Creating a content distribution strategy is the only way to ensure that your content gets discovered. I’ve created my fair share of content over the years, and there’s a distinct difference between my most successful content and my biggest failures: planning.
Winging it will only get you so far. Developing successful content on a consistent basis requires a distribution strategy.
3 Types of Content Distribution
Content distribution is any method used to disseminate content that is seen by an audience. Smart content distribution isn’t quick and easy. It takes time to choose your distribution methods and channels, and then test to see which ones work best for you brand.
There are three types of content distribution:
- Owned Content Distribution – This includes any properties owned by your brand, like your blog, social media, website, and email.
- Earned Content Distribution – This includes all third-party distribution of your content, such as press coverage, social shares, guest posts, reviews, and testimonials.
- Paid Content Distribution – This includes any method you pay for to distribute content and can comprise display ads, social media ads, publisher partnerships, PPC, and influencer promotions.
Leveraging a combination of all three tactics is often a successful approach to content distribution. For example, if you publish a 2,000-word blog post you can distribute it to your social media channels, promote the post on Facebook, and republish it on a high-authority site, such as Business2Community.
Document Your Distribution Strategy
Now the real work starts. You need to document your content distribution strategy. Content Marketing Institute found that just “37% of B2B marketers and 40% of B2C marketers have a written content marketing plan.” It’s surprising to see such low percentages, especially because documenting a process increases it’s success rates.
Here’s what needs to go in your strategy document:
- Your ideal audience—define 2-4 ideal buyer personas and list their key demographics, such as age, gender, household size, hobbies, and income level.
- For example: A stay-at-home mother who spends time on Pinterest and FoodGawker looking for DIY baking tips.
- Your distribution platforms—Choose the social platforms, publications, websites, and forums that your personas frequent. Consider which ones make the most sense for your brand as a distribution channel.
- For example: Two of your three personas spend time on Facebook and enjoy taking BuzzFeed quizzes. Sign up for a BuzzFeed account and create a custom quiz relating to your brand’s expertise.
- The type of content you distribute—what kind of content does your audience interact with, and what type of content can your brand produce in-house? Weigh your team’s capabilities and resources against the requirements for creating unique content that your audience will love.
- For example: Your audience wants to receive productivity tips each morning. Daily blogging isn’t feasible unless you have a large content marketing team. Instead, you could create a series of emails 1-2 paragraphs long with daily tips.
- Your distribution schedule—determine when you will disseminate content and how often to publish/post.
- For example: You develop an infographic on how to make eggnog this holiday season. You post it to Pinterest at 1:30 pm on Monday. On Facebook, you schedule four social posts—each with unique copy—to publish over the next week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday around noon, and Sunday at 9 pm.
- Your distribution process—specify what happens to each type of content that is created by establishing distribution procedures.
- For example: If you write a guest blog post that’s published in Forbes, you would follow a chosen procedure; share the article on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Promote the Facebook post and the Tweet to a custom audience. Finally, create a SlideShare on LinkedIn that links back to the original Forbes article. For every type of content, such as eBooks, the distribution procedures may be different.
You can do a million different things to distribute your content. That makes it even more important to plan each step of the process. Leave no room for confusion.
Here are six proven content distribution methods that I like to use:
1. Go Beyond “Normal” Social Media
We’re all familiar with Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and the other big name social media channels. While they offer incredible distribution opportunities, your material can sometimes get lost in the barrage of content those platforms attract.
Here are some alternative social channels that can produce massive returns:
- Reddit—attracting more than 150 million visitors each month, Reddit offers huge potential as a content distribution channel. It’s also one of the strictest when it comes to banning spammy users and content. That means you must avoid promoting and focus on helping people above all. Check out Neil Patel’s Reddit guide for an in-depth analysis.
- Quora—one of the best places on the web to find the answer to almost anything, Quora offers exceptional traffic-generation potential. Many of the same Reddit rules apply to Quora—mainly, focus on being helpful and not promotional.
- Tumblr—probably the most overlooked social channel of all, Tumblr can be a game changer. With more than 345 million users, the potential audience your content can reach is massive.
If you’re not ready to jump on board with Reddit, Quora, or Tumblr, you might want to consider upping your paid content distribution game on the more traditional social media platforms. It’s one of the best—and easiest—ways to distribute your content to a large, interested audience.
2. Focus on Search
Improving your search game is a great way to improve your content rankings. The higher your rankings the more traffic you’ll generate.
There are two main tactics I use to support distributed content and improve search engine ranking:
- SEO—Optimizing your content for search engines is a fundamental aspect of successful content distribution strategies. Use quality keyword phrases along with an assortment of synonyms and similar terms to create relevant, valuable materials. Also, use your main keyword phrase in h-tags, meta descriptions, meta titles, and alt tags. A big part of search engine optimization is creating high-quality content. Everything from your grammar and outbound links to your writing format and multimedia choices affect the way search engines rank content. Focus on good writing, correct file types and sizes, and use authority links for sources.
- Guest posting—Long considered one of the best ways to establish high-quality backlinks, guest posting can give your content a massive search ranking boost.
It doesn’t have to be fancy. Work on perfecting the basics and you’ll be positioned for success.
3. Email Marketing
Still one of the best ways to distribute your content, email marketing is more valuable than ever.
Here are three benefits of email marketing that will improve your content distribution strategy:
- Lead nurturing—If you have a list of leads, one of the best ways to convert them into customers is through automated lead nurturing. Offer value incrementally over an extended period of time using a series of compelling emails. It could be as simple as sending them new blog posts every week, or as involved as offering a free, fully-designed resource—like an infographic.
- Personalization—Personalizing emails is more than just using a lead’s first name. Consider their demographics, where they live, and the type of content they have interacted with before to offer highly-personalized email experiences.
- Track performance—It’s easy to track metrics in email marketing campaigns. Open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates, bounce rates, and unsubscribes are just a click away. What’s more difficult is tying metrics to the overall success of a campaign, such as direct sales, referrals, coupon redemptions, and more.
According to Epsilon Email Institute, “automated email messages average 70.5% higher open rates and 152% higher click-through rates than ‘business as usual’ marketing messages.” That means you have a good shot at improving your email marketing performance if you build a custom, automated campaign.
4. Republish Content
I hate it when I see great content published once, generate some engagement, and then disappear.
Here are a few ways to guarantee your best content can be redistributed for maximum impact:
- LinkedIn Pulse—Like Tumblr, LinkedIn Pulse is underutilized but can drive an enormous amount of traffic. Publishing content on Pulse allows you to reach people outside of your professional network, greatly expanding your reach.
- Medium—Known for its intellectual audience, Medium works best for republishing in-depth, well-researched content. General “how to” posts and listicles won’t cut it.
- Sites that accept republished content—Many respected sites allow you to republish content, including Business2Community and Search Engine Journal. Always make sure you include a byline that states where the article was first published and includes a link back to the original source.
- Owned social channels—Take advantage of your social media channels to republish your best content. Twitter’s timeline is mainly chronological, so you can easily republish your content multiple times without worrying about repetition. Chances are your content will be seen by different personas each time you republish.
I have one piece of advice to share before moving on: wait at least one week before republishing your content, otherwise, you could be penalized by search engines. Also, don’t republish everything you write. Be selective and focus on republishing your content often.
5. Repurpose Published Content
Along the same lines as republishing content, repurposing content allows your best content to reach its full potential. The possibilities are only as limited as your imagination. You can turn a great blog post into a series of educational videos. An infographic could be repurposed as a series of social media graphics. A social media post with high engagement could be used as the inspiration for a SlideShare.
A few types of content that can be repurposed:
- Audio files/podcasts
- Blog posts
- Social media posts
- Educational courses
6. Drive Traffic to a Landing Page/Capture Lead Information
Your content distribution strategy should always include a way to capture lead information. The whole point of creating a content distribution strategy is to support revenue growth. You can only do that if you’re capturing lead information and nurturing them through your sales funnel.
Types of content that are best for driving traffic to landing pages:
- CTAs in blog posts and articles
- Social media post links
- PPC, display, and social media ads
Types of content that are best for capturing lead information on landing pages:
- Free trials
- Checklists, cheat sheets, infographics, guides
The list goes on. The key is to make the resource relevant to your audience and valuable enough to justify submitting personal information.
Creating a content distribution strategy is the best way to ensure that your content succeeds in supporting the goals and mission of your brand. On a more tactical level, it’s also a great way to increase the number of shares, traffic, awareness, and conversions that your content earns. Who doesn’t want that?
Remember to document your strategy in detail and choose the distribution channels that balance your audience’ preferences with your brand’s capabilities. If you do that your brand will be ready to reap the benefits of superior content distribution.