Getting It Right: Content Distribution
But this strategy must also take into consideration content distribution, optimisation and measurement, and over the coming months I’ll be publishing Getting It Right, a series which focuses in on each of these areas. And, you’ve guessed it: today’s post looks at content distribution.
As someone who has been working in various content roles for the last decade, it’s safe to say I’m a fully paid up member of the “content is king” club. But if truth be told, this is completely clichéd by now — making delightful content is no longer enough. It never has been, and the days of being able to earn 100% of your attention from organic sources is coming to a close. In fact, many believe it’s already over.
HubSpot EMEA Marketing Director, Kieran Flanagan is once again on the money when he says “If you spend 10 hours developing a piece of content you should spend at least 10 hours promoting it” (he followed up this deck with another great presentation at Inbound 14). Put simply, it’s no use having the world’s best content if nobody can see it. If you spend so much time, energy and money developing content, you must do it justice by deeply considering how you will get it to the right audience.
I recall at the start of my career many of my PR colleagues were deeply averse to spending money to give content a gentle nudge upon release — instead relying on the content to earn attention through media relations, word of mouth and social media. This seems twee and idealistic now. Paying for traffic is no longer taboo, it’s a necessity and should be considered part of your approach — just as organic distribution should. It’s about coming up with a comprehensive plan which draws on the particular strengths of a channel to achieve your goals.
There are many reasons for the move towards accepting paid distribution, the growth of “pay to play” social media, emergence of native advertising and convergence of “earned”, “owned” and “social media” into simply “organic” have all contributed. I believe that within the content marketing industry we’ll begin to see more and more people whose role focuses solely on distribution strategy (just as media buying has remained a specialist activity, I can see content distribution emerging into something similar). Content marketers must take a campaign, not flash in the pan approach to distribution. But the truth is, often the people creating content have little understanding of the best platforms to help distribute content effectively. This must, can, and will change.
In my own role at Indeed we spend a lot of time thinking about how we can distribute content to the greatest number of the right people. With this in mind I’ve created a checklist of paid and organic distribution channels so you can get content distribution right.
As I mentioned earlier social media has moved towards a “pay to play” model in varying degrees. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube all enable you to target users at a granular level, and spending even a small amount can give your content the initial distribution boost that it needs. Each platform has a different advertising model and it’s well worth familiarising yourself with the nuances of each and building it into your distribution strategy.
Content discovery platforms
You may not be too familiar with content discovery platforms like nRelate, Outbrain and Taboola, but you’ll recognise their work. These companies power the “recommendation” and “suggested reading engines” that are often visible on leading media sites, such as CNN, the Guardian and Yahoo. You can use these tools to amplify content and expand its reach to ensure it gets in front of the right people.
Search engine marketing
Another tactic to distribute your content effectively is search engine marketing on Google and Bing. Depending on your content topic and related search volumes, this is a great way to distribute content. This tactic is more common in B2B industries where some companies use search engine marketing to promote content like a whitepaper which answers a very specific need.
Take a look at Google’s Display Network and remarketing adverts. These offer both a low cost and highly effective way to increase awareness of your content. The beauty of remarketing is that it show your ads to users who’ve previously visited your website as they browse sites across Google’s ad network. It’s worth pointing out there’s many other networks worth exploring, but Google’s is a good place to start and intuitive to use.
A quick look over on Google Trends shows the growth of native advertising over the last two years. Native advertising is essentially the paid placement of content within media — or the web version of an advertorial. This can be a very direct way to reach the right audience, particularly if a publication has a readership that you’re trying to engage. However, executed poorly and it will look transactional, and readers will simply ignore it.
Some people may view this as mere semantics, but I see content partnerships differently to native advertising. I would use the example of the Guardian and Unilever branded content deal as a genuine content partnership between two organisations whose values are aligned — it makes perfect sense for them to “offer content aimed at encouraging people to live more sustainable lives.” Unilever creates the content and the Guardian distributes it to its readership. To me the characteristics of a partnership are different to native advertising as they are longer term, focus beyond merely selling advertising space and are mutually beneficial.
This is by no means new or original thinking, but if you operate in a B2B industry trade advertising is a hugely effective way to extend the reach of your content. Make a list of your core media and see if they would be willing to promote your content to ensure it reaches the right audience.
Social media posts
No surprise here, but you should craft posts for Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter and any other social networks where your audience is likely to be. Although, we’ve seen the move towards “pay to play”, in my view consumers are increasingly becoming adept at filtering out sponsored content on social networks, so ensuring there is organic content too is really important.
Perhaps the most underused network of all is that of your employees. Content marketing teams must make it easy for all staff to share content within their own networks online. For example, this could mean posting approved content that people can amend to the company wiki and social network. You should also email relevant team leads asking them to encourage their teams to share the posts, and if possible incentivise this activity. Tapping into your employee networks can be a hugely successful channel to distribute your content.
If there’s a news angle related to your content, you should definitely look to reach out to journalists, bloggers, industry influencers and any other stakeholders who can extend the reach of your content. Consider how newsworthy the content is and if there’s a story that the content could be used to tell. For example, at Indeed we recently published an infographic announcing that 50% of searches come from mobile, but our PR team pitched to the press the lack of mobile readiness among employers.
This may seem obvious, but you should think long and hard about how you distribute content on your website. What goal do you want to achieve? If it’s data capture you should look at promoting content on your homepage, a blog post, recommendations at the bottom of a page and adverts in the margin all pointing to landing page.
One of the most effective ways to get your content in front of the right people is to email it to them. Time and time again, we’re seeing that email marketing is still effective in terms of achieving marketing goals. Content should be planned in conjunction with relevant teams like sales, marketing, customer service and demand generation so they can factor your assets into their programs.
Leverage partner networks
This is more of a consideration, rather than an actionable step, but each company will have a number of organisations that it partners with this. This could be a vendor, client or trade organisation, and depending on the content, there may be scope to reach and ask them to share the content within their networks.
In the coming weeks I’ll be writing about content optimisation and measurement, but in the meantime what channels do you use to distribute content? I’d love to hear your views, thoughts and opinions in the comments section below.