So you’ve invested in content creation. You have a ton of great blog posts and have been trying to post regularly. Or, you know, at least as often as you can!
But there’s just one problem: nobody seems to be finding your content.
If this resonates with you, know that you’re not alone. Most of us have made this unfortunate discovery. The hard-hitting truth is that most blogs end up failing. Simply writing about your business, in most cases, just won’t cut it. Generally, you need a combination of high-quality, engaging, targeted content as well as a solid content distribution strategy.
In this post, I’ll uncover what, exactly, content distribution is and show you why it’s a crucial component of any content creation strategy. I’ll show you how to create your very own content distribution plan.
Let’s take a look!
Content Distribution 101
I’m sure almost everyone is familiar with the term content distribution, but it means a lot of things to a lot of people, so let’s take a deeper dive for a second.
Here’s what Campaign Monitor says about content distribution:
“Content distribution is the process of using a variety of tools to promote and distribute content to a targeted audience.”
Content development is vital. And it’s the foundation for any inbound marketing strategy. But if that content isn’t making it in front of an audience, then you’re just wasting your time.
That’s where content distribution comes in. This part of the process focuses on ensuring that your content makes it in front of the right people.
With the surge in content on the web, we have reached a state of oversaturation. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to stand out from the crowd, even with high-quality content. The days of “set it and forget it” are gone. You need to think bigger. You need to idealize new channels and methods of distributing your content to your target audience.
Now, this isn’t to say that high-quality content creation doesn’t matter; it does. And there are plenty of studies out there that show evergreen, long-lasting content has a higher ROI than just about any other form of marketing. But it does highlight the benefits of having BOTH high-quality content and a plan for getting it in front of your audience.
Together, excellent content and a plan for distributing it can form a winning strategy.
Now, there are three types of distribution channels: Owned, Earned, and Paid.
- Owned Content Distribution: This pertains to distributing content on web properties that you own. Think websites, blogs, and social media channels. Your single biggest focus should be on those channels that you can control the most.
- Earned Content Distribution: This occurs when you have your content distributed by third-parties via reviews, word-of-mouth, social media shares, PR, retweets or product reviews. This is also where your organic search rankings and the potential for your content to go viral becomes a factor.
- Paid Content Distribution: This involves paying for engagement to increase your reach. Buying exposure on platforms that already have pre-defined audiences is an excellent way for a start-up to get noticed. Examples of this include cost-per-click (CPC) services, Google Ads campaigns, and social media ads.
- Your owned media channel is at the core of your brand and intellectual property (IP). The time and effort you put into developing this channel will increase the size and scope of your brand in addition to creating more points of interaction.
- All of these channels will be a unique mix, heavily dependent on your individual brand and where you are in your growth cycle and size. Develop a strategy that incorporates owned, paid, and earned media while acknowledging that the resources placed in each will change as your brand matures.
- All three channels are important, but not equally important. In order to develop an intelligent content distribution strategy, you must evaluate how each one will affect your performance, and allocate resources accordingly.
- The best way to develop your earned media is with good SEO and content strategies. Utilizing this channel will dramatically increase engagement and help forge a relationship with your audience.
Digging Deeper Into Content Distribution
What types of content can be distributed?
The type of content that you can produce and distribute is virtually limitless. If you can dream it and produce it, you can dole it out to your target audience for consumption. From blog posts to videos, infographics, case studies, podcasts, and email newsletters.
There is no one-size-fits-all here. These forms are all fair game and present a way that you can reach out to your audience to ply them for interaction and engagement. Different groups respond differently to different types of content. Whether it’s B2B vs. B2C or millennial vs Gen X, you have to tailor your content mix to appeal to your audience in order to be effective in your particular situation.
Content Distribution Tools and Channels
As mentioned earlier, there are three types of distribution channels — owned, earned, and paid. Now, let’s go over each channel and provide you with a few examples of how you can approach each one.
While we’re talking about content development, let me mention a time management tip that is critical: the 80/20 rule.
When planning your content and putting pieces together, the game is not about quantity vs. quality. You would be surprised how far you can stretch a single piece of content considering the wealth of resources out there.
This is where the 80/20 rule comes in. It’s said that you should spend approximately 80% promoting your content and only 20% of that time creating it. This more efficient use of time will increase the chances that you score more significant shares.
Looking at External Distribution Channels
Below are some examples of channels that you could add to your mix. Understand that not all of these will be a good fit for your audience and that this list is not exhaustive; you are going to need to do your own research.
Here’s a handy chart for you to reference. Keep in mind that it’s in no way exhaustive, but there’s enough here to get you started:
|External (not owned)||Internal (owned)|
Each of these external distribution channels has its quirks and best practices. For example:
Hacker News – This is a busy, noisy platform and success metrics are hard to come by other than landing on the home page—if you manage that you’ll be rewarded with a slew of traffic. The articles that seem to do best here are on startup success stories and info regarding investment and raising rounds.
Growth Hub – Contributions are always much appreciated, and the community in the forums is generally friendly. Understand that there will be significant overlap with growthhackers.com, so choose one or the other when distributing content.
Growthhackers.com – This community can indeed be your golden goose. Contribute good content and you’ll reap the benefits. I also recommend becoming as active as possible in terms of comments, insights, and questions. Very helpful and engaged people here.
Product Hunt – An excellent place for great products, if you don’t have the latter don’t bother.
Reddit – Very tricky here. They can smell out self-promotion from a mile away. This site can generate a ton of traffic with the right content, take the time to post regularly in communities and subreddits that are relevant to you. They will 100% check your post history.
Medium – Medium is the wild wild west where anything goes. It can certainly be a high-success syndication channel for you. It has a much more broad offering of topics and communities than other channels.
List.ly – Another excellent platform for community engagement and audience building. Provide value and promote your lists for steady progress.
Developing Your Own Content Distribution Strategy
Your content distribution strategy is where we will apply the 80/20 rule. You’ve put all that work into producing high-quality, valuable content that your audience is dying to see. Now it’s all about getting it to the right people at the right time.
An adequate distribution strategy will allow you to build and strengthen relationships with your target audience, ultimately leading them to take action whether that is subscribing to your newsletter or signing up for a webinar.
The very first piece you need to have in place for developing your content distribution strategy is a solid grasp on what problems you are solving for your target audience via your content marketing campaign.
It’s important to have your overall goals in place, along with the information about your audience.
To strategically implement your plan, you need to have a keen awareness of what channels your audience prefers and how they interact with each one. This should already be developed in your content marketing strategy. If you haven’t worked on a content marketing plan, this is an excellent place to start.
Any content distribution strategy that’s worth its salt will include all three media types. Now, let’s briefly review each distribution channel and look at strategies you can employ in each channel and the corresponding platforms that fall under them.
Owned Distribution Channels
Your owned media channels are where you’re going to have the most flexibility and freedom in distribution and content. This is where you can open the floodgates with blog posts, more newsletters, more e-books, etc.
However, it’s a good idea to take a strategic approach to your content distribution, even on your owned channels. Not everything is going to work on every platform. Here are some ways you can plan your owned media platforms for optimized content distribution.
The key to success on your blog is consistency in publishing schedules, the tone of voice, and your chosen topics. The more narrow and niche your audience the better. Don’t try to overthink this too much.
By creating consistent, high-grade content, visitors will begin to trust your brand and will keep coming back for more. Look for topics that have value for your audience, and try experimenting with different content formats.
A great trick for earning leads and building your list is to put lead magnets at the end of blog posts. This, along with your on-page analytics, will help determine how engaged your audience is.
Your landing pages are going to be essential in converting traffic coming from earned and paid media. You need to continually test and optimize your landing pages to ensure you’re getting the most out of your traffic.
Take time to analyze whether each landing page has the right balance of design, relevance, and functionality to persuade visitors to convert. It should be easy for visitors to understand; less is usually more. Declutter, and determine whether what you have designed has the power to convince visitors to participate.
Social Media Networks
Most likely your business is going to have branded pages on multiple social media channels. The benefits of sites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are that they can help you do market research, generate leads, and develop brand awareness. These are the perfect places to find your audience and have conversations with them.
When creating your profiles always be consistent. Upload high-quality images and keep your branding the same across all channels. Your posts should match up with your on-site content and interact with users in your brand voice.
Media Sharing Networks
Media sharing networks are social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, and Pinterest. This will be where you are going to share photos and videos.
These platforms aren’t very blog content-friendly; instead, you’re going to have to commit resources to creative design. High-quality and entertaining images, videos, and hashtags are the tricks of the trade here.
Take time to understand your audience on each of these platforms separately, analyze your resources and assets, and allocate them according to your channel strategy.
Again, similar to social networks and media sharing networks, but different rules apply when posting content here. Forums such as Reddit and Quora allow users to discuss and share information and opinions about your specific category.
One important factor to remember here is that most people on forums are looking for information. If you instead try to pitch people or even soft sell them, you’ll be sniffed out immediately and given the boot!
Use these platforms as an opportunity to engage with your audience, answer their questions, and develop relationships. If you take the time to establish trust, the sales will come later.
Paid Media Channels
Paid media is precisely what it sounds like. Brands looking to expand or develop their following can pay for eyeballs and engagement. Since building a brand from the ground up has its own challenges, paying for distribution allows one to secure a presence on the platforms in which you are looking to develop an audience.
In order to get the most traction from a paid media campaign, you should always be directing traffic back to your owned media. For example, if you have content that is teasing how to solve a problem, your solution should be in the form of a link that leads back to a blog post or landing page that expands on the topic.
Never use paid content as the main hub in your content marketing mix. This channel should always work in conjunction with your owned media. In order for this to operate effectively, your owned content must be entertaining, captivating, relevant, and add value to your target audience.
Some common examples of paid media include PPC, display ads, social media ads, boosting social media posts, and influencer marketing where you pay for shares and retweets.
Search Engine Marketing
Using search engine marketing (SEM) entails promoting your ads on Google and Bing to the audiences they attract via their search tools. SEM is an advertising tool that operates on a PPC advertising model, so you pay every time a user clicks on your ads.
Typically you’re going to run text ads that appear on the search results page, or within their digital ad network. These are great platforms to generate traffic to your landing page if your brand is new or you have a new product.
Social Media Ads
Popular social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn provide a wide array of ads including PPC, retargeting and lookalike audiences. You will have to decide which network your customers spend time on, and which content best fits their use.
The targeting capabilities of social networks are second to none these days, presenting you with opportunities based on demographics, interests, and behaviors easily.
The trick here lies in your audience’s development and tailoring the messaging correctly. As with other channels, you need to run separate landing pages for your social media campaigns. Optimize your engaging content to drive traffic to your high-conversion pages.
Earned Media Channels
Earned media is without a doubt the most challenging channel to master, as success in large part depends on other’s interests and guidelines.
However, if you produce content that is worth sharing, people are going to write about you and or share your content. This is where outreach and influencer marketing can play a huge role. I recommend trying to establish relationships with influencers in your category. It can really go a long way to increase engagement with a broader audience.
Some ideas for this type of strategy include:
- Guest blog posts with notable brands
- Emailing for backlinks
- Free follows and retweets
- Following and promoting hashtags
One more tool that’s worth checking out is the Content Distribution Matrix by Smart Insights. It’s an excellent way to gauge the effectiveness of your distribution channels and determine which channels they should be committing resources to.
At the end of the day, you only have a finite amount of time and resources, so make sure you distribute them wisely. This means not only spending time creating content, but looking to extend their mileage as much as possible, and spreading the content pieces you create in the most efficient manner. Take the time to determine where your target audience is, and then bring the message to them in the best format. Test and test again to see what’s working. Then repeat your success.
Are you looking to get your content noticed? Carrier Pigeon can help! From content creation to distribution, we make content marketing easy, so you can focus on other things. Visit us today to get started!