One of the challenges I've had a number of conversations about recently has been the ability of B2B content to attract the right audience. Much of the content created by B2B companies gets a limited amount of pageviews, social shares or direct passalong.
There can be many reasons for this, but for the purpose of this post, we'll assume that your content meets the standards for "amazing." We're going to talk about distribution.
One of the things I've often ranted about is the lack of content strategy. An important part of content strategy is distribution. So hopefully, this post will help start a trend for more B2B marketers to turn to strategy before they publish.
While B2B marketers have begun to embrace different content formats and modes of publishing, including articles, blog posts, SlideShare, videos, and more, their publishing practices are often focused on getting it live on the website, blog or wherever the launch point is for the asset.
While they may post a few times on social media, linking back to the content, usually this involves the title and a link. Maybe they send out an email blast to their database. After a few days they move on to the next publishing project.
This lackluster attention to distribution results in a lack of discovery and attention. Sometimes it almost feels as if marketers are checking the box off the list and just moving on to the next item.
What I'm sensing is a lack of enthusiasm.
As everything else related to content marketing requires, distribution takes a concerted effort. It takes creativity and thought and it takes a clear understanding of the audience you're trying to engage, where they hang out, how they prefer to access content and what formats are more engaging to them in which circumstances.
Without this kind of attention, your content will sit in purgatory. It will remain in limbo - neither loved nor hated. Just so-so content doomed to be unappreciated. And that's a shame.
A few things to think about:
- Content marketing is never once and done. Especially in a fast-paced environment, such as Twitter, where the life of a Tweet is said to be something like 20 minutes. Do you think your entire audience is watching the stream at the time you post? Not likely.
- Title and Link are okay once, but self-serving laziness after that. What are the key points the content makes? Use those. Is there a catchy phrase or a proof point that's compelling? Use them. If your title isn't drawing attention, can you change it to something that will?
- When you post on Facebook are you taking the lazy way out and letting the link pull the blurb and picture without adding any commentary? Is what gets pulled compelling?
- Have you thought about what people on different platforms may be looking for and adjusted the way you post to meet those expectations? All social platforms do not deserve the same treatment.
- Have you reviewed your other content to find relevant opportunities to link to this new content? Creating additional pathways is always a good idea as long as they're relevant and make sense.
- So you emailed it once. Why not take a new approach in the subject line and copy and send another email in a week to everyone who didn't respond to the first send?
- Can you submit the content to related industry sites or portals or blogs that cover the subject matter?
- In what other formats could you present the content in addition to it's original form? Does this give you new opportunities for distribution?
- Is there a discussion on LinkedIn where the content is relevant? Can you add to the conversation and then share the link?
- Can you start a conversation in a group on LinkedIn that will engage with the topic? I don't mean clicking on "start a new discussion" and just posting a link to the content. Set up the discussion with a premise and ask a pointed question or make a statement that will encourage people to get in the conversation. It's not as much about views as it is about initiating dialogue.
These ideas can help, but what you really want to base a distribution plan on are the goals for this content. You do have goals, right?
- Do you want to engage new audiences?
- Do you want people to engage with that content and then demonstrate their level of interest by clicking on a "see also" link to a related piece? Or something else.
- Brand awareness? Although this is often a pretty wimpy catch-all on its own.
- Lead generation?
- Customer engagement and retention?
There are many options. Just make sure the goals aren't conflicting. One content asset cannot do everything. If it's trying to, it will fail.
Which persona is the content designed to engage? Where do those people hand out? Have you factored that into your distribution planning?
This post only scratches the surface. However, by determining the goals for your content, you will be able to design a distribution plan that goes much farther than initial publishing. Doing this well takes work. If you want content marketing to work, you need to make sure that your content is given the best chance for being discovered by the people it was designed to engage.
Distribution counters the irrational idea that "if you build it they will come." It takes more than that to get your content out of purgatory.