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November 10, 2022 (Updated: March 8, 2023)
Content distribution is the process of publishing, sharing, and promoting content on various changes to reach and engage with your audience. This is the last step, and arguably the most important one, in the content development process. But distribution without a solid strategy is messy and unorganized. If you want to see the best results from the content you spent so much time researching and planning, you need well-planned content distribution strategies. Today, we’re looking at potential strategies your brand can use to share its content and ways to pick the right one for every campaign and audience:
A content distribution strategy is a plan that helps you organize where, when, and how you plan to publish, share, and promote your content. Your brand, and others, produce lots of content every day. With so much information and competition for audience attention, you need a plan that helps you cut through the clutter and get your content the recognition it deserves.
Without distribution, your audience won’t ever find your content. But without a distribution strategy, your content may never find the right audience. Creating a plan allows you to simplify the distribution process and avoid the random spreading of information that may not even benefit your company or help you reach your goals.
Many marketers use the terms content distribution and content promotion interchangeably. The practices are similar because they both involve sharing content with your audience on multiple platforms or channels. But they’re not the same things. Content distribution is a targeted process of publishing, sharing, and promoting content on various channels to deliver the right messages to your audience segments. Content promotion is less targeted than distribution and focuses more on brand awareness across your content channels.
How you target your audience and share information with them is the biggest difference between the two. In distribution, you go right to the source. You’re looking for the right channels and messages to reach your target audience. With promotion, you still care about reaching the right people, but if you also draw in new, less qualified leads or audience members, too, then you’ve still done your job. People know about your brand and know your content exists.
Distribution takes advantage of owned and shared media channels, like blogs, websites, email marketing, and social media channels. With this method, you don’t always have to hype your content outwardly on every channel possible. Promotion is a subsegment of distribution that takes advantage of earned and paid channels like pay-per-click (PPC) ads, search engine marketing (SEM), and content syndication. With promotion, you try to hit as many channels as possible with your content to receive the maximum attention from the audience. Using both methods together often brings the most brand awareness, qualified leads, and conversions from your content.
Related: Marketing Distribution Channels for Content Strategy
Since content distribution and content promotion share close ties, it’s not a surprise that some of their strategies overlap. But the level of targeting you use and how you research and plan your strategies makes them unique. Choose from these content distribution strategies to share your pieces with the most targeted audience:
The best place to start with content distribution is right on your owned media channels. These include your website, blog, app, newsletter, and social profiles. Starting content distribution with your owned channels gives your pieces a hub and space to live that’s under your team’s control. Then, when using other distribution channels or methods, you have a place to link, reference, and send your audience to get the full story or more information. By having your content on owned media channels, you set the aesthetic, tone, and layout for each piece to make sure it resonates with your audience.
Related: Controlled Media: Is It Right for Your Business or Agency?
If you’re looking for a great way to target a specific niche of your audience, partner with people who already have their interest and their trust. Working with influencers helps you build relationships with members of your audience you may have never reached otherwise. These kinds of distribution relationships let you work creatively with collaborators to create personalized messaging that your audience finds value in.
There are influencer partnerships that fit every brand, regardless of the size of your company or whether you operate in a B2B or B2C space. Don’t confine your influencers to social media, either. Especially in B2B spaces, influencers may speak at conferences or trade shows, along with doing social media promotions. And if influencers on social media specifically aren’t your thing, you may also consider partnering with people like subject matter experts or thought leaders in your industry to enter similar content distribution partnerships.
Researching potential influence partners helps you find the right ones to resonate with your audience and fit your budget and other resources.
Related: Influencers: What They Are and How They Can Help Your Business
Email marketing is one of the most popular owned media distribution strategies. Not only is your team completely in control of the content it shares through this format, but it also lets you communicate directly with your audience. And email marketing has plenty of tools and avenues for precise audience targeting and segmentation. These features let the right people see your content or messages every time.
Before you can use email marketing as a form of distribution, collect subscribers through calls-to-action and conversion points on your other owned media channels, like your website or social media profiles. Once you have your audience’s consent, you can distribute content through newsletters, email blasts, or special offers.
Related: CTA Email—What It Is and How To Write Your Call To Action
In the digital age, if your brand isn’t on social media, most people will never even know it exists. Though often considered a better strategy for promotion because the channel is good for brand awareness, there targeted methods exist that you can use to distribute content on social media.
Using paid social ads that allow you to set viewing parameters for your audience is one way to get more targeted with social distribution efforts. Sharing within niche groups or using specific hashtags on your content are other ways to make sure your information appears in the right circles rather than just showing up haphazardly across feeds.
Guest posting is a content creation strategy where your brand develops content pieces for other companies to share on their channels. This method is a quality content distribution strategy that blends some of the best benefits of working with influencers and sharing content in niche groups on social media. Guest posting allows you to target specific audiences with your content to make sure it’s reaching the right people.
For example, if a sporting goods company wants to target the hockey segment of its audience, it may partner with a hockey blog. Here, the company can guest post about the right equipment for players at all levels. But, like working with influencers, guest posting to another site gives your brand and content an extra level of authority with the audience. They already visit other sites or blogs for information because they like what they get when they visit there. By including your content on those sites, that host is telling its audience that your brand is top-quality too.
Besides helping hit your distribution goals, guest posting also helps build brand awareness, generate more traffic for your site, and builds authoritative backlinks.
Related: A Complete Guide to Blog Posting
We already mentioned social media ads, but that’s not the only option for paying to play when distributing your content across the internet. SEM, PPC ads, display ads, content boosting, and other paid forms of distribution are all potential options to add to your stack. Paid distribution options usually have far better targeting options than organic methods.
Rather than sharing and promoting content where you think it’s the best fit, paid methods to let you make sure your pieces appear in the right spaces to meet your goals. That level of targeting and precision is often why there’s a fee attached.
It’s likely that all members of your marketing team, and your entire company, have audiences of their own online. Whether they have social media accounts, their own blogs, or engage with people across the internet in another way, they have options to distribute your brand’s content. Ask your team to share brand content on their personal social platforms or plug links on their blogs or podcasts.
Many employees may engage in this kind of brand promotion because it acts as a partnership for their personal projects. If they can align themselves with your brand content in their own spaces, they can earn audience trust, credibility, and authority, too.
Aside from personal channels, you can also encourage your sales team to share content with clients or prospects. Provide a list of your best or most helpful assets to the sales team. They can then share these links through direct communications or at in-person meetings with leads or clients to help boost your brand’s authority levels and inch closer to making a sale.
Gating content on your own website is a smart distribution strategy to help you attract the most qualified leads. There’s something to be said for sharing all your content for free to gain brand awareness. But there’s also an exclusivity hook to gating content. It’s important to find a balance between both to help you weed out truly interested prospects from casual viewers.
When gating content, pick highly valuable pieces that your audience can’t get anywhere else on your website. Popular types of content to gate include eBooks, templates, and downloadable resources and tools. Focus on writing strong CTAs that encourage people to exchange their contact information for the content behind the gate.
Related: How To Gate Content To Grab More Qualified Leads
Content syndication is a form of promotion that publishes your previously released content on new host sites. As a distribution tactic, this strategy works like guest posting and allows you to target specific audience niches with your content. The difference is you don’t have to account for the time to create new content. With syndication, you simply republish something you’ve created in the past. This saves time and resources while still helping your brand reach its marketing goals.
Like sharing content in niche social media groups, you can answer questions in forums or comment sections by distributing your content. This option allows you to provide highly specific content to meet a member of your audience’s immediate needs. This type of engagement and personalization lets your audience know you understand their issues and your brand has the knowledge and resources to solve them.
You can leverage traditional media outlets like newspapers, TV news stations, or radio stations to help distribute your content. Creating and sharing press releases about upcoming events or the release of new content like podcasts or webinars gives other sources the chance to talk about your brand. You can send your press releases to specific news outlets to increase the chance of the right organizations sharing them with your target audience.
Native advertising and sponsored content allow you to share your pieces seamlessly in line with other content on a variety of platforms. Rather than sharing content that looks like an ad, you can integrate your pieces into another website’s layout and flow. With roots in other strategies, like guest posting, sharing your content through native advertising or sponsorship gives your brand the gold star from the host company. By having your content appear in certain spaces, you can build trust and authority off the backs of another organization.
You don’t have to go off of your own site to engage in native advertising either. Adding bars at the bottom of your content that asks readers or viewers to read or explore more pieces is another way to distribute old, relevant content that your audience may find helpful or interesting.
If you’re trying to decide which distribution strategy or strategies are right for your brand, ask your team these questions:
The best strategies all start with a goal. Two guiding questions to set your content distribution goals are: “why did you create this content?” and “what do you want people to do after they’ve engaged with the content?”
For example, if you plan to distribute a new episode of your podcast, you may ask your team why you created that episode. Maybe it was to inform people about a trending industry topic. Then, ask your team what you want the audience to do after they’ve listened to the podcast. Maybe you want them to subscribe or visit your website or complete another conversion.
When you’re able to come up with specific answers to these questions, you have a better chance of picking the right and most effective distribution strategies for every campaign.
Your content distribution strategy changes based on what pieces you share. Knowing which pieces you’ve created and which ones are ready to spread across the internet helps you choose which distribution strategies are right for each campaign. Here are some examples of the content you may include in your distribution plan:
Content distribution strategies help you reach the right audience for every piece. But you have to know who that audience is before you can delve any deeper into the strategy. Creating audience profiles and customer personas is a helpful way to understand just who you’re targeting with your content. Segment your audience by demographics like age, gender, or geographic location. You can also get more detailed with your research and learn about your audience’s interests, pain points, and goals.
Related: Audience Profile vs Audience Segmentation: Are They Different?
Each segment of your audience likely spends time in different places across the internet. Knowing where each segment likes to get its information and how they interact with it influences your strategy. Some potential locations for publishing and sharing your content include:
Timing is everything with distribution, thanks to algorithms. Even if you’re putting your content in the right spaces and targeting the right people, your pieces have the potential to get lost in the constant shuffle of new information. Evergreen content distribution isn’t as critical as time-sensitive content distribution. With evergreen content, you can experiment with different strategies to find which ones work best for each content and format type. But with time-sensitive content, such as anything promoting a scheduled webinar or a trending topic, you have to act fast.
Note the publication or launch dates of any time-sensitive material and strategize when it’s best to show this information to your audience. Do you want to send a reminder right before a scheduled webinar so people remember to join? Should you promote content surrounding your new product launch a week before the drop? Most analytics and content management programs help you determine when the best time to distribute your content for each platform and audience segment.
Don’t use the same blanket distribution strategy to share all of your content. While it might sound easier, respectfully, content marketing isn’t and shouldn’t be easy. Not if you want to get significant results. Think of your content distribution strategy in terms of a job search. When you send blanket resumes and cover letters to a bunch of potential employers, how many positive responses do you receive? Probably few. Those HR representatives and recruiters can spot a cookie-cutter application from a mile away. Your audience can do the same with a blanket content distribution strategy.
It’s important to consider the content format and content type of each piece when planning your distribution strategy. Formats include how you present the information, such as video, text, or audio. Types include the actual deliverable content that the audience engages with, such as articles, webinars, or podcasts.
Content distribution includes both paid and organic methods for publishing, sharing, and promoting content. But how do you know which path is right for your company? There isn’t a right answer to this question. The response varies by brand, audience, industry, and content.
If you’re just starting with content marketing and distribution, or you have a small budget, organic methods are best. When you’re learning something new or you’re low on resources, it’s best not to waste money on something that isn’t a sure thing. It doesn’t mean you can never engage in paid content distribution, but it shouldn’t be your first move. If you’re a little more experienced with content marketing or you have money to spare in your budget, experiment with paid distribution options.
Overall, brands likely see the most success from their strategies when they combine organic and paid methods to reach their audiences.
Content that promotes new products or services needs a unique distribution strategy. Often, the reason you’re creating a new product or service is to reach a new audience segment or an entirely different market. Your old tried-and-true distribution methods won’t work in this new space. Researching the competition in your new spaces and researching your target audience and potential new distribution channels helps you develop a solid plan for sharing content about your new projects.
If you’re taking the time to create quality content and plan a thorough distribution strategy, you want to see positive results from that effort. But how are you supposed to know if the strategy worked at all? Creating SMART goals and attaching measurable key performance indicators (KPIs) to each one is the best way to tell if your content and strategies hold up.
Success looks different for every brand and campaign. Whether you’re trying to reach a certain level of engagement or lead generation, only your team can tell if the campaign is a success or not based on the metrics and data you collect. Being as precise and clear about what you want to measure throughout the campaign makes it easier to spot success.
Strategy development can feel overwhelming, but you don’t have to do it alone. Join CopyPress and Search Engine Journal for a webinar called How To Analyze Your Content & Craft a Winning Strategy in 2023. Our VP of Partner Development, Sabrina Hipps, and Director of Content Analysis, Jeremy Rivera, take this live session to help you understand what content you already have, and how you can better prepare and distribute it in the new year. Get expert tips on the dos and don’ts of content strategy that can help you make 2023 your best content marketing year yet.
Register to secure your spot today. Everyone who signs up also receives a link to the session recording to watch, or rewatch, whenever they want.
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