There’s a ton of time and effort that goes into content marketing. Businesses will spend hours writing a single well-researched, strategic, strongly-written blog post, taking every effort to create an outstanding post that will resonate with their target audience and drive results.
After hours and hours and writing post after post, however, they’re frustrated. They aren’t seeing the results that they know they should be getting. They wonder if they just need to wait for the momentum of content marketing to pick up (which is a legitimate reality) or if they’re doing something wrong.
Sometimes they do need to give it time, but more often than not, even brands that create strong, potentially-high performing posts are dropping the ball in one key area: Distribution.
Content distribution should be a core part of your overall marketing strategy. It dictates how you’re promoting your content and getting it in front of your target audience. Keep in mind that even the most perfectly-written blog posts in the world have no hope of driving results if your key audience can’t ever find it!
In this post, we’re going to share our go-to content distribution checklist, which breaks down the platforms you should be testing and what actions to take on each.
What Is Content Distribution?
Content distribution is the strategic process of getting your content in front of your target audience. Writing the content and hoping people find it just because it’s a great post is not effective, and simply hitting that “Publish” button on a WordPress site does not mean that you’ve distributed it.
Think sharing the post on social media, optimizing it for search, using guest posting to drive traffic to a specific link, and even asking influencers to share it. This is distribution; you’re actively putting links to your content in more places with the goal of having it seen by as many people as possible.
Why You Need Multiple Platforms for Content Distribution
If your business or brand has been around for a little while, you likely have a relatively established and diverse online presence. You might be connecting with some users through your mobile app, others through email, and some exclusively through social media or even PPC campaigns.
I follow my kickboxing studio on Facebook, for example, but am not signed up for their email newsletter or text chain; I learned this when I didn’t get the email that apparently announced a closure recently. Similarly, I only am connected with my previous mortgage broker through email; if they were to focus most heavily on posting refinancing promotions on social, I’d never see it.
Even your most engaged audience may not follow you on every platform. This is relatively normal, and it’s a big reason why you want to incorporate as many platforms into your content distribution plan as possible.
Content distribution is only going to be effective when it successfully puts your content in front of your target audience. Using diverse platforms and strategies ensures that the largest number of your audience reaches it, no matter how they’re connected with you (even if they even are yet).
Let’s take a look at each individual platform and the checklists you can use to leverage each successfully.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is typically a benefit of content marketing, but it can be part of your distribution plan, too. Personally I think that all brands should be using some SEO for their blog posts, because it can build momentum and make a big impact over time. While I don’t think this should be the main focus of your distribution strategy, it should be one that you include. There’s nothing to lose here.
If you’re planning on using search to help your target audience find your content, keep these tips in mind:
- Optimize every single post for a unique keyword. Include that keyword in your post title, within the post and its subheads, in the text, the alt image texts, and the meta description. If your post isn’t optimized, you won’t see results.
- Choose your keywords carefully. If you’re a new site trying to rank for a highly competitive keyword, you’ll likely struggle to do so. Consider your domain authority and then look at keywords that you can realistically rank for. Remember that your domain authority can (and likely will) go up over time. This is a great time to rank for long-tail keywords that align well with search intent and can bring you high-value traffic even if it’s not netting hundreds of thousands of searches every month.
Keyword research tools like Moz and SEMrush are great choices because they’ll offer incredible levels of information, but you can always use Google’s free keyword tool if needed to get information about keyword volume and competition levels.
- Track your content over time. Watch your ranking in the SERPs to assess how well your content is doing in the search engines. You can use a tool like SEMrush to track your ranking for each post, which will flag when you’re rising or falling in position. You may need to refresh old content to keep it high-performing, or you may notice that certain types of content perform better than others. Take note of this to optimize your content for SEO performance moving forward.
Social media marketing is one of the most popular content distribution strategies that you’ll see online. It’s free (assuming you’re using organic social marketing here), it’s quick, and it’s easy. Unfortunately, most brands are also doing it wrong.
If you follow a lot of brands on social media, you’ll notice that some are prone to just dropping a link to the content in a post, share the title, and then publish it. This isn’t interesting or engaging to users, and it feels like you’re talking at them. Instead, make sure that you’re using these posts to pique interest and generate conversation wherever possible. This is a great example:
Here’s the checklist of what to do when using social media as a content distribution platform:
- Get set up with social scheduling tools. Trust me when I say that you want to automate this process as much as possible. If you want to share every single blog post on social the day after it’s published, use a tool like Jetpack. You can enter in social media posts for each individual platform, and then determine when you want the post to be shared. This ensures nothing is slipping between the cracks.
If you would rather schedule the posts manually, use a tool like Hootsuite to set up a social calendar in advance. This allows you to drop links to content in more sparsely if you want, giving you the chance to create a stronger balance of content overall.
- Add social sharing buttons & CTAs to your post. Encourage users to share if they love the post, and make it easy for them to do so. Consider sharing buttons and extensions like “Click to Tweet” to your posts to make it easy for users to share quickly.
- Customize your description for each social platform. In general, you’ll likely see the best results when you write promotional posts for each piece of content for each separate platform. I might use something more click-baity on Twitter, for example, and on Facebook try to encourage users to read and ask them to share their thoughts. Consider how the post will physically be displayed, what audience you have on each platform, and platform best practices.
- Share your content to groups. If you have a Facebook group for your business, share your content within them. These are highly engaged audiences, and posts in groups get much, much more visibility than posts on your Page. Take advantage of that.
- Reshare & repurpose your best content later on. Consider condensing the main points of your 2000 word blog post into a minute-and-a-half-long video that you can promote on Facebook and YouTube. Videos perform well on most platforms, and you can always share a link to the full content in the description and tell people to check it out for more info.
You also will want to reshare your top-performing content at a later date, even if it’s six months later. You can also reshare it if it becomes relevant again.
If, for example, I’d written a post about business strategies during tough financial times, that would be a great post to share right now with the current world crisis. Use tools like Hootsuite to schedule evergreen content far in advance if you wish.
Guest posting is a great way to build up thought leadership and your domain authority all at once. When you write for other publications online, most will give you one or two backlinks to your own content. This can drive traffic to your site, and be a way to get more eyes on specific high-value posts.
You can learn more about guest posting here, but these are the steps to take in mind when using guest posting as part of your distribution strategy:
- Be strategic about the links you choose. Most quality publications would be happy to let you link to a post like “Ten Ways to Use YouTube to Make Money” but not promotional content like “Here Are Ten Awesome Features of My YouTube for Businesses Program.” Make sure that you’re pitching content that you know can link to high-value, purely-informative posts.
- Use as many links as the publication will give you. Many allow you one link within the guest post (which should always link to valuable content and not product pages), and typically one link within your bio. The latter should ideally take users to your home page, but you can also use it to promote high-value content pages if applicable.
- Prioritize publications with high volumes of engaged readers. Which publications have higher volumes of readers who are leaving comments and clicking through the links in the posts? These are the ones that you want to target when you’re using guest posts for content distribution because they’ll be most effective at driving traffic to your site. You can use a tool like BuzzSumo to assess this, but also a quick manual review of the different publications that you’re considering can work well, too.
Pay-per-click campaigns aren’t always the first line of defense in some brands’ content distribution strategies, but there’s a lot of great potential here that ends up going untapped.
Discovery-focused ads, in particular, are useful for content distribution. These ads include all those where brands can actively reach out with PPC campaigns, displaying ads in a user’s feed even if they weren’t searching the brand out.
You can use PPC campaigns like those on Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads, and Twitter Ads to drive engagement and clicks on your content. There are a few ways you can do this:
- Create organic social media posts prompting content, then promote it. Ideally, you’ll be able to use the paid ad system to promote high-performing organic content. This has a few benefits. First, you know that your target audience likes it, because they’re already responding to it. The social proof will also benefit you and can attract cold audiences. In this case, you can create ads with the Engagement objective.
- Use Lead Generation ads to capture lead information in exchange for lead magnets. Lead magnets are an important part of content marketing, and using lead magnets like free webinars or ebooks to generate new leads is an outstanding use for PPC campaigns. In these circumstances, tell users to enter their email so you can email them the free copy of their ebook, checklist, resource, or webinar link. Have an autoresponder set up ahead of time for this purpose.
- Promote high-value content with the Traffic objective. If you want to go straight into running ad campaigns, go ahead and create new ads with the sole focus of driving traffic to your site. You can test out custom audiences, but remember to use lookalike audiences, too, showing the ad to users demographically similar to your most high-value audiences.
Third-Party Syndication Sites
There are going to be third-party sites that allow you to syndicate content from yours to theirs.
The key word here is “syndication,” not “copy.” These sites will take steps to ensure that you won’t get dinged by Google’s algorithms looking for duplicate content, and they’ll always link back to and credit yours. They’ll literally republish content exactly as it is on your site, giving you more visibility as a result.
Medium is an example of a popular site. You can syndicate your own blogs directly onto Medium, and other publishers may also ask to syndicate your work there. There are some options like the syndication program with Business2Community that allow you to reach engaged, industry-specific audiences you can consider, too.
The checklist for this particular content platform is simple:
- Always retain licensing of the content. Unless you want to sell your content away, read contracts carefully and ensure that you’re still able to keep the content up on your site. You want to be able to build backlinks, and you don’t want to give up traffic for someone else’s benefit; that’s what guest posting is for, which is typically a more mutually-beneficial scenario.
- Always include links to other internal content in your posts. This is a great practice in general, but it’s particularly important if you’re planning on syndicating. You absolutely want to continually drive traffic to your site, not just one piece of content. Include two to three internal links in every post you’re syndicating for best results.
Forums & Discussion Boards
This one can be a bit tricky, but it’s undoubtedly effective.
Forums and discussion boards can be an excellent place to share your content, though you’ll want to do so carefully. If you go too hard too fast or break forum rules, you’ll be flagged as spam and may be kicked off.
These discussion boards can include general-appeal, wide-reaching platforms like Quora or Reddit, and it can also involve industry-specific forums.
When using discussion boards for content distribution, you can use the following tactics:
- Be familiar with the forum’s rules. Quora, for example, has strict promotional rules that you’ll want to watch carefully or you’ll risk being booted. And even though Reddit’s self-promotional rules are much more lax, understanding the culture (which is relatively anti-promotion) is important, too.
- Know how to share correctly. The best way to share your content is typically going to be in respond to legitimate conversation. If someone asks a question, provide an answer, and then say that your post elaborates more. This is typically more welcome than just dropping your links in new post threads and hoping people come swarming to you. This will vary from forum to forum, though, so refer to point one here.
Even though plenty of hard work goes into your content marketing efforts, your job isn’t done when the post is finished. Distribution is absolutely the other half of the equation, and so many brands completely neglect distribution.
If you have a strong distribution plan in place, therefore, this will become your competitive advantage, allowing you to connect more effectively with your target audience and capture their attention as a result.
Keep in mind that not every platform or strategy is right for every brand. Consider what will work best for your goals, and where you’re most likely to connect with your target audience. This should be at the center of your distribution plan, and will be the way to creating an effective, successful strategy that will boost your content’s overall success, too.
Interested in learning more about how to stay ahead of the competition with content marketing? See our recent post here!