A Guide to the Different Content Distribution Channels

Megan Smith
Published: Mar 27, 2024
Table of Contents
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Your content is too good not to share, but gaining the audience you deserve requires using the best content distribution channels.

So, where should you be publishing? The exact answer depends on your brand and goals, but top businesses blend owned, earned, and paid media distribution channels to grow their communities.

There are numerous channels in each category, and most brands don't have the resources to be everywhere. Here's the low-down on your options as you incorporate different channels into a successful content marketing strategy.

What Is Content Distribution and Why Is It Important?

Content distribution is publishing and promoting content to online audiences in multiple media formats and across various channels.

Why does it matter? Effective content distribution maximizes your content value so that it reaches and resonates with the broadest possible audience.

Multiple channels give you more chances to reach people on their preferred platform. You also have the opportunity to reach prospects multiple times, providing different formats and content experiences, helping increase brand awareness and drive better audience engagement.

What Are the Types of Content Distribution Channels?

Content distribution channels come in three flavors: 

  1. Owned media consists of the digital assets your brand controls — types of content such as your website, email newsletters, and social media profiles. It's where your audience learns more about you and interacts with your content directly.
  2. Earned media is when others distribute your content or talk about your company. It's particularly valuable because it adds a layer of credibility to your brand — after all, people tend to trust recommendations from others more than self-promotion.
  3. Paid media involves any scenario where you pay to amplify your content. Common examples include pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and influencer marketing. Paid media can help extend your reach and generate more immediate results, particularly for new brands not yet widely known.

Top 11 Owned Distribution Channels You Should Be Using

If content is king, then owned content marketing channels are your kingdom. This is where you have the most control over your message, crafting and amplifying it through the following organic channels.

1. Website Landing Pages

A website landing page is a web page designed to receive traffic from various sources like email campaigns, social media promotions, or search engine results.

Landing pages are where visitors "land" after they click on a link elsewhere on the web. They allow you to deliver targeted messages, drive conversions, and measure the success of your campaigns with precision.

You also have complete control over the design, enabling you to tailor the user experience to match your campaign objectives.

2. Blogs

A blog is a regularly updated section of your website where you publish articles related to your industry, company, or products. They're an excellent way to generate organic traffic to your website.

Blogs are great for establishing authority in your industry, improving search engine optimization (SEO), and providing value to your audience through informative or entertaining content. They're also fantastic sources of repurposed content for social distribution as posts.

However, a successful blog requires consistent, skilled content creation and promotion, which can be resource-intensive. In a 2021 Statista survey, more than half of online bloggers published multiple times a month, with 22% posting weekly and 16% publishing content even more often.

The most popular content pieces for blogging are how-to articles, followed by news/trends posts. Learn what pieces resonate with your audience and populate your blog with a variety of high-value content.

3. Email Newsletters

An email newsletter is a regular email sent to subscribers, typically containing news, updates, or promotional content related to your business.

Newsletters have many advantages. They allow for direct communication with your audience in a place most people check daily — their inbox. They are excellent for driving engagement, maintaining relationships with your audience, and promoting new content or offers.

Building and maintaining an email list requires time and effort, and it can be hard to stand out amidst the clutter of a crowded inbox. Respect your subscribers' commitment to you with your very best articles and promotions.

4. Press Releases

A press release is an official statement that provides information on a significant event or announcement related to your business for media distribution.

While press releases may seem like old-school content distribution tactics, they're still relevant today. They can generate media coverage, increase brand visibility, and boost your SEO efforts.

The success of a press release depends on its newsworthiness and the media's interest in covering the story.

5. Mobile Apps

Mobile apps present an opportunity for businesses to engage with their customers on a personal level. These platforms let you deliver customized content directly to your audience, fostering stronger relationships and enhancing customer loyalty.

Use mobile apps to share news updates, offer exclusive deals, provide customer service, and more. It's crucial that your app offers value beyond what can be found on your website. Otherwise, users may see no reason to download it.

6. Case Studies

Case studies are a powerful tool for demonstrating the value of your products or services. By highlighting real-world examples of how your company has helped its clients, you can show potential customers that your offerings are beneficial and tested.

The key to a successful case study is to make it relatable and engaging. Help your prospects understand all that your business can do for them, putting a human face on their current pain points and desired success.  Use storytelling techniques, focusing on the problem-solution-result structure to shape the narrative.

To enhance the benefits of case studies, feature quotes from satisfied customers, which adds a touch of authenticity. Visuals also improve content. Depending on your industry, you might incorporate before-and-after images or lay out quantitative improvements in easy-to-digest infographics.

7. White Papers

White papers are in-depth reports that explore a specific issue or topic related to your industry. The advantages of white papers include opportunities to educate your audience, establish thought leadership, and generate leads.

Creating a white paper requires thorough research and a deep understanding of your subject matter. It's important to present complex information clearly and concisely — and always to provide actionable insights. Remember, the goal of a white paper is not to sell but to inform and engage.

8. Webinars

Webinars are live, interactive online events that allow you to share knowledge, present your products or services, and engage directly with your audience. They're an excellent platform for showcasing your expertise, answering questions, and building relationships with potential customers.

To make your webinars compelling, focus on providing value. You can choose topics that are relevant to your audience, invite industry experts as guest speakers, and encourage participation through Q&A sessions.

Don't forget to record your webinars for future adaptation and distribution. For example, you can turn excerpts into videos for YouTube or social media accounts.

9. Social Media Posts

Social media content is indispensable to any brand's marketing strategy, allowing them to interact directly with their audience, build relationships, and foster customer loyalty.

It's vital to identify which platforms your target audience frequents. A business-to-business (B2B) company might succeed more on professional networking sites like LinkedIn, while a business-to-consumer (B2C) company might thrive on Instagram or Facebook. Think about social media demographics, too. For example, Facebook is particularly popular with adults over 50, and TikTok attracts a younger crowd.

Content shared on social media should be engaging, authentic, and valuable to your audience. It could include product updates, behind-the-scenes looks, user-generated content, industry news, or educational material.

Remember, consistency is key. Regular posting helps keep your brand top-of-mind for your audience and increases the chances of engagement.

10. Interactive Content

Interactive content involves the audience's active participation — think quizzes, polls, or even virtual reality experiences. B2B interactive content examples include interactive ebooks and calculators that show potential savings or return on investment (ROI).

Use interactive content to gather insights about your audience and boost engagement with material that requires their participation. Remember to align the interactive content with your brand's overall goals and audience needs.

11. Infographics

Infographics are visual representations of information or data. They're excellent for simplifying complex information into digestible, visually appealing content.

To create effective infographics, ensure the design is clean and easy to understand. The information should flow logically, and the visuals should support the data or information you present.

Common branded infographics explain how products work, share industry statistics or survey results, or tell business histories. They're highly shareable on social media, increasing your visibility.

And you don't need to worry if you're not a brilliant graphic artist — you don't need to be. Use a free design tool like Canva's online infographic maker.

The Best 8 Earned Media Channels You Should Know

Earned media channels help brands build credibility and broaden their reach. If your owned media is your kingdom, earned media is your state's outposts, where you exchange goods and gossip abroad.

1. Guest Blogging

Guest blogging involves writing articles for other companies' blogs. By tapping into the host blog's audience, you increase visibility and establish authority in your industry.

Find blogs that align with your brand values and target audience, and pitch topics that offer value to the host blog's readers while subtly promoting your brand or product.

One of the most significant opportunities in guest posts lies in the potential for backlink generation, which improves your website's SEO. However, like all forms of blogging, the work requires substantial time and effort to create high-quality content.

2. Public Relations Partnerships

Public relations (PR) partnerships involve collaborating with media outlets, influencers, or other brands to generate positive publicity.

To leverage PR partnerships, research potential content distributors who strongly align with your brand and share your target audience. Then, propose a mutually beneficial collaboration.

PR partnerships are particularly popular in event marketing. Consider donating your time and expertise as a guest or speaker at an industry event. You'll gain an opportunity to engage with interested audiences in person, developing real connections as you grow your contacts.

3. Social Media Groups and Communities

Social media groups and communities are online spaces where people with shared interests connect and engage. These platforms let you interact directly with potential customers in a low-pressure environment.

Where does your target audience hang out? Once you know, join and engage in these communities authentically — participate in discussions, answer questions, and share valuable content. You can also create social media groups to curate content and develop your brand community.

Be aware that overt self-promotion may be frowned upon, so you'll need to take a subtler approach in your content distribution plan, particularly when engaging groups not directly hosted by your brand.

Facebook currently has over ten million groups, giving you plenty of chances to find one that fits your business. Groups are also a vital part of the LinkedIn scene. The average user belongs to ten or more groups, and 10.4% belong to the maximum allowed by the platform: 50.

4. Forums

Forums are online discussion platforms where users share information and engage in conversations around specific topics. They're ideal for brands looking to showcase their know-how and build credibility.

Be active in these forums, asking and answering questions. Your expertise should promote you. Users get frustrated when brands ignore their actual questions in favor of ad-like posts.

Find relevant threads on one of the most popular online forums, such as Reddit, which has 850 million active users who access the platform at least once a month. Quora is also popular and boasts over 400 million unique visitors a month.

5. Review Sites

Review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor offer consumers a platform to share their experiences with businesses and products. These sites provide brands an opportunity to collect social proof through positive customer reviews.

More than 99.9% of online shoppers read reviews before purchasing at least sometimes, and 98% think reviews are an essential resource when choosing what to buy.

To leverage review sites, encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews about their experiences. Respond promptly and professionally to both positive and negative reviews to demonstrate your commitment to customer satisfaction.

Reviews are also one of the content formats to consider adding to your website. Add excerpts or use a tool to automatically publish reviews from a third-party site to your page.

6. Online Newspapers and Magazines

Online newspapers and magazines reach broad audiences and offer a platform for brands to share their stories, insights, or contributions to their industry.

Consider pitching story ideas highlighting your brand's unique value proposition or industry expertise. Alternatively, you could contribute articles or op-eds on topics relevant to your field.

[help a journalist out, reach out to publications, presenting yourself as a resource]

7. Content Discovery Platforms

Content discovery platforms help users discover new content based on their interests. They allow brands to attract new audiences by promoting their content alongside related articles.

To incorporate these distribution outlets into your strategy, identify which ones your target audience uses most. Create captivating headlines and images for your promoted piece of content to increase click-through rates.

The main opportunity with content discovery platforms is the potential to reach highly-targeted audiences. Create captivating headlines and images for your promoted content to increase click-through rates.

Content discovery platforms have grown popular as a B2B content solution. B2B marketers should check out The Juice, which provides consumers with on-demand content (sourced from top B2B brands). The Juice appeals to potential readers by protecting their privacy and providing content without the gates or lengthy forms.

8. Podcast Hosting Platforms

Podcast hosting platforms are one of today's most popular content channels. They offer brands a chance to engage audiences in a personal and immersive format.

To leverage podcast platforms, consider starting one related to your industry or becoming a guest on established podcasts for your target audience.

The significant opportunity here lies in the growing popularity of podcasts and the deep engagement they foster. The limitation, however, is that creating high-quality podcast content requires considerable time and resources.

4 Popular Paid Media Channels for Content Distribution

Paid content distribution allows you to grow faster. To continue with the kingdom analogy, paid media is your (well-intentioned, non-violent) army. Use it to demand attention and claim new audiences.

1. Influencer Content Shares and Mentions

Partner with influential individuals in your industry to promote your brand or content. This strategy leverages the influencer's established trust and rapport with their followers.

Influencer marketing is commonplace in certain industries, notably fashion/beauty and gaming. However, the most popular category in the 2024 "The State of Influencer Marketing Report" was "Other," which fielded 34.1% of the survey respondents. Influencer marketing has grown more popular across all industries.

Identify influencers who align with your brand values and have a strong connection with your target audience. Develop a mutually beneficial partnership where they share or mention your content in their posts or videos.

The central opportunity here is the potential to tap into the influencer's engaged following and boost brand awareness. Choosing the right influencer partnerships is crucial. A mismatch could waste your money or even damage your reputation.

2. Social Media Ads

Social media ads allow brands to display promotional content directly on users' social media feeds. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter offer advanced targeting options to reach your ideal audience.

To leverage social media ads, pick the platform that's best for your industry and target demographic. Then, create compelling ads that resonate with your audience and encourage them to engage with your brand.

Social media ads and promoted posts are the most popular form of paid distribution for both B2C content (used by 88% of B2C marketers investing in paid channels) and B2B brands (85%).

3. Search Ads

Search ads are advertisements that appear on search engine result pages (SERPs). Find prospects who are actively looking for what you sell.

To use search ads effectively, conduct thorough keyword research to understand what your target audience is searching for. Then, create ads that provide clear solutions to their queries.

Search ads' significant opportunity is their potential to drive highly targeted traffic to your website.

4. Native Advertising

Native advertising involves promotional content that seamlessly blends in with the platform it's on. This could be a sponsored article on a news site or a promoted post on social media.

To incorporate paid advertising in content marketing, create content that aligns closely with the platform's style and tone while promoting your brand or product.

The main advantage of native advertising is its potential to engage users without disrupting their experiences.

Leverage the Most Cost-Effective Content Distribution Channel

Content distribution channels — owned, earned, and paid — offer various opportunities and challenges for brands to navigate. To unlock their full potential, you need a well-crafted, coherent strategy.

A robust content distribution strategy involves choosing the right channels, producing high-value content, and leveraging the strengths of different channels to amplify your content's reach and impact.

Start by developing or refining your blog. In addition to being one of the most cost-effective channels, blogs offer a versatile platform for sharing your brand story, industry insights, or product benefits. Moreover, you can easily repurpose and share your posts through other channels, maximizing their value.

But creating engaging, high-quality blog content at scale is no small feat — it requires a deep understanding of your audience, industry trends, and SEO best practices. That's where Compose.ly blog-writing comes into play.

Compose.ly specializes in crafting top-notch blog content tailored to your brand's needs and objectives. Our team of skilled writers brings a wealth of experience across various industries, ensuring your blogs hit the mark every time. 

With Compose.ly, you can focus on your core business while we take care of delivering content that drives results. After all, don't you deserve the royal treatment?


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