In our industry, most people know how hard it can be to create good content. We want it to be the best it possibly can before we release it to the world. But how do we know for sure that the world is going to see it? Ideally, all we’d need to do is put it on a blog, share it in the right places and hundreds and thousands of engaged leads will consume it and pass it on.
The truth is that we don’t live in an ideal world, but rather a noisy world. If you’re proud of the content you’ve researched, analyzed and nurtured for months, you can bet that you are not the only one in such a position. This is where paid content distribution comes into play.
But before you jump head-first into paid content distribution, you need to define your objectives for the content piece and set clear goals to help you accomplish said objectives. This should happen early in the planning stages of content creation so that the defined goals and objectives drive its development.
After you’ve set goals and objectives, it’s time to plan placement opportunities for the content. If your end goal is to increase search engine authority, this might mean getting your content published on high quality, authoritative sites – a digital PR process that’s often lengthy and costly, but one that will have great benefits in the long term.
The obvious place for social distribution is Facebook and Twitter. The monetization of the two social behemoths means that there are tremendous opportunities for marketers on both platforms. Simply put: They’re the biggest and best for paid social distribution. The model is so successful that Pinterest, Instagram, and many other social platforms have announced plans to launch similar solutions in the coming months.
Another interesting development in the paid distribution space is the growing audience available through content discovery platforms which promote content at the foot of articles on high-end sites. Taboola and Outbrain are two recognizable names that offer this service, though many others exist.
Defining Your Audience
Analyze your previous campaigns to create personas that can guide content ideation and development. To facilitate the creation of such personas, check out Zazzle Media’s helpful persona template.
Social media provides the ability to access information about your audience as people, rather than just data figures. It is possible to discover how many people like your brand and also like sports, good food or any other interest or hobby you can think of. Why would you want to do this? By clearly understanding your audience you will be able to design campaigns to appeal to their niche interests, which will in turn help lower cost-per-click.
How do you accomplish that? By diving into Facebook’s catacombs of user data via the Ads Manager or Power Editor.
This formula lets you work out how many people in a brand like another brand or interest set. To do this you need to know the audience size (how many fans a brand has) and the total reach (the audience size as calculated by Facebook’s Ad Manager or Power Editor) for each. Once you have used this data in the formula, you will be able to quantify your audience’s interest in a specific brand or interest set.
This can be a helpful tool in segmenting your audiences so you can tailor campaigns to suit them. If algebra isn’t your strong suit, Zazzle Media has also created this handy tool to bypass the formula.
The Right Channels for Your Content
Once you have clearly defined your audience you will need to decide which channels to use to promote your content.
The recent horror stories you may have heard about brand reach on Facebook have been limited to organic and play into the hands of those with paid budgets. This means that if you want your content to reach a high number of potential leads, you will have to pay for the privilege. The two ways of promoting your content are by ‘Page Post Engagement’ or ‘Clicks to Website.’
The first is a way of amplifying content that is already available on your page. By promoting this you can create a social buzz and increase the chances of the post getting a higher number of engagements.
If you want people to click through to actually see the content then ‘Clicks to Website’ is the better option. This way you can get people to land on your content through a call-to-action button.
The huge numbers of active users and sophisticated targeting system means that, despite the loss of organic reach, it still remains a very attractive content distribution platform for marketers.
Twitter is great for distributing content via the Promoted Tweets option on their self-service system. You can target specific audiences through a number of metrics including keywords, interests and followers, television and tailored audiences. This system isn’t as advanced as Facebook, but you can still reach high numbers of people.
Visual Platforms (Instagram & Pinterest)
Instagram and Pinterest are making waves with their plans for advertising. The two platforms are ideal for distributing strong image-based content. As of yet, a self-service system is not available, but with the potential revenue streams which will become available for these two, expect to see this option in the new year.
Digital PR is an emerging phenomenon in the digital marketing space that uses the same tactics as traditional PR and journalism but adapts them to suit the digital age. When attempting to publish content on high authority sites, follow PR industry best practices and thoroughly educate yourself on the most effective way to build a relationship with a media outlet. Realize that even the best and most thoroughly researched content may require a fee to appear on the site, or could be completely rejected by the site for lack or relevance or quality. Don’t let this deter you from the power of earned media!
Content Amplification Systems
Sites like Taboola and Outbrain are unrivaled in generating high levels of traffic. These platforms place relevant content at the foot of related articles to generate a more valuable click. The idea is that since the audience is already reading content similar to yours, they are more likely to consume and engage with your content.
The key to remember with this channel is to remain on top of costs vs. conversion because user-defined targeting is practically non-existent. Make sure that your title clearly speaks to a distinct segment and doesn’t bait-and-switch them, since you have little control over who it’s served up to.
Now you should have a better understanding of the process surrounding paid content distribution – from setting your objectives to defining your audience and choosing the right channels. Once you have gone through these steps, the distribution landscape should seem a lot less noisy.