3 Neglected Content Distribution Trends You Should Test in 2017

December 5, 2016 Jonathan Crowl

content distribution

When it comes time to set goals for 2017, many marketers will be searching for ways they can make the most of the work they’re already doing. Content creation is in full force at many enterprise organizations—so the task at hand isn’t producing more content, or even producing better content. Instead, marketers are seeking solutions to squeeze more value out of their content.

To do that, you’ve got to look beyond the content and examine the other strategy components that impact its success, or lack thereof. Content distribution ranks near the top of this list. You can create the best blog posts the world has ever seen, and produce branded videos that inspire uncontrolled tears of joy—but all that’s irrelevant if that blog post musters only 41 hits, or if that video inspires a measly 28 views. Great content has to find its audience, and the content itself only has a limited influence on its own potential to be circulated around the Internet.

The task of effectively distributing content is easier said than done, since the web is already so saturated with content. Email is one way to do it—and take it from the experts: despite being ancient in internet years, email’s value in distributing content isn’t going anywhere. Campaign Monitor CMO Kraig Swensrud confirmed as much on the Content Standard earlier this year.

“Email marketing is the single most effective way to drive customers to buy, and newsletters are an easy way to engage your audience,” said Swensrud. “For B2C companies, every business should have email marketing and automation technology that effortlessly syncs with e-commerce systems, which will show you exactly how much revenue every message drives.” Swensrud also noted that successful online publishers drive significant website traffic through their email newsletters: Buzzfeed, for example, lists email as one of its top five traffic drivers.

If you’re new to the newsletter game, it will take time to build up a subscriber base. But each new subscriber will be an audience member that you can reach on a weekly basis for months and years to come, providing significant residual returns compounded by the continued growth of your newsletter readership.

Email is easily one of your most valuable distribution channels—but true content distribution success will take more than a quality newsletter. It’ll require marketing departments to embrace multipronged distribution strategies that combine their in-house expertise with some of the more understated approaches to content distribution that will set them apart in 2017.

What are those approaches, exactly? Glad you asked.

1. Content-Sharing Communities

Social media is an obvious distribution channel that every sensible brand will pour its energy into cultivating. Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, will remain big-time players for enterprise marketers everywhere. But brands will also need to move beyond social media and seek out niche communities where content-sharing is a cornerstone of engagement and interaction.

Reddit logoSome of these communities might be small and focused on very specific interests—such as marathon running or bonsai plant horticulture. But even communities with a few thousand, or even a few hundred users might be worth your brand’s time and effort. If the community aligns closely with the target audience you’re seeking, the quality of exposure to this audience could be significant, and those users might help distribute your content and brand message beyond their immediate circles. Keep an eye out for online message boards, discussion threads, and even subgroups on social networks that have banded together an audience you’ll want to court.

The biggest content-sharing community, of course, is Reddit, and this one deserves any brand’s attention. But Reddit requires the subtle approach of an experienced marketer—and ideally someone with an in-depth understanding of the community. Reddit’s users and moderators are intensely sensitive to anything that resembles spam or sponsored sharing, and they’re quick to snuff it out. Sloppy attempts at promotion are more likely to earn your brand blowback from the community, which will be even more suspicious of your content in the future.

There’s no way to set up a Reddit account expressly for the purposes of brand promotion. You’ll need to cultivate a profile and persona that shares content from a range of sources and intimately engages the community. With that track record behind you, you’ll have an easier time sharing the occasional post for your company, without fear of backlash from the community.

It sounds like a lot of work, but the reward is significant: Reddit is a legitimate engine for viral content, so earning an audience there is likely to inspire global distribution.

2. Modified Republishing Strategies

Republishing isn’t always a winning content strategy, but it will gain more prominence in 2017 thanks to some modifications to existing republishing practices. Websites like Medium and LinkedIn Pulse are natural choices for republishing content because their networks of potential readers are so large, and because each platform offers its own distribution tools.

As the Content Marketing Institute pointed out, some of these republishing strategies might be better utilized by repurposing content from an original post to create a second piece that touches broadly on the topics mentioned in the first. Another option is to include a short sample of the original post with a referral link back to that page. Brands can play around with the strategies that work best for them, as well as explore which republishing platforms bring them closer to their target audiences. Just be sure to include a canonical link in any republished content so that Google is tipped off to the reuse—that way, your SEO won’t get dinged.

3. Narrative-Driven Organic Distribution

Today, consumers are too savvy to give much attention to interrupt advertising, and they’re very sensitive to when they’re being used to advance a company’s online goals. At the same time, online individuals are inherently drawn to good content, and their own personal investment into a storyline can override even obvious associations between that story and the brand itself.

We see this all the time through traditional marketing channels. The Super Bowl is significant not just because of the game’s viewership, but also because of how consumers anticipate the commercials. Increasingly, you see advertisers moving toward episodic advertising that tells a story in several stages, spaced through the Super Bowl or told over time.

In other cases, emotionally gripping content can garner significant organic sharing and distribution just by virtue of its broad appeal. A perfect example is Apple’s new seasonal ad, “Frankie’s Holiday,” which earned more than 7 million YouTube views in its first week online, and in addition to its distribution as a TV commercial:

Content success stories like this one show that telling a compelling story is its own form of content distribution: if the narrative resonates with viewers, they won’t care that your brand’s logo is slapped on the video.

Great content is important, but effective distribution is what will guarantee that content reaches an audience. In that way, the success of your distribution efforts will have a direct impact on your campaign ROI. Invest time into building a winning content strategy and you’ll be rewarded for those efforts.

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