21 Ways to Extend the Life of Your Content [INFOGRAPHIC]
Your greatest resource as a small business owner is your time — you need to invest it only in activities that pay off over the long term. There's one role you fill in your business that pays handsome dividends: content creator.
Every entrepreneur is a content marketer, so I'm always looking for evergreen campaigns that produce results for years, not seconds (the average attention span of humans is 8 seconds ).
Much has been published about the fleeting life of social media posts, and with platforms changing constantly, it begs the question: what am I getting for my time investment?
Ultimately, I wanted to know this: what exactly is the lifespan of different content, and how can we extend it to be as long as possible?
Here's a table of contents to this long post with links to jump to sections quickly:
Let's start with the infographic . . .
1. The Big Winner: Blogging
A recent study found the average lifespan of a blog post to be 2 years. For math-lovers, the actual formula used in the study was 1.4x, with x= the first month's pageviews for the blog post.
That means if the blog post you published last month got 100 pageviews, you can expect it to get 1.4x100 = 140 pageviews over its lifetime.
How does that translate into 2 years? Good question (I wondered that too). The study showed the traffic generated by the blog post reached 50% of its lifespan on Day 10, 72% on Day 30, 90% by Day 300, and finally 99% by Day 700:
This follows the pattern of the long tail, which has become a standard in search engine optimization: By selecting relevant keywords and topics, you'll get a significant amount of traffic over time, instead of a post that's popular for a week then its traffic dies off.
While not scientific, I compared my own blog traffic to the 1.4x formula identified by the study. What I found was that on average, my own blog posts continued to get traffic for a time period almost double that found in the study: 2.7x. Our most popular blog post of all time at Socialmediaonlineclasses is from 2011, and it still generates organic search traffic.
How to Extend the Life of Your Blog Posts
How do I continue to get traffic from a 5-year-old blog post? Several ways:
- I made the blog post "sticky" and easily shared by including an infographic and a video
- I shared the blog post on multiple social media platforms (it's been shared over 5,000 times on Pinterest)
- I continue to update the blog post over time
Eventually all blog posts will go to their grave if you don't update them. Let's face it: a 5-year-old blog post about social media is practically ancient, but because I've continued to refresh it, it's as relevant as the day I wrote it.
Publishers who spend significant time developing strong content know the key to making it evergreen is to continually add to it: it modernizes the blog post, adds new context, and deepens the relationship with the reader.
Which brings me to a disturbing trend: many blogs and media outlets are removing dates from their content. I find that hypocritical from an industry that proudly announces its "transparency." People have caught on quickly that no date = outdated content.
You won't find me removing dates of my content here; instead, I modify the blog post title and first line of the post to show when the content was last updated.
2. Pinterest: Social Media Winner
Out of all major social networks, Pinterest ranks #1 for lifespan, with the average pin driving traffic over 4 months.
If you have a hugely popular seasonal pin (Halloween costumes, Hot Cross Buns), you'll see an even longer return on your content investment.
Note these pins likely originated from a blog post, so combine blogging and Pinterest and you have a powerful content lifecycle.
I've seen a huge correlation between the popularity of a pin and longevity of my blog posts. If a pin continues to be repinned for months or even years, the original blog post gains greater life.
This infographic is the first I published in 2011, and it continues to be the most repinned content from my blog. Even though I've updated this infographic each year, the original version gets the most repins:
How to Extend the Life of Your Pinterest Pins
How can you give your pins the greatest chance of a long life?
- Colorful, even garish images demand attention
- Long pins combining images and text get the most repins
- Consider boosting your pin with an ad for even more exposure
The original Facebook marketing infographic I shared above is colorful. Subsequent versions of the infographic are more harmonious and subdued, and didn't get nearly as many repins.
Long-form pins offering both images and explanatory text are the most popular. How-to pins followed by a link in the description are a powerful combination for driving traffic.
My most popular pin of for the last two years is a shockingly bright infographic I boosted for only one week. Before that week, it wasn't getting much in the way of repins. After I advertised it for a week, it was my most popular pin, week after week:
3. YouTube: Long-Term Solutions
YouTube videos come in at #3 with over 20 days of lifecycle. This study found videos receive the majority of their engagement after 3 weeks.
People go to YouTube to find solutions, and while they may not be engaging with your video, they'll continue to watch it.
This SMOC video from 2013 is a tutorial on how to master Hootsuite in one hour. It's our most popular video because it offers an easy solution to a pain point: people find Hootsuite confusing:
Don't despair if your video hasn't taken off after 20 days. I recorded this video for my book Color Mastery, and it went nowhere for six months. Then a viewer in Denmark shared it and the views skyrocketed. It's had over 38,000 views, which for a quilting video is huge:
How to Extend the Life of Your YouTube Video
Want to keep people watching your videos as long as possible? Here's how:
- Upload videos on evergreen topics - don't focus on short-term problems or solutions
- Record longer videos to keep people on your channel
- Make your video easy to find by including relevant keywords in your video title, description and tags
The most-watched YouTube videos on these popular channels are useful how-to videos on common topics:
MOST POPULAR VIDEO
How to Install or Repair a Toilet
How to Fold a Fitted Sheet
Basic Arithmetic: Addition & Subtraction
Don't be afraid of recording a long video: people will watch it if there's something in it for them. Teach them, entertain them, and you'll find your view count increasing over time.
Notice the titles of those popular videos from each channel? They're to the point: not clever or catchy, but exactly the wording people use when they search for a solution on YouTube. Make sure you know your audience and their language, and include it in the title, description, and tags.
4. LinkedIn: 24 Hours of B2B
Business-to-business social network LinkedIn ranks #4 in terms of content lifecycle, with posts here lasting an average of 24 hours. While it doesn't have as many users as Facebook, its longer post lifespan and affluent demographic make it an attractive place to do B2B networking.
My most successful post on LInkedIn is, not surprisingly, an infographic about LinkedIn:
Published in 2013, it continues to drive traffic to the original blog post on the SMOC website, far beyond the 24 hours most posts last. What's kept it alive so long?
Groups. Most of the LinkedIn referrals come from people in a LinkedIn group who find the infographic and share it with group members.
How to Extend the Life of a LinkedIn Post
Here's how to get the most value out of every LinkedIn post you create:
- Add your best content to your LinkedIn profile: that automatically extends its lifespan
- Join groups, engage with members, and share your content in the group
- Prolong the life of your blog posts by publishing them on LinkedIn Pulse one to two weeks later.
Your profile is the first thing people see about you on LinkedIn. Make a great first impression by putting your best content in a visible place on your profile. Your post will scroll off the LinkedIn newsfeed after a few hours, but it lasts forever on your profile.
LinkedIn groups are the most affluent community you'll find online. They're a great place to connect with like-minded professionals and share your content. Even better is when other group members find your content and share it on their own.
LinkedIn Pulse is the publishing arm of this social network, and you can repurpose your blog posts here after you've published them on your own blog. They get a new audience, fresh eyes, and the ability to start deep conversations. SMOC member Lynda Spiegel originally published this post on her blog where it received no comments, but 3 days later on LinkedIn Pulse, it earned over 49,000 views and got 63 comments:
5. Instagram Beats Facebook & Twitter
Photo-sharing social network Instagram ranks #5 for content lifespan, with posts here lasting an average of 21 hours. While not a powerhouse of longevity, it does beat both Facebook & Twitter.
Instagram has a focused newsfeed, making it easier to grab people's attention without competing with a sidebar with ads or multiple content streams. Even though your image will eventually scroll off the newsfeed, using relevant hashtags allows people to search for content and still find it later.
People find my infographics long after I've shared them by searching for the #infographic hashtag. I share our Weekly Top 5 infographics, and they get new followers for me every week:
How to Extend the Life of an Instagram Post
Here's how you can get weeks from your Instagram post instead of just 21 hours:
- Use bright colors with a lot of contrast in your images
- Make it easy for people to find your content by using popular hashtags in the caption
- Identify your most popular Instagram posts and do more of them
My most popular Instagram posts are beautiful images. Instagram is a more personal glimpse of a brand, so I mix some personal images in with my professional ones:
My most popular Instagram post is this colorful infographic, using multiple hashtags so people can find it easily
I share glimpses of my personal life on Instagram, including my watercolor paintings with hashtag #watercolor
Use hashtags freely here on Instagram: it gives your content relevance & context and extends its lifespan when people search using those hashtags later.
6. Facebook: Crowded & Fleeting
The giant of social media — Facebook — offers only a 5 hour lifespan for your content, but let's face it: even if only an infinitesimal fraction of its 1.5 billion users sees your content, you've scored a win.
This study found that by sharing links to their content on Facebook, they extended the content's lifespan by 3 additional days.
The easiest way to extend your content's lifecycle on Facebook is with an ad. You boost a post and choose how many days to run it, so you decide how long your content lasts. I ran an this Facebook ad for over a year: it took people to a long blog post, and they shared it freely with their friends and colleagues, further extending the life of both the ad and the blog post:
How to Extend the Life of Your Facebook Posts
- Boost important posts: you can do as little as $1 a day for 10 days
- Pin your post to the top of your newsfeed: it becomes the first post people see on your Timeline
- Don't be afraid to repurpose your posts: you reach people on different days & times, so it's unlikely you'll burn out your fans
Boost important posts, especially those announcing big news or promotions. You don't need a huge budget, and you can target your audience to people in your area or interested in your product/service.
Guarantee greater content longevity, by pinning your post to the top of your Timeline. Facebook used to limit pinned posts to 2 weeks, but that limit no longer applies.
Repurpose the same post over time: our attention spans are short, so even if people saw your post six months ago, they may not remember it or didn't see it the first time around. I've seen excellent results doing this.
7. Twitter: Fast & Furious
Coming in last in content lifespan is Twitter, where your tweets last a brief 18 minutes. However, what Twitter lacks in staying power, it makes up for with an abundance of influencers and the ability to post multiple times a day without tiring your followers.
I don't expect longevity on Twitter, but I still use it. It has more influencers than any other social network, because it's simple to engage here. You can get someone's attention with a creative tweet and make a new connection, and take the relationship from there.
I've interviewed small business owners who get over 70% of their business from Twitter, and they tweet often, as do I. I tweet up to 12 - 15 times a day, during U.S. business hours.
Tweeting that often doesn't require you to be on Twitter all day; instead, schedule tweets throughout the day, create shortcuts for typing your most popular tweets, and ensure you engage with people who are talking to you:
How to Extend the Life of Your Tweets
You can extend the life of your tweets beyond 18 minutes, and here's how:
- pin important tweets to the top of your Twitter stream; that guarantees that tweet is the first one people see when they visit your Tweets page
- Be realistic about how long your tweets last: Twitter is a fast-paced social network, and you're unlikely to get days from a tweet unless you pin it
- Develop a Twitter success system making it easy to repurpose your most popular tweets (the video above teaches you how)
Similar to Facebook, you can pin important tweets to the top of your Tweets page, which automatically breathes greater life into your best ones.
Be realistic: don't expect days from your tweets: minutes and hours are what you'll get, unless you advertise.
Take advantage of the fast-paced nature of Twitter: tweet often and make it easy to do by developing a system allowing you to spend a few minutes a day scheduling tweets and replying to people engaging with you.
The greatest investment you can make in your content marketing strategy is to focus on your blog: it has the greatest staying power of any form of content.
Then use social networks to extend the life of your blog post: continue to use the social networks where your audience hangs out, and use the longevity tips I've shared here to maximize the life of your social media posts.
Content is the marketing multi-tool of the 21st century: make yours the best it can be, and then ensure it lasts. That's what separates the great brands from the rest.