If a piece of content is published online and no one reads or engages with it, did it really even happen?
This question has plagued philosophers and content marketers alike since the early days of digital content.
Yes, a piece of exceptional content has value: It contains the thought leader’s unique expertise, it fits within an overarching strategy, and the careful effort of an entire content creation team went into bringing it from ideation to publication. It has value to that end.
But if your strategy is to reach — and, better yet, influence the buying behavior of — a target audience, letting content sit untouched in a dark corner of your company’s blog is not the way to go. Sure, you and your team might read your blog content every day; you had a hand in creating it, after all, and your job is to manage that arm of your media.
The thing is, you’re the only people reading it that regularly.
Your audience of current and prospective clients, business partners, investors, employees, and potential recruits is not pulling up your website every day to find your blog and read the latest from your company. Creating content and “distributing” it on your blog is a great way to meet your production goals and keep your content consistent — but that alone usually isn’t enough to reach your audience.
To reach your audience and have a shot at influencing them, you need to take an active role in executing a strategic, diverse content distribution plan. And it all starts with what content you publish and where.
The publication strategy team at Influence & Co. has worked for five years to build and maintain our relationships with editors at more than 1,200 online publications. Those publications help us enhance credibility and brand awareness for our clients (and ourselves), and they’re integral to our content distribution strategy to help us reach desired audiences.
From highly niche trade sites to household-name publications that reach wide audiences, our team works with editors at all kinds of media outlets in nearly every industry to help thought leaders get in front of their audiences. Combined with robust on-site content, this form of guest posting articles to strategic outside publications can measurably strengthen a content marketing strategy.
It begins with understanding who your audience is and where they get their information online. Are you going after a narrow audience who tends to engage with highly specific and tactical industry-related content? Or are you looking to introduce your brand to as many people as possible by offering more general insights?
Different publications offer different benefits and trade-offs. While a smaller trade pub might not have widespread name recognition, its tight-knit community of highly engaged readers might put your goals within reach. By publishing where your audience is already reading, you’re maximizing your content and its impact — and getting a head start on effective distribution.
Influence & Co.’s custom content marketing software includes data on all the publications we work with: content guidelines, preferred style, audience information, acceptance rate, monthly visits, social shares on content, and more. With this information, we can make data-driven decisions that combine impressive and impactful outlets and improve thought leaders’ chances of reaching and influencing their target audiences.
Effective content distribution can take a number of forms and utilize a number of tools, but the ultimate goal will remain the same: Deliver your expert content to your target audience, and remove any barriers that stand in the way of their engagement with your content.
A good place to start is by contributing content to publications your audience is already engaged with. Where does your audience spend their time online? What publications do they read and trust? Consider contributing your content there.
It’s true that contributing content to any publication and not taking other steps to promote or distribute it isn’t dramatically better than publishing to your blog and calling it a day. But selecting the right publication does help you tap into new, engaged readers and give your work a stamp of credibility.
And if you’ve spent some time publishing good content on your own blog, you can often include the right resources in your guest content to draw readers back to your site for more valuable, relevant insights.
Speaking of good content on your blog to attract and engage your audience, don’t stop at traditional articles. Consider whether your audience would prefer to engage with visual, video, or interactive content; if the answer is yes, then repurposing some content can keep your distribution channels fresh and your practices easier and more effective.
Regardless of where you publish your content or how it’s formatted, your email marketing and social media efforts play a big part in helping you get it to your audience.
Including your published content in your email marketing strategy is a critical step of reaching segments of your existing list with targeted content. Sending consistent newsletters with recent or high-performing content to the readers who would most benefit from it and experimenting with customized drip campaigns to nurture potential leads are good places to start.
The first thing you want to avoid with social content distribution is regularly spamming your followers with the same update on every channel. Customize your updates to each platform. Twitter is different from LinkedIn; Instagram is different from Facebook. So select the best of your published content for each platform, use relevant hashtags, tag related influencers, deliver new pieces of enticing information, and distribute, keeping in mind how the unique audiences on each network prefer to consume content.
The bulk of content right now is created by and for the marketing department. Thought leaders and content creation teams work together to produce valuable content, but ultimately, it ends up being used only by those people directly involved with it.
Limiting content like that is a mistake. It can and should be leveraged by any department that’s trying to reach and engage an audience — whether that audience is prospective clients, current employees, or future partners.
One of the most common business goals of content marketing is sales. If your sales team isn’t taking advantage of content, your company could be missing out on serious opportunities for highly targeted distribution — and a boosted bottom line.
Prospects will have questions throughout the buying process — why not use your company’s content to address those questions? Encourage sales to share links to your guest and blog content in emails to get your content in front of the exact audience you want to influence, and keep some top posts handy to overcome objections on your sales calls.
But sometimes an audience segment isn’t full of potential customers. Content can be used to recruit, train, and educate employees, too. Your recruiter plays an important part in content distribution when she shares articles about your company culture, values, mission, and industry as a whole with candidates during the hiring process.
Your content can also enhance your PR efforts and influencer relations. By taking the time to create a helpful, valuable, high-quality piece of engaging content that’s packed full of relevant research, stories, and takeaways, you have fuel to reach out to other leaders in your space. Sharing your content in a personal email, direct message, or social update with the right tags can help you get your content in front of the eyes of an industry influencer. If she likes what she sees, you may have opened the door to an organic relationship that benefits both brands: press mentions, co-marketing, an increased distribution network, and more.