Getting your voice heard online often feels like trying to talk in an overcrowded room. So how does your brand rise above the noise?
Nowadays, the scarce resource in the content marketing world is not infrastructure; it’s audience. To compete for reader attention, brands do not only have to produce better content, they also have to figure out a way to get it in front of people. Content is a base, but beyond that is understanding of the distribution channels.
Why Distribute Content?
Because simply creating excellent content isn’t enough. Yes, SEO best practices help drive relevant traffic to your content, but SEO shouldn’t be the only tool in your content toolbox. The people who discover your content through organic search will likely find your content useful, however, the chances of them re-visiting or sharing it after getting the information are not that high.
Set Your Goals Right
As with producing valuable content, you should know what your goals are before selecting which distribution channels to use for each piece of content. Ask yourself:
- Who are you trying to reach? Your own community or a broader audience?
- What do you care most about — visits, signups, conversions, social shares, followers, or brand awareness?
Different distribution channels meet different goals. It’s important to define these goals first, then do the research necessary to determine which channel is a best fit.
The 3 Content Distribution Channels
Before we dive into the tools, let’s start with an overview of content distribution. Essentially, when you distribute your content, you do so in three basic channels: owned, earned, paid.
Owned media includes the channels that belong to you, where you control the content. This can be your blog, website, email newsletter, and social media profiles.
Earned media involves others sharing your content. This can take the form of social media shares, guest posts, media coverage, and product reviews.
Paid media is the exposure you pay for, be it pay-per-click ads, display ads, social ads, or otherwise.
Get the Word Out
The more people engage with your content – as demonstrated through page views, time spent on page, clicks on anchor links, number of inbound links, number of social shares, “likes,” etc.—the better that content will rank because those factors demonstrate demand.
So, once you publish your content, do what you can to make sure everyone knows about it.
In order to develop a successful content promotion strategy you need to make sure you cover all the main sources. Here are our favorite content distribution tools:
1. Announce and promote your content on Social Networking/Media. 92% percent of marketers use social media more than any other tactic. The most effective marketers use an average of seven social media platforms. Choose the ones that are working for you: Exploring Social Networking Websites.
Add sharing options: Make it easy for people to distribute your content online by including share buttons for popular social sites next to each piece. Each network offers its own plugin. Of course, Google gives preferential treatment to content shared on its own social network, so always include a Google+ share option. You can also use online tools like ShareThis and AddThis to add multiple options at once.
For videos, infographics and slides, offer embed codes in addition to links and optimize the related code so that it links back to your page. In all cases, customize the snippet code for each content item to include the title, a compelling description, and an eye-catching thumbnail image. Highlight these sharing options by giving them prominent placement and ensuring they’re clearly visible on the page. Also include persuasive calls to action that directly encourage people to share.
New for Facebook Business Pages: Calls to Action Button
Great news, marketers: Facebook has a new feature that can help drive more traffic from your Facebook Page to your website: a call-to-action button.
Page admins can select from a group of call-to-action buttons to add to the top of the Page. The seven calls to action available are:
- Book Now
- Contact Us
- Use App
- Play Game
- Shop Now
- Sign Up
- Watch Video
The CTA will show up at a fixed location: the top of your business Page, to the left of the Like button. While this feature isn’t available to everyone just yet, it rolled out in the U.S. in December 2014 and will roll out worldwide in 2015. So if you don’t see it on your page yet, rest assured that it’s coming.
2. Forums & Discussion Threads. The next strategy is to publish your content on forums. Forums & Discussion Threads are just a watering hole of your potential customers. No matter what industry you’re in, there’s probably an active forum of professionals in that particular niche. All you do here is republish your content on the forum after it’s indexed on your website. You will get incredible amounts of exposure from your target audience that way.
3. Include links to your content in email newsletters and other customer communications. Encourage sales and customer service teams to direct customers and prospects to content of interest. Yes, you want to manually outreach. Nothing beats personal emails to the right people. This is actually the most powerful way to promote your content.
4. Offer RSS feeds and encourage readers to subscribe to your blog so that they’ll be alerted whenever new content is published. If you’re not in control of the blog scheduling, but the social media duties fall upon you, there are many tools you can use to monitor your content. One of the simplest, is a website called Change Detection. All you have to do here is input the page address i.e. http://onlinecommunityadvisor.com/ and your email as well. You can sign up for daily, weekly and monthly alerts so you won’t miss a post and can assure your content efforts aren’t going to waste.
5. Make the Time Work for You. Another facet to think of is timing. Timing is everything and important to think about when scheduling your posts. According to many social media studies, the average lifespan for a social post is no more than 3-4 hours. Make sure you schedule your social media messages at optimal times/days during the week. This could be highly specific to your industry. Try avoiding high production work hours and look towards lower peak hours such as lunch time, or after work time. Each network is different, and has optimal times. Next week we will talk about optimal posting times for each channel.
6. If you’re interested in paying for distribution, many sites and services can place your content in visible spots.
Outbrain is a lot like Google Adwords for content. Publishers provide an RSS feed of their content or submit individual links, and Outbrain produces headlines at the bottom of stories on major media sites under the label “Sponsored” or “Related” posts. Outbrain’s network spans some of the largest publishers on the web, including CNN, Fox News, Hearst, Mashable, MSNBC and Slate.
Good news: Outbrain recently launched a self-serve platform to allow small businesses and blogs to distribute their headlines with ease.
Zemanta is a link distribution engine cleverly disguised as a text editor plugin. The consumer-facing side of Zemanta’s software analyzes the content of blog posts-in-progress and suggests relevant photos and links for authors to add on the fly.
For inexpensive and hopefully viral pay-per-click content distribution, the standby for many marketers and publishers is StumbleUpon, a social network that serves users page after page of “random” content from around the web. Cost per click starts in the pennies and goes up from there, depending on volume and category.
The real key to content distribution is to create great content that people want to engage with. Publish share-worthy content: create the stuff people want to read and share—you know, content that’s interesting and thought-provoking, useful and applicable to their needs, and entertaining.
What distribution tools do you use in your content marketing strategy? We’d love to hear how you do things! Feel free to share in the comments.
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