How Often Should You Promote Old Content?
One of the most common debates I’ve had with other bloggers is about re-promoting old content. Namely – should you? And if so, how? And how often?
Whether it’s automated tweets, regular custom-written posts or simply the occasional link when you remember something you’re particularly proud of, everyone has a different approach (and attitude towards) resharing work from the distant or not-so-distant past.
Maybe you find your older posts a bit cringey or clumsy, like I do, or you just think it’s “old news” that your followers will have seen before. I’m going to try and encourage you to banish that inner voice that tells you not to, though, and give you a few reasons why it might be a good idea.
Why You Should Re-share Old Content
If you’re using your blog as a springboard to earning money, then the more content you have the better. The more visitors you have, the better. And one of the easiest ways to bring in traffic (note: easiest, not necessarily most effective) is to simply chuck a link on your social network of choice and tell them “Here! I made this!”
From a practical perspective, you’re unlikely to be able to create brand new content every day. Blog posts, pictures, stories, and videos all take time to make, and there’ll be plenty of fallow days when you have nothing new to share.
That’s where your back catalog comes in!
Your content doesn’t immediately lose all value just because it isn’t fresh – while many won’t click on your post if they’ve seen it already, there will be plenty of people for whom your old stuff is still brand new.
Think of all the people who follow you on social media, and consider what percentage of them actually see everything you put out. In ye olde days before algorithms, I’d have encouraged you to simply think about how many might be in different time zones – asleep or at work when you post your latest smut, so not in a position to see it immediately.
Nowadays, the fact that so many timelines are curated by algorithms means we don’t even need to think about timezones and schedules. It’s possible for someone to be online when you post, staring eagerly at their screen, and still not actually see your work.
So while we can debate the question of how often to reshare, the fact is that these days you’re missing a huge trick if you only ever share a new post once.
How Often to Share
For search and social algorithms, the more traffic you can get to a post when it’s fresh, the better. I won’t go into huge detail about how these systems work because it’s different for every site (and honestly always a little bit murky anyway). But broadly what they’re looking for is content that gets traction quickly.
So when you first share a post, you’re looking to “sell” it as effectively as possible. You want people not only to click the link but also hit the “like”/”share” button swiftly. The more people who do that, the more likely your post is to be shown in the feeds.
On Facebook, I’ll try to share posts first at times of the day when I think people will be online. On Twitter I’ll always share a new post at least twice on the day it goes up.
People like the “social proof” of seeing lots of others have shared something, though, so if you have a post that’s got lots of retweets, consider RTing it yourself rather than making a whole new one. The more RTs something has, the more it’s likely to garner, especially with sexy stuff, where people sometimes feel a little shy being the first and only person to share the piece.
This is just the start, though. If you really want to make the most of your content, you can afford to share it far more frequently than just on the day it goes up. If I had infinite time, I’d be sharing every new blog a week after it went live, and then a month. As it is, I don’t always have time to do that, but I do dip into stats fairly regularly and do little threads of “what people are clicking on this month.” On a fallow day, when you have no new content, consider just boosting some of the stuff that has most resonated with people.
The other key thing I do is “this time last year.” I dip back into my blog archive and share posts that were written a year ago. It’s a fun exercise as a writer, to see what you were chatting about (and spot all your mistakes!) a year ago. But it’s also great for your traffic because it allows you to get those extra clicks from people who may have missed it the first time round.
I appreciate that I haven’t given you a concrete answer to “how often should you share” here, but that’s partly because it will depend on your channels and your audience. My answer to this question is usually “more.”
Thanks to time zones, schedules, algorithms, and attention spans, the vast majority of people who follow you won’t see your work the first time round. So if in doubt, post it again.
To Automate or Not to Automate
If you want a low-effort solution, you can find Twitter bots that will automatically post your old blogs – with a link and the title. They usually give you the option to add custom text (i.e. a hashtag like #FromTheArchive, or I’ve seen someone use a standard disclaimer along the lines of ‘probably outdated, possibly problematic, definitely NSFW’).
I’m not a huge fan of these, though: not only do they just chuck out posts without any context, they can also sometimes go haywire and randomly post the same piece over and over until your followers beg you to make it stop. More importantly, in my experience, they get far less engagement. Your followers get used to which posts are the old ones (especially if they’re all marked with the same hashtag) and tend to click on them far less frequently.
If you have a little more time and you want to make sure they’re as effective as possible, I’d always recommend manually scheduling. I use Tweetdeck (other apps are available!) and spend a little time at the start of the month going through posts I wrote this time last year, and sending the links out on or around that date. Then I look at which days are empty, and throw in some popular posts from recent months, audio pieces, or sponsor tweets to fill in the gaps.
It’s quick to do, and it means I can do things in a fairly rational order – making sure there aren’t any days that are completely blank or balancing out the timeline by scheduling some bits for when I’ll be asleep and the Aussies come out to play. Doing it manually also means I can custom-write a tweet to “sell” each piece. Rather than just the title, I can include a quote from the piece or some imagery, which usually gets better reception and more clicks than an automated tweet could muster.
I hope this has been helpful and maybe given you a little nudge to share your awesome work more frequently. The beauty of this is that you can directly test whether it’s helpful for you:
Use a scheduler to set up one or two tweets every day for the next month, promoting some old content you’re especially proud of (or that was especially popular when it first went out), then when the month is up go look at your Twitter analytics and site stats.
Spend roughly the time scheduling that you’d usually spend on writing a blog post, then measure the effect. Did you get traffic? How much? Did that bit of scheduling bring you more traffic than you’d have got from writing an extra blog post? If so, it’s probably worth it. If not, it isn’t.
This is the beauty of working online sometimes: You don’t need to take my advice as gospel, because effects will be different depending on your audience. So when it comes to resharing your old work, use your clicks and stats to help you work out what’s most efficient for you.