Over the last few weeks, we have begun publishing a content marketers series to help content creators thrive. This week’s installment on content distribution applies to anyone looking to reach more people with what they create online.
If a tree falls in a forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound? If you create a piece of content, but no one reads it, does it exist?
Despite investing time, money, and sweat into creating the content, driving readers to your content can be just as difficult. Whether you are a content marketer, a blogger, or a big publisher, this has becoming increasingly difficult in an accelerating world of online content and biased social feeds. In our “State of Content Marketing” report, one in five marketers reported distribution as a top challenge.
So just how do you distribute content these days?
We went to three companies with thriving content marketing strategies—Buffer, Help Scout, and InVision—and asked them about their distribution strategies.
Here are seven ways to distribute your content.
Despite recent conversations that it has become increasingly important to earn attention on social media because of the changing algorithms that encourage brands and publishers to use paid social ads, brands are continuing to use social as a primary channel for content distribution. “Social traffic is definitely down for us,” says Kevan Lee, content crafter at Buffer. “At the same time, it’s our second biggest referrer source. Still we get about 100k or so a month from social. That one is definitely significant.”
Sure, SEO is a long play that can take months to deliver benefits. But over time it can become the gift that keeps on giving. Forward-thinking blogs still report that SEO is key to their audience traffic. For some, this is a deliberate strategy that they have invest in over time. For others, it has been a product of a bigger commitment to quality content.
Buffer has seen tons of traffic originating from search. “Having written the longer form content and writing it focused on specific topics has been a good strategy—though I’m not sure if I’d call it a strategy,” says Lee. “I’m not sure if we set out to do it necessarily but it ended up working out that way.”
3. Social Ads
In recent months, the feed algorithms at major social networks have continued to morph, making it harder for business content to stand out without the help of paid social ads. It takes some experimenting with your content and audience—and some mulah—but social ads is another way to increase the reach of your content.
InVision spends about $4000 per month on content promotion various social media channels, including Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, and other industry-specific outlets like Dribbble, according to head of content at InVision, Clair Byrd. “It’s not a lot of money,” she says, “but it’s enough to understand what content works best and it helps us create more things that work best.
Growing an email list for content is a great way to ensure that the people who are interested in your content are getting it sent straight to their email inbox.
Buffer, for instance, has a list of 45k which it uses for distribution.
InVision says that email is still its most powerful channel and does one overall content email a week—a piece of content that performs strongly. “They’re free, and they tell us a lot about what’s working,” says Byrd.
InVision also send out a stand alone email for key content initiatives, depending on how bit the impact is for the company.
“We run content like people run product,” says Byrd. “Everything is campaign based, and everything we can tear apart. So if we think that a release is going to be Tier 1, we will support the content just like the Tier 1 product.
Syndication partnerships with other blogs or publications are another way to engage a large audience that goes beyond your user population. “One of our main distribution channels that runs almost automatically is our partnership with the Huffington Post,” says Gregory Ciotti, content strategist at Help Scout. “We set up agreements with them and Business Insider. They’ll handpick something they want to run. We just require that they use real canonical tags to protect our search. They offer us a small byline that links back to HelpScout. So all of those are happening automatically. People will overestimate how much traffic is sends back, but either way, it is helpful. Syndication is definitely fantastic.”
6. Content Submission Sites
There are many sites for communities to post interesting and relevant content. Dribbble, Quibb, and Reddit are just a few examples. For some content distribution strategies, it may make sense to participate in the conversations at these sites and to submit content in a way that helps the community.
The key, of course, is to respect the site for what it is—a community—and to avoid spamming by truly becoming a part of it and taking part in the conversations.
7. Sponsored Content
Many brands are increasingly using sponsored content services, or native ad platforms, like Outbrain and Taboola. These services try to reach more people placing your content within online publications that reach a relevant audience or post about similar things. In addition to distribution, it can provide a method of testing the efficacy or your content among a known persona or help you explore what persona reacts well to your content.
These are our experts’ six recommendations. What do you use to reach more people with your content?