I’m a big fan of the three R’s: reduce, reuse, recycle. I believe that we don’t just we don’t just need to do this with the objects in our life, but we can do it with our digital creations, too. I’m a big fan of reusing content, especially when time is short.

Whether you’re on a deadline and you’ve got to produce a month of content in an hour, you’re going on holiday, or it’s Christmas and you need to prepare for six weeks of content over the break, I think there are better ways to prepare for this time than finding or creating unique content for every post. It involves recycling your content.

Some might think that this is a bit of a sly way to prepare content, but I think using this technique once or twice a year, it’s totally fine – especially when the cost of creating content originally is time, and sometimes a little bit of sanity. You are your greatest asset, so doing things to look after you is pretty important. And in my book, this is one way to do it.
Will anyone notice you’re reusing content? As long as you’re not reusing content from the last month, usually not. If it’s in a new order, with some tweaks to the copy, it can get just as much engagement as the first time around, especially if you know it’s content your audience loved the first time.

Let’s walk through how I find the best content to recycle.


What is it?

What we’re wanting to do is to find the best content we’ve sent out over the year, and, if it’s evergreen content (i.e not timely), then let’s schedule those babies out again. Our goal is to find the best content that our audience loved, that is still relevant today and schedule it again.

Turn on your stopwatch. This is something we can do in less than 30 minutes. Let’s do it.

How to recycle social media content

Step 1. Determine how many posts you need. If you’re looking for a month of content and you post every day, then you’re looking for 30 pieces of content.

(And to be honest, there’s no reason we can’t borrow from the Three R’s again: can you reduce the number of posts you send out over this period?)

Step 2. Head to your social media analytics. This might be your Facebook  Page analytics or your Twitter analytics. In this example, I’m looking at my Twitter analytics.

Step 2. Most social channels default to showing you data around your followers, not your content. Ensure that you are looking at the data for your content. In this case, I navigated to my ‘Tweets’.
Select your Content in your analytics
Step 3: Set the dates that you want to export. In this example, I’m going to export the month of July from this year.
You could export a few months in one go, but some social channels can only export around 3 months of data at a time, or they will only let you download the last 6 months. Work with what you’ve got!
I like to use content from within this calendar year, for any month except the most recent month (because recycling something you literally sent out last week would be awkward for everyone.)
Choose your dates and hit export
Step 4. Download the data into Excel by hitting ‘Export data’.
Export your data into Excel
Step 5. Now, what we want to do is find the content that our audience enjoyed the most because we want to reuse the best of the best.
There are a few ways we could measure this: the highest impressions, the numbers or comments, or likes, or shares, or clicks. In the end, we want the posts where we can see that people have actively engaged with that content, which we can infer is generally the best content.
You will see your content is sorted by engagement
Step 6. If you’re familiar with Excel, you’ll know what if you highlight your document and hit the ‘filter’ button, it will give you the ability to sort your data with a little arrow toggle.
Filter your data so you can sort it
Step 7. Sort your data from highest to lowest, by using the arrow on the column you want to sort. In this case, I sorted by ‘Engagement’ as it’s a good catch-all for all the interactions from the audience.
Rank your data based on engagement
Step 8. Voila! Your content is now sorted by the most popular for that month. Check out the ‘Tweet Text’ column to see the exact tweet copy which was used.
Step 9. I copy the content with the most engagement into a notepad file, and run an eye over the content to ensure it’s something I can reuse. I delete anything I can’t reuse.
The content I will not want to reuse might be:

  • Is it about breaking news (i.e. is it totally out of date to reuse now?)
  • Is it a conversation or commentary which isn’t a unique piece of content?
  • Are there any glitches or special characters which need to be cleaned up?

You can see in my example, that I have one piece of content which talks about IGTV launching – that is obviously old news and not something we can reuse!
Copy it into a notepad file
Step 10. Now, I’ve got a solid list of tweets I can reuse. If you’ve got time, I would suggest playing with these to rephrase them a little to mix them up, but if not, those babies are good to go.
Step 11. Most social scheduling tools now have a ‘bulk upload’ feature, where you can upload several pieces of content in one go. I use Recurpost to help organise my content, and you can see that I can copy and paste that content straight into it’s bulk uploader feature.
Bulk upload!
Step 12. Double check that your content has uploaded correctly (i.e. the images are attached to the posts). Then hit save.
Review for image glitches
Step 13. If you haven’t collected 30 pieces of content from the months you’ve selected, repeat the process again using another set of months, or even another set of years. That’s it!

Step 14. With your saved time, take the afternoon off, and read a good book or write an email to an old friend.
Did you use a stopwatch? How long did it take you to fill your calendar? Let me know how you went!

Want to work with Rachel?

Rachel Beaney is a writer and social media content specialist, helping businesses connect with their audiences.

She’s worked with local, national and global companies, in addition to not-for-profits and government bodies. She loves helping businesses tell their stories with creative and data-driven solutions.

She is based in Sydney, Australia.

Want to work together? Rachel would love to hear from you. Get in touch today.