You’ve slaved away over your site’s content marketing pieces – don’t let that effort go to waste by failing to give your creations the promotional bump they need to get found!
Promoting your content isn’t nearly as fun as creating it, but it’s a vital part of content marketing success. And since there’s no “one size fits all” promotional approach that will suit all businesses, I’ve compiled 50 expert tips on different strategies you can use to get your content seen. Read on for suggestions from some of today’s top marketing experts, as well as techniques drawn from my own experience in digital advertising:
On Your Site
Proper content promotion begins at home! Before you even start thinking about things like social media marketing or PR, there are a few actions you’ll want to take on your website and to the content you produce to make content promotion as easy as possible in the future.
Make your social sharing buttons prominent
Generating social shares is one of the primary channels by which content promotion occurs. So how do you expect your audience to take the crucial step of posting your content pieces on their favorite social sites if they can’t find your social sharing buttons? If your website or blog’s current theme doesn’t prominently feature social sharing buttons, look to tools and plugins like Share This or Shareaholic to get the job done.
In the same way that people won’t go out of their way to share your content if you don’t make it easy by featuring your social share buttons, visitors are unlikely to take the actions you want if you don’t explicitly state what they are. Think of it like you’re closing a sale; if you don’t ask for the sale, odds are you aren’t going to get the deal. Increase the likelihood of your readers acting on your content piece by including a relevant call-to-action (CTA) at the end of each piece.
Improve your headlines
If you look at Upworthy’s success, it’s easy to see how important content headlines have become. An interesting analysis by HubSpot’s social media scientist Dan Zarrella validates this assumption. After reviewing more than 2.7 million blog articles, Zarrella found that 16.7% of web pages actually receive more social shares than they did clicks, effectively proving that people don’t always read what they Tweet. Take advantage of this effect by making your headlines as effective and as eye-catching as possible.
Mention influencers in your content
As you build your content pieces, identify influential authority figures within your industry that you can either quote or share examples from within your text. Including influencer mentions will help get eyeballs on your content – either from the authority figures themselves or from the people who fall their work online. Keep it classy, though. Include influencer mentions only as they support the original intent of your content piece; don’t pack them in just to kiss ass!
Involve influencers in content creation
Mentioning influencers is a great way to set your content up for promotional success, but better yet, why not get these authority figures involved from the start? Instead of sourcing existing quotes from your chosen authority figures, reach out to them directly and gather their input on subjects of interest within your community. Posts like, “Hear What Six SEO Gurus Have to Say About Google Hummingbird” make content promotion easy, as each of the authority figures mentioned brings his or her own audience right to your digital doorstep.
Write a link round-up post
As an alternative, use this quick and easy strategy to create blog posts or social media updates that consist of link collections to relevant, interesting articles in your industry. Creating a link round-up post – like the example below by Ahrefs – doesn’t take very long, but it does pay off big when it comes to content promotion, as many of the sites you’ve referenced will share your article without any effort on your part.
Build content that solves problems
One of the fastest ways to success in the business world is to solve a problem that’s plaguing a group of people. With this in mind, it’s easy to see how crafting content pieces that help members of your audience can lead to the kind of viral sharing that makes content promotion effortless.
Want a shortcut to figure out what problems your audience is facing? Work with your customer service department! Ask them what issues your customers are reporting, then build content that answers these questions and helps resolve their pain points.
Write long-form blog posts
Steve Rayson, writing for BuzzSumo, recently published the results of seven different studies, all of which support the popular notion that long-form blog posts get shared more often than their shorter competitors. But what does long-form content really entail? While some frequently-shared examples run 10,000 words or more, you can err on the shorter side by publishing posts of at least 2,000 words.
Create a video from your content
So now, you’ve got a great piece of long-form content that you’ve published to your website and shared to your social profiles (which we’ll get into in a bit). Don’t stop there! Take the information contained in your post and turn it into a video. Not only will doing so help you to reach viewers who prefer to take in information in this format, it’ll give you the opportunity to create a “new” content piece for your promotions without going to all the work of researching something new.
Build a podcast episode from your content
Once you’ve turned your long-form blog post into a video, don’t stop there. Could your content also be transformed into a podcast episode? Although it might take a little tweaking, transforming your content in this way puts it in front of a whole new audience without much extra prep work.
Share a slide deck of your content on SlideShare
Same deal as above, but this one is especially important. According to David Waring, writing for Social Media Examiner, “Most social media marketers are focused on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. But are they missing the boat? Out of all of the social platforms out there, SlideShare is the most overlooked and underutilized.”
All it takes is a few extra clicks of the mouse to drop information from your long-form blog post into your slide deck; then, you’re rewarded with another “new” piece of content that can help spread your brand’s message. Don’t have the PowerPoint or Prezi skills needed to set this up? Graphic designers on Odesk, Elance or any other freelancing portal website can help you out for a very affordable fee.
Release your content in PDF format
One final content transformation idea: Before you move on to your next totally new piece of content, publish your long-form blog post as a PDF. Format it nicely, then add a button to your post offering the downloadable PDF version. Since many readers prefer to store content in this way, it’s an easy option for adding value without investing tons of extra time.
Upgrade your images
Take it from web marketer Jeff Bullas – articles with images get 94% more total views, while Facebook engagement is 37% higher for photos over text. So if you’re in the habit of grabbing whatever royalty-free stock image you can, it’s time for an upgrade. Purchase higher-quality images through sites like Shutterstock, get in the habit of taking your own images or spend some time searching for artistic Creative Commons photos that you can use legally to improve the look of your content pieces.
Practice good internal linking
One final note on how the activities you undertake on your website lead to proper content promotion… When you develop a new piece of content, go back through your archives of popular posts and add a link to the new article there. Proper internal linking is great for SEO, and some of the traffic your past posts already receive will funnel on to your new posts and help get them seen.
Your Marketing Plan
Once you’ve covered the basics on your website, it’s time to get down to the business of content promotion. But what belongs in your plan? Any of the following strategies – plus the social media marketing techniques described in the next section – should play a role:
Create a once-weekly blog digest email…
Once a week, or more often if your post volume supports it, put together a weekly blog digest email that goes out to all your readers and shares your most recent posts. It’s an extra step, to be sure, but according to Neil Patel of QuickSprout and KISSMetrics, it’s the most effective way to get readers to return to your website.
…But be careful how you structure it.
While blog digest emails can be powerful, if structured incorrectly, they can have the opposite effect. According to Justin Olch, VP of Customer Relations for Elite Email:
“I don’t recommend having your articles as the focal point of your email newsletter – you’ll lose subscribers that way. The reason is because it’s not typically what people are looking for in a newsletter. [I]nclude your best or your most recent blog posts within your newsletter in a separate section. A separate section that includes the headlines of your last few articles and a link to those posts will do the trick.”
Look for niche networks
Rachael Sprung, writing for Hubspot, suggests that, “the right niche network could remove any need to target your content promotion efforts.” The following are seven she recommends, though you’ll want to seek out others if the sites referenced below don’t suit your audience:
Get active with guest posts
It’s no secret that guest posting is a powerful way to promote your brand and your content, but what many marketers get wrong is following the mistaken belief that you need to post on high volume sites to ensure visibility. Instead, consider a recent HubSpot case study, which follows Bamidele Onibalusi, a writer and blogger who was able to secure 60,000 new visitors from search traffic alone in just six months of publishing 28 quality guest posts on medium-sized blogs.
Leave great blog comments on authority sites
If you don’t want to go to all the trouble of finding guest blog placements and then creating the content to go along with them, remember that it’s free and easy to leave a comment on the websites of most industry influencers. Make sure your comment is substantive – and that the blogger in question allows links back to your website – and your fellow readers will follow your links to hear more about what you have to say.
Repost content from your archives
Far too many marketers take a “one and done” approach to content promotion – meaning that they’ll produce a piece of content, run it through their marketing plans and then move on to the next one. Instead, make it a point to regularly promote great content pieces from your archives. Doing so will help new readers catch up on your old content, while giving you more promotional mileage out of work you’ve already done.
Submit your content to online communities
Sharing your site or your individual content pieces on online networks like Inbound.org or Growth Hackers or Closing Call is a great way to get noticed by new readers, and to build valuable backlinks as well. Certainly, the specific communities you’ll want to post to will depend on your particular industry, but finding and maintaining a presence on one of these sites can be a huge source of traffic. Just be sure you balance self-promotion with actual community engagement – nobody likes a community spammer!
Now, let’s get into the real meat and potatoes of what most people think about when discussing content promotion – your social activities! Having a piece of content “go viral” on one of the major social networks represents a huge success for any business, but it all starts with the techniques described below.
Up your posting frequency
I’m going to assume that you’re already posting your new content pieces to at least Facebook and Twitter, in addition to any other social networks where your audience is active. But are you posting frequently enough? Take the advice of Leo Widrich, who recommends posting at least 5-10 tweets and 1-4 Facebook posts daily, primarily between the hours of 8am and 8pm.
Time your social promotions
When to schedule these 10+ social messages? The answer depends on your unique audience. Since every industry has its own rhythms, you’ll want to use tools like Tweriod and your Facebook analytics information to figure out when your followers are most active. Time your social posts to go live during these windows using Buffer, Sprout Social or any other program that lets you pre-load your social content.
Use interesting excerpts
Developing the content for your social posts can be challenging – after all, how can you tell what type of message will get the most attention from your followers? Matthew Gratt, writing for Convince and Convert, recommends creating social posts based on interesting excerpts to generate interest. Quotes, statistics and leading sentences all make great social posts – especially compared to simply posting the title of your content piece and hoping for the best.
Despite what some marketing “gurus” will tell you, hashtags aren’t dead – they’re just being used in different ways. As Steve Cooper points out in Forbes, “using hashtags as a tool for joining and participating in conversations (as opposed to trying to boost the chances your links will be clicked) can be a powerful maneuver.”
Post images separately on Facebook
If you copy and paste a link to one of your blog posts into Facebook, the resulting message will contain a small preview image – good, but not eye-catching enough to generate maximum viewership. To really capture attention, try uploading your images separately and adding relevant content details to the picture after the fact. You’ll be rewarded with a large image post that’s nearly impossible for your followers to miss.
Create a Facebook lookalike audience
The choice of whether or not to participate in Facebook’s paid ads program is becoming less and less of an option as the social giant continues to whittle away at its organic post reach. But there’s another great reason to take advantage of the company’s paid ads – the ability to create and market to lookalike audiences.
These groups of people are rounded up by Facebook because they match certain characteristics of your existing followers. With a click of the mouse – and a wave of your credit card – you can get your posts seen by a whole new group of potential followers who are likely to be interested in what you have to say.
Share to Google+ Communities
Google+ sometimes gets a bad rap in terms of its overall adoption, but its Communities feature is something you’ll definitely want to pay attention to. Use Circle Count to find communities that are relevant to your interests and share your content pieces with these groups. Take the time, though, to become an active member of the community by commenting on other people’s posts and sharing non-promotional content from time to time. Nobody likes a marketer who swoops in to drop off links and then leaves!
Share to Facebook Groups
Similarly, Facebook Groups represent a great way to get around the network’s declining organic reach and engage directly with prospective customers. But as with the tip above on Google+ communities, avoid being too self-promotional. Doing so risks getting your account banned from groups that could otherwise represent potentially strong sources of traffic for your website.
Post to LinkedIn Groups
If your audience is more business-minded in nature, you’ll want to make LinkedIn Groups a drop off point for your content pieces. The network hosts thousands of different groups, making it pretty much impossible that you won’t find one there that suits your interests or industry. Check out Chamelio’s tips for ideas on how to promote your content on the site in a relevant, valuable way.
Connect with Twitter Chats
Participating in a Twitter chat can take some getting used to, but with practice, you’ll find that these real-time discussions represent great opportunities to connect directly with members of your target audience. Ready to get started? Tweet Report’s Twitter Chat Schedule reveals plenty of chances to jump into these social conversations.
Share to Subreddits
Reddit is a tricky place to promote your content, as the community is highly suspicious of any activities that could be deemed self-promotional. That said, if you’re willing to jump in and establish yourself as a contributing member on the site, sharing your content on relevant subreddits can be a great way to connect with like-minded audience members.
In these days of seemingly limitless new products, the use of promotional tools can, in effect, become marketing strategies themselves. The following ten tools all deserve to play a role in your content marketing efforts:
BuzzSumo allows you to search for topics or domains to see what types of content are performing well in a given industry. And while you can use it to submit your own content, use the tool’s reports to uncover topics you can build content around in the future that will meet your audience’s demands.
Snip.ly boasts an impressive user base of companies like Hubspot, Outbrain and Social Media Examiner, and allows you to attach a call-to-action to every link you share. It’s a great way to retain traffic to your own web properties and content while sharing other’s updates, in addition to helping you convert this traffic into subscribers and customers.
True content marketers know that getting content shared is only half the battle. That’s what makes tools like Papershare – which helps you distribute content and then see who shared it and what leads were generated – so helpful. Give it a try to determine which influencers you’re reaching, as well as what kind of ROI your campaigns are generating.
Scoop.it bills itself as targeting “Thought Leaders,” “Content Marketers” and “Knowledge Mangagers” – all of which likely encompass your role. Use the tool to curate fascinating content (including your own) and then publish it in an ezine format to your blog or social profiles. Create an interesting enough collection and the site’s followers will check back for your future publications.
BuzzBundle is a social media management tool that helps you to find and respond to online conversations about your brand or industry. Every time you see your company mentioned, you’re looking at a golden opportunity to reach out and have your content shared across new audiences and prospective followers.
Flauntt’s tagline – “Get More People Sharing Your Stuff” – says it all. This Twitter tool offers incentives that encourage members to share the content pieces posted to the system by others. If your Twitter referral traffic has been lower than you’d hoped, this simple program could get the ball rolling.
Little Bird is a social intelligence platform that helps users identify influencers in their industries, monitor developing trends and discover the topics your audience is talking about. In the words of user Jill Rowley, “I seriously haven’t been this excited about an app in a very long time. So powerful, yet dead simple.”
Similar to scoop.it, issuu is a digital publishing platform that allows users to curate their own internet magazines. With its strong visual focus, this tool is a great option for users in lifestyle, health, fitness and wellness industries to get their content out.
Currently on its third generation, Flipboard is the final magazine-style publishing system on this list of tools – but it’s one you’ll definitely want to pay attention to. With over 30,000 topics being published, there’s a place for content pieces from nearly every brand and industry out there.
Click to Tweet
“Click to Tweet” style programs are ubiquitous these days, but it’s unfortunately common for marketers to install them and never actually make use of them on their websites. Don’t be that guy! Instead, make it a point to generate at least 3-5 Twitter-appropriate call-outs that can be woven into your content piece – and then actually set them up. Doing so makes it as easy as possible for your readers to share your content on their feeds.
If you’ve exhausted the content promotion methods and tools listed above, you aren’t out of luck – there’s a whole world of additional active outreach options out there that draws on traditional offline marketing techniques to generate digital content success. Here are just a few you can try:
Email influencers mentioned in your article
Remember earlier in this post when I told you to mention influencers in the content pieces you create? Here’s where this strategy starts to pay off…
Once your content piece is live, fire off email messages to the authority figures you’ve referenced and ask them to share your content with their audiences. You don’t need anything formal to do this – the simple template below will suffice in most cases:
I just wanted to take a second to let you know that I really enjoyed the “[name of content piece]” article you released recently. In fact, I liked it so much that I quoted it in my own article, “[name of your article].”
If you think that my piece adds something to the conversation, would you take it a second to share it with your Twitter followers? I’d really appreciate it, and I think your readers would benefit as well.
Obviously, you’ll want to tailor your message to include the specific action you’d like the influencer to take, as well as alter the phrasing according to the relationship you have with the authority figure. But the impact of sending out these messages can be impressive. In a Moz case study, Gregory Ciotti found that influencers he had contacted at least once (even if it was just with a tweet, a comment, etc) were 63% likely to share a post, while those he hadn’t engaged with were only 18% likely to share.
If you want to dive deeper into this, I’ve put together a huge guide on cold email outreach that walks through strategies, tactics, templates and examples.
Deploy traditional press releases
Despite their past use as a link spam technique, press releases aren’t dead. The key, though, is to only use them when you have something legitimately newsworthy to share – say, for example, the launch of an educational minisite or other “above and beyond” content piece. When you do encounter these milestones, draft a press release and target it only towards the niche publications or websites that are most likely to be interested in featuring your launch.
Take advantage of earned media
If your traditional PRs aren’t getting you anywhere, try connecting with influential bloggers or journalists and making them aware of your content efforts. According to Chad Pollitt, VP of marketing at Digital Relevance, the “earned media” mentions these influencers can provide can be invaluable. In his words:
“There’s three major ways a brand can promote content – broadcasting (owned media), distribution (paid media), and coverage (earned media). However, if I had to choose one, it would be earning content coverage from journalists and/or influential bloggers. They tend to have massive reach and their audiences trust them.”
Test native advertisements
Native advertisements are poised to be the next big topic in content promotion, given that paying for views may be one of the only strategies left that can break through the amount of noise content marketers have generated online. But, fortunately, the barrier to entry for this type of promotion is low. Sites like Outbrain and Taboola make it possible to get your content in front of your desired audience for as little as $0.50 a click.
Give StumbleUpon’s paid discovery feature a try
Not quite ready to dip your toes in the native advertising pool? Give one of the original paid content promotion methods – StumbleUpon’s paid discovery system – a try. As a rule, the service’s bounce rates on inbound traffic tend to be enormous, but if you feature the right type of content, you can use the system to get eyes on your pieces and increase their odds of going viral.
Sign up for HARO
HARO stands for “help a reporter out,” and it’s a great way to get your brand’s name featured in a wide variety of publications. Once you’re enrolled, the service sends out daily messages in which reporters share the types of experts they’re looking to interview for their posts. Respond to an invitation if your skills and experience match up, and you could see yourself quoted on top publications like the New York Time and ABC News.
Event sponsorships are the last true opportunity marketers have to buy links for the purposes of brand and content promotion. Sponsoring local sports teams, events and non-profit organizations can generate links and media attention that aren’t inherently sketchy. Still not sure it’s ok? Even Rand Fishkin of SEOMoz condones the method.
This may sound controversial, but the best way to promote your content might be to… not. According to marketer Steve Weller, new brands can benefit by delaying the promotion of their content until they’ve built up a responsive audience. Instead, these companies should focus on curating great content to engage followers, and then eventually shift to sharing no more than 20-30% of their own work.
Do you agree or disagree with Weller’s controversial recommendation? Or are there other content promotion techniques you feel should have made this list? Share your thoughts in the comments below!