Repurposing your heritage organisation’s articles and images is a great way to make your digital content work harder. This resource will provide tips to make your digital content last longer whilst ensuring it stays relevant and copyright compliant.
Creating high quality digital content can be incredibly time consuming. We are all looking for ways we can maximise efficiency and save ourselves some time. Why spend days creating new content when you can reuse some of your existing material? First, let’s not confuse reusing with reposting. We are not aiming to reshare an old piece of work again and again. The key is to alter it and make it appealing to different audiences.
We are often so preoccupied with generating new material that we forget that we already have a head start in the creative process, using stories that we have already told to help us tell many more. Old articles can be a launch pad for new ones as some of the background research has already been done. An added benefit of repurposing content is that it boosts search engine optimisation. If you post content on the same topic, it will increase your visibility and improve your ranking, as well as reinforcing your message and strengthening your brand.
The place to start is to identify content in the archives that is worth reusing. It may be helpful to look at your site analytics to see what articles and images have been popular in the past. You can then build content from an article, topic, or image that received a lot of traffic or interaction previously. You will most likely be looking for what is termed ‘evergreen’ content. This is content that does not date and remains relevant to your audiences. You can then use this in new and creative ways. You may try something interactive such as a quiz. Before you reuse it, make sure that it is copyright compliant. Ensure you have evidence of any permissions which have been granted, risk assessments or due diligence that has been carried out, and that you are comfortable with any conclusions. If not, you will likely need to do this piece of work again. If your organisation does not own all the rights, make sure that any licences that have been granted for reuse are still valid and they apply to the format in which you want to use the work. For requesting new licences, Naomi Korn Associates have a helpful template copyright agreement.
Different platforms attract different audiences. The person who follows you on Facebook may not also follow you on LinkedIn or Twitter. Your content will need to be reformatted to make it consistent with the different social media platforms. Tweets for example, can be reused to create Instagram posts or stories. Some of your audiences may prefer content they don’t have to read. In this case, podcasts and videos could be valuable to you. YouTube and Tik Tok have proved to be hugely successful for some heritage organisations such as the Black Country Living Museum.
When making use of social media, it is important to be clear of the copyright implications and opportunities when posting your own material and that created by someone else. When something is posted on social media, it is published and has the same copyright implications as if it was published in e.g. a book. Social media content is not ‘free to use’.
- The user must own or have been give authorisation to use or share the content they post. This means that if you upload content, you take on all the responsibility and subsequent risks for the legality of the content that you are posting.
- When you post on social media you will give the platform provider a licence to use that material how they see fit, including the right to use and sublicence the material.
The example of Twitter: By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through the Services, you grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods now known or later developed…You understand that we may modify or adapt your Content as it is distributed, syndicated, published, or broadcast by us and our partners and/or make changes to your Content in order to adapt the Content to different media. Twitter’s Terms of Service, accessed 29 March 2022.
Facebook and privacy, an example: You can end this licence at any time by deleting your content or account. You should know that, for technical reasons, any content that you delete may persist for a limited period of time in backup copies (though it will not be visible to other users). In addition, content that you delete may continue to appear if you have shared it with others and they have not deleted it. Facebook Copyright Policy, accessed 1 July 2019.
Social media sites reserve the right to amend the Terms at any time.
- You may be able to use third party content under certain exceptions e.g. quotation, and parody and pastiche.
- Remember that content is not generally ‘free to use’.
- When you post content on social media, remember that you will give the platform a generous licence to reuse the content you post.
- Be aware of the provenance of content. It might be that a user purporting to have created a piece of content is not the original author and does not have the right to licence it.
- Copyright is infringed often on social media.
Whatever you do, make sure you use high quality images. A low quality screenshot won’t do these days. If you don’t have an image of your own, why not explore some of the freely available content that is out there?
For example, Birmingham Museums Trust recently took the decision to make its out-of-copyright collections freely available under a Creative Commons CC0 waiver. The Smithsonian have also made some 3D models freely available: Mammuthus primigenius (Blumbach) | 3D Digitization (si.edu).
Remember, regardless of the copyright status or type of licence, moral rights still apply and the author or creator of the work should be acknowledged.
Knowing what you know now, you can begin to create content with efficiency in mind. Spend some time producing longer articles from which you can take shorter pieces. The idea is to focus on the creation of bigger pieces of long-form content, then slice it into smaller and shorter pieces for different platforms, purposes and audiences. It also helps to strengthen and reinforce your messaging. While this content takes longer to produce, this is more efficient in the long run.
Please attribute as: "How do I reuse articles and images I’ve shared before? (2022) by Dr. Katharine Walker, Naomi Korn Associates supported by The Heritage Fund, licensed under CC BY 4.0