You’ve heard it said: ‘content is king’. The idea seems to be that if you create great content, people will naturally be drawn to your business. Great content, though, doesn’t mean more, or even any, views or sales. There’s just so much ‘great content’ being produced every day. It’s impossible for your business to organically keep up.
So, as a smart marketer, how can you get eyes on all that great content you’ve got? The key is in its distribution.
Distribution Strategy Matters
It doesn’t matter how well something is written, or how informative or thought-provoking it is — if no one sees it, it’s useless. If you post a blog post in the proverbial forest, but no one reads it, did you really blog?
In order to get the maximum number of eyeballs on your work, you need to get the word out that it’s there. Many businesses are willing to invest in a content strategy (again with the feeling that content is king), but far fewer will spend the resources to come up with a distribution strategy.
This is where we separate content from content that works. Content that works for you, content that delivers measurable results — content that will be labeled great in the future — has a distribution strategy.
A distribution strategy doesn’t need to be overwhelmingly specific. At its simplest, it should contain a variety of different channels, and an understanding of what audience segments are in each of these channels.
In more detail, it can have keyword lists for enhanced Google performance, budget considerations for promotions and ad buys, evaluation criteria so you know if it’s performing as expected, and timelines for both promotion and evaluation.
It’s also important to understand the idiosyncrasies of the different platforms you’re using, and how to best present your content to take advantage of them.
Consider the mindset you’re in when checking your work email. When checking your personal email. When scrolling through Facebook when you should be working. Or checking Pinterest on a Saturday morning over coffee. Consider the audience, the medium, and the attitude and feelings of the person you’re trying to communicate with — what will get them interested in the content you just posted, and how will you convince them to actually go check it out?
The idea here is to spend some time thinking of all the different avenues and channels at your disposal, and how you can use each one to drive qualified traffic back to your content. Direct email, newsletters, affiliates, social media, influencer outreach, press releases, paid ads, advertorial, etc.
Considerations for Distribution on Social Media
When it comes to social media, many believe that putting something out there once is enough. But almost no one sees something that is only posted once. Social media networks are huge, and there is a near zero chance that someone with a big enough network will read everything that shows up in their feed.
A lot of what people see on social media is algorithmically generated — an algorithm decides what they see, and in what order. When it comes to content distribution, posting something once is not as useful as some might think, no matter how great or targeted it is.
Posting a piece of content multiple times allows you to iterate on how it is presented and all the while ensure it will be seen by those in your network while it is still fresh. If you post your content from a unique perspective each time, you can test what works best, and use that data to improve your overall distribution strategy.
A simple trick to planning content for your social channels is The Three Rs (spoiler, they’re the same as when you were a kid and learning about the environment!):
- Reduce. Don’t bombard your audiences with boring posts, they’ll silence you (or worse, unfollow all together) and you’ll lose all that algorithmic work you’ve been building on your channels. Instead, opt for a few posts each day that are great and that you can manage engagement on. Be part of conversations and grow your community!
- Reuse. Don’t be afraid to reuse great content that you have in your archives. Evergreen content is your friend. A well-made video explaining your product or a relevant article or infographic can help build awareness and understanding with all those new followers you’re getting.
- Recycle (or upcycle if you’re feeling fancy and have budget!). Create templates for frequently used posts (storm closures, annual reports, community impact, sales/promotions) — they can be beautifully designed once and easily updated with new copy as opportunities arise.
As you grow your audience, you’ll regularly have people experiencing your content for the first time. They could get a lot of value from older pieces — they aren’t old to them! You may be hesitant to redistribute it because it’s out of date, but recycling (instead of a straightforward reuse) that content could make it useful again.
The key to recycling is to review the content objectively and update as appropriate to both your audience and your brand.
Getting the most value out of your content can be tricky even with a great distribution strategy. The reality is, there is no absolutely perfect way to promote your content. Your best approach is to be educated on your brand, your audience and your channels. Then, start mapping what would work best where, based on what you know. Next, test it, evaluate the results and adapt. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
Our last tip: Plan to take as much time distributing your content as you do creating it. “Going viral” isn’t the be-all, end-all of marketing. It’s a blip. Sustained growth, measurable results, moving your product are the ultimate goals of every good marketer. If you can do that, you’re doing just fine.
Marketing Fundamentals: Evergreen Content
Evergreen content is a type of content that is applicable all of the time, and as a result can be distributed repeatedly, and without any major revisions. It’s called evergreen content because evergreens, such as pine and fir trees, don’t shed their leaves, no matter what season it is. Just as an evergreen is always lush, ‘ever green’ content is always good to post or send traffic to.
A lot of what is created today is informed by the here and now — what’s popular (memes) or what works at the moment (funny videos). But that depreciates quickly as the market naturally evolves. Evergreen content is not a series of quick wins; it’s foundational material that appreciates over time.
The key in creating great evergreen content is to focus on what is unlikely to change dramatically any time soon. An article on how to maintain a car’s engine, for example, or a recipe for a chocolate cake, would be great pieces of evergreen content.
In terms of distribution strategies, evergreen content allows you to create of a solid base of material that offers value to new customers. People will always have questions with multiple levels of sophistication. They’ll remember who was able to answer those questions.
Advertising legend Rosser Reeves (if you’ve heard of the medicine Anacin, that’s because of his work) said this in his seminal book Reality in Advertising about creating new content (in his case, advertisements) too often, instead of re-using what works:
Such people “are engaged in the business of cutting down their own trees. Some of these trees are hacked down as mere saplings. Some are chopped down just as they begin to grow straight and strong and tall. And sometimes we witness one of the most senseless things in advertising business; a new management brings crashing to earth one of the giants of the forest, apparently for no other reason than a desire to rearrange the advertising landscape.”
Evergreen content, including great ads and advertising campaigns, should be re-used for as long as possible. When do you stop? When it stops working, and no sooner.