“Content is king, but distribution is queen and she wears the pants.”
Head of Digital Ventures at ICM Partners
You’ve taken the time to create a truly captivating piece of content. It ticks all the boxes: your spelling and grammar is impeccable, you’ve got a powerful headline, it’s rich in keywords and you’ve nailed the meta description. In other words: it’s flawless.
You hit publish and sit with baited breath waiting for the readers to come flooding in, only to see the figurative tumbleweed come rolling idly past.
Content creation gets all the love in the blogosphere. So much so in fact, that the other half of the equation—content distribution—often gets overlooked. But the reality is that without an effective amplification strategy, your content will never even reach its intended audience.
All too often content marketers spend hours, if not days, crafting that perfect piece of content. And then when it’s finally ready to be introduced to the world, it’s simply uploaded to a blog—an infinitesimally small segment of the entire worldwide web—and the author sits and rests on his or her laurels hoping that the right people will magically find it.
If only it were that simple. When it comes to content, the cold hard truth is this: your content isn’t special. It might be meticulously researched, humorous and and beautifully formatted, but no matter how good it is, it’s still got to compete with the other 1400 blog posts that are being published every single minute of the day, seven days a week, 365 days of the year.
Enter content amplification.
Content amplification is the practice of marrying valuable content with paid marketing tactics. It allows marketers to put content in front of their target customers across multiple channels, including websites and social media networks. Once content appears on these platforms, marketers are then able to direct traffic to their owned media properties.
If you’ve yet to figure out how to effectively amplify your content, this handy guide should offer some insight.
Earned, owned and paid media
The most successful content amplification plans incorporate a blend of owned, earned and paid strategies—each of which serves its own specific purpose.
Owned media channels are, as the name suggests, those that you directly own. Channels that are fully under your control allow you to deliver the messaging you want and tailor the user experience to your customers’ needs.
Your content hub
Your distribution efforts should always circle back to one central content hub—typically your company blog—in order to drive traffic, leads and ultimately conversions. Always publish content to this primary platform first, then direct paid and earned initiatives back to the original post.
Owned media also includes a your company’s website, blog and social media platforms, such as Tumblr, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, Vine—the list goes on. Owned social media channels provide an informal way to connect with your audience. When disseminating material through an owned channel, it helps if the content isn’t overtly promotional; it should be informative, entertaining and educational.
Third-party content validation can significantly increase your content’s reach and improve your brand’s credibility. On a basic level, earned media is any publicity you haven’t paid for that’s owned and created by a third party.
It could include something as small as a tweet from a popular influencer in your industry, or as large as a full sponsored content piece on a major publisher’s website. Whatever form it comes in, this type of exposure is incredibly valuable—in fact, research has shown that earned media is the most trusted source of information.
So, what exactly constitutes earned media? Think about it like this: if owned media is your content hub, then earned media is the conduit that helps customers get to it. Essentially, earned media is the online equivalent of word-of-mouth marketing, and is usually seen in the form of shares, mentions, likes, follows, reposts, reviews, recommendations or content placement on third party sites.
Paid media offers guaranteed placement across a number of platforms—of which there are many to choose from. Paying for media is a great way to jumpstart engagement at the beginning of a campaign before your content receives much traction. It’s also a useful tool to breathe life into an existing content piece that’s performed well with your audience in the past.
Social media makes a second appearance, but this time as an effective paid media channel. As social networks continue to figure out how to monetize their business, your brand’s posts are getting seen by fewer and fewer people. With this in mind, boosting a post on Facebook can greatly increase your chances of visibility.
Almost all social sites now have paid content amplification options (e.g. Twitter’s sponsored tweets, Pinterest’s promoted pins, etc.) that are customizable and allow you to reach targeted audiences.
In recent years, several companies have emerged to help facilitate the sharing of online content. Their products—often referred to as content widgets—allow brands to embed standalone applications in third party websites, often used to promote additional content or help readers easily share the content they’re currently reading.
Pay per click (PPC) advertising is the most common paid method used by brands to boost their online visibility. PPC promotes content online that attracts clicks from users, and when a user clicks on an ad, the marketer pays for the click.
There are two types of PPC ads: search and content. Search PPC requires the marketer to select specific keywords that, when searched by a potential consumer, will cue the display of paid search ads for your company’s website.
Traditionally, paid ads directed users to a company’s product page or website. Nowadays, it’s being leveraged more for the purpose of using paid advertising to promote original content.
Mostly an unknown term until just a few years ago, native advertising is growing at an explosive rate. In fact, it’s anticipated that digital ad spending will pull in close to $5 billion in 2015 in the US alone.
Put simply, native advertising is the paid strategy of reaching target audiences with branded or sponsored content. Its growth is largely attributed to the rise of content marketing—as more brands invest in producing value-adding content, they seek non-interruptive ways to reach consumers with it. Native advertising is emerging as a channel to accomplish just that, because its fundamental premise is to seamlessly integrate sponsored messages in a user’s experience. These native ads are positioned closest to—or surrounded by—contextually relevant, publisher-produced content.
Native advertising offers brands targeted audiences that align with their marketing goals, and allows them to reach consumers on a platform they already know, love and read everyday—without disrupting their consumption habits
In this day and age, creating great content is a must for brands—but distribution should never be an afterthought. Try experimenting with paid media channels—whether that be social ads, content widgets or native advertising—and see which drives the best results for you.