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How To Choose the Best Distribution Channels for Your Content

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Updated May 19, 2022

If you don’t distribute your content smartly, you’ll never achieve your brand’s content marketing goals.

But how do you know what the best channels are? This succinct guide outlines which distribution options work best, based on your goals and audience.

First, though, you must know two things: who the content is for and what it’s intended to help them achieve. Knowing your audience members’ intent allows you to craft content that will resonate most strongly with them.

Knowing your goals for the content helps you identify the purpose it serves (aka, the call-to-action) for your company and your audience. Both are essential to selecting an appropriate distribution method.

If you need some help determining your audience and setting goals, check out these resources:

Then, go through the list below to see which popular distribution options match up with what you want your brand’s content to achieve.

Influencer distribution

The Influencer industry has grown rapidly. According to an Influencer MarketingHub study, Influencer Marketing will be a $16.4 billion industry by the end of 2022.The reason? People are influenced by personal recommendations more than by any other sales or marketing strategy.

#InfluencerMarketing will be a $16.4 billion industry in 2022 according to @influencerMH #research via @IamAaronAgius via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Consider when pursuing these goals:

The audience connection

If you’re partnering with influencers who are already well-known and well-liked by your target audience, their content efforts can help shine a positive light on your business by strengthening brand perception and helping you build more trusted consumer relationships. It can also extend your brand’s reach by introducing you to consumers you aren’t already connected with.

Tip: Don’t forget to share the influencer’s content and brand promotions on other channels you use to distribute content. Even if your audience members aren’t already following those influencers, they may be impressed and influenced by seeing others endorse your business.

Relevant content

Yes, you can ask influencers to post about your blog articles in which they are mentioned or may be of interest to their audience, but you can also get more creative. Live stories on Instagram, Facebook, and even Snapchat are becoming go-to content for influencers.

Support your influencers with content that works well in a livestream. Offer to discuss a topic related to your industry or discuss your business. Or draw attention to other content you created, like a blog post, an image, a video, or a podcast.

Support influencers with #content that works well in a livestream, advises @IamAaronAgius via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Tip: Influencers are more likely to share and talk about content when they’re directly associated with it. Incorporate their names and social profiles into your content, whether it’s a quote in a blog post, a demo video, or something else.

Additional resources to explore:

Email distribution

Email is the most widespread distribution method. According to data from Statista, an estimated 4.6 billion people – half the world’s population – will be using email by 2025. And HubSpot reports that $1 spent on email marketing returns an average of $42.

Consider when pursuing these goals:

  • Website traffic
  • Brand loyalty
  • Marketing ROI
  • Generating revenue (through up-sells and cross-sells)

Audiences reached

Two broad categories of audiences fit under the email umbrella:

  • Current subscribers (i.e., people who have opted to receive your content)
  • Cold/warm contacts (i.e., email addresses you’ve purchased or rented, or that came in through third-party distribution).

Focus on your subscriber list. They know your brand and will likely be more receptive to your content than a list of strangers.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you should send the same email content to everybody in your marketing database. You’re more likely to achieve your goals by segmenting your lists and delivering more-targeted content to each segment.

Don’t send the same #email content to everybody in your list. Segment your lists. @IAmAaronAgius via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Relevant content

Sending weekly or monthly email newsletters is a classic tactic for sharing your content – text, images, and video – and content links to drive traffic to your website.

Since you have some known details about your subscribers, consider personalizing the emails you send them. Go beyond “Dear {FIRST NAME}” and distribute content that’s hyper-relevant based on the individual and their reason (and timing) for subscribing. Research indicates (and logic dictates) that people want to receive content that’s accurate and relevant to their stated preferences, location, engagement history, etc.

You can also use your email newsletters as a cross-promotional content exchange (a different form of influencer marketing): Share relevant content from other brands and ask those companies to include your content in their newsletters.

Use your e-newsletters to cross-promote another brand’s #content, says @IamAaronAgius via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Tip: Create an automated email campaign with evergreen content. For example, when someone subscribes, send them a welcome email that features content about your company’s values.

Additional resources to explore:

Organic social media distribution

The social landscape is continually evolving. With the rise in live storytelling and streaming media, it’s increasingly becoming a content channel that can deliver immediacy, intimacy, and interactivity.

Consider when pursuing these goals:

  • Brand awareness
  • Building/nurturing consumer relationships
  • Lead generation
  • Increasing website traffic

Audiences reached

Sharing your content on your social media channels will primarily reach the audience you have grown on those platforms. Each audience typically reflects the people naturally drawn to use those channels. Let’s look at this recent breakdown of user demographics (from Sprout Social):

  • Facebook (most used social platform)
    • 91 billion monthly active users (MAU)
    • Most-represented age group: 25-34 (31.5%)
    • 57% male, 43% female
  • Instagram (a highly visual-oriented platform)
    • 2 billion MAU
    • Most-represented age group: 25-34 (31.2%)
    • 8% male, 48.4% female
  • LinkedIn (primarily B2B-focused)
    • 810 million MAU
    • Most-represented age group: 25-34 (58.4%)
    • 52% male, 48% female
  • Twitter (chronologically focused)
    • 211 million MAU
    • Most-represented age group: 18-29 (42%)
    • 6% male, 38.4% female
  • Snapchat (a time-dependent chat app)
    • 319 million MAU
    • Most-represented age group 15-25 (48%)
    • A higher concentration of women: 54.4% female, 44.6% male
  • TikTok (short form video app)
    • 1 billion MAU
    • Most-represented age group: 10-19 (25%)
    • 9% female, 39% male

Relevant content

Because of the nature of consumer engagement on social media, visual content works best, particularly still or moving images (e.g., GIFs, memes, infographics, short videos), as they can be digested and shared quickly.

Because of the way consumers engage on #social media, visual content works best, says @IamAaronAgius via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Live streaming content is another popular tactic – one that your audience expects to see on these channels. That said, as you move toward B2B social channels like LinkedIn and (to an extent) Facebook, longer-form, text-focused content may also work well.

Tip: Social media platforms are rented land when it comes to content distribution – your brand doesn’t truly own the relationships you build there. Consider ways to convert your social followers to other content channels where you’ll have more control, such as email.

Additional resources to explore:

Paid distribution

Paid content distribution covers myriad channels. It can be split into three broad categories:

  • Native advertising: Content that matches the look and feel of the originating publishing platform
  • Social media and search ads: Content strategically published by platforms (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, Google) in their users’ feeds or in search results.
  • Content syndication: Display ads and content distributed by a third party to relevant sites and digital programs

Consider when pursuing these goals:

  • Website traffic
  • Brand awareness
  • Lead generation
  • Audience growth

Audiences reached

You can attract new audiences or people who are tangentially connected to your brand online. Since you’re footing the bill, you can customize who will see it – from their demographics to geographic location, to specific interests, etc.

When you pay for distribution, you can pick the audience that sees your #content, says @IamAaronAgius via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Relevant content

Paid distribution relies heavily on capturing attention immediately and making a good impression. Therefore, the content you distribute there should be hyper-useful, entertaining, or meaningful at a glance. Engaging imagery or video content with a brief intro (or text atop an image) is more likely to draw your audience in.

Tip: Before you pay to distribute your content on social media, test it organically on those same platforms. Pay to promote the best performers.

Additional resources to explore:

Give it time and pivot when necessary

After going through the distribution channel opportunities, pick the one that best matches your audience and goals. Focus on making that method work by reviewing your performance metrics regularly and tweaking accordingly (just don’t expect to see overnight results – delivering relevant content consistently is the name of the content marketing game). Once you’ve mastered that channel (or realized it isn’t an effective channel), move on to the next.

Want more content marketing tips, insights, and examples? Subscribe to workday or weekly emails from CMI.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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MARKETING

The Future of Content Success Is Social

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The Future of Content Success Is Social

Here’s a challenge: search “SEO RFP” on Google. Click on the results, and tell me how similar they are.

We did the same thing every other SEO does: We asked, “What words are thematically relevant?” Which themes have my competitors missed?” How can I put them in?” AND “How can I do everything just slightly better than they can?”

Then they do the same, and it becomes a cycle of beating mediocre content with slightly less mediocre content.

When I looked at our high-ranking content, I felt uncomfortable. Yes, it ranked, but it wasn’t overly helpful compared to everything else that ranked.

Ranking isn’t the job to be done; it is just a proxy.

Why would a high-ranking keyword make me feel uncomfortable? Isn’t that the whole freaking job to be done? Not for me. The job to be done is to help educate people, and ranking is a byproduct of doing that well.

I looked at our own content, and I put myself in the seat of a searcher, not an SEO; I looked at the top four rankings and decided that our content felt easy, almost ChatGPT-ish. It was predictable, it was repeatable, and it lacked hot takes and spicy punches.

So, I removed 80% of the content and replaced it with the 38 questions I would ask if I was hiring an SEO. I’m a 25-year SME, and I know what I would be looking for in these turbulent times. I wanted to write the questions that didn’t exist on anything ranking in the top ten. This was a risk, why? Because, semantically, I was going against what Google was likely expecting to see on this topic. This is when Mike King told me about information gain. Google will give you a boost in ranking signals if you bring it new info. Maybe breaking out of the sea of sameness + some social signals could be a key factor in improving rankings on top of doing the traditional SEO work.

What’s worth more?

Ten visits to my SEO RFP post from people to my content via a private procurement WhatsApp group or LinkedIn group?

One hundred people to the same content from search?

I had to make a call, and I was willing to lose rankings (that were getting low traffic but highly valued traffic) to write something that when people read it, they thought enough about it to share it in emails, groups, etc.

SME as the unlock to standout content?

I literally just asked myself, “Wil, what would you ask yourself if you were hiring an SEO company? Then I riffed for 6—8 hours and had tons of chats with ChatGPT. I was asking ChatGPT to get me thinking differently. Things like, “what would create the most value?” I never constrained myself to “what is the search volume,” I started with the riffs.

If I was going to lose my rankings, I had to socially promote it so people knew it existed. That was an unlock, too, if you go this route. It’s work, you are now going to rely on spikes from social, so having a reason to update it and put it back in social is very important.

Most of my “followers” aren’t looking for SEO services as they are digital marketers themselves. So I didn’t expect this post to take off HUGLEY, but given the content, I was shocked at how well it did and how much engagement it got from real actual people.

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7 Things Creators Should Know About Marketing Their Book

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7 Things Creators Should Know About Marketing Their Book

Writing a book is a gargantuan task, and reaching the finish line is a feat equal to summiting a mountain.

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Being position-less secures a marketer’s position for a lifetime

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Optimove Positionless Marketer Optimove

On March 20, 2024, the Position-less Marketer was introduced on MarTech.org and my keynote address at Optimove’s user conference.

Since that initial announcement, we have introduced the term “Position-less Marketer” to hundreds of leading marketing executives and learned that readers and the audience interpreted it in several ways. This article will document a few of those interpretations and clarify what “position-less” means regarding marketing prowess.

As a reminder, data analytics and AI, integrated marketing platforms, automation and more make the Position-less Marketer possible. Plus, new generative AI tools like ChatGPT, Canna-GPT, Github, Copilot and DALL-E offer human access to powerful new capabilities that generate computer code, images, songs and videos, respectively, with human guidance.

Position-less Marketer does not mean a marketer without a role; quite the opposite

Speaking with a senior-level marketer at a global retailer, their first interpretation may be a marketer without a role/position. This was a first-glance definition from more than 60% of the marketers who first heard the term. But on hearing the story and relating it to “be position-less” in other professions, including music and sports, most understood it as a multidimensional marketer — or, as we noted, realizing your multipotentiality. 

One executive said, phrasing position-less in a way that clarified it for me was “unlocking your multidimensionality.” She said, “I like this phrase immensely.” In reality, the word we used was “multipotentiality,” and the fact that she landed on multidimensionality is correct. As we noted, you can do more than one thing.

The other 40% of marketing executives did think of the “Position-less Marketer” as a marketing professional who is not confined or defined by traditional marketing roles or boundaries. In that sense, they are not focused only on branding or digital marketing; instead, they are versatile and agile enough to adjust to the new conditions created by the tools that new technology has to offer. As a result, the Position-less Marketer should be comfortable working across channels, platforms and strategies, integrating different approaches to achieve marketing goals effectively.

Navigating the spectrum: Balancing specialization and Position-less Marketing

Some of the most in-depth feedback came from data analytic experts from consulting firms and Chief Marketing Officers who took a more holistic view.

Most discussions of the “Position-less Marketer” concept began with a nuanced perspective on the dichotomy between entrepreneurial companies and large enterprises.

They noted that entrepreneurial companies are agile and innovative, but lack scalability and efficiency. Conversely, large enterprises excel at execution but struggle with innovation due to rigid processes.

Drawing parallels, many related this to marketing functionality, with specialists excelling in their domain, but needing a more holistic perspective and Position-less Marketers having a broader understanding but needing deep expertise.

Some argued that neither extreme is ideal and emphasized the importance of balancing specialization and generalization based on the company’s growth stage and competitive landscape.

They highlight the need for leaders to protect processes while fostering innovation, citing Steve Jobs’ approach of creating separate teams to drive innovation within Apple. They stress the significance of breaking down silos and encouraging collaboration across functions, even if it means challenging existing paradigms.

Ultimately, these experts recommended adopting a Position-less Marketing approach as a competitive advantage in today’s landscape, where tight specialization is common. They suggest that by connecting dots across different functions, companies can offer unique value to customers. However, they caution against viewing generalization as an absolute solution, emphasizing the importance of context and competitive positioning.

These marketing leaders advocate for a balanced marketing approach that leverages specialization and generalization to drive innovation and competitive advantage while acknowledging the need to adapt strategies based on industry dynamics and competitive positioning.

Be position-less, but not too position-less — realize your multipotentiality

This supports what was noted in the March 20th article: to be position-less, but not too position-less. When we realize our multipotentiality and multidimensionality, we excel as humans. AI becomes an augmentation.

But just because you can individually execute on all cylinders in marketing and perform data analytics, writing, graphics and more from your desktop does not mean you should.

Learn when being position-less is best for the organization and when it isn’t. Just because you can write copy with ChatGPT does not mean you will write with the same skill and finesse as a professional copywriter. So be position-less, but not too position-less.

Position-less vs. being pigeonholed

At the same time, if you are a manager, do not pigeonhole people. Let them spread their wings using today’s latest AI tools for human augmentation.

For managers, finding the right balance between guiding marketing pros to be position-less and, at other times, holding their position as specialists and bringing in specialists from different marketing disciplines will take a lot of work. We are at the beginning of this new era. However, working toward the right balance is a step forward in a new world where humans and AI work hand-in-hand to optimize marketing teams.

We are at a pivot point for the marketing profession. Those who can be position-less and managers who can optimize teams with flawless position-less execution will secure their position for a lifetime.

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