Content marketing is all the rage in internet marketing circles today. Many publishers are saying. “But we’ve been doing content forever! In fact, we’re content companies at our core.” This is true of magazines and news outlets especially.
Every company investing in content should ask themselves frequently “How can I become the go-to authority for (insert vertical here)?” A company like CNN should ask themselves, “How can we become the go-to authority for breaking news?” A company like The Onion should ask themselves, “How can we become the go-to authority for smart satirical political banter?”
Of course, the answer starts with an amazing editorial team, whether internally or freelance. But once this is in place and you are producing top-notch editorial content that is well-written, edited, and designed (yes, it needs to look pretty), then what? How do you get distribution to have your content around the Internet so that people see it?
Let’s look at a few ways that publishers should leverage other websites to expose their content to new audiences.
Paid Social Discovery
Inbound marketers don’t often talk about paid discovery, but I believe that paid discovery, especially via social channels, can augment the discovery of content very well. The best ways to do this are:
- Facebook ads
- Promoted tweets that are not sales-y
Imagine this. You’ve just published a piece of content that has taken you a lot of time and effort, like SEOmoz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO or the New York Times’ visualization of how the states have swung during elections going back to the 1970s.
This type of content deserves a broader audience, and paid social discovery can be a great way to highlight it.
The key, though, is to not be sales-y when promoting this content. Social network users do not respond well to a sales pitch, but they do respond well to targeted content that they find useful to their interest.
Here are some places to promote content to your audience.
Promoted Tweets Twitter has recently allowed businesses with monthly budgets smaller than $15,000 to promote tweets to their followers and others. While most businesses attempt to do direct conversion tweets, promoting something for sale, your company can stand out and build traffic and your brand affinity by promoting content that your users will find useful instead of selling to them.
Here is an example tweet:
We must remember that while this content is not directly conversion-oriented, you should be able to measure success from micro-conversions (NBED link to Avinash's post about micro-conversions) such as signups to your email list or new Twitter followers. The content conversion funnel is often much slower and less direct than a normal funnel.
Facebook Ads Another way to promote your editorial content pieces is through Facebook Ads, which we have all seen on the right side of our Facebook feeds and within our mobile devices through the Facebook app:
Similar to the Twitter strategy talked about above, the goal here is to bring people into the top of your content conversion funnel and convert them through a micro-conversion of a social media follow ("Like" on Facebook) or signing up to an email list.
Paid Content Distribution
Another way to promote your content is through paid promotion placement on other websites. Many websites will allow you to promote your content on their platform on a pay-per-impression basis. These sites are incentivized to promote content by being paid based on the traffic that they send to other websites (read: yours!).
Many services, including Zemanta, nRelate, and OutBrain exist to provide a way to promote your content on this pay per impressionbasis. If you look closely at a lot of larger publishers these days, they have a section on the bottom of articles that refers the user to other articles of interest, often on another website.
For example, look at CNN.com:
This traffic can be bought quite cheap and used to discover what kind of content people consume, link to, and convert from into a micro-conversion. While this traffic is often less qualified, it can drive branded awareness and begin to establish you as an authority in your space.
StumbleUpon Paid Discovery
Another option is StumbleUpon Paid Discovery, which can be very cheap on a per-click basis. You define the content and your budget, and StumbleUpon sends the traffic:
You are able to laser-target your content to your audience beginning with a large "Interest", and then beyond that to specific keywords that your users would use.
If you're looking to get more mileage out of your content, but want to do so in a more organic way, influencer marketing could be the right direction for you. Whether you're promoting a product or a piece of content, you can use influencer marketing to not only get more exposure for your content, but also links from their websites with the right services and circles.
Building a little black book of contacts and influencers takes time. If you don't have time, or are at the beginning of investing in building a list of influencer contacts, using paid services like Social Reactor can be a good option to fill in the gaps until you can build your own assets.
Aggregators and Apps
Web-based content aggregators can be one of the best ways to drive large amounts of traffic to your website. By creating content that is targeted at specific audiences, you can gain visibility in front of people who are your ideal audience and could become a brand advocate for you.
On my own personal website, I have created content that I knew would get onto the homepage of HackerNews. As you can see from the screenshot below, HackerNews is to thank for the highest traffic days on my site:
Every vertical online has their own version of HackerNews. There's Inbound.org for marketers, but also a signs subreddit, Digg for news, Pinterest for fashion, and more. For some verticals, a social network with a specific group, like LinkedIn, can be a place to connect with influencers.
Alltop is another aggregator that offers many topic options. Your site can be listed by submitting an RSS feed for approval. Go here to submit to AllTop. A protip is to connect with the curators mentioned here, who are often influencers with wider followings on social media.
A final great way to increase your audience size is through app distribution. Some of the most well-known in today's world are Flipboard and Pulse.me.
Syndicating your content through these apps is a breeze to set up, and by promoting your Flipboard app you can gain access to a large audience.
The best way to drive traffic through these apps is to get your content listed in the Featured Apps like FlipPhotos (for images) or FlipTech for technology news. These are much harder to gain access to, but can bring you a lot of targeted and interested traffic.