Reach a Wider Audience, Step Up Your Content Distribution Strategy
You’re confident the content you created is valuable, so why don’t you see the traffic and conversions?
The problem often comes down to distribution. Sure, you execute the usual activities: Post to social platforms, send an email campaign, encourage employees to share. But what about new visitors? Where are they?
You need a more proactive content distribution strategy.
I’ll share several ways to generate fresh traffic to your content. They involve some groundwork but are invaluable for short-term gains. They’ll also have far-reaching effects on building strategic relationships and achieving your SEO goals too.Generate fresh traffic to your #content with a proactive content distribution strategy, says @tomwhtley via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet
Get to content-channel fit
Marketers often run through a checklist for content promotion and distribution: Post to Quora. Syndicate on Medium. Attempt to win the heart of Reddit. Following this process can be a gamble because, while orderly, the content promotion is all over the place.
A better approach is to select a deliberate method for each piece of content – baking a distribution plan into the content production process. This is what I call content-channel fit.
Instead of sharing your content on all the available channels, start with the targeted channel in mind when you craft the content.Successful #content distribution requires the right content-channel fit, says @tomwhtley via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet
Identify the channels to target based on your audience. Interview existing customers. They can help you uncover:
- Where they go for new information: Are they members of communities and LinkedIn Groups? What publications, including blogs, do they regularly read to keep up to date on industry trends?
- Who they follow: From which experts and industry influencers are they consuming content?
- How they discover and consume new information: Understanding how they filter and vet information can shape the way your content stands out.
When doing the interview, start with broad questions and dig deeper into their responses to uncover behaviors and motivations. Here are some questions you can ask:
- Where do you go for new content on (industry)?
- Do you regularly read any blogs or publications?
- Are there any companies or brands you follow?
- What about influencers? Do you follow any industry experts?
- What communities are you most active in?
Keeping your preliminary questions brief allows you to dig deeper into their responses. For example, you may find an audience member who doesn’t follow traditional influencers and gets their content from internal stakeholders. Then, you can pivot your questioning to learn how those internal influencers discover new information.
After five interviews, you can identify patterns around the blogs, publications, communities, and other channels your audience engages with to determine your core distribution channels. Then, you can experiment to find the best content-channel fit for every piece you publish.
At my content marketing agency, Grizzle, we often run these experiments in the form of sprints. These sprints allow us to test a particular approach’s viability and build systems around the most effective experiments.
Of course, you must recognize when an approach requires long-term play. For example, if you plan to repurpose your content to grow an audience on Twitter, it’s going to take more than one “at-bat.”
Reverse-engineer community conversations
A successful distribution strategy to reach targeted communities is to bake popular conversations into your content. Taking an active role in contributing and engaging with the community is well worth the effort. Not only will you become a familiar face, but you may have access to some of its brightest minds to contribute to your content.
Start by looking through the most popular conversations and questions. These can be identified by the number of likes or comments. For example, here’s a discussion around content promotion on Visualize Value, a community for creators and entrepreneurs:
The 16 comments in this thread are a good indication it’s struck a chord with the community. How could we dig deeper and uncover snippets to add to our content?
First, look at what commenters contribute to the conversation. What follow-up questions are they asking, and, most importantly, what advice are they providing? Here’s an example from the Visualize Value thread above:
This thread continues between two members of the community. The biggest takeaways include:
- Build an audience on a platform to make distribution easier.
- Establish credibility on your chosen topic with that audience.
- Create a strategy that elevates your personality.
Actionable advice around this challenge is invaluable if we were creating a guide on content promotion for this audience.
When baking these conversations into your content, make sure to use the community’s language to hook them. For example, the introduction to our content promotion guide could include a question: “You spent so long writing about a topic, there must be other people who are also interested in it. Where are they?”
Once you cater your content to the interests of your target audience, make sure they pay attention when you share it. For this step, you should connect with the community’s movers and shakers – the people who take an active role in community conversations and have relevant opinions.
My favorite approach to ask them to get involved in your content. Not only does this make your content better, but it primes the influencer to share it once it goes live.
This reverse-engineering approach relies on tailoring your content for each community, but don’t forget your message and expertise. Community conversations should enhance, not control, your content.Reverse-engineering community conversations lets you create #content that will resonate with them, says @tomwhtley via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet
Collaborate with industry influencers
A common promotion tactic involves reaching out to influencers mentioned in your content. This worked well when few others were doing it, but these days influencers are bombarded with emails that all say the same thing: “We love your work and mentioned you in our new article. We would love it if you could check it out.”
A better collaborative promotion strategy is similar to the community promotion above: Get influencers involved in the content creation process.
Collaborating with influencers not only makes for more interesting content but allows you to build stronger relationships. However, the success of this approach depends on the influencer, the size of their audience and, ultimately, how well known they are in your industry.Collaborating with influencers not only makes for more interesting #content but allows you to build stronger relationships, says @tomwhtley via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet
Start with the hidden gems – influencers who have a modest yet actively engaged audience. One of my favorite ways to find these individuals is the social features in SparkToro, an audience intelligence tool co-founded by Rand Fishkin.Find influencers using the social features in @SparkToro, an audience intelligence tool co-founded by @randfish, says @tomwhtley via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet
In this example, I searched for the term “content distribution” and applied a filter conveniently labeled hidden gems:
The results reveal some familiar faces, as well as individuals I wouldn’t have initially thought to reach out to:
Influencers with niche audiences are perfect collaborators for startups and niche businesses. But what if you want to connect and collaborate with well-known influencers in your industry?
Climbing up the chain is common advice to connect with popular influencers. However, this often leaves things up to chance, waiting as you build authority and hope influencers take notice. A better approach is to help influencers get what they want, and one of my favorite ways is through the power of accessibility.
For example, an influencer creating content on industry topics probably wants to expand their audiences. Get their attention with a collaboration that helps them do this quickly.
Enter guest blogging. You write an article for a high-profile industry publication or blog – and include the influencer’s input. Not only does your message get in front of a wider audience, but you help influencers do the same. This gives the collaboration more value than a shallow compliment in a cold email.
Execution of the guest blog collaboration often depends on an influencer’s tastes. I usually offer to jump on a 10-minute call to ask a couple of questions that can turn into quotes. I also give them the option to email the questions to solicit their answers. The key is to cater to their preferred method of communication.
How you apply their insights to your content should be based on your voice, as the author, and the publication’s guidelines. For example, fintech startup Tide includes allowing an influencer’s voice to shine in their Expert’s Insight section:
Alternatively, you can pepper the influencer’s quotes throughout your article, providing context and takeaways that readers can act upon.
Finally, don’t overlook the power of audio. It may be easier for an expert to chat about a topic for 30 minutes than write several paragraphs in an email. You can pull quotes from the conversation and apply them to your guest blog post. You also can use that content for other avenues too – a podcast, a standalone article, soundbites, etc.
Having a real-time conversation also has the added benefit of building stronger relationships, as it’s much easier to establish rapport during a conversation than by email.
Use the power of repurposing
Maximizing your content’s potential means making it work harder for you, and there’s no better way than repurposing it for other channels and formats.Maximizing your content’s potential means making it work harder for you, and there’s no better way than repurposing it for other channels and formats, says @tomwhtley via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet
Going back to content-channel fit, how and where you repurpose content should align with your target audience. As Harry Dry, founder of Marketing Examples, puts it: “Don’t redirect people, wow them on the platform they’re already using. Don’t intercept them, but run along with them.”
Repurpose content on the channels where they already engage instead of funneling them to your blog or website.#Repurpose #content on the channels where they already engage instead of funneling them to your blog or website, says @tomwhtley via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet
By doing this, you can more easily grab their attention, add easily accessible value, and entice them to learn more with a link to the original source. It also has the benefit of building a larger audience on that distribution channel.
Look at how this is done in practice, taking another leaf from the book of Harry, who does a terrific job of turning his Marketing Examples content into tweetstorms. In this example, he repurposed his landing-page guide into a series of tweets.
You can take this thread and break it down into a repeatable formula:
- Use the first tweet to introduce the idea, set expectations, and lead users into the thread.
- Distill three to five of the most impactful ideas into one or two tweets. (In the screenshot above, Harry starts his tweet in listicle-style, allowing users to follow along with his thread.)
- Use each tweet to summarize the key ideas in the content. Make a compelling argument and add value quickly.
- End the thread with a call to action that leads users to the original piece of content.
Harry’s thread generated over 2,700 likes and over 500 retweets, extending the reach of his content because he provided value to the Twitter community.
You also can apply this approach to LinkedIn. Take a single idea from your original content and write about it for an original post on LinkedIn. For example, I created a post around a topic I discussed with Vidyard’s Erin Ellis on a recent podcast episode.
Anecdotally, LinkedIn posts that dig deep into a single idea often perform better than a summary post. Unlike Twitter, where you can break your content into a thread, LinkedIn limits your post to 1,300 characters. Use them wisely by expanding and adding value around a single subtopic.
Here’s a simple framework you can use:
- Intro and hook: Ask a question and tease the topic. The purpose is to not only get a user’s attention but to stop them scrolling LinkedIn’s news feed and click “see more” to read the entire post.
- Value, value, value: Use the rest of your post as a micro-article, distilling the core idea selected from your main article, making your argument, and giving some form of actionable advice.
- Tag your influencers: If you collaborated with an influencer or expert, make sure you contextually tag them. Not only does this notify and encourage them to share, but it also shows up in their follower’s news feeds.
- Call to action: Include a link with a simple mention of where users can learn more about the topic. Some prefer to include this in the post’s first comment, as LinkedIn is known to favor content that doesn’t include external links.
In short, you must work within the context of any platform or channel.
The content distribution secret
The best content distribution approach is often community management or social media strategy in disguise. Content simply becomes the fuel to help you engage with an audience where they’re most active.
It all starts by finding your content-channel fit. Find where your audience is most active and embed yourself to engage with them. Provide value by running alongside them and you’ll build a more robust and engaged audience.
All tools mentioned in this article come from the author. If you have a tool to suggest, please add it in the comments.
Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute