There is a reason why content marketing has the word marketing in it. If you create content without distributing it, it’s just content. Not content marketing.
Successful blogs don’t get built on tons of content. Instead, they get built on a strategy that answers the question of how to get content into the hands of the right audience, at the right time, and in the right way. In other words, content needs a distribution strategy.
To distribute content, you need to turn it into something people want to share and promote it to your audience. Your success depends on two things:
And here is where it starts to get complicated. To better understand content distribution channels, you can put them into three baskets: owned, earned, and paid channels.
These are the channels that belong to you: your website, blog, and email newsletters. You may also add your social media profiles and communities to your owned channels, but to be fair, they are more rented than owned. Owned channels include anything that you've created and have full control over. And since you don't control the experience and data on social networks, they aren't your owned channels.
Let's see a few examples.
Sephora and Nike are great examples of consumer brands that have built their own communities around beauty and running hosted on their websites. By offering a way for people to exchange their experiences and connect with others, Sephora and Nike create value for their customers beyond the products they sell.
What type of content can you share on your owned channels?
Anything you want! Owned channels are your main content marketing assets, and you need to prioritize them in your strategy. By developing your owned channels, you can increase traffic, build brand awareness, and convert your audience into customers. It’s more work to develop your own channels than to buy ads on Google, but the rewards can ultimately be much higher.
The pros of owned media include:
While owned channels are your property and you certainly need to invest in them, it's pretty hard to attract the audience – especially at the start – without going out there to get exposure on the earned and paid channels.
Earned channels refer to public relations and word-of-mouth. These channels don't belong to you. You “earn” them by writing guest posts, asking bloggers for product reviews, building relationships with your social connections, sharing content with influencers, figuring out content cross-promotion tactics, and getting in touch with journalists for press coverage.
The types of content spread on earned channels include:
To earn unpaid publicity, you need to do 2 things:
Here are a few strategies you can try:
Since I've mentioned backlinks, you might be wondering:
In fact, some of the techniques I've just listed for getting earned publicity, are also used by link builders to get backlinks to their websites and increase search rankings. The difference between link building and content distribution is that link builders measure the number of backlinks and their quality, and content distribution experts measure referral traffic, direct traffic, social traffic, reach, and shares. That's the whole difference. Also, link builders often have to pay to publish guest posts with do-follow links.
Pros of earned media:
Finally, paid channels include:
Unlike owned and earned channels, on paid channels you can get a quick and measurable result in the form of conversions, downloads, referrals, and impressions.
If you decide to use paid channels, you need to remember that not all content formats fit these channels. For example, a how-to guide that drives a lot of organic traffic won’t necessarily bring you as many leads if you link to it from a paid ad. A PPC landing page where visitors land after they click on a PPC ad, on the other hand, can convert more customers because these people are ready to buy. You need to take the funnel stage into account to decide on your paid promotion tactics. And this brings us to the question:
It's a pretty complex question that deserves a separate video, but let's talk about it really briefly, in 7 steps:
Learn more about your audience to know where they can be reached most effectively.
Research the channels where your audience consumes content and define content types and formats that can be shared on these platforms.
Make a list of all channels that you can use to promote your content.
Look at your existing content and see if it can be repurposed to share on other platforms.
Create a new content plan where you specify where each content idea should go: website, blog, Slack, Facebook, Quora, Reddit, Medium, or a third-party blog.
Remember that you can distribute one piece of content on several platforms, but you also need to respect the platform meaning you need to repurpose your content to fit the expectations of the audience there.
Decide on the KPIs to track. For example, metrics for the content shared on your owned channels can include traffic, rankings, downloads, and conversion rates; on your earned channels you can track likes, shares, referrals, and the number of backlinks to your website; and paid channel metrics can include cost per click, conversion rate, referral traffic, and impressions.
See how your content is performing to define which pieces and channels are driving the most traffic to your website and attracting the most leads. Tweak your strategy based on this data.
Finally, let's review some platforms where you can distribute your content.
Content that you publish on your owned channels can be shared on social media. But because people expect different things from different social media platforms, you should repurpose your content based on these expectations.
Quora – you can use Quora to search for questions related to your industry, answer them, and also post your own questions. A pro tip would be to use tools like Ahrefs to search for Quora questions ranked at the top of Google search so that people could find your answers not only on Quora but also on Google.
Reddit – you can find the most relevant subreddits related to your niche and actively participate in Reddit discussions trying to promote your content there.
Medium - you can create your own Medium publication as an addition to your blog, or submit your content to popular publications in your niche.
Substack – you can start an email newsletter that makes money from subscriptions using this platform.
Slack List is a collection of Slack communities across different industries. You can use it to find chat groups related to your niche to participate in group discussions and share relevant pieces of content. Check out more Slack communities here.
Product Hunt is a place to share new products. As I've already said, content is also a product. For example, you can package your long-form content into a book and promote it on Product Hunt.
Watch it instead:
Every week I share my ideas and tips on content marketing with writers, B2B marketers, and business owners. Subscribe to my YouTube channel.
So there you have it. Here are a few content distribution highlights to remember:
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