Editor’s note: This is the fourth post in my series about content marketing. Check out the previous posts on the benefits of content marketing, developing a content strategy, and creating great content.
Earlier in this series, we looked at how to create great content. While critical for successful content marketing, great content is just part of the equation. Equally if not more important is knowing how to amplify that content so that it reaches as much of your target audience as possible. To reach your audience, you need to make sure that every piece of content you create gets distributed across all of the right channels (the ones your customers use) while not letting yourself get distracted by the rest (the ones they don’t).
In this post, we will examine some of the different methods that you can use to reach your target audience and share some best practices for using each.
While it may seem obvious that your company’s website is one of the primary tools you have for delivering content to your customers, lots of companies still fail to build their websites with content in mind. Instead of making the specific content their customers want easy to find, they bury it deep within their sites where it’s hard to locate. That’s a big mistake.
One way to avoid this pitfall is to set your site up for website content segmentation. Design your homepage to encourage visitors to segment themselves, perhaps based on their industry, their role in the buying process, or a particular challenge they face. Doing so allows you to control each visitor’s experience by directing them to the information and messaging that they will find most useful and engaging.
Other websites that you can control
In addition to your own website, consider posting your content the appropriate content-hosting sites. Many of these sites, including the ones listed below, attract millions of visitors each month and are full of business content:
- SlideShare (for presentations)
- Scribd (for text-based documents)
- iTunes (for podcasts)
- DocStoc (for any document)
- Visual.ly (for infographics and other visual content)
- YouTube (for videos)
The advantage of posting to these sites is exposure to much larger audiences than you probably get on your own site. Just make sure that you drive people who discover your content on any of these controlled sites back to your own site as much as possible.
Social media channels
The number of social networking sites has exploded in recent years, bringing hundreds of potential new marketing channels onto the scene. With so many options, it’s easy to get distracted and waste time experimenting with new channels that may never provide any real business value.
That’s why you should focus your efforts on the smallest number of channels that will have the highest impact with your specific target audience. For most B2B companies that will typically include some combination of the social networking sites listed below:
- LinkedIn: As the world’s leading business networking site, LinkedIn is the ideal B2B channel for sharing content with targeted audiences. In addition to promoting your content through status updates on your company’s page, take advantage of the more than 1 million LinkedIn Groups, which segment users based on their industry, interests, and needs.
- Google+: Although slow to take off, Google+ has evolved into a vibrant social network for sharing content. Users can segment themselves into groups called communities based on their interests and needs, which facilitates distribution of your content to a targeted audience. In addition, posting your content on Google+ has the added benefit of improving your search results.
- Twitter: Ideally suited to sharing content, Twitter lets you send out short messages that link to longer blog posts or other content. To be successful with Twitter hinges on maximizing the exposure of your tweets. Don’t just tweet a new piece of content once, but rather tweet it four times, each spaced eight hours apart, to increase visibility across time zones. If the content is timeless or evergreen, you should also preschedule up to 10 additional tweets to promote your content over the following three months.
- Facebook: More commonly used by B2C businesses, Facebook can work in B2B as well. Share personal, visually engaging content such as blog posts, videos, and infographics. Stick to lighter, more entertaining content and leave your white papers, case studies, and reports for other distribution channels.
Beyond the many free options listed above for delivering your content, there are a variety of paid channels that you can utilize as well. These include various forms of advertising, such:
- Content discovery platforms such as Outbrain, StumbleUpon, and Zemanta
- Social media promotions such as LinkedIn and Facebook ads, sponsored YouTube channels, and promoted tweets
- Display and pay-per-click search ads
There are many different options you can pursue to promote your content. The secret is focusing on the ones that really work with your target audience (something that takes some experimentation to figure out) and then making sure that you do everything you can to actively promote each piece of content that you create. To help, try making a checklist of everything you need to do to promote each piece of content so that you can be sure that none of the steps get missed.
Once you start putting as much effort behind promoting your content as you do creating it, you will see a big difference in the impact that your content makes.
In our final post in this content marketing series, we will be talking about metrics.