There’s a terrible truth about content: Most of it will never be seen.
With two million blog posts published every day and over 200,000 photos shared on Facebook every minute (not to mention tweets, videos, books, and everything else), there’s no way our audiences can keep up. And they don’t: Witness the single-digit average organic reach for Facebook posts. Or how the average click-through rate for emails is barely 2%.
It’s a downer, to be sure. But it’s not the rule for everyone. Some companies have figured out a way to get their content in front of their audiences.
Their trick? They work at it. They know full well that “if you build it, they will come” does not apply to content. This is marketing, not magical realism.
And so, we have to promote our content. As soon as we get that, a lot of things become clear. It becomes easy to see how the act of publication is just the first step of content marketing.
In other words, publishing content is not enough. You’ve got to market it, and market it well.
Consider the movie industry. They spend as much money promoting a movie as they do in making it. That’s a far cry from what most of us do in content marketing (not all, but most).
But what could we do if we followed the example from Hollywood? If we spent as much money or time promoting our content as we did in making it?
Here’s a few ideas:
1. Share your content more than once
Let’s start with the easy stuff. The low-hanging fruit. It costs nearly nothing to re-share your content on social media, and yet most marketers still aren’t doing this.
So how could you do this? First thing you’ll need to figure out is how to reshare this content. Then you’ll need to figure out which content to reshare, and how often.
The how part is pretty easy. There are tools now that let you reshare old content. Hiplay is one. MeetEdgar is another. Most of the other social media sharing tools, like Buffer and Hootsuite, let you reshare as well, but they’re not quite as hands off as those first two. And if you’re WordPress based, you could use a plugin like Revive Old Post.
Now the question is what to share and how often. There are two approaches here: Share everything, but share each piece of content less often. Or just share some stuff (your best-performing content), but share it more often.
Most of us will actually have to pick and choose what we reshare. For example, if you’re publishing a post every week, that’s 55 shares per week – just under eight shares per day. Add in a few other types of content and you’re probably looking at 80 shares per week – about 11 shares per day.
That’s a good volume for Twitter, but it’ll get you in trouble on LinkedIn or Facebook, where 3-4 posts a day is considered about the limit for content promotion.
Also consider the 80/20 rule of sharing content on social media (80% of what you share is other people’s content, 20% is your own). That has you sharing – even on Twitter – an additional 44 times a day, for a total of 55 times a day. That’s roughly once every half hour. And we haven’t even counted how much you’ll want to share new content (probably more than your older stuff).
So what to do? Cherry pick. Figure out what your top-performing content is, then queue that up for resharing up a to year after it’s been published. Leave yourself room for sharing other peoples’ content, too. And enough room to give your new content extra sharing love.
(Interesting, eh? Suddenly there’s no trouble filling up your social media feeds.)
2. Use your email list
Guess what? “Stodgy old email” is better for promoting content than social media. Didn’t see that one coming, right? We’re all so obsessed with getting shares on social that we’ve forgotten how rather awesome email is at getting clicks and eyeballs.
Of course, to make this work, you’ll need a decent-sized list. How big of a list? Well, with a 2% click-through rate, if you’ve got a list of even 5,000 people, that’s 100 clicks from each email. 100 clicks total – for every piece of content in the email. (Hmmm… maybe that’s why so many companies send email updates for just one piece of content at a time).
3. Use co-sharing (aka “cross-promotion”) tools
There are several content promotion tactics that involve getting other people to share your content. This is one of those.
“Cross-promotion” sites are hubs where content creators get together to share each others’ content. For each piece of content you share, you get a certain number of credits. The credits get used up when somebody else shares your content. Most of these sites also let you buy credits in lieu of sharing other peoples’ work.
Some of these co-sharing tools include:
- Viral Content Buzz
Be warned: The quality of these sites can vary. And if you have no budget, or a very small following, you could end up spending a lot of time on these sites without getting huge amounts of traffic.
Because of that, I don’t recommend you rely too heavily on these. Use them, but lightly. Perhaps 20% of the shares you get from your content should come from cross-promotion.
4. Quote influencers or do a “round-up” post
Here’s the most popular twist on “how to get other people to share your stuff.” Find an influencer, and get them to share your stuff. Influencers are people with a large social media (or some kind of media) following. One mention from them can skyrocket your exposure, like this tweet from an influencer did for me:
So how do you get influencers to share your stuff? Plenty’s been written about it, but these are the typical moves:
- Ask them! Trouble is, influencers get asked A LOT. Some of them get over 300 requests a day. They may not respond to your request.
- Pay them. This definitely happens, and it is okay. But the smartest influencers (and the most effective ones) are really choosy about who they promote. You’ll need to have a great product, great content, and appeal to them in the right way to make this work.
- Appeal to their ego. You can do this either by getting them to contribute a quote for your content, or by doing a “round-up” post of, say, “What 10 Marketing Influencers Think of Virtual Reality.”
This wooing often works. If you cast them in a favorable (but not pandering) light, and let them know you’ve mentioned them, they might well share your content. Tool for the job? Notifier from ContentMarketer.io, which automates much of the work of notifying an influencer when you’ve mentioned them.
5. Package your content well
Ever heard of “snackable” content? It’s the idea of breaking up a larger piece of content into smaller, more appealing pieces. “Snackable” content basically takes less work to consume than longer content. That makes it more appealing to distracted audiences, and it helps to telegraph its benefits on social media.
Good ways to package your content promotion would include:
- Creating about 20 versions of social media posts. Vary the images, the headlines, the hashtags. Include just one tasty piece of information in each post… kinda like a breadcrumb trail through the woods.
- Get visual. As you probably know, social media is crazy visual. Platforms like Instagram, Pinterest and even Facebook and Twitter attest to this. So use the power of visual communication by making your content visual. This could mean a full-fledged infographic, or maybe a series of simple illustrative graphics.
- Repackage your content well. Not everybody’s a reader. Some of us prefer to get our information via video. Others like SlideShares best. If you’ve got the content already, repackaging it in different formats can help you cast a wider net.
6. Reach out to people who have shared or linked to similar content in the past
Here’s dance step #3 of “get other people to share your stuff.” This time, you’ll use a tool like Buzzsumo to find people who have shared similar content, or who have linked similar content to yours. Then you’ll email them, one by one, to let them know about your cool new thing.
This does work, but it takes time. Neil Patel’s results for this “email outreach” are included in that table from above (in point #2). As you can see there, outreach does work for him, but it’s not as effective as his email list.
7. Pay for it
When all else fails, you can always buy some exposure.
Actually, I really shouldn’t disparage paid promotion. It’s completely legit, and most B2B content marketers use it. Here’s how:
How well these methods work for you will depend on two things:
- The focus of your content and if there’s a match between it and the platform’s audience
- How well aligned the content you’re promoting is with your strategy and sales funnel
For those of you with really tight budgets, paid promotion may have to wait. But if you do have budget, and the free stuff isn’t working, this is worth a try.
Most of us need to get far better at promoting content, and as an industry, I wish we’d commit to getting this right. One sign of that might be to specifically hire someone to promote your content. Don’t add promotion to the Content Marketing Manager’s list of things to do, or put it off on the Social Media Manager. Hire a full-time Content Promoter.
What about you?
How do you promote your content? What’s working – or not working? If you’ve got a tip you’d like to share, please leave a comment. We want to know what you think.