Lessons We Can Learn From Beyoncé on Repurposing Content
Updated: May 30, 2019
When Beyoncé headlined Coachella in 2018, I watched most of the live stream on Youtube along with 458,000 other viewers across the world. The performance, dubbed as Beychella, was praised across social media and publications for its high-energy, visually grand production that was a tribute to historically black colleges and universities and their homecoming celebrations, complete with dancers, majorettes and a marching band.
Homecoming, Beyoncé’s concert documentary on Netflix, is a replay of that 2018 Coachella performance interspersed with behind the scenes footage of the planning and rehearsals leading up to the festival. The film also provides glimpses into her personal life, juggling the demands of life and career after giving birth to twins, Sir & Rumi.
Fifteen minutes into the documentary it dawned on me that Beyoncé is not only Queen Bey, but she is also the Queen of Repurposing Content. The fact that Bey was able to generate so much excitement and leave people gagging after watching the film, which showcases a performance that many of us watched one year ago, was both perplexing and intriguing to me. I was thinking: “Dang, this is a great illustration of content repurposing done on such a high, visible level.”
Repurposing content is essentially finding new ways to recycle your existing content. There are tons of different ways this can be done, but here are a few examples to give you some ideas:
Turn popular podcasts into blog posts or articles
Trim down your YouTube videos to create bite-size videos for social media
Turn multiple blog posts into an eBook or whitepaper
Turn long blog posts or YouTube videos into a SlideShare deck
Create an online course based on your blog posts, podcasts or videos
Turn your long-form content pieces into micro-content for social media in the form of gifs, memes, quotes, or stories.
So, what lessons can you draw from Beyoncé and apply to your content repurposing strategy?
Repurpose evergreen content
Evergreen content is content that continues to be valuable and relevant over months and years. In Beyoncé’s case, her celebrated songs and dance moves serve as her evergreen content.
The days leading up to Beychella there was anticipation that Beyoncé would be debuting and performing new songs from a new album during her show. Instead, Bey took her best work (her greatest hits and choreography) and repackaged them into a new experience. She injected new life into her often-performed songs and dance moves by incorporating a different theme (an HBCU homecoming), featuring new bedazzled costumes, including some new choreography and new dance moves (my personal favorite was her solo dance break to O.T. Genasis’ “Everybody Mad”), remixing her songs, and using an orchestra, which included a drumline, to provide instrumental versions and covers of her songs.
Your evergreen content will be any content piece that has performed well as measured by the number of views, comments, shares, backlinks or downloads it has received over time.
Establish Your Key Messages
When planning your content, remember your target market, your values, unique selling points and marketing goals. All of these elements should guide you in determining the key messages you want your target audience to hear and remember from your content.
Beyoncé’s documentaries stick to a certain formula that I haven’t seen her deviate from once in all her years of performing. If you go back and watch her previous documentaries, including Life Is But a Dream that aired in 2013, you will notice four key themes that are present throughout each project.
Love for her family
Beyoncé is notoriously private and rarely reveals personal details of her life on social media or through the press; however, she does give her viewers a peek into her private life in her documentaries with home video footage of tender moments with her husband and kids. In Homecoming, through her voiceover, she opens up about her difficult pregnancy and delivery complications, the struggle to rebuild her body post-pregnancy, and the challenges of trying to balance motherhood while continuing to give herself creatively to her career.
A reminder that she is the HBIC
The film includes behind-the-scenes footage and insight from Beyoncé on her creative process to bring her complex vision to life. We are reminded of her level of perfectionism in which we learn that she creatively directed every aspect of the show, picking every detail, from each dancer to the lighting cues to the dimensions of the pyramid. Her documentaries always include scenes of Bey sharing her creative vision with her team and providing feedback, and showing her disproval when things are not executed the way she instructed.
We can always expect some reflection on the nuances of life in a Beyoncé documentary. She waxes poetically about the importance of HBCUs and black womanhood in Homecoming. We hear her reflect on being one of the most celebrated figures of our time while being a black woman: "As a black woman, I used to feel like the world wanted me to stay in my little box. And black women often feel underestimated."
An obstacle to overcome
In the months leading up to her first show, Beyoncé and her team usually encounter a set of conflicts that could derail or negatively impact the show. Her documentaries in the past revealed technical issues and logistical challenges that posed threats to delivering a successful and memorable performance. For her Coachella show, Beyoncé documents her struggles of getting back into shape and the difficulty of mastering the choreography. Her documentaries also reveal that it's not always smooth sailing to get everyone on your team to fully understand and execute your vision the way you intended. She obviously defeats her foes and goes on to put on a show that would be considered an iconic moment by many.
Extend your reach
Reformatting your content for different mediums is a way to extend your reach and get your content in front of those who missed it the first time around.
Not only was Beyonce’s Coachella performance live-streamed on YouTube, but you can still find video clips of the full show, captured by fans in the audience, on the same platform. There are also short video clips of each song set from her performance on YouTube and Instagram. In addition to the YouTube live stream, she had her team record her performance that she made into a Netflix documentary.
Instead of releasing Homecoming on HBO, who she has partnered with for previous releases, Beyoncé made her performance available to a much larger audience - Netflix's 149 million subscribers worldwide. In addition to releasing the concert film on Netflix, an accompanying album that features the 40 live tracks from her Coachella performance was released on all music streaming platforms.
She was able to maximize the distribution of her content and profit several times off of one performance.
Large and small brands and businesses are expected to produce an insane amount of content, but constantly creating high-quality content for your audience can be overwhelming and time-consuming. Take a page out of the Queen Bey’s playbook and approach content creation with repurposing in mind, slicing and dicing it into different formats. When repurposing is part of your content strategy, your energy and time will shift from consistently churning out new content to promoting and sharing it to ensure your audience has a chance to see it and that your great content piece is never forgotten.