How to Create a Content Distribution Strategy: 4 Ways to Improve Your Content Marketing Distribution

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With all the creativity, care, and effort you put into your content, it should be widely viewed, admired, and even worshipped from sea to shining sea. But it’s not. Heck, you’re lucky if you get a small pool of blog readers every other Thursday.

You’ve already tried:

  • Content promotion on Facebook.
  • Throwing a few links up on LinkedIn.
  • Emailing your subscribers.
  • Pitching your stuff to major publications.

Yet that small pool of readers never grows.

Here’s the thing:

Randomly hurling your content in all directions is not going to get you results. Systematically working a solid content distribution strategy is. Even if you’ve tried multiple distribution channels in the past to no avail, you can get it right this time around.

What’s changed? Now you’re following tips from an all-star content distribution team featured in a WriterAccess Academy webinar:  

  • AJ Wilcox, Founder of B2Linked
  • Amanda Milligan, Marketing Director of Fractl
  • Dennis Yu, CTO of ChiroRevenue
  • Judi Fox, Founder of Judi Fox
  • Liz Willits, Founder of Liz Willits

The truth is, you don’t have to spin your wheels trying to hit every distribution channel known to man. You can focus your efforts on the four distribution platforms discussed by these content marketing experts and watch your readership, engagement, and bottom line grow.

What four different channels do they conquer? 

  1. Email.
  2. Authoritative publications.
  3. Facebook.
  4. LinkedIn.

Let the successful content distribution games begin!

1. Make Readers Crave Your Emails

If the very term “email marketing” makes you cringe, you’re not alone. In fact, self-proclaimed email marketing nerd Liz Willits says people constantly tell her: “I hate email marketing.” But she has a ready answer.

The problem is, a lot of people are sending really crummy emails. But you don’t have to be one of them. Break out of the crummy email pack with these 12 savvy tips.

1. Do your research.

As much as you may believe it, your target audience doesn’t necessarily think like you do. Find out:

  • How they think and feel.
  • Their pain points, dream state, goals.
  • How they phrase things.

Gather this info through:

  • Surveys, with long-form answers and open-ended questions.
  • Subscriber interviews.
  • In-person conversations.
  • Keyword search data.
  • Sites like Quora, Reddit, AnswerThePublic.

2. Segment your audience. 

Create specific messages geared toward specific members of your audience. Find out what type of info they’re interested in receiving by giving them category options where they click on their preferences. Segmented emails can deliver:

  • Open rates between 60% and 80%.
  • Click-through rates (CTR) between 40% and 70%.

3. Be so valuable they can’t ignore you.

Deliver tons of valuable information before you even try to sell anything. Create valuable content they’re actually excited to receive — like a course and cookbook created for one of Willits’ clients.

4. Make it ridiculously easy for people to read your copy.

Adhere to the same type of formatting and suggestions recommended for most digital marketing:

  • Short paragraphs, short sentences.
  • Easy-to-digest on a mobile screen.
  • Simple words.
  • Aim for a third to fifth-grade reading level.

5. Hook your reader.

Your subject line and first line need to draw the reader in. Use emotional language. Hit their pain point. Hook them; make them wonder what’s coming next. Never open with the blah: “How are you?” 

6. Get personal and tell stories.

Be a human, not a robot. Don’t be afraid to share personal stories to which your audience can connect. It’s going to feel weird if you’re not used to it, but you’ll see the results. Most audiences absolutely love the humanness.

“A lot of content out there is like a boring robot wrote it. A boring, broken robot.”

Liz Willits

7. Start the story in the subject line…

And continue it in the body copy. This content marketing strategy nearly guarantees an open if your hook is alluring enough. Use emotional, personal copy and it’s a great way to connect with readers.

8. Use humor (and be human).

Not all brands can use humor due to the sensitive or serious nature of their industry, but others can have tons of fun with it. Humor adds levity, makes things memorable — and really works.

9. Use YOU.

Talk about the reader, not yourself. That means avoiding the terms “we” and “I” and instead mentioning “You, you, you.”

10. Ask yourself: “Does my reader care?”

Be honest. Does your reader really care what you’re telling them? Are you making the reader the hero — or yourself? (Hint: You want the former.)

11. Get rid of the fluff.

Be thorough. Be brutal. Mercilessly delete everything that’s not needed. Cut out all unnecessary words and sentences. No exceptions.

12. Use emotion to show you really get your audience.

Review your research so you can talk about your audience’s emotions and fears. Have empathy for them — don’t just try to sell them something.

2. Become a Media Darling

Getting your brand mentioned in major publications is a total win. It’s also one that’s possible with the right content distribution strategy for pitching your content to publishers and earning media coverage.

And no, it doesn’t involve sending out a press release. Press releases can be useful in some cases:

  • New product or service.
  • New features.
  • New acquisitions.
  • Other company updates.

But what if nothing “new” is happening at your company? You don’t have to fade into the woodwork. You can work on earning media coverage based on your expertise and authority using the content marketing + digital PR strategy. It’s a two-step plan:

  1. Create new studies, reports, surveys, and other content related to your industry.
  2. Pitch that newsworthy content to writers at respectable publications.
  • Rave reviews from the public.
  • Amazing feedback from the publications.
  • Articles written in an authoritative way.
  • High-authority backlinks, which are typically a bear to get.

How to Pitch and Win

The content marketing + digital PR strategy involves four primary steps:

  1. Build a pitch list.
  2. Pitch for exclusive coverage.
  3. Pitch for all other coverage.
  4. Collect and report on the results.

1. Build a Pitch List

This is one of the toughest steps people often get wrong. They don’t go deep enough with their research. You need to ask yourself a series of questions, such as:

Are the publishers authoritative in your target industry?

  • What’s the domain authority of the site?
  • Where do your clients and customers get their industry news?

Does the writer typically cover outside studies or surveys?

  • Do they post graphics and interactives?
  • Make sure the writer you’re pitching actually writes the type of story you’re hoping they’ll write.

How often does the writer publish stories?

  • Are they a staff writer or freelancer?
  • What’s their niche?
  • The more often they post, the more likely your chances of getting coverage.

Do these publishers align with your goals?

  • If you want link building, does the site have a high domain authority? Do they use dofollow links?
  • If you want engagement or brand awareness, do their stories get a lot of traction?

2. Pitch for the Exclusive

3. Pitch for All Other Coverage, or “Syndication”

Once the exclusive is live, aim for additional coverage from other publications. Work on repurposing the content or exploring other angles that might appeal to different types of publications. 

Most content marketers aim to send about 50 to 60 pitches to other publications. 

4. Collect and Report on the Results

Tracking the results of your efforts lets you:

  • Hone your strategy moving forward.
  • Enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Basic tracking involves:

  • Creating a Google Alert for your brand name.
  • Conducting weekly or monthly searches in BuzzSumo to see if your brand is mentioned.

Reporting involves creating a spreadsheet that lists:

  • All your coverage and links.
  • Domain authority of the site.
  • Link type (dofollow, nofollow, etc.).
  • Social shares.
  • Other pertinent info, metrics, KPIs.

How to Craft a Seductive Pitch

You know those pitch templates you create so you can send out the same email in bulk to dozens of publications at once? Throw them out the window. You want to create a personalized pitch for each and every writer you contact

Make sure you:

  • Research their beat and the publication they write for.
  • Use a must-read subject line, with stats often catching the eye of journalists.
  • Personalize the email, with a mention of a past collaboration, an article they recently wrote, a connection to something in their bio (like their dog or baseball fandom).
  • Come across as a human being talking to another human being — not a stoic robot.
  • Mention why the topic is important to them or their audience.
  • Get to the point, and fast, in about 100 to 200 words.
  • Follow up once, about a week later, perhaps using a different angle since the first one fell flat.

3. Ace the Art of Facebook Ads 

If you’re looking for an amazingly profitable and fun paid distribution channel, look no further than Facebook ads. That is, of course, if you find it fun to focus on the top content type for this particular social media platform.

Mastering your video content is how you master Facebook ads. And video content can work for every industry. Driving a community is how to drive a brand, and videos are sensational for creating an engaged community.

Once people start viewing your videos, or consuming your content, Facebook tends to all the campaign details for you. Facebook AI will take care of all the targeting, and pretty much everything else behind the scenes with your ad campaigns.

Your job is to get the video production process down pat. After all, each long-form video you create can be transformed into a motherlode of content.

How to Get 1,000 Pieces of Content from a Single Video

Yes. You read that right. You can get 1,000 pieces of content from a single video. The process involves 10 straightforward steps:

1. Questions

Interview customers, clients, employees, vendors, industry leaders, and other individuals related to your business. Come up with a list of thoughtful questions for your customers or other individuals, like this example from the microbiome gut-testing company of Viome.

  • Who are you?
  • What are your beliefs about well-being?
  • What are some things you do to maximize your well-being and perform at your best?
  • Tell us about your experience with Viome.
  • What are some recommendations from Vie (Viome’s AI system)? Were some of these surprising? (Ideally, they pull out their phone and show some of their reports, if they’re willing.)
  • What would your life be like WITHOUT Viome?
  • In your own words, what is the linkage between your gut and your well-being?
  • Are you being paid to say this?
  • 10 seconds of them holding the Viome box, looking at it while smiling.

Use the Viome questions as a template to create your own set of questions specific to your service, product, or brand.

2. Filming

Create a long-form video that captures the entire interview. Always hit record, even when you think you’re just having a casual conversation before or after the interview. Too many times the perfect moment or quote gets lost because someone didn’t think to turn the video recorder on.

3. Transcribe

Transcribe the video’s audio into text. This makes it easy to pull out the written word to create other types of content.

4. Chop up

Break down the long video into multiple shorter videos, each one of which can serve as a stand-alone piece of content.

5. Edit

Smooth out the video, fine-tuning audio and visuals as needed.

6. Copywriting

Create the new content to go with the video, whether it’s ad copy or a blog post.

7. Post

Publish your video on Facebook.

8. Cross post

Publish your Facebook video in other distribution channels.

9. Boost

Get your video the attention it deserves with paid distribution.

10. Optimization

Reuse content that works. Eliminate what doesn’t. You can expect to kill off about 90% of your Facebook posts, leaving you with the top-performing 10% for reuse and repurposing.

This content creation system lets you do minimal work for maximum effect, allowing you to compete with bigger companies that have bigger ad budgets.

The key is to consistently post quality content that people consume. You can’t post a single piece of content, or even shoot a single video, and expect a win. You need to keep the wheel turning for the long haul.

So how do you get multiple shots on goal without a big team behind you?

  • Create one video a week, or even one a month.
  • Every time someone becomes a customer, record and elevate their story.
  • Use the exact words the customer said.
  • Turn it into a blog post.
  • Get the customers to do the work for you.

In addition to being a video production maven, you need to be a pro at interviewing people on video. You need to become a journalist around the brand, building that brand with interviews and stories.

How to Make a Video if You Have Just Your Cell Phone

When it comes to creating video, fancy equipment is optional. You can create an effective video on your smartphone. You do want to invest in a microphone, however, as sound quality is the most important aspect of video.  

  • Record using native apps on your cell phone, like Zoom, Skype, or Facebook Messenger.
  • Get a microphone, with a $20 version usually okay.
  • Let customers create the content for you.

A straightforward video idea using customer content involves sending them your product and then asking them to send you a photo of them using it. Get a quote with each photo, arrange the photos into a slideshow video, and then unleash it on the crowd.

Bam. New content created. You’re done. And ready for the next one.

Getting the “Digital Plumbing” in Place

While the bulk of your time with Facebook ads is going to be spent producing video content, it’s only going to be effective if you have a strong foundation in place.

That means you do have to set up your Business Manager properly. If your infrastructure isn’t properly installed, nothing else is going to work right.

End Goal

Your end goal with Facebook ads is to:

  • End up with 20 to 30 ads, each running at $1 per day.
  • Keep building on what works, killing off the rest.
  • Rank your video ads by performance, not by what you think.

Remember, Facebook AI is very smart. And effective. Let it do the behind-the-scenes tedium for you.

Lead the Pack on LinkedIn

Remember that kid on the playground that nobody wanted to play with? That’s LinkedIn in the world of social media platforms. It’s largely ignored.

Compared to the activity on other social media platforms, LinkedIn ranks at the bottom of the list.

Social Media Platforms by the Numbers

  • 500 hours of video uploaded per minute on YouTube.
  • 95 million photos and videos uploaded daily on Instagram.
  • 350 million photos uploaded daily on Facebook.
  • 1% active accounts posting on LinkedIn.

While the numbers may make you initially want to keep on ignoring this unappreciated platform, they should actually prompt you to do the opposite. That’s because the 1% of active accounts posting on LinkedIn are getting all the action.

  • 1% of the active accounts are sharing 9 billion views per week.

That’s right. Competition is low, which means opportunity is high for you to be seen, make connections, and totally rock it on LinkedIn. You have two ways to do this:

  • Amp up your presence.
  • Get in on the ads while the getting’s good.

Amp up Your LinkedIn Presence

Before you even begin working on LinkedIn, it’s essential to change your mindset. Most marketers think of LinkedIn as “professional,” and therefore boring. Keep thinking like that and you’ll never get anywhere. Take a cue from Judi Fox instead.

“Don’t think of LinkedIn as ‘Professional.’ Think: LinkedIn is for Leaders. Be the Leader you wish to see in the world.”

Judi Fox

Your next step is to implement a series of tactics designed to increase your reach, visibility, and results:

  • LinkedIn Stories: Found on the mobile app, stories can be added to both your business and personal profile. It takes 20 seconds to create one. Do it. Stories let you:
    • See who is viewing and start conversations.
    • Watch other people’s stories and message them.
    • Get people to click on your profile.
    • Add a CTA that asks they send you a direct message.
    • Take advantage of tags, notifications, posing a question of the day.
    • Build a network and community.
    • Get people to engage and convert.
  • Featured Content: The featured content section can be added as a profile section. You can add posts, links, articles, or media — just don’t use a ton of them. Be discerning, offering only two or three featured links or pieces that focus on converting. Use LinkedIn like a website, with the same focused, high-quality content you’d use on your site. 
  • IMAGE: LI-feature
  • Say Your Name: This audio feature, which appears after your name on your profile, lets you create a 10-second recording. Use it to record more than your name. Try recording:
    • A juicy call to action.
    • Surprise info, like a bonus or discount.
    • Announcement on a launch or new product.
    • Then direct people to listen to it from other posts. People are apt to invest 10 seconds, especially if you make it fun.
  • Polls: Polls are a powerful tool for engagement, amusement, and learning more about your connections. Once the time limit is up, the poll is removed from your feed. But you can take a screenshot of the results and post it in your feed as a way to keep the interest going.
  • Events: LinkedIn events are gaining traction, and they serve up great opportunities to expand your network:
    • 200,000 events created since May 2020, with 10 million attendees.
    • LinkedIn is recommending events in the My Network tab.
    • Weekly Event’s Digest email recommends events, increasing engagement by more than 40%.
    • Collect leads from signups.
    • Use the event URL to drive traffic to your LinkedIn Live.

LinkedIn Ads

If you were ever thinking about advertising on LinkedIn, now is a prime time to turn that thought into action. Some new features have already been introduced, while others are coming soon.

  • Event retargeting: This feature now lets you create an audience section then choose the parameters for retargeting. You can target by:
    • Event attendees.
    • Lead gen form interactions.
    • Company page visitors.
    • Video ad interactions.
  • Ad Units: The existing options of message ads and conversation ads were lacking in several areas. Both have gotten a boost:
    • Message Ads: Now boast a sponsored messaging ad format.
    • Conversation Ads: Have a cool flowchart visualization, along with an increase of frequency from every 45 to 30 days.
  • Company Pages: You can now see your company page followers, opening the door to dozens of opportunities to reach out to your fans. Product pages are coming soon.
  • Event Ads: Event ads are coming soon to LinkedIn. In the meantime, you can take the URL from an event you’re running on LinkedIn (or elsewhere) and stick it into any ad you’re running.
  • Audience Network: This feature allows you to extend the reach of your sponsored campaigns beyond the LinkedIn feed to third-party sites and apps. 
  • Matched Audiences: An easy way to find your connections by name, company, and title. No email address required.
  • Ad Scheduling Tool: While you still can’t schedule ads on the native advertising platform on LinkedIn, you can use a free ad scheduling tool from B2Linked.
  • More New Stuff: Additional features coming down the pike include:
    • New ad formats for stories ads and event ads.
    • Deeper demographic reports.
    • New tools of Business Manager and Campaign Manager Lite.
    • Multiple ad formats in a single campaign.

“You want to jump on the new LinkedIn ad formats when they’re first introduced and the cost is as low as they’ll ever be.”

A.J. Wilcox | B2blinked

Your New Content Distribution Strategy

There you have it. Successful content distribution is about much more than throwing stuff in the air and hoping it hits the proverbial fan. It’s about carefully selecting the content distribution channels you want to use and then strategically crafting a distribution plan for each of the different channels to ensure you hit the target every time.

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