In today’s media landscape, there’s no shortage of apps and communities where audiences can find, discuss and consume content.
Depending on where they are and what they’re in the mood for, there’s Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Medium, LinkedIn, Pinterest and more. And that’s just social content discovery platforms – and a partial list of them, mind you.
Beyond that, you’ve got news readers, content aggregators, audio players, email newsletters … are you dizzy yet?
With so many options, the idea of hanging out on a corporate website isn’t all that appealing. Even a brand’s more loyal customers don’t visit its website regularly. To gain the type of buzz you seek, you need to put your assets in front of your audience – no, not just on your own domain but on their preferred platforms.
Instead of viewing social media sites as competition to your own website, recognize the opportunity they provide – for earning the attention of new audiences and continuously re-earning the attention of existing ones.
Taking on additional content channels can seem overwhelming when you look at it as one more place you need to create assets for. But through strategic content distribution, you can reach and engage with audiences – on more platforms, and with the same amount of content. That means it’s actually super easy to scale up (or down) your distribution with minimal investment.
What is content distribution?
Content distribution is the practice of publishing and promoting content via various media channels. Depending on the type of content, the channel in question and your marketing goals, distributed content can be consumed natively within a third-party channel or to drive traffic to an owned media property.
The example you’re likely most familiar with would be sharing a blog post on a few branded social media profiles. But there are many other forms distribution can take.
Here are a few of the most effective ones:
The vast majority of the content published on the web sees close to zero engagement. BuzzSumo found that, last year, only 5 percent of all article pages drew more than 343 shares on social media.
The best way to overcome this sobering status quo is to invest significant resources into securing powerful links to your content, be they on social media, in emails or from other content pages.
When posted by influencers and influential brands, social media and email links boost brand awareness, as well as traffic to your posts. Bookmarking communities, forums and Facebook groups are perfect for peer-to-peer shares, as these are media channels where audience members gather as tribes. And when high-authority pages link to your content, it helps with your search rankings over time, because it sends Google strong search signals indicating your page is a valuable resource (and should thus be ranked higher in SERPs).
But in the case of all four realms (social, email, communities and SEO), the principle behind link promotion is the same – it’s a method of ensuring your ideal audience can find your content.
So the marketing industry’s primary technique for distributing content involves a litany of sub-techniques, but the objectives, format, tone, calls-to-action and assets required may vary considerably. We’ll delve into some of these nuances below.
Content syndication takes advantage of other content providers’ need for constant content by republishing the same content from one platform to others as well. In the online B2B content marketing space, it’s common for authors to republish company blog posts, in full, on their Medium or LinkedIn accounts.
Lots of highly trusted publications, like Entrepreneur and The Next Web, syndicate content from other sources as well. The Washington Post is doing some especially interesting things with its syndication strategy, republishing only shortened versions of first-person perspective stories and articles about the impact of tech on society – topics that perform best on Medium.
Syndication represents a chance for organizations to access the audiences of big-time media publishers using content from their own websites.
When you take a piece of content from one platform and edit or adapt it for somewhere else, you’re taking advantage of content repurposing.
This can be anything, from splitting up an infographic into several smaller images for social media, to creating an infographic based on information in a white paper.
Repurposing is especially great for brands using multiple content formats and content channels, as it prevents having to create original content for each place.
One area where it might make sense to try experimenting with content repurposing is if your company hosts regular webinars. While this content format can be extremely powerful for nurturing leads toward sales-readiness, live webinars require a lot of effort but have alarmingly short life cycles.
By repurposing your webinar presentation slides into eBooks, or repurposing your webinar recordings into short, social media-friendly video clips, you can effectively extend their life spans exponentially. ClickMeeting’s webinar platform, for example, includes features for video capture, editing and exporting that make this type of repurposing easy.
“Sponsored content” is essentially paid content distribution, whether that’s longer form pieces like advertorial blog posts on BuzzFeed and AdWeek or Instagram videos posted to an influencer’s profile. As social networks embrace their positions as media companies, publishers are also creating distributed content partnerships with them directly.
Many publishers and media companies now have in-house “brand content studios,” which specialize in creating and promoting paid media assets that are similar in format to earned media. Buying this type of “native” coverage can be an effective, if expensive, way to get your message out, even if you won’t necessarily have complete control over the production process.
Sometimes, media companies team up with platforms to create original “distributed content,” which is made specifically for the partnership itself as a way for both parties to buzz credibility and eyeballs. For two high-profile examples of this, BuzzFeed has an exclusive distribution partnership with Twitter for their AM to DM live show, and Facebook Watch recently announced partnerships with several news companies to create original content.
#AM2DM holiday week continues with a show all about our complicated relationship to America. Revisiting our conversation with @DanielEllsberg, plus some July 4-themed tweets that put the “fire” in “fireworks” 🎇 https://t.co/dYoIIWqwgw
— AM to DM by BuzzFeed News (@AM2DM) July 3, 2018
While the vast majority of us don’t have the spending power to create franchises like these, there’s a lot we can learn from this strategy.
Depending on the specifics of your strategy, priorities and resources, you might be best off focusing on content distribution, using activity on a variety of media channels with the goal at driving traffic to content on your website. On the other hand, if your message is your product – or if eyeballs, awareness and credibility are more important to you than capturing leads – you might be better off creating assets optimized for engagement within the platforms where they’ll be posted.
Like any content marketing tactic, you’ll want to carefully customize it according to your own business’s goals, from which content you distribute to how heavily distributed content will weigh in your overall strategy.
Why content distribution is important
What makes distribution so essential to today’s content marketing strategies?
Well, first of all, there’s the competition for your audience’s attention.
The more brands use content marketing, and the more content they create, the harder it becomes for your own work to break through the noise. Simply publishing a blog post on your website likely won’t be enough – you need to place it in front of your audience several times on several channels.
Being able to distribute content from one channel to another and produce one piece for multiple channels allows you to streamline and save time on content creation. With an editorial calendar to manage for your blog, email marketing and social profiles, any opportunity like that should be appreciated.
Finally, distributing a piece of content well and using it in multiple places allows you to juice more results – and if applicable, revenue – from a single marketing project.
Its ability to impact the bottom line of content marketing is why it’s so beneficial to businesses of any size. That’s also why you see so many media companies, like BuzzFeed and The Washington Post examples mentioned above, place such a priority on distribution.
This is especially true in an era where so many social media channels and communities are prioritizing native content. Take Facebook’s announcement that less content from pages will reach the newsfeed this year and the continuing decline of of link-based posts.
If brands want to reach the same number of people, they need to take advantage of tactics like repurposing content from other channels like turning YouTube videos into Facebook posts.
Tips for getting started distributing your content
Content distribution isn’t as simple as trying to put every piece of content in as many places as humanly possible.
That could lead to problems such as wasting a lot of time posting content to platforms where you won’t even reach whom you need to.
To set up an effective content distribution strategy that reaches your target audience and leads them to your marketing goals, keep the following in mind.
Find your audience
First of all, the chief priority for any type of content distribution is finding and reaching your target audience. You want it to propel your overall marketing strategy, with activities aligning with the results you need to achieve.
For example, if a main goal is driving website traffic, then distributing content via social media like Snapchat and Instagram (channels that generally don’t allow linking out) won’t help your goal as much as repurposing content for Facebook.
And if you’re trying to reach consumer audiences, syndicating on Entrepreneur might not be the most relevant distribution tactic.
To determine the right channels to focus on, use a marketing dashboard like Cyfe, which lets you easily track results and engagement on different marketing platforms and compare them to each other.
Map out your processes
It’s also important to have an organized system for your content marketing with a distribution-focused strategy.
While distributed content is more effective than simply creating content and moving on, it is also more complicated, with more moving pieces, channels, stakeholders and assets.
To keep track of everything from ideation through to completion, you need a smooth process. Tools like Trello, Airtable and Asana can help with your project planning and management, as well as distributed content management.
Maintain a marketing calendar
When you’re not just publishing content, but also distributing, repurposing and syndicating it in multiple places, a single blog editorial calendar isn’t sufficient for staying organized on an ongoing basis. In addition to planning out a process or system for your content marketing, it’s helpful to maintain a large-scale calendar of all your marketing activities, distribution included.
For example, in addition to calendaring when you’ll publish content on your own website, you might also want to schedule repurposed and distributed versions of it for the future, as well as keep note of when different syndication partners plan to publish it. Then there’s social media promotion for all of the above.
Again, tools like Airtable and Trello come in handy here. You can also try comprehensive platforms like ClearVoice or CoSchedule for something more specialized in marketing calendars and project management.
Batch content creation and distribution
To allow strategic distribution to simplify your content marketing even more, create and distribute content in large batches so you aren’t constantly creating new content all the time.
Use larger pieces of content on as many shorter form platforms as possible, break pieces down, combine them and more.
Dedicating a few afternoons per month producing new content can fuel your content distribution on social media, email and your blog for the rest of the month – all of which can push to a CTA for accessing whatever resource you’re promoting, which would generate a new lead for your brand.
Content creation isn’t enough
With so many content channels, different ways to reach your audience and other brands to compete with, your content marketing strategy can’t be fueled by publishing new content in a vacuum.
Brands need to put just as much effort and resources into placing content in front of their target audiences as they do creating it in the first place. Otherwise, most of it will just get lost in the noise.