I have often been asked: why the heck do you have those automated tweets of old content coming from your blog? What is the reasoning? They are outdated and might not be topical, could be viewed as out of context and, in my case, might be talking about technology, products or services that are over a year old.
Think about it, you pour you heart into every article you write and you want to have the world consume and hopefully enjoy your content. So, you write it and post it and then move on to the next piece of juicy content. You do this every day/week/month and over the years, you amass quite a nice set of articles. But who really goes through your site and hits the “previous article” button? It doesn’t happen that frequently. And if they do, it is probably for just a few articles. Or, people browse within a category to see your thoughts and ideas about a certain subject matter. But for the most part, once your content is there, it gets buried and lost in the archives.
Of course, search engines are your friends, so assuming that your articles have good SEO (Search Engine Optimization), have included good keywords, descriptions and have a catchy title, you could get visitors to your old content simply by the means of searches. For example, if I look at my Google Analytics for the past 30 days, some of my top content is pretty darn old:
3 of the top 10 are from 2007, 1 is from 2010, and the rest, apart from the home page are from 2011. There is a commonality of the older posts, at least for me – they are all “How To’s” which do extremely well when it comes to SEO.
So, with search engines doing such a great job, why would you want to have your social media engines repurpose older content? The answer is right in that same question – “social media.” When I first started writing, social media didn’t exist. You posted your content and hoped that people would eventually come to it or that they had subscribed to your RSS feed. But, as Twitter and Facebook emerged as powerful tools to socialize your content, suddenly there was a new way to get your writing out to new eyeballs quickly and reach new audiences.
The thing about social media is, it is a living and breathing organism. Hopefully, your followers are growing as you share your thoughts and ideas within those mediums. As your social reach grows, your older content may become more relevant to these new members of your “social team.” Sure, they can go back and see other articles that you have written but seriously, who has the time to do that. I, and probably many others, suffer from a term that I’m coining called “Technology Attention Deficit Disorder” (TADD) where people are getting distracted by the next best bright and shiny gadget or application.
Because many people like me seem to suffer from TADD, sometimes you only have seconds to get your content in front of them. To really do social media right, you have to be on it all the time, interacting with your peers, friends or followers. It’s a full time job and unfortunately, I don’t have time to individually seek out people to share specific content to. There may be a relevant article for a particular conversation and I will take the time to search out an article to share it directly with an individual.
But many times, you don’t have time, so you need to figure out other ways to socialize your content. Sometimes, you may want to do that in an automated fashion. There are advantages and disadvantages to automating this process, and this is probably a subject for another article, but at a high level, the disadvantages are some of the ones that I mentioned in the first paragraph: content being out of context, article not being relevant, or, in my case, the news or story is simply “old”.
I weighed these issues when for a while before I decided to set up automation for socializing my old content (and there are a few people who still do not see the value – I appreciate that but hopefully my reasoning will move their opinion, if only a little bit). For starters, I run a WordPress blog so there are an abundance of extremely useful tools to get your content out to the social web. In this particular case, I’m using a plugin called: Tweet Old Post. The plugin has some interesting features:
- Randomly picks an older post
- Allows you to specific the interval between tweets
- Lets you specify the minimum and maximum age of the content that you want to tweet
- Allows you to exclude certain categories
- Lets you assign a hashtag to those older post tweets
So, in my case, I set the range for the age to be between current posts and with a maximum age of 1 year and I make sure that I only tweet out periodically (e.g., one time a day). Also, so that it is crystal clear, I put a hashtag of “#OLDpost” on the tweet automatically so that people know that it is exactly that, an older piece of content.
Enough about the technology behind this. If you have read this far, you probably want to know why I’m doing it. Much of it was covered in the paragraphs above so I will recap it:
- Exposure of your content to new social followers – as your social networks grow, some of your newer members may actually enjoy some of your older content.
- Move non-SEO heavy content out to the social web – as I mentioned earlier, some of my most popular topics revolve around How-to’s or Fix-it posts. These do really well with search engines. But for those non-optimized pages of not-as-popular content, tweeting out an “old post” here and there will help boost that page’s visibility on the social web and may get picked up elsewhere, thus giving it new legs.
- Give older content new legs & new conversations – you would be surprised how many people actually retweet my “old post” tweets and then thank me for providing the information. When you first post, you might not have that much engagement, but later, more people might know about the product, service or subject and may actually have something to say about it.
- Increase your site’s page views – the more views your site has, the better, especially if you are running advertising or looking for sponsorships.
- People need your message pounded into their heads over and over again – it’s a known fact that in order for a message to be heard, it frequently needs to be repeated. Think of these “old post” tweets as a way to do this. Just be sure that you don’t have the same article go out too frequently!
It’s important not to over-saturate your social streams with “old content” and be sure that you are regularly sharing new, pertinent and relevant new content. The WordPress plugin that I mentioned does a pretty good job at allowing you to restrict what is sent, how frequently and when so be sure that you apply those settings carefully.
In the end, the choice is up to you. While I have found that this type of automated old content push works for me, it might not work for you. There are other intelligent plugins that can do powerful things with your old content on your blog, like a “related posts” plugin that presents a list of articles that have similar content or keywords to the one that a reader is viewing currently. I use YARPP (Yet Another Related Post Plugin) which is not only powerful but really works as well.
What are your thoughts? Is promoting your older content important to you? And if so, how are you doing it? Leave me a note and let me know what you do or don’t do.
HTD says: Your content is king so give it a boost every once and a while by re-introducing it.