I recently came across a piece on Copyblogger put together by Pamela Wilson and titled Seven Lessons Learned From Three Years of Content Creation. All the advice she gives in the piece is undoubtedly sound, from planning your content ahead to batch writing to connecting with your audience. One point of hers in particular got me thinking, however - the last one.
"It took me years to realize how much people enjoyed consuming content in different formats," she writes. "My courses and products all included text, audio, and video. But my blog posts tended to be mostly text. And that's a shame."
"With a little extra effort, your content can have a presence on iTunes (with a podcast), and YouTube (with video) among other important venues," she continues.
My question is simple: is this really worthwhile all the time? Are there situations where creating multiple different versions of the same piece of content won't fly? Most importantly, how can you tell if you should create in more than one medium?
Not everyone has the capacity to do so, after all. Take me, for example. I like to think of myself as a fairly skilled writer, but tell me to put together an infographic and you'll probably get something that looks like a five-year-old's art school project.
Injecting Multimedia Into Your Blog
Where I'll definitely acknowledge Wilson has a point is in lamenting that her blog posts were mostly text. That's a problem, as it makes it far more difficult for her readers to engage with her work. See, as I'm certain you're well aware, the web's been undergoing a marked shift of late - it's growing immensely more visual than it used to be; significantly more focused on images, video, and audio than on plain text.
It's not all that difficult to understand why, either. These days, the web is completely overloaded with information. We've less time to devote to any one piece of content, which means we're extremely likely to shy away from walls of text.
What I'm saying here is that it's important to break up particularly long blog posts with some sort of multimedia content - pictures, videos, graphs/charts; you get the idea. People will find your stuff far easier to digest (provided it's not too horrendously long). As a result, you'll likely end up having more success with your readers in the long run.
Basic stuff, right?
Visual Content And Engagement
Moving on, I'd like to examine Wilson's belief that one's content should have a presence on multiple different venues - and in multiple different formats. That's probably raising red flags for a few of you. After all, isn't the repurposing of fresh content something you should generally avoid?
Let's say you write a pretty decent blog post on the usage habits of Salesforce clients. You spend at least around five hundred words talking about the statistics you gathered, and what they mean. Ultimately, you conclude with an awesome explanation of how a business can use the data to better itself.
Now, let's say you also want to create a podcast centered around that blog post, upload it to YouTube, and put together an infographic. You can do all of the above provided (and this is important) the new mediums actually add something new to what you've already got.
For the infographic, that's easy. You can provide people with a visual representation of the data you gathered, and give them an idea of what they can gain from each data-point. You can even attach that infographic to the original blog post.
The podcast is a bit more difficult. You might interview someone from Salesforce on the statistics, or talk directly to a few of the business leaders you surveyed. You could even talk about a few market trends you never touched on in your blog post, and detail how they impacted the statistics.
As for the YouTube video...again, that's tough. You might consider putting together an animation, perhaps. You could also put together a video blog expanding on one specific aspect of the data.
I'm sure you see where I'm going with all this, at any rate. You can't just repost an article into a new medium for the sake of doing so. You need to tap into the unique strengths of that particular medium in order to offer something new; something that adds to your original piece.
So, to loop back around to our original question: is Wilson correct in her assertion that you should publish your content to multiple channels and in multiple mediums? The short answer is yes. The long answer is yes, so long as you've the resources and the capacity to do so in such a way that the additional mediums actually add something new to your post.
If all you're doing is copying and pasting the information in your article, then your time would probably be better spent writing a new one.
Image credit: Magnus Manske