repurposing content

What Disney Can Teach You About Repurposing Content


We all know that content is king. And, to rank well in Google search results, your site needs to have high-quality content. Creating the level of content that is required to dominate the search results is tough work. That’s why, when you create a content piece that is successful, you should repurpose it by modifying it to take advantage of other content formats. Let’s look at Disney to get a better idea of how this tactic works.

What is Content Repurposing?

Before we get too far, let’s talk a bit about what it means to repurpose content. Repurposing content is the act of changing one type of content to fit into another content format. Typically this tactic is specifically used on your top performing content pieces. For example, if your top blog post is a list article on the Top 5 Beers to Drink with Chocolate Chip Cookies, you can repurpose it by creating a video using the information in the article. You can also take the content and create an infographic so the content can easily be viewed as a graphic.

When you repurpose it in this manner, you can get your content in front of a larger audience by putting the content on a channel appropriate for the content type. In the prior example, the original blog would be on your company website, the video could be on YouTube, and the image can be on Pinterest or Instagram. You can even break the infographic into 5 small images to highlight each list item. The video and infographic can live on your company website as well, but adding them to additional networks will provide you with exposure to an audience you may not have otherwise had.

So… What Does Disney Have to Do with Repurposing Content?

Of course, Disney is amazing at everything they do. But, whether you realize it or not, Disney is also the master of repurposing content. You may be thinking of all of the merchandise and toys related to their movies. Granted, the merchandise is a smart move on their part, however, for the purpose of this article we’re going to look specifically at content and media formats.

The Same Great Story in More than 5 Different Formats

What happens when Disney creates a successful movie such as Finding Dory? They take that same great story that people loved, and repurpose it into additional formats for more people to enjoy. You can buy five different Finding Dory books, they all have different covers, they are different sizes, and they appear to be different books. The question is, do they include different stories? Do they have more backstory or are they short stories that just use the same characters? The answer is, no, they are all the same story. It’s the story that has already proven to be a winner but told in a format that the user wants to view.

Let’s dig deeper into these five different books and figure out how they were able to create so many different products using the same story.

  • Board Book – The first book is a board book. This is an extremely simplified version of the story meant for a very young audience.
  • Coloring Book – The next book is a coloring book. This format has a few more words than the prior format but it still only has one sentence on each page. It’s the same story, but on a format that allows for coloring and enjoying the story in a different way.
  • Sound Book – The sound book format continues the trend of offering a book for a young audience, and keeps the same successful story, but adds buttons to hear sounds during relevant places of the story. This allows for people to not only read but also hear parts of the story. Additionally, they get to interact and participate by clicking the buttons during the appropriate part of the story.
  • Paper Book – Moving to an older audience, you can get the story as a book with paper pages. The pages have more words on them and the content is longer than the prior formats, yet it still consists of the same overall story.
  • Collector’s Edition – The Collector’s Edition is yet another format with the same great story. This version can be loved by children and adults alike. This format has a classic and expensive look with silver lined pages. The stories are longer than any of the prior formats, but again, it is the same story.

Not only can you find numerous storybooks to portray the same story, but you can find multiple movies. Disney has been re-releasing some of the classic movies as remastered digital Blu-rays. This is a new format to consume the same content you loved before. Why would people buy the same movie again? Because the new format is easier and more enjoyable to consume.

You can now see Disney taking this a step further. If you look at Beauty and the Beast, you have the classic animated movie and now you have a live action (non animated) version. Again, the new version uses the same great story that has already proven to work. The changes are fairly subtle to make the story work with the new content format.

How Can Disney Make So Many Different Formats and Not Annoy People?

Simple, they understand their demographic. They understand that their content is loved by people of all ages and they make sure there’s a format available for the wide range of users. They also understand the level of attachment their users have towards their content. They’re able to leverage the nostalgic feeling of their stories to justify additional formats. The feeling of nostalgia is what helped the live action Beauty and the Beast to be so successful and why they need to provide so many formats for the younger audience as parents want to introduce these stories to their children in a format their child will love.

What Can We Learn From Disney?

Have a method to introduce your content such as a blog on your company website. Identify which content pieces are popular and enjoyed. Identify different formats your audience regularly uses to consume content. Repurpose your top performing content to leverage those additional format types.

About the Author

Jennifer Rogina has been a digital marketing specialist since 2008. During those years she has focused on Pay Per Click Advertising, Search Engine Optimization, and Conversion Rate Optimization.