When Should You Promote Older Posts?

Perhaps there are too many exobytes of data now for search engines to categorize. Maybe demonic SEO gurus have finally crowded out reasonable online queries. Or maybe it’s because it’s the end of the world is this Saturday. All I know is I spent several fruitless hours recently researching a simple social-media etiquette question, so I’m turning to a more credible source — you.

In the spirit of posting old content, here's my kids in 2004. The tubes represent the Internet, the netting... oh forget it.

What is the etiquette surrounding promotion of old blog posts?

Milk has an expiration date. Blog posts often don’t. So logic dictates that if there is value to be gained from a new post, value can also be found in a “classic” post. So I should just tweet and Facebook the heck out of posts both old and new, right?

Here’s what I learned from my Googling: 1) You’ll increase traffic to your sites by promoting older posts. 2) There are tools that will automate that promotion.

Here’s what I didn’t learn: Do people want to see links to old posts?

I have a mixed reaction to such promotion myself. Because my Twitter and Facebook feeds are really more about promoting links to other resources on creativity than my own site — and one out of every three posts on this blog is a compilation of the best links I promoted that week — I click on a lot of Twitter and Facebook links. A fairly high percentage of the posts are not current. My take on this?

Often there is real wisdom to be found in the older post. I may even retweet it, as I did this week with a great 2008 post I found that highlights commonly misused words. But at the same time I sometimes feel a bit tricked, particularly if the date of the post can’t be found or is buried somewhere out of clear view. After all, if I’m promoting the Creativity Tweets of the Week, can I really promote a post from three years ago?

Again from 2004. Let's pretend that's the World Wide Web. Yeah, that works.

Part of my struggle here may be because I come from a breaking-news journalism background. I didn’t worry about someone reading my past reporting because it was, by definition, old news. However, an insight on tapping one’s creativity doesn’t grow stale.

I have yet to send a single tweet or Facebook post promoting an older post from this site. There’s material there for me to promote — I’ve put up almost 90 non-time-sensitive posts since launching last October. But how will those old links be received by someone who follows the link? Will they be delighted to find something of use? Or will they wonder why I sent them off into the past? Will that make them more or less likely to return?

If you’re a blogger, how do you handle promotion of archival posts? If you enjoy good links on Facebook or Twitter, what’s your reaction when sent to an archived post as opposed to a new link?

About Patrick Ross

I'm the author of Committed: A Memoir of the Artist's Road.

18 Responses to “When Should You Promote Older Posts?”

  1. I won’t be much help, because I have the same question. I started my blog about the same time you started this site, end of October, beginning of November. Two out of the three days I write about writing poetry and set exercises, therefore timeless. On the third day I post links from the week to other sites.
    Lately I have wondered when, or how often, I should repost older sites,as in writing the advice is timeless, and I have found that writers, myself included, need to reread thinking on their subject.
    I loved the post you did on misused words. It’s a post I have in my schedule to do, and now I can link to yours. I had no problem with the date. The rules don’t change [okay, they shouldn't change. I am also going to the barricades over who, whom].
    I think it’s fine to repost; I just don’t know when. Hopefully you will come to a conclusion and write another post about your thoughts.

  2. Hey here -looking stylish! :-)

    Great question. I know I’ve found lots of gems by sifting through older posts and they come up all the time during Google searches.

    I think that if you label is as an older post (as you said, it can be annoying to have to search for the date), then why not? It’s hard enough keeping up with blogs in real time – I can’t possibly go back through all my favorite sites and find the oldies but goodies. I’d love it if someone else picked their favs – and tweeted me the results!

    • Hi Danielle! That’s a good point about truth-in-advertising in the tweet or Facebook update, saying up front it’s an older post. And I fully agree on the challenges of staying abreast of my favorite sites, including yours!

  3. I think this is an eternal question for all bloggers. I really think it depends on the content of the post. If it’s something that’s timeless, like Margo mentioned, then I think you should definitely re-promote it.

    I find with social media that someone might have missed it earlier or may have just started following me and so it’s new to them.

    When I re-promote something I always indicate that it is a post from my archives.

    • Hi Melanie, good to know I’m not alone. I’ve noticed that you indicate in your tweet it’s an archive post, you’re one of the few I follow who does that. I appreciate it.

  4. Kate Arms-Roberts Reply May 18, 2011 at 11:28 am

    I like the truth-in-advertising approach – both as a reader and in terms of ethical comfort as a blogger

  5. I preschedule old posts during vacation weeks and mark them as Retro posts. This way I can bring back some of that perennially useful stuff and still have content while I’m away. Needs to be at least a year old and can only be recycled once (my rules). Another way to use old posts is during your blog’s birthday month… followed by any new comments you’d like to add showing what you’ve learned or experienced since you wrote the original post.

    • That makes a lot of sense, particularly doing it when you’re away. I’ve written posts in advance and scheduled them to post, but then I’m not really around to engage in the comments conversation. I’ve been wondering what to do with the blog next month when I’m away at an MFA residency.

      Your last point has me wondering how I could do updates to posts — I could do a new post but really it would build on an old one. That isn’t really the same as tweeting a link to an old post, but it provides some value.

      Thanks for triggering a lot of thinking!

  6. Unrelated to this post, Patrick, but I just had to pass this “Bacon Haiku” t-shirt site along. It all started when I went to check out supremecourthaiku.com, which is a hoot (“The Law of the Land / In Seventeen Syllables / Supreme Court Haiku”). But now, back to bacon:

    http://www.zazzle.com/haiku_about_bacon_tshirt-235371299221056119

    Suzanne

  7. I checked your twitter and it seems you left the whole promote old posts idea.

    What made you abandon it?

  8. It’s true, I don’t tweet old posts. I do, however, sometimes direct readers of the blog to older posts when I think they are helpful, either in the body of a post or as a related link with some of my Tweets of the Week.

    I simply dislike it when I click on a tweet link and it takes me to an old blog. I’m sure there’s useful info in there, but I have limited time to read blogs, and I’d prefer to read something new. I am not annoyed by tweets that make clear it’s a “classic” or “archive” post.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Creativity Tweets of the Week — 11/28/11 « The Artist's Road - November 28, 2011

    [...] Artist’s Road reader recently noted that after weighing the idea of tweeting older blog posts, I decided not to do so. He is right, I [...]

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