As personalized search continues to transform the way Internet users experience content, we increasingly rely on technology to identify and deliver relevant results. These filters are great for managing the overwhelming amount of information that can be thrown at us with a single search, but there’s still a need to sharpen our sixth sense for all the junk that gets through. After all, algorithms aren’t always perfect.
Even though most users appreciate the convenience of algorithmic personalization, this type of technology still lacks the ability to identify value on a human level. So, what is one to do? From a consumer’s point of view, it’s as simple as clicking away from a page when content isn’t helpful. From a content marketer’s point of view, value can be derived by turning that junk into treasure.
What Constitutes Junk Content?
You’re likely thinking about infuriating filler content right now. While you’re not wrong, junk content encompasses so much more. From nonsensical ads and inflammatory social media posts to cringe-worthy YouTube scripts and bait-and-switch headlines, this type of content simply serves little purpose and offers little value. What constitutes content junk may be subjective in some cases, but if you can improve it, you can use it.
Following are four simple ways you can turn another marketer’s trash into your treasure.
1. Learn From It
We all wish we had the benefit of hindsight before making a mistake. Thankfully, we don’t always have to be the one in error—or suffer the consequences—to benefit from a learning experience. Compile a “what not to do” portfolio so that your creators will avoid written and visual content you deem to be unfit for publication.
2. Solve the Problem
There are few better ways to build credibility than by showing off your expertise. Begin by explaining what’s wrong with the third-party content you’re sharing and then offer suggestions for improvement in a makeover or clinic style post. If you have the time, make it interactive by asking readers to submit their own failed pieces for critique.
3. Curate It
Content curation is one of the easiest ways to deliver meaningful information to your audience without having to create something from scratch. While curation is usually about finding quality sources of content, there’s no reason you can’t transform something that’s relatively worthless into something your readers will enjoy.
Once you’ve aggregated enough junk content around a specific topic, find ways to repurpose and repackage the content for your target demographic. “Top fails,” “biggest mistakes,” and “worst of” listicles are extremely popular. To ensure you make your post a worthwhile read while imparting your own brand flavor, make sure you add relevant commentary and insight.
4. Improve It
How many times have you discovered a piece of content and instinctively known you can do better? The chances are it happens every day. While you don’t want to recreate the piece, you can use junk content to fuel inspiration for your own masterpiece. If the core idea is good, but the execution is poor, harness your own creativity and knowledge to engage your target audience and deliver something useful.
Pieces of junk content you can successfully leverage for your own brand’s benefit are few and far between. However, you shouldn’t ignore those unexpected diamonds in the rough. Fair use doctrine only extends so far, though, so make certain you abide by copyright law to ensure you don’t land in hot water unintentionally. Never copy content in its entirety and always share a link to the original.
How would you turn junk content into treasure? We’d love to hear your ideas, thoughts, and tips so feel free to share them with us in the comment section.
Shawn Manaher is the founder and CEO of The Content Authority. He’s one part content manager, one part writing ninja organizer, and two parts leader of top content creators. You don’t even want to know what he calls pancakes.