Why The Medium Is More Than The Message In Content Marketing

Content is published every day, but even the best content needs an effective distribution strategy. The key to a great distribution strategy is the right distribution medium. The legendary philosopher and professor Marshall McLuhan said it best with his famous adage, “the medium is the message.”

McLuhan’s theories foreshadowed content marketing for decades, but after fifty years marketers are still getting it wrong. Specifically, there has been a buzz around Ryan Skinner’s article, “Great Content Is Not Enough,” which addresses the problem of distribution. But despite Skinner’s assertions, distribution is not the answer. The medium is the master of the message being distributed.

Data from the 2013 B2B Content Marketing report suggest that content marketing tactics rely on social media to get messages out. A survey of B2C marketers also states that social media tops their content marketing efforts, with 88 percent of respondents’ content marketing tactics relying on social media to get their message out compared to 84 percent in 2012. This tells us that while amplified distribution is important, marketers need to dig even deeper and consider the vehicle within the context that drives the distribution.

Managing the medium

Most people don’t realize how easily great content can be destroyed by the mismanagement of its distribution. Identifying a few outlets and engaging them effectively can be more important than spreading efforts across all platforms. For instance: people tend to check their LinkedIn profiles while at work, making LinkedIn a good vehicle for B2B content. Placing content in areas where people are likely to make it easier to find and makes it easier to engage with target audiences.

Hyper-targeting to reach the perfect audience

Identifying the best medium can mean the difference between good content being lost in the shuffle and reaching the perfect audience. For brands reaching out to men, Google+ is a nearly ideal social network: men are the largest within the Google+ community with 64 percent. And perhaps surprisingly, up to 30 percent of Pinterest’s user base is male.

Were Marshall McLuhan alive to study social media and target audiences, he might suggest that brands use or create networks like Splinterest, an online community for people who love woodworking. While woodworking isn’t an exclusively male pastime, Splinterest is the kind of community brand that sell woodworking tools that would love to advertise on. And since the medium—a site about woodworking—is so specific, consumers are likely to feel the promotional distribution of this content is more authentic.

In honor of 50 years of McLuhan’s famous phrase, discussion over the message delivery systems of content should not be forgotten. Promotional distribution is important, but so is the way a message is conveyed. Distribution won’t save bad content, and neither will it’s medium. For your next content marketing campaign, consider the vehicle driving your content marketing distribution and how you can steer it toward the perfect audience.

Image credit: monsteroftheid

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