You spent hours, maybe even days, crafting your blog post.
You did your research, wrote your shitty first draft, edited it, and then edited it again to perfection.
You uploaded it to your blog and then shared it on all your social media platforms. Finally, you basked in the afterglow of your hard work for a bit before moving on to the next project, never to think about the post again.
Does this sound familiar to you?
If so, you’re missing a crucial step in the content creation game—repurposing your content.
Repurposing content is, essentially, recycling content to extend its reach, making sure that it is hitting all of your audience and snagging a few new folks along the way.
In order to be successful at this, you should know that people consume information differently. While one person could be happy as a clam reading your aforementioned blog post, others may prefer hearing a podcast about the topic or learning the information through a downloadable slide deck.
To cater to the different learning styles, you must first understand them.
The VAK Learning Styles Model
VAK stands for Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic. The VAK Model was developed by psychologists in the 1920’s to classify the most common ways that people learn. The Model picked up momentum in the 1970’s when there became more of a focus on individualized learning styles in the classroom, and teachers were encouraged to adapt their lessons to address their students’ needs.
With the advent of content marketing, VAK has a use outside of the classroom: repurposing content for your audience. While we’re not fans of labels, and there are other models of learning styles, VAK is the most straightforward when it comes to understanding your audience at a broader level.
Studies show that about 30% of consumers are visual, 25% are auditory, and 15% are kinesthetic learners. Notice that didn’t add up to 100%? That’s because another 30% of consumers learn through a mixture of these. The majority of your audience, however, prefers one main learning style over the other.
Visual people learn through sight. They tune out fairly quickly when it comes to audio and have a hard time remembering information disseminated verbally. This modality is particularly interesting because there are two sub-categories:
Visual-linguistic: These learners consume information easily through written language, such as reading and writing tasks. They can easily remember what is written down, even if they only view it once. Reach them through:
- blog posts and articles
- white papers
Visual-spatial: These learners still learn through sight, but usually experience difficulty consuming large blocks of written text. They can easily visualize things by using their imagination. Reach them through:
Auditory learners consume information better when they hear it. In the beginning of an audio recording, it is important to summarize the topic and pose questions to pique interest. If you must present them with written pieces, make sure you use rhythmic language and patterns. You can reach them through:
Kinesthetic learners consume most effectively through touch and the manipulation of objects. You may wonder how that translates to online content. The answer is quite easily. You can reach them through:
- Slideshare presentations
Take this blog post for example. If I had to repurpose this post to cater to all three modalities, I would do the following:
Visual-Linguistic: This is already covered through this blog post.
Visual-Spatial: I would make an infographic of allthe learning styles. We’re fans of Piktochart here at CYC. It’s easy to use and has great templates for the design-challenged.
Check out the infographic for this blog post here.
Auditory: Turn this article into a podcast. Being that it’s straight-forward in terms of content, the podcast would be fairly short. Please note that reading your article word-for-word may not be the best idea. What makes an article engaging to read does not always translate to an exciting listen.
If you are doing a quick mp3 recording, you don’t need fancy equipment—just your phone! A great and ridiculously easy to use recording app is Hi-Q MP3 Voice Recorder. You can then edit with Audacity (which also works for recording).
Click here for an example.
Kinesthetic: One word: Slideshare. Remember to pep it up a bit. Use bold fonts and lots of visuals. Each point should have its own slide (the more slides, the more clicks to advance the slides, which appeals to the kinesthetic nature). At the very end, I would put a call-to-action to download the infographic.
A Case Study
Now for a real life example: If you are like me, you are obsessed with watching Ted Talks. Not only is Ted an excellent resource for new ideas, the brand serves as a case study on how to repurpose content.
Each video is accompanied with an interactive transcript that allows you to follow along, as well as search and navigate by clicking on a word to jump to that exact point in the video. You can also download the video or just the audio.
Navigating to other areas of their site, you will find slideshows, playlists, blog posts, and photos. I even came across this Google Sheet index listing over 2,000 Ted Talks. The whole website and their social media pages are media-rich and accommodating to everyone on the VAK spectrum.
So you may be thinking this sounds like a lot of work….
It doesn’t have to be.
Now that you understand the learning styles, you can strategically put them to work. Do you have to repurpose every single piece of content to cater to all three learning styles? No, not always. The key is to pay attention to the content that your audience engages with the most and, from there, repurpose content accordingly.
Do you get dozens of comments on your blog post, but it’s virtually crickets when it comes to a slideshare? Or maybe people share your witty meme by the boatload, but you only receive a handful of responses to your quiz. These analytics and metrics are the things that you need to pay attention to. After a while, you’ll be able to intuitively structure your content around what resonates the most.
In addition to paying attention, you can reach out to your audience and ask them what type of content they would like to see. I can’t stress enough the benefits of checking in periodically to make sure that you are fulfilling your audience’s needs. This establishes trust, loyalty, and a rapport, all of which increase engagement levels.
The best thing about repurposing is that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time to have a wealth of content. Remember, all you need to do is discover the way in which your audience likes to receive information and you’re golden. You’ll become a master at creating compelling content that speaks to your audience directly, making them return for more.
P.S. Unsure of your own learning style? Take this quiz to find out!