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How To Choose the Best Distribution Channels for Your Content

Updated May 19, 2022

If you don’t distribute your content smartly, you’ll never achieve your brand’s content marketing goals.

But how do you know what the best channels are? This succinct guide outlines which distribution options work best, based on your goals and audience.

First, though, you must know two things: who the content is for and what it’s intended to help them achieve. Knowing your audience members’ intent allows you to craft content that will resonate most strongly with them.

Knowing your goals for the content helps you identify the purpose it serves (aka, the call-to-action) for your company and your audience. Both are essential to selecting an appropriate distribution method.

If you need some help determining your audience and setting goals, check out these resources:

Then, go through the list below to see which popular distribution options match up with what you want your brand’s content to achieve.

Influencer distribution

The Influencer industry has grown rapidly. According to an Influencer MarketingHub study, Influencer Marketing will be a $16.4 billion industry by the end of 2022.The reason? People are influenced by personal recommendations more than by any other sales or marketing strategy.

Consider when pursuing these goals:

The audience connection

If you’re partnering with influencers who are already well-known and well-liked by your target audience, their content efforts can help shine a positive light on your business by strengthening brand perception and helping you build more trusted consumer relationships. It can also extend your brand’s reach by introducing you to consumers you aren’t already connected with.

Tip: Don’t forget to share the influencer’s content and brand promotions on other channels you use to distribute content. Even if your audience members aren’t already following those influencers, they may be impressed and influenced by seeing others endorse your business.

Relevant content

Yes, you can ask influencers to post about your blog articles in which they are mentioned or may be of interest to their audience, but you can also get more creative. Live stories on Instagram, Facebook, and even Snapchat are becoming go-to content for influencers.

Support your influencers with content that works well in a livestream. Offer to discuss a topic related to your industry or discuss your business. Or draw attention to other content you created, like a blog post, an image, a video, or a podcast.

Tip: Influencers are more likely to share and talk about content when they’re directly associated with it. Incorporate their names and social profiles into your content, whether it’s a quote in a blog post, a demo video, or something else.

Additional resources to explore:

Email distribution

Email is the most widespread distribution method. According to data from Statista, an estimated 4.6 billion people – half the world’s population – will be using email by 2025. And HubSpot reports that $1 spent on email marketing returns an average of $42.

Consider when pursuing these goals:

  • Website traffic
  • Brand loyalty
  • Marketing ROI
  • Generating revenue (through up-sells and cross-sells)

Audiences reached

Two broad categories of audiences fit under the email umbrella:

  • Current subscribers (i.e., people who have opted to receive your content)
  • Cold/warm contacts (i.e., email addresses you’ve purchased or rented, or that came in through third-party distribution).

Focus on your subscriber list. They know your brand and will likely be more receptive to your content than a list of strangers.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you should send the same email content to everybody in your marketing database. You’re more likely to achieve your goals by segmenting your lists and delivering more-targeted content to each segment.

Relevant content

Sending weekly or monthly email newsletters is a classic tactic for sharing your content – text, images, and video – and content links to drive traffic to your website.

Since you have some known details about your subscribers, consider personalizing the emails you send them. Go beyond “Dear {FIRST NAME}” and distribute content that’s hyper-relevant based on the individual and their reason (and timing) for subscribing. Research indicates (and logic dictates) that people want to receive content that’s accurate and relevant to their stated preferences, location, engagement history, etc.

You can also use your email newsletters as a cross-promotional content exchange (a different form of influencer marketing): Share relevant content from other brands and ask those companies to include your content in their newsletters.

Tip: Create an automated email campaign with evergreen content. For example, when someone subscribes, send them a welcome email that features content about your company’s values.

Additional resources to explore:

Organic social media distribution

The social landscape is continually evolving. With the rise in live storytelling and streaming media, it’s increasingly becoming a content channel that can deliver immediacy, intimacy, and interactivity.

Consider when pursuing these goals:

  • Brand awareness
  • Building/nurturing consumer relationships
  • Lead generation
  • Increasing website traffic

Audiences reached

Sharing your content on your social media channels will primarily reach the audience you have grown on those platforms. Each audience typically reflects the people naturally drawn to use those channels. Let’s look at this recent breakdown of user demographics (from Sprout Social):

  • Facebook (most used social platform)
    • 91 billion monthly active users (MAU)
    • Most-represented age group: 25-34 (31.5%)
    • 57% male, 43% female
  • Instagram (a highly visual-oriented platform)
    • 2 billion MAU
    • Most-represented age group: 25-34 (31.2%)
    • 8% male, 48.4% female
  • LinkedIn (primarily B2B-focused)
    • 810 million MAU
    • Most-represented age group: 25-34 (58.4%)
    • 52% male, 48% female
  • Twitter (chronologically focused)
    • 211 million MAU
    • Most-represented age group: 18-29 (42%)
    • 6% male, 38.4% female
  • Snapchat (a time-dependent chat app)
    • 319 million MAU
    • Most-represented age group 15-25 (48%)
    • A higher concentration of women: 54.4% female, 44.6% male
  • TikTok (short form video app)
    • 1 billion MAU
    • Most-represented age group: 10-19 (25%)
    • 9% female, 39% male

Relevant content

Because of the nature of consumer engagement on social media, visual content works best, particularly still or moving images (e.g., GIFs, memes, infographics, short videos), as they can be digested and shared quickly.

Live streaming content is another popular tactic – one that your audience expects to see on these channels. That said, as you move toward B2B social channels like LinkedIn and (to an extent) Facebook, longer-form, text-focused content may also work well.

Tip: Social media platforms are rented land when it comes to content distribution – your brand doesn’t truly own the relationships you build there. Consider ways to convert your social followers to other content channels where you’ll have more control, such as email.

Additional resources to explore:

Paid distribution

Paid content distribution covers myriad channels. It can be split into three broad categories:

  • Native advertising: Content that matches the look and feel of the originating publishing platform
  • Social media and search ads: Content strategically published by platforms (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, Google) in their users’ feeds or in search results.
  • Content syndication: Display ads and content distributed by a third party to relevant sites and digital programs

Consider when pursuing these goals:

  • Website traffic
  • Brand awareness
  • Lead generation
  • Audience growth

Audiences reached

You can attract new audiences or people who are tangentially connected to your brand online. Since you’re footing the bill, you can customize who will see it – from their demographics to geographic location, to specific interests, etc.

Relevant content

Paid distribution relies heavily on capturing attention immediately and making a good impression. Therefore, the content you distribute there should be hyper-useful, entertaining, or meaningful at a glance. Engaging imagery or video content with a brief intro (or text atop an image) is more likely to draw your audience in.

Tip: Before you pay to distribute your content on social media, test it organically on those same platforms. Pay to promote the best performers.

Additional resources to explore:

Give it time and pivot when necessary

After going through the distribution channel opportunities, pick the one that best matches your audience and goals. Focus on making that method work by reviewing your performance metrics regularly and tweaking accordingly (just don’t expect to see overnight results – delivering relevant content consistently is the name of the content marketing game). Once you’ve mastered that channel (or realized it isn’t an effective channel), move on to the next.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute