The increasing requirement to maximize ‘reach’ means that you need to develop content distribution plan as well as quality content.
Previously we covered the advantages of long form content versus short form content so it follows that we need to now look at why your content marketing demands its own distribution plan.
There are a number of strategies you can use to help your content reach the widest audience and promotional strategies to get your posts, videos, downloads, lead magnets, podcast or infographics in front of someone else’s audience. Many of these are organic tactics that won’t cost a penny. Sometimes, you’ll want to invest in paid tactics too, if you’re reaching out to a new audience. You can check out the advantages and disadvantages of advertising on social media (Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and Twitter) in our blog series: To Pay, or not to Pay for Social Media Advertising.
“If content is king, distribution is queen. And she wears the pants. It’s not nearly enough to create a good piece of content. You have to understand how content spreads across the web”. Jonathan Perelman, Buzzfeed
Your colleagues and employees as content distributors
As well as creating content for different stages and formats, your content can support your sales process by feeding links and snippets into emails or automation streams – set up a logical sequence. This is what Marcus Sheridan refers to as “Assignment Selling”.
“… companies that understand the value of content beyond the “find” phase, and use it for the selling, nurturing, and retention cycles of a customer—will ALWAYS see tremendous value in producing content. And those that don’t understand this value, will worry about their industry having “too much content.” Marcus Sheridan
Organic (unpaid) distribution tactics include:
- tagging people in LinkedIn or Twitter and asking them to comment and share
- emailing people you have mentioned or quoted in the blog and asking them to share it
- inserting a variety of ‘calls to action’ within the blog or web page – anchor links, text links, buttons, etc
- adding an appealing image or graphic – it has to make someone else’s social media feed look good
If you believe you can manufacture ‘viral’ content, think again. It’s largely accidental or there is a huge paid social media campaign running quietly behind the scenes. Part 6 of our online programme, Content Marketing Conquered, drills down into the tools and tactics you need to get your content moving!
Top three barriers to content reaching your target audience
In 2018, BuzzSumo published a report into content performance across its platform in 2017 and they found some interesting statistics. These were published in a report, A Flight to Quality… by Steve Rayson and the contents caused quite a stir in the worlds of content, social and digital marketing. We explore what this means to marketers and entrepreneurs in this blog series, ‘A Flight to Quality’.
See what is getting in the way!
Due to the ease of content creation and publication, there are now just so many individuals and organisations creating, publishing, sharing, commenting on and liking content online that in some industries, the competition is huge. In some industries the best strategy will be to specialise or niche down.
The increase in private sharing, so-called “dark social media” is the next barrier. People are sharing content more frequently via apps (including Slack, Whatsapp, Messenger, etc), within email or text message. You can’t see (or measure) the true number of shares your social media posts and other content have earned. You can only see engagement in the form of likes, comments, shares/retweets when performed directly on your own online platforms or on social media.
Lastly, Facebook changes have had a significant impact on content performance, especially ‘reach’. In 2017, Facebook warned brands and publishers that due to the tremendous quantity of content now being published directly onto the platform, they were going to limit the number of posts and ads Facebook users were served (shown) each visit.
In short, the volume of content has significantly increased and median shares have halved since 2015 but in some areas, such as news or analysis (The New York Times, The Economist, Harvard Business Review, etc) there has been a gradual increase in shares.
In the same period ‘clickbait’ content – with an eye-catching title but little substance – has seen a significant decline in shares and performance. This would suggest a preference for quality, well-researched and credible content that will presumably deliver value to those with whom it is shared. It also enhances the reputation of the brand or individual who has curated and shared quality content.
Content Marketing is an investment even if it’s just your time
The concept of Return on Time Invested (ROTI) is relevant to content marketing, even if you are not paying others to create it or paying to promote it. But when you add in Money Value of Time (MVOT), a concept developed by Rory Vaden in his book, “Proscrastinate on Purpose” it becomes doubly so. Your time always has a value, even if it’s the opportunity cost of doing this versus doing that. If the time you are investing is not bringing you a ‘return’, you have to review it. It may continue to be a viable strategy for no- or low-budget marketers, but only up to a point. This is why you need to become efficient with your content marketing, in touch with your metrics and clear about the ‘return’ you expect in your first year.
Try to avoid: creating content that doesn’t ‘move’. Content needs to be liked, commented on and most importantly, shared. Otherwise it has little or no value. Your website and social media analytics will drill down into individual posts, blogs, videos, etc.
Why not try: when planning to run a bigger campaign or produce a piece of ‘hero’ content, develop a distribution plan well in advance. Once you have identified influencers in your target market, contact them and invite them to comment or share. Prepare your fans, influencers and strategic partners and supply them with ready-made social media posts and email copy that they just need to ‘top and tail’ – make it as easy as possible for them.
I have guided hundreds of marketers as they begin or improve their content marketing and have concluded that success is built on three pillars:
- Empathy & Customer Insight
- SEO & Targeting
- Content Planning & Distribution
In the next, and final, article we’ll cover how to succeed at content marketing in 2021.