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Industry Insights

Content Distribution

Complex, but not mysterious

Perhaps, you just paid someone to make a video for your business and it’s stunning! You’re convinced your audience is going to love it. You invested in video work because you believe it’s a powerful medium to communicate with people about what you have to offer. You also believe it will allow you to make a connection with people in a meaningful way.

We’d agree. All of these reasons are valid considerations for developing video content. However, as you sit there, waiting for your video to upload to YouTube (or Vimeo), you might be thinking to yourself, “What if people don’t see this? What if I just wasted my time, energy and money?” This is a legitimate concern. What matters most is not what form your content comes in (i.e. video, text, audio) or what channel it is on (i.e. website, social media), but whether or not the right people are seeing and engaging with it.

The importance of content distribution is easily explained. However, the question of how to actually implement it is what overwhelms and confuses people. There are many channels and tactics available to us, each one promising to be the silver bullet. Unfortunately, selecting the most suitable channel or tactic is often a difficult process. It takes deliberate and persistent management to distribute content effectively. It takes time to learn what tools and strategies work and which ones do not. You can choose to spend the time yourself or hire someone else, but like everything, it’s critical to align tactics and strategies with your stated goals and objectives.

Organize your publishing into monthly installments and plan ahead to keep things organized. Plan the work and work the plan while including some of these points into the mix:

Understand Your Audience

It’s important to properly identify and define your audience before the creation of content. It’s equally important to understand some things about your audience when it comes to distribution.

Thorough research is beneficial to understand where your audience likes to spend their time, how they like to receive their content and what incentives you can give them to actually engage with your content.

Pick a Theme

A theme can bring an overall purpose to your content strategy. By choosing a new theme every month, this provides the diversity to attract people from different areas of interest. These themes can also be relevant to the current season. For example, it makes sense to theme your content around Christmas in the month of December. Relate your content to what people are already involved with in the moment.

Leave Room for Outbreaks

As much as monthly themes can benefit you, the same goes for current events. Build the plan in a way that allows you to adapt to outbreaks and current events. This is what content marketing is all about as it leaves room to relate what you are offering to what people are talking about. This also brings “virality” to the content, meaning that if it relates to something people are already talking about, they’re more likely to share it with their peers. Examples of these events could be news outbreaks or “How To” for trending topics.

One outbreak might be frequently asked questions (FAQ). Current events can often affect how people view an industry or profession and with this comes many questions. This provides an opportunity for you to shine in the industry. It’s one thing for you to have an FAQ section on your site, but why not be proactive and answer questions with your content before somebody has to ask. It is the value first mentality that allows a business to rise above the rest.

Choose Your Channels

Effective content distribution comes down to leveraging three types of channels: owned, earned and paid media channels.

  1. Owned media channels include the business’s blog, website and social media profiles. These can all be viewed as your branded properties. They are the channels in which you have the most control over the content and experience.

  2. Earned media channels are essentially the digital version of word of mouth marketing. I often hear people say, “My business doesn’t need an online presence. We get all of our customers through word of mouth”. Well-earned media is essentially word of mouth marketing. However, it happens online where 89% of North Americans spend anywhere from 10-40 hours per week. If your content brings enough value to someone and the timing is right that person may share your content with their friends so they can receive the same value.

  3. Paid media channels are those in which you pay to play through advertisements. There are several different options to choose from. Most social media platforms (i.e. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter) allow a pay-per-click advertising model that allows you to bid on how much content engagement is worth to you. For example, on Facebook you can specify the amount that you are willing to pay to have someone click on your advertisement. This is helpful when creating a daily budget because Facebook will take your budget into consideration and never allow your costs to exceed that. These advertising tools have the capability to allow you to maintain full control over whom you target and when you target them.

The goal in these last two channels is to transfer people back to your media channels where you shape the experience and the message. The use of all these media channels is crucial to the success of the content marketing efforts. However, it cannot be rushed. Like everything, strategizing each step according to each channel is important. Although it is tempting to post great content to every available platform, consideration into which ones will be the most effective and which channels to optimize is key.

Pick a Vehicle

Would you purchase the biggest pickup truck that money can buy if you live and work in downtown Toronto? You might. However, you might also choose to ride a bike to work and skip the traffic. Then you wouldn’t have to worry about parking, gas money, car payments or all of the other costs that come with owning a vehicle. If you’re commuting from out of town however, a bike is just not going to cut it. The same goes for choosing the proper platforms to use to get your content where it needs to be. For some people, their audience may rely heavily on visuals when deciding on a product to purchase. Instagram might be better for this. But what if you need to target a business for your services rather than a consumer? Do you think a business is going to sign a big contract based on a pretty picture? Heck no. They need information, they need professionalism and they need facts. Direct them to a blog post or video about your services, which will provide the content in a professional manner. Always consider who the audience is and what appeals to them when distributing content just as much as the audience is considered when making the content.

Automate It

Automate as much of your content distribution process as possible. You can do this by using one of several scheduling tools out there. Hootsuite for example is one that we like to use. It allows us to allocate time once a week to create all of our content and then schedule it, so it is published at the times that work best for our brand.

Paid ads can also be automated, but to an extent. It is still crucial to schedule time each day to check on results and make sure things are flowing smoothly. But once you have paid ads running and converting, most of the management process can be automated. Never get comfortable with one campaign; always be testing and trying new things.

Direct Your Traffic

Your content may have created an impression with the consumer and maybe they even engaged with it. But where do they go next? This is the key step in content marketing. What is your call to action? Is it easy for them to continue the conversation with your brand after you have just introduced yourself? Do you want them to visit a landing page on your website where they can find even more value? Or maybe you have a special offer for them. Whatever the case, traffic needs to be sent somewhere that allows the relationship to develop. It takes an average of 6-8 touch points online before you can consider a lead to be in a ‘sales ready position’.

Measure It

Do not forget to track the success of your content! (Read this previous post to see the importance of measuring results).

Use key measurements to determine what is working best for your brand. Know your goals before you start distributing content, so you can adapt and make changes in order to meet key performance indicators.

Distribution is a key factor to creating positive marketing results with content. Continue to test things and keep an open mind, you will eventually find the process that works for your brand.

Understanding distribution will help grow your business. Like anything, content distribution takes time and effort. In order to leverage this tactic, post quality and consistent content. (see "Tailoring Content for your Audience")

5 principles to always keep in mind:

  1. Understand your audience
  2. Create value for your audience
  3. Plan and manage the content
  4. Pay attention to details
  5. Use automation where possible to save time

March 10, 2017