Creating great, persuasive, educational, entertaining, informative, and compelling content is important, but it isn't enough. In digital channels, it's critically important to get content "out there." In other words, to develop strategies for content distribution and dissemination that will get it in front of its target audience as effectively, and with as much visibility, as possible.
Publishing content on a website, on a blog, or on a social network can indeed be effective, but it isn't enough and shouldn't stop there. A strong distribution/dissemination strategy creates opportunities to greatly amplify the impact and reach of the content. It's the tree falling in the woods theory, as applied to content marketing. If they don't see/hear/watch/listen to it, it won't make a sound.
Additionally, publishing and publicizing content on additional platforms, such as social networks, websites, and other digital media channels, regardless of what they are, automatically conveys search engine optimization benefits. Content will not only be more findable to its intended audience when it appears on more platforms, it will also be more findable by search engines. Links will be created to and from your website or relevant web presence that can help boost visibility not only for the piece of content in question, but very possibly for a site or blog in general.
Finally, maximizing the channels content appears in increases its chances for viral pass-alongs. By making content available in multiple channels, it increases the chances that members of a social or business network, an email list, or subscribers to a newsletter or RSS feed are not only exposed to the content, but also that they virally distribute it to their own lists of contacts, followers, or networks.
What follows are some best-practice strategies for getting content "out there."
Certainly your own website, blog, Facebook page, and other content channels are taking up plenty of your time, as well they should. That's no excuse for underestimating the value of contributing content to properties you don't own or control to increase visibility and gain new audiences you may not otherwise have attracted.
Publications: A key component of contributed content is published bylined articles, editorials, or columns in relevant editorial publications (online or offline). These can be industry or trade print or broadcast publications in your area of expertise, business journals, local news publications -- anything that's relevant to your business or goals. One of the strongest reasons to pursue this path is that editorial media outlets have editorial controls. The information they publish automatically conveys a higher level of authority and quality.
Blogs: The same path can be taken with relevant blogs (many of which have higher levels of readership than more "traditional" publications). Again, guest blogging on relevant sites creates more awareness, it can build new audience segments, and it can creates valuable links back to your own site and/or content. Don't forget to reciprocate by inviting guest bloggers to contribute to your own blog, as well.
Finally, keep track of the content you publish on external sites. Blogs and online newspapers and magazines almost always have comment sections. As an author, you have a responsibility to monitor the discussions around your contribution, and to contribute to the discussion around the issues you raised.
Go social: When contributed content is published, whether on a blog or in a more traditional news outlet, there's absolutely no excuse not to promote it. Tweet a teasing heading and a link, add summaries and links to social networking sites, and to news aggregation, and social bookmarking sites such as Digg, delicio.us, and StumbleUpon. Is it a slide deck? Publish on SlideShare. Video? YouTube. In addition to creating and amplifying awareness for your own content, you're also helping to drive traffic to the source that published your content contribution. They'll appreciate it.
Press releases: The value of an online press release has increased exponentially online. Press releases that go out over wire services create additional links, boost search engine optimization, and are often picked up automatically by portal news sites (not just editorial sites and blogs). Disseminating content online, therefore, involves rethinking what is newsworthy in terms of making a formal press announcement. Moreover, archiving news releases on a website or on a digital media center creates internal links that boost content visibility. So when you've created and published content on a third-party site, be proud of it -- support it with a press release! Of course, there's always the chance the press release will serve its more traditional purpose -- getting that content noticed, picked up, and linked to by yet another news source.
RSS feeds: It's likely that content is being published on a regular basis on several sections of your website or other sites. Blogs, press releases, new product announcements, podcasts, and a YouTube channel are just a few examples of areas that are frequently or regularly updated. RSS (which stands for either rich site summary or really simple syndication -- take your pick) allows newsreaders and aggregators to scrape headlines, summaries, and links off websites for syndication. RSS has long been used to syndicate news content and financial information such as stock quotes, and it's standard operating procedure for blogs. Organizations are turning to RSS to issue events listings, project updates, and corporate announcements. If it's online, and particularly if it's frequently updated, it's almost certainly RSS-able. RSS is an invaluable tool for getting content "out there," rather than simply building it and hoping they will come.
In addition to pushing content, or links to content, out on social networks, forums, and discussion sites, don't forget the old standards for content pushing. Good, old-fashioned email still works perfectly well both for announcements and newsletters that link back to online content.
Rebecca Lieb is an author, speaker, and consultant specializing in digital marketing, advertising, publishing, and media.
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