Content Distribution

Learn about ways to manage your organization’s content distribution strategy for shared and promoted content.

Content Distribution

Content Distribution

Learn about ways to manage your organization’s content distribution strategy for shared and promoted content.

Content Distribution - Woman holding mobile phone over laptopYour business has to share and promote its content using various channels to reach as many people in its target audience as it can.

In this lesson, we cover the following areas:

  • What Is Content Distribution?
  • Your Content Distribution Strategy
  • Content Distribution Channels
  • Managing Your Content Distribution

What Is Content Distribution?

“Content distribution is the process of sharing, publishing, and promoting your content. It’s how you provide your content to your audience members for their consumption through various channels and media formats.”

Source: Hubspot

One of the challenges of promoting content successfully is that businesses today have many different options to get their content in front of people but limited time to manage the process and limited resources to engage in a truly effective multichannel or omnichannel marketing strategy.

For example, you can promote your blog posts and other resources via organic and paid channels, using email marketing, press releases, pay-per-click advertising, social media, influencer outreach, content syndication, etc.

Some of these methods can also deliver better results if distributed in conjunction with one another, such as posting blogs, videos, social media updates, and email newsletters.

Content Distribution Strategy
Distributing content in conjunction with other methods can deliver better results.

If we look at the above, for instance:

  • You can include a video in a blog post and links to your post in a social media post (for free or using paid methods) and an email newsletter.
  • You can also promote your video on social media (for free or using paid methods) and in your email newsletter, in addition to including it in your blog post.
  • You can promote your email newsletter on your blog and social media and encourage new subscribers to signup while asking existing subscribers to share your emails on their social platforms with their friends and followers.
  • You can promote your latest blog posts, videos, or newsletter issues on various social media platforms (for free or using paid methods) and invite them to share these, engage with them, subscribe to them, etc.

To coordinate all of the above content distribution, however, you need a plan.

Your Content Distribution Strategy

Having a plan helps to ensure that your content reaches the right audience, via the right channels, at the right time.

If you haven’t got a content distribution strategy in place, here’s one from HubSpot that you can use.

How to Build a Content Distribution Strategy
If you need a content distribution strategy, use this one. Source: HubSpot

Let’s take a brief look at this plan and what you need to do to implement it:

  1. Research your target audience –  This should be included in your content strategy. If not, speak to your marketing team.
  2. Audit your content – See this lesson: Content Audit
  3. Choose your content distribution channels – See the section below.
  4. Decide on your content types – See this lesson: Content Types
  5. Set your content distribution KPIs and goals – These should be included in your content strategy. If not, speak to your marketing team and see this lesson: Content Metrics
  6. Build an editorial calendar – See this lesson: Editorial Calendar
  7. Create your content – See the lessons in this module: Content Production
  8. Distribute and market your content – See the lessons in this module: Content Promotion
  9. Measure and analyze your results – See this lesson: Content Tracking

Additionally, refer to HubSpot’s article: The Ultimate Guide To Content Distribution

Content Distribution Channels

Your content distribution channels are the channels through which the content you create gets shared and promoted.

Choosing the right distribution channels helps to ensure that your content reaches as many target audience members as possible.

Content Marketing Distribution Channels - Earned, Owned, and Paid Media
Content distribution channels overlap and can be combined to maximize their impact and reach. Source: Kurve

Your target audience and resources will determine which channels you use to distribute your content.

Traditionally, there are three main types of content distribution channels:

Owned Media

Owned media is any type of content that you create, own, and have full control over.

This content normally resides on your own website (e.g. your blog), your social media accounts, and any additional locations where you store assets that you own.

Owned media can include:

  • Your website and company blog
  • Self-hosted videos and podcasts
  • Images and infographics
  • E-books and guides
  • Whitepapers and reports
  • Recorded webinars
  • Courses
  • Email marketing campaigns

Essentially, any content that you create in-house or outsource by hiring people to create or produce it for you where you have an agreement to own the finished content is considered to be owned media.

Paid Media

Paid media is where you pay to promote your content. Paid distribution channels can expose your content to your target audience quickly and more easily than using owned methods, but it costs money and it’s only effective as long as you are paying. If you stop paying, it stops showing.

Paid media can include:

  • Search engine marketing: Search/Display/Product ads
  • Paid social ads
  • Influencer marketing
  • Paid affiliate marketing programs
  • Advertorials
  • Sponsored content
  • Offline ads (billboards, TV commercials, etc.)

Paid media should be worked alongside other channels. For example, you can use data collected from successful paid campaigns to drive content creation for owned and earned channels.

Earned Media

Earned media is content that someone else creates, which you haven’t paid for but it benefits your business.

Essentially, this is where someone who is not a part of your organization is giving your organization promotion or coverage.

Earned media can include:

  • Customer reviews and testimonials
  • Positive feedback on review sites
  • Backlinks
  • Having your products or services featured, included, or mentioned in externally-hosted or published media (e.g. listicles, roundups, newsletters, etc.)
  • Press/news coverage
  • Awards and public events

Earned media can be considered as being “organic’ media and can often be generated using owned and paid media, or a combination of these.

For example, if you publish a high-quality content item on your website (owned media) that gains high-ranking authority, share it on your social media channels, and/or promote it using paid channels (paid media), and other companies then link to it or promote it, that’s using owned and paid media to gain earned media.

Shared Media

With recent development in social media, marketers like PR professionals have been asked to embrace a new distribution channel, where the content is partially owned and partially earned, called shared media.

“Shared media is content that is shared across social media or shared between multiple owners. It doesn’t have a concrete, explicit definition, because as social media evolves, shared media changes too.”

Source: New Breed

Shared media can include:

  • Social media content
  • User-generated content
  • Co-created partner materials

An example of shared media is someone liking or commenting on a post on your organization’s Facebook page. This action is recorded on your company’s social media page and the user’s profile but neither your company nor the user owns that content.

Content Distribution: The PESO Model - Paid, Earned, Shared, and Owned Media.
The PESO Model – Paid, Earned, Shared, and Owned Media. Source: SpinSucks.com. Click on the above image to enlarge it.

Reciprocal Linking

Although Google disapproves of any form of link spam, reciprocal linking is a widely-used practice on the web.

Typically, this will involve another website offering to link to your site from an existing article on their site if you agree to add a link to their site from an existing article on your site.

Essentially, this is an “I’ll link to your site if you link to my site” arrangement between websites, and it happens all the time.

So, if you plan to engage in reciprocal linking activities with other sites despite what Google says, it’s best to have a set of guidelines that you can supply to anyone who contacts you with an offer to exchange links, especially if the other party is offering to provide you with ready-made content containing a link to your site that you can simply paste into your site as a new post or add to an existing post.

Reciprocal Linking Guidelines

Developing a set of guidelines for how other sites should supply content to you and what you will accept (or reject) will help to reduce time-wasting (e.g. by sending you unacceptable content or content that needs to be completely reworked) and dealing with content that is totally off-brand or that doesn’t match your tone and voice, quality standards, etc.

Here are some things to consider when creating guidelines for accepting reciprocal link exchanges:

  • Backlinks and anchor texts should match the content and style of your blog posts.
  • Copy supplied must be in the same format, style, and tone of voice as your blog posts.
  • Images supplied must meet your minimum image dimensions (to avoid pixelation).
  • Copy or anchor text must not be hypey or salesy –it should be informative and provide value to your audience.
  • No links in the introduction or conclusion (this will just send visitors away from your site).
  • Only add links to relevant articles that provide value to the post & reader (avoid home page, product page, etc links)
  • Ensure that the link isn’t too close to other links (i.e. not in the same sentence or paragraph as another link)
  • Anchor text should not exceed four words
  • Links supplied must be clickable (so you can check where these are pointing to).

As you can see, this is quite a lot of work. however, it’s your credibility and reputation on the line, so you should do your best to protect it.

Balancing Content Quality & Quantity

An additional consideration in your content distribution strategy is the “frequency” of your distribution.

If you post content too often, your audience can become fatigued and start ignoring your content or your new content notifications. If you post too little or too infrequently, your content may not build enough traction for people to engage meaningfully with it.

Your content distribution strategy, therefore, needs to be balanced so that you are not only distributing the right content to the right audience via the right channels but also at the right frequency.

Managing Your Content Distribution

Managing published and distributed content can be challenging. It not only requires managing the content in the channels but the channels themselves.

Knowing which type of channel you use to distribute your content, therefore, can help you to better manage your content.

For example:

Owned Media – This content is completely under your control. So, as long as you have good content management systems and processes in place, you should be able to effectively manage all content in your owned channels.

Owned media pros: You have complete control, you can publish content directly on your site, social networks, etc. and it can cost less overall.

Owned media cons: Your audience can be limited and all your owned channels require maintenance.

Paid Media – Although you have influence over the content in paid media channels, often your control will be limited either by someone else’s rules (e.g. an external webmaster or publication), or by a lack of systems, transparency, or the willingness of 3rd parties to share, divulge, or provide you with full information or access to the management of the content.

For example, if you employ an agency to manage and distribute your content on paid distribution channels, they may have proprietary systems, knowledge, or methods for obtaining results that they may not be willing to divulge, disclose, or share with you.

Paid media pros: Instant results, easier to target your audience, easier to track and measure, and having control over the message and the copy.

Paid media cons: It can be expensive and create a dependency on channels that may not scale as you spend more money.

Earned/Shared Media – One of the main difficulties when managing earned or shared media content is that it’s almost always outside of your control.

Tracking earned or shared content metrics from shares, likes, and followers, for example, doesn’t necessarily give you the ability to manage the content being generated by users or followers. This challenge has even led to the development and adoption of earned media management strategies by communications professionals.

Earned/Shared media pros: Boosts trust and credibility, and increases brand awareness and reach.

Earned/Shared media cons: Can be difficult as it takes time and effort to earn, and can generate negative publicity (e.g. someone could create a meme ridiculing your brand or product and it then gets shared virally online).

It’s important to note that as more cross-channel marketing opportunities arise, what distinguishes one type of distribution channel from another can become a little blurred. This seems to be especially true with social media.

For example, social media is technically earned media, but it also allows for paid media content placements through advertising, “boosted” posts, etc., and owned media (e.g. when you post content on your own social channels via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.)

Summary

Content distribution is vital to the success of your organization’s content strategy.

What type of content you publish, how you publish it, where you publish it, and how often you publish it can all have a significant impact on your audience’s engagement with your brand.

Content is normally distributed through owned, paid, and/or earned media. Recent developments in social media have seen the emergence of a new distribution channel called shared media.

Action Steps

Review your content strategy and the content types produced in your organization.

Make sure that you and your content team clearly understand the different types of distribution channels and the challenges of managing not only the content distributed via those channels but also the channels themselves.

Resources

Content Promotion Kit – Includes a content promotion checklist (PDF), an editable checklist to customize for your business, templates for sharing content with leads, customers, and influencers, and templates for promoting content on social media.

References

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Image: Woman holding mobile phone

Author: Martin Aranovitch

Martin Aranovitch is a trainer, educator, blog writer, and online publisher. He runs various training websites on digital business, including ContentManagementCourse.com, WPTrainingManual.com, WPMasterclasses.com, and WPCompendium.org. View all posts by Martin Aranovitch