One of the most powerful marketing tools in the hands of an early-stage entrepreneur is content.
It can help you connect with your users in meaningful ways. It can get you on Google's radar. It's cheap. And the best part — you can do it yourself.
But, of course, it's not all rainbows and unicorns. Creating great content takes a shitload of time. And time is the one resource that we as founders have so little of.
That's why I wanted to share with you a useful technique that will help you create 2–3 times more content without spending too much extra time or money on it.
I call this Content Morphing.
What is Content Morphing?
Content Morphing means reusing and adapting your existing content into different formats and channels, all while adding value to the end user.
For example, think back to the last piece of content you produced. Maybe, it was a blog post or a video... or anything else.
You probably spent at least a few hours making it, but what did you do with it after publishing? You likely shared it on social media. Maybe, you posted it on Hacker News and Reddit… For most people, the story ends here.
Doesn't it feel like a waste of your efforts to just leave it at that?
Content morphing is about taking the message, the story, the essence of that original post or video and telling it in a different way.
It's turning that blog post into a slide deck to reach a new audience. It's disassembling that video into a dozen 140-character long quotes that get shared hundreds of times.
I'll show you exactly how to do this in just a minute. For now, I just want you to start thinking about any content you generate as only a piece of the puzzle, not the whole thing.
The lazy thing to do would be publishing a blog post saying "Hey, here's the ebook, go get it!" But that wouldn't add much value to their blog readers, would it?
So instead, they ran a full week worth of blog posts about this topic, all while promoting the main resource.
They talked about what conversion centered design is, discussed pros and cons, and shared examples. They created lots of value for their readers without forcing them to download anything.
Well, remember that all these posts were based on the ebook. The research has already been done. The definition has already been thought of. The examples have already been collected. This is content morphing at its best.
And now let's learn how we can do it ourselves.
Putting Content Morphing to Work
Content morphing isn't hard. The only challenge is to getting into the habit of applying this approach every time you start working on something new.
That's why the first step is learning to see the whole spectrum of opportunities.
To help you with this, I'm going to share a framework and a worksheet that I've developed for myself and have been using for the last few months.
The framework has two key dimensions:
1. Format. You can produce text, graphics, decks/presentations, audio, or video.
2. User commitment. Some content takes only seconds to consume. For example, an image or a tweet. Reading a blog post, on the other hand, takes a few minutes. Finally, watching a live webinar or going to an event is a pretty big commitment.
When you put the two together, you end up with a table just like the one embedded below.
This worksheet is empty now, and it's yours to fill out. Here's how I do it.
Write down the working title of your content piece.
Start at the point of origin. Find a cell for it, and write down what exactly you're making.
For example, an ebook will land itself somewhere under text and graphics, and in the 15–60 minute commitment zone.
Brainstorm ways you can morph your original work into different formats and shapes.
Can you break it down into smaller pieces? Can you build it up into something massive?
If you find yourself struggling, here are a few ideas. But remember that these are just pointers, and there are lots of ways to fill out the worksheet.
Finally, select the content pieces you think you should be generating and get to work!
Here's an important caveat, though. Moving from a low-commitment idea to a high-commitment one requires more work than going the other way. That's why it's best to start closer the top of the table and move downwards.
Content Morphing Case Study: 50 Must-Know Mobile Commerce Stats & Facts
Before I let you go, I want us to go through another example of content morphing to illustrate exactly how powerful this concept is.
Our guinea pig is going to be a slide deck I created last month at Mobify. It's called "50 Must-Know Mobile Commerce Stats and Facts," and it was compiled by me and designed by our very talented Andrew Wu.
The deck took a while to make (20+ hours), and it's only natural that I wanted it to get as much exposure as possible.
Guess what I used? Content morphing, of course!
In the filled out worksheet below you can see a number of things.
First, the origin point. I started with a slide deck that requires about 30 minutes to a user's time.
I then looked at ways to publish a blog post about the deck without just saying "hey, check this out." Remember, we want to add value through every iteration of the content.
The idea I decided to go with was "13 Stats to Convince Your Boss to Invest in Mobile in 2013."
The headline had nothing to do with e-commerce, so I could target a wider audience. The deck itself was embedded at the very end.
Moving further down the table, I also decided to add "click to tweet" buttons within the post so that the content can be shared more easily.
Finally, knowing that our designer would do a great job with the graphics I thought that each slide of the deck could also be shared as separate updates on Facebook and Pinterest, highly visual platforms.
Note that none of these things took me much time. The blog post was written in one hour, not ten. The social media updates wrote themselves. Meanwhile, the total number of content pieces more than tripled.
The results were truly amazing. The deck has been seen by over 18,000 people in less than a month. The post and the deck have been shared 800+ times combined and reposted on a number of prominent blogs.
The highlight of the campaign was probably this inforgraphic, which a random company made based on the post. (That's content morphing too, by the way.)
Content morphing is a simple, yet powerful, concept. You may have been using it all along without knowing, but being aware of it and applying it methodically will help you produce more content that could've imagined.
Got another minute? Please, share in the comments what content you're creating now and how you think you can apply this new framework?