If you already know you need content to get out the word about your message and brand, you’re ahead of most small- and medium-sized business owners. But knowing how, when, and where you organize the distribution of content takes your efforts to the next level.
Here’s an example. Say Max stopped scrolling when he saw a pair of colorful sneakers advertised on his social media news feed. He clicked on the link to the company’s website, where he checked out the different styles. He read a few reviews on the site from happy buyers. When a pop-up appeared and offered him discounts in exchange for his email address, he signed up. However, he doesn’t buy anything right away. Few people are that impulsive.
While Max may not make a purchase off the bat, the owners of that small sneaker company could create and implement a content distribution strategy that could target him and other potential buyers. Over time, this reminds them of the product that drew them in and leads them to make a purchase.
The key word here is strategy. As a business owner, you can create a plan with your team for content creation, distribution, and promotion that sets you up for success. If the shoe company plans for distribution of content when Max sees the ad, he'll be more likely to become a happy customer.
What Is Content Distribution?
Content can be defined as the different vehicles that companies use to spread their message to a target audience. Optimized content has specific keywords associated with it to maximize its reach.
Types of content include:
- Blog posts
- Social media posts
- Digital advertisements
- Email newsletters
- Website copy
- White papers
- Submitted articles and press releases
- “Live” broadcasts
- Captions for photographs
Business leaders commonly work with professional marketing and writing agencies to help create blog content and other forms of the “vehicle” for messaging. Once you have it ready, you need to let your targeted audience know about the content as much as possible. This is the goal of the distribution of content.
Why Is Distribution of Content Important?
There’s a truism about throwing spaghetti at the wall, and if it sticks, then it’s ready to eat. Distribution of content can be the same way: You use the scattergun approach by trying all kinds of things at once and seeing what works.
The problem is that method wastes good pasta — and, if it’s how you run a digital marketing strategy, a lot of time, effort, and resources.
Content distribution is important because it serves as the structural plan that ensures that the resources that went into creating the content aren’t wasted.
When you schedule a time to plan content distribution, you’ll have already made the difficult decisions regarding when to share your content, which platforms you should use, and whether you’re reaching your target audience effectively.
For successful content distribution, you should brainstorm with your marketing team to hash out a plan that includes:
- Identification of target audience
- Strategy for outreach to each audience
- Timeline for specific campaigns
- Decisions on content distribution tools
- Preparing relevant content topics
- A content calendar
- Delegation of tasks with clear deadlines
Few small- and medium-sized business leaders set aside time for this important work. That sneaker company that got Max’s eye did. Seeing the colorful sneakers once wouldn’t be enough to keep his interest, but imagine if Max started getting deals through fun emails and saw new ads with reviews on his social networks.
Content distribution can translate into sales — if the content promotion campaign within a digital marketing strategy is well thought-out.
3 Content Distribution Channels To Focus On
One reason that business owners don’t schedule the time to plan for content distribution is that they’re already busy enough. The last thing anyone wants is to dump even more work on an overflowing desk.
But instead of avoiding the planning process, promise yourself that it will be realistic. That means focusing on the most appropriate content distribution channel to begin the work. There are three main channels for content: owned, earned, and paid.
Of the three content distribution channels, owned channels provide the most control — simply because they are yours. Owned channels can include:
- Company website
- Company Facebook business profile
- Google Business profile
- Yelp! profile
- Business Instagram account
- YouTube channel
You can post whatever you’d like on these platforms and add new content at any time. In the example with Max and the shoes, the company’s website is an owned channel.
Earned or Shared Channels
Let’s say Max’s friend Suzy does buy a pair of the sneakers, and she thinks Max will like the purchase. She snaps a picture, posts it with a caption on her Instagram Story, and tags Max. That distribution of content didn’t cost the company anything, nor did they have any control. It’s a shared channel.
Blogs, videos, and other content go viral when they're shared. For example, if a customer shares your product in a TikTok and it goes viral, this is an example of an earned channel.
Also known as “sponsored content,” paid content distribution channels are essentially advertisements. Your company will work with the business side of the digital marketing company, often in a “pay-per-click” format.
Your budget should include money for campaigns on paid channels, especially if you are just starting to grow your reach to a specific target audience. Facebook and Google are the modern version of the evening printed newspapers, which was where businesses used to turn.
Influencer marketing is another way to leverage paid channels and get your blog promoted on social media. Especially if they have a close relationship with their audience, this is a great way to draw in a specific audience through a sponsored post.
8 Ways To Improve Your Content Distribution Strategy
If you already know you need content and you’ve marked time on your calendar to create a digital marketing strategy, congratulations are in order! You’re on your way to a successful outreach campaign. Here are eight tips to make your content distribution strategy even better.
1. Understand Your Target Audience
You’ll have more success reaching the kinds of people in the market for your product or service if you’re speaking their language, meeting their needs, finding them online where they spend time, and providing a solution to whatever their problem may be.
In Max’s situation, that sneaker company knew he was a fashionable guy who loved cool, comfortable styles. That’s how they got his attention. Their content distribution plan will either encourage him to purchase a pair or decide the look isn’t for him.
Think beyond the basic demographics to create a more vivid concept of the members of your target audience. Ask stakeholders to describe the persona of your ideal customer, and speak directly to them.
2. Determine the Types of Content You'll Distribute
Some products and services naturally lean toward the written word, images, or video content. For others, it’s not so clear. If you run a gourmet doughnut shop, you’d likely get more mouths watering with professional photos of your sugary creations than if you wrote about them. But if you have a more complex product, you may want to write blogs.
With all content, be strategic with the keywords, timing, and placement. Short, 15-second “reels” may be effective on Facebook or other social media online platforms, but you’ll want longer content if you plan to post on YouTube or send as part of an email marketing campaign.
Be realistic with what your team can create when deciding on content formats. Outsourcing work to professional writers and marketing strategists can help during the planning and implementation process.
3. Choose the Right Content Distribution Platforms
If you have a clear understanding of your target audience, you’ll know — perhaps through data analysis — where they like to spend their time online. While creating an omnichannel marketing plan is a noble ambition, start with a more focused strategy and expand as resources allow.
Simply put, plan your distribution of content for channels that are more likely for you to strengthen relationships with your current and future customers. If you aren’t sure, ask your current customers where they’d like to receive special deals and news from your company, and start there.
4. Set Key Performance Indicators (KPI) and Goals
Marketing is famously difficult to measure. After all, did Max click on that link just because it was in his news feed, or should the credit go to the product itself? The fact is, those could be the very best shoes in the world. However, if Max doesn’t see them, he’ll never buy them.
To determine if a digital marketing campaign is successful, weave key performance indicators, or KPIs, into your strategic plan. What goals would you like to set for your efforts? While overall sales are worth tracking, keep in mind that content creation can take time. Short-term wins, such as new followers or views on social media, are KPIs that can be measured, too.
5. Build a Content Strategy and Editorial Calendar
Plan at least six months to a year in advance, and you’ll avoid the common crisis mentality that plagues many small- and medium-sized business owners. This is especially important when it comes to content creation.
Start by creating a strategy to reach your target audience. You may have more than one target audience. Focus on one at a time and develop content that meets their needs or entertains them in some way.
For the editorial calendar, go month-by-month to plan:
- Content format
- Creator name
- Due date for the first draft
- Due date for editing
- Date it is posted online
- Person responsible for posting
The goal is to think the entire process through so there is no stress as the weeks go by. Otherwise, you risk having to get creative at the last minute and surprising someone on your team (or possibly yourself) with extra work.
6. Develop a Content Promotion Campaign
Let’s say the sneaker company produced a short video series with fashionable people around the globe doing fun things in their new shoes. That’s a great marketing campaign — but it won’t work on Max if he never sees it. The next step after a content creation strategy is planning a campaign to promote the new content.
Perhaps this means budgeting more for distributing content as sponsored advertisements on social media sites. This may mean working with influencers or ensuring every owned channel is updated on time. Be creative with promotion and track KPIs regularly to ensure you reach your target audience.
7. Track and Analyze Content Reports
At the end of every campaign (or at least every three months), schedule time to review the impact of the content creation elements of your digital marketing strategy. You may be surprised at the amount of data available through Google and Facebook to analyze your success. Numbers can show you how to get traffic to your blog.
You may discover other KPIs, such as online reviews. Sometimes, off-hand comments on a social media post can point you in a new direction to answer questions and solve the problems of your target audience. Once you gain their trust with informative or entertaining content, you’ll be on your way to creating a loyal customer.
8. Try Using Content Distribution Tools
While the modern world is a long way away from automating creative tasks like writing blogs, producing videos, and other content services, distribution is luckily easier. Content distribution tools help get your content “live” and ready to be enjoyed.
Be aware of blanketing every content platform with the same work, however. A blog link makes more sense to be posted on Facebook than Instagram, which is limited in its ability to direct users to longer content. Meanwhile, a simple photo with a thoughtful caption may get a quick scroll on Facebook but could be shared on Instagram, where more users want to hit "read more" after stopping at an accompanying eye-catching photo.
Spread your distribution of content among all owned and social media platforms, so you don’t compete against yourself for attention, too.
Content Creation Can Be Easy
If the distribution of content feels overwhelming, you’re not alone. A structured and strategic digital marketing strategy takes a lot of work to write — and even more to execute. Try working with the content experts with Compose.ly’s Managed Services to take this task off your desk.