Cross-Pollinating Content

In this module, we discuss:

  • The concept and benefits of cross-pollination, and how it works


  • Identity Feed - the combination of niche lifestyle content, a community and a (digital) third place
  • Content Atomization - a practice by which you maximize and extend the lifetime value, use and distribution of content across different channels and platforms
  • Organic Reach - the total number of unique people who were shown your post through unpaid distribution

Once you have figured out how the editorial themes of your identity feed will translate into ongoing, templatized content experiences, as we discussed in the module How to Produce & Scale Original Content, the next step is to create systems by which you can leverage each of your content experiences against one another — a practice called cross-pollination.

Similar to content atomization, the key to effective cross-pollination of content experiences is your ability to plan and strategize production of content experiences well in advance by using yearly, quarterly and monthly editorial calendars.

How Cross-Pollination Works

Recall the example from the module Maximizing the Lifetime Value of Your Content of a hotel in Los Angeles that wants to produce a video web series about various tourist hotspots throughout the city. With the web series as a brick, the hotel can atomize it into several pieces of "lighter" content (feathers), such as:

  • Live broadcasts of the video shoots using Facebook Live and/or Periscope
  • "Behind the scenes" or "on set" photos and videos for Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat
  • A podcast series produced by stripping the audio from each video (depending on how the videos are produced)
  • Individual blog posts about each hotspot

In order to employ cross-pollination using this example, the hotel could embed a recording of the live broadcast, relevant episodes of the web series, relevant photos, and links to the relevant episodes of the podcast series into the individual blogs posts about each hotspot.

This is exactly what Matthew Ball and Tal Shachar mean when they say, "identity feeds are not simply built-out vertical content offerings ... [They] focus less on delivering [content experiences] and more on packaging (or 'bundling') together a variety of related multimedia experiences."

The byproduct of cross-pollination is that the target audience has a suite of content experiences from which to choose how they prefer to consume them, surely resulting in more engagement with the entire production as a whole.

Ideally, you will offer some kind of differentiation across each of the content experiences within an entire production, thus incentivizing your target audience to engage with more than one of them. Regardless, an increase in engagement leads to more organic reach, which subsequently leads to more engagement and thus additional reach, and the cycle keeps repeating itself from there.

All in all, the result is an exponentially robust identity feed, which equates to a highly engaged, relevant, ever-growing audience and, therefore, more expansive and lucrative opportunities for eventual monetization.

Case Study: ESPN

In addition to developing a strong identity feed with a variety of content experiences that engage sports fans across the spectrum, ESPN has been hugely successful because it cross-pollinates these experiences across all of its channels and platforms.

For example, you will often hear ESPN Radio's hosts reference articles written in ESPN The Magazine, which also appear on with embedded video and podcast content taken from programs on ESPN's TV programming and radio stations, respectively.

By providing its audience with multiple ways to consume these content experiences, ESPN effectively generates a cycle of increasing engagement and reach, as described above, which results in a highly engaged, ever-growing audience and, therefore, more expansive and lucrative monetization opportunities.

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