of the ways we automate our content distribution and the tools we like…
Automating your social media content distribution
This is the big one. Think just how many pieces of repurposed social media content come from one podcast episode, video, or blog post. When you think about publishing all these videos, audiograms, graphics, text posts, carousels, etc. one by one and in real time, it can make your head spin!
So we use scheduling tools — either third-party tools or native scheduling tools on the platform. It makes it easy to check off what we’ve already scheduled, when we’ve scheduled it for, and get a good overview of all platforms at once.
If possible, we’ll use the native, inbuilt scheduling tools…more on that in a moment…for now let’s look at the third-party tools.
There are plenty of social media scheduling tools out there and, trust me, we’ve used them all! But we really like Buffer. It’s simple to use for scheduling content for Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
There’s also Hootsuite, SmarterQueue, AgoraPulse, Later, MeetEdgar…even CRM tools like HubSpot will let you schedule content. We use all these (and more) with our clients and they’re all fairly similar. Except for HubSpot, as it’s a much more powerful — and expensive — tool that allows you to schedule blog posts, emails, social media posts, and more.
My advice is to find a tool that suits you best. Understand what platforms you want it to work with, what features you want to be able to use (e.g. Instagram stories, as well as Instagram posts), and what else it can do to meet your needs. For example, what analytics they can provide.
I highly recommend automating your social media distribution. It’ll free up so much of your time, and you can always jump on the platforms to engage with people in real-time too (a must!). This kind of automation is particularly great when you’re having a busy week. It gives you the peace of mind that all your social media is taken care of.
Can you automate/schedule your posts and post native?
As I mentioned, if we can schedule social media content natively, using the scheduling features on the platform itself, then we will.
It’s no longer the case that posting natively means posting in real-time. Many platforms now have built-in tools that allow you to upload and schedule content.
Facebook Creator Studio allows you to schedule content to Facebook and Instagram. Twitter has an inbuilt feature to schedule your Tweets.
You may prefer these to a third-party tool, such as Hootsuite. You may also see more reach and engagement with native posts vs. third-party scheduled posts. We have certainly seen a difference.
My advice is to play around with the platforms you use to publish content and see what they offer to find what works best for your content and which tools help you streamline your process best.
You may even want to mix it up and use a third-party site for some platforms and schedule natively through others. But remember, using automation in this way is supposed to help you save time, so always consider what automation method helps you get the best results fast.
Automating your email distribution
If you have an email list or want to grow one, then it’s highly recommended to use an email automation tool.
Scheduling emails in advance and setting up email sequences for when someone takes an action (such as joining your email list, downloading a lead magnet, etc.) are powerful ways to nurture your subscribers. With automation tools, these are really easy to do and take another load off your plate.
Our chosen tool for automatically sending emails is ActiveCampaign. This is a full CRM tool, like HubSpot, so you can do a lot more with it — email automation is just one of its many functions. If you’re looking for something simpler and less expensive, we recommend starting with Mailchimp or AWeber.
Alongside analytics, these automation tools often come with other great features such as A/B testing. These can help you figure out what your audience responds to best by trialing different types of subject lines, email styles, and more.
If you were to do all this without an automation tool, it would take a huge amount of time, effort, and not to mention working out all the technical parts too!
So those are all my recommendations for where you should be using automation tools, but as I said already, it’s not always appropriate. Here’s where I suggest avoiding these tools…
When you shouldn’t rely on automation tools
The great thing about automating at the distribution stage is that it doesn’t affect the quality of your content.
But if you turn to automation tools in the creative or strategic parts of your content marketing process, i.e. the creation or repurposing stage, you’re going to have to compromise on quality…sometimes a lot.
When it comes to creating and repurposing content it’s vital that you respect the platform you’re creating for. One-size-fits-all content just doesn’t work. Each piece of content needs to be carefully created or repurposed for the platform you’re publishing it on. And that’s just the technical, aesthetic side of things.
You’ve also got your brand and your audience to think about. You know what they expect from you and what you want to communicate with your content.
Automation tools are brilliant at automating processes, yes. But all this other stuff, they’re not so good at. They can’t automate your personality, tap into your audience’s emotions, or think strategically.
If you get your content repurposed by a machine, it’s unlikely you’re going to get anything great in return — if at all useful.
But when you, or a repurposing expert who knows your audience and understands your brand is at the helm, you’re guaranteed to get high-quality, engaging content. You get the best bits — not just any old bits — hand-picked for the biggest impact.
Automating repurposing = lazy repurposing
There’s a very high chance that if you automate your content repurposing, you’re going to fall victim to what I call “lazy repurposing”.
I’ve talked about the dangers of cutting corners with your repurposing before in my podcast episode and blog post, Livestream Repurposing: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly. In this post, I talked specifically about what not to do when repurposing a livestream (aka, just post it on YouTube with no edits — yikes!).
The risk you run when you don’t make platform-specific edits, think about your audience and brand, and ultimately strive for the highest-quality content, is that you’re just wasting your time.
Sure, automation can save you so much time, but if that automation then means that you’re not growing your audience or creating a positive experience for those people who do see your brand, what’s the point?
I always cringe hard when I see blogs automatically chopped up and tweeted out or Twitter accounts that just post contextless quotes and links. These accounts might be posting lots of content consistently, but where’s the value?
It’s the same for tools that transform videos or podcasts into a blog post…but actually, they just provide you with a tidied-up transcription. Now transcriptions can be useful, but they don’t perform the same function as a blog post.
A blog should be optimized for SEO and written with readers in mind. This blog post isn’t a transcription of the accompanying podcast episode (and never has been or will be!).
Plus, you’ve also got links, artwork, and other branding elements you may want to include…automation tools just aren’t there yet in terms of transforming one high-value content experience into another.
Content automation tools: the one question to ask
If you’re not sure whether an automation tool is right for your content marketing process, here’s the question you need to consider:
Will this streamline my content marketing process without impacting the quality of my content?
If the answer is yes, then definitely go ahead with it. The right tool can be a game-changer for saving you time and can have a big knock-on effect on the rest of your business.
But if the answer is no, then it’s almost certain this automation tool isn’t right for you. The whole point of content marketing is to show how valuable you are so it’s best not to compromise on quality. In my experience, the best quality content generates the best quality results.
So whether it’s you creating and repurposing your content, or if you’ve brought in the experts to help, you’re far more likely to get high-quality, high-value, result-driving content.
Then it’s all about bringing in automation, the last piece of the puzzle, to distribute this awesome content and make sure it does its job.
Originally published at https://www.content10x.com on December 2, 2021.