In the 2010s, everyone was chanting, “content is the king”, and now everyone is screaming, “content distribution is everything.”What’s going on?
SEO alone isn’t as effective anymore. Organic reach on all platforms is dropping, and you are competing against more ads, more creators, more snippets, more of everything.
If you came to this post to learn about the next hot channel or the new hot distribution tactic, this is not the post for you.
This post is for those who view content holistically and understand it’s not about “targeting audiences” or users and consumers, but people.
It starts with user research, followed by a content distribution strategy, and only then can we craft a content strategy and actual blog posts.
Most companies got it backward, and that’s why it doesn’t get eyeballs or traction.
Discussing what content is may seem nonsensical since everyone knows what it is.
However, after years spent doing content marketing, I have noticed that people don’t really know what content means in its essence.
This lack of understanding of what content is makes it hard to grasp terms like content distribution and content distribution channels.
This lack of understanding of the mere term “content” results in an even worse understanding and use of the terms “content distribution” and “content distribution channels.”
This is why the currently popular statement: “SEO is a content distribution channel,” is completely incorrect and confusing.
The definition of “content” as a noun according to Cambridge Dictionary.
Content is any type of idea that can be communicated either in a written, spoken, or visual form.
Content distribution is hence the act of distributing those ideas across places (channels) where people can consume them.
So, search engines are a content distribution channel. SEO is just a marketing strategy that helps us rank the published content so it gets distributed to the right audience searching for it.
Your website is a content distribution channel just as much as TikTok, Reddit, Discord, Slack, radio, television, and newspapers are.
Every communication channel is at the same time a content distribution channel — a place for you to share your content and message with your target audience.
With that in mind, you can distribute your content on every existing channel — the only question is should you do so, and how do you determine which channel is the right one.
I stated above that blogs and websites are, in their essence, content distribution channels.
However, in content marketing, we don’t view them as such.
The main reason being: 90.63% of pages on search engines get no organic traffic, making blog nothing more than content storage, a content graveyard.
The whole idea of distributing content centers around increasing awareness, but SEO shows less and less fruitful in those efforts.
During the previous years, marketers, especially SEOs, were pushing the “content is the king” narrative, and eventually, everyone embraced it. This resulted in billions of mediocre web pages created in hopes of ranking and attracting more business awareness.
Search engine result pages became overcrowded and saturated, and ranking difficulty increased by a lot, making it impossible for new websites to find keywords to rank for without spending a good fortune.
And, if you only rely on the blog as the main distribution channel, you won’t get any satisfactory results.
Rather, we view blogs as hubs, a place to store your key ideas and resources, and then distribute them across other channels: Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Slack groups, etc.
Not every channel is the right place to reach your target audience.
And you shouldn’t utilize every possible channel where your target audience is.
If you checked other resources on content distribution, you probably saw a list of channels that you should distribute content on.
From republishing on Medium, sending newsletters, and joining forums and groups across different platforms, to finally posting on LinkedIn and Twitter company and employee pages.
Doing all of that is a stretch.
Most companies don’t need more content and more distribution channels — they need more awareness on the channels they’re already using.
If you are posting on LinkedIn, double down on LinkedIn — share more, comment more, network more — and you will see 10x better results much faster than if you were to introduce Twitter into your mix.
The key is that every of those distribution channels has its own rules:
- It requires a different type of content and formatting to attract attention.
- Users behave differently across platforms.
- The publishing frequency is not the same.
Nailing all of those factors takes resources. If you have time and money to invest in more without sacrificing quality, it’s a no-brainer to go for it.
But, unless you have reached your maximum potential on one platform, don’t switch to another.
As GaryVee said: “Don’t fall into this trap: Everyone is looking for the next thing before they have really won the last thing.”
Unless you gathered enough awareness and attention on LinkedIn, don’t go to Twitter. Simply because you will be starting from zero there too, but if you have a considerable amount of active audience on LinkedIn, you can redirect a good chunk of them to follow you on Twitter too — and boom!
Now you have a headstart on Twitter. Much easier than building both platforms from scratch.
So to answer the dilemma: is less more, or is it vice versa?
The correct answer is situational based on your current position and resources. But even with those two at their best, you won’t be wrong to first maximize your presence on one, and then extend to another platform.
But how do you choose the right type of distribution channel?
Experts classify content distribution channels into three popular categories:
- Paid media
- Owned media
- Earned media
However, this classification is meaningless in terms of what to do on these channels — it doesn’t answer any actionable and profound questions such as:
- Based on what rules do I choose a channel?
- How do I interact with users across different channels?
- What type and form of content do I share on each channel, and why?
Everyone knows whether LinkedIn is a paid, owned, or earned media — but they don’t necessarily know which social rules the channel abides to — meaning which type of content and interaction people expect on that platform.
Paid/owned/earned media classification doesn’t tell you anything except whether you have complete control and ownership of the published content.
And frankly, everyone is aware of it, hence the latest attempt to save this useless Venn diagram by adding the “Shared” category as a recognition that communities have become a huge part of the internet that is not monetized and vandalized by corporations yet.
Source: Spin Sucks
For that reason, I prefer to stick with a different categorization:
- Search engines – I just need quick information.
- Social platforms – I need information and social connection.
- Communities – I need information, social connection, and meaningful interaction.
Do you notice the subtle yet key difference?
The first categorization is robotic and technical, stemming from old traditional marketing practices focused on the content itself and how you can just shove that content in the user’s face.
Whereas the latter centers around humans and the way they behave across various digital ecosystems.
Hubspot has a famous quote that marketers brainlessly ravish: “Knowing the differences between paid and other forms of media — earned and owned — is critical to the success of your lead generation efforts.”
Spoiler alert: Knowing the differences between paid and other forms of media won’t make any difference to the success of your lead generation efforts. 😀
Making the distinction of channels based on the way people use them is essential for creating successful not just content distribution, but content marketing strategy as a whole, and in turn the success of your lead generation efforts.
I want to note that a lot of platforms are hybrids and hard to fit into only one category. For example, YouTube is both a search engine and a social platform. TikTok is too. But their primary aspect is social, not search engines.
Let’s put an end to this painful topic.
The terms community and social platform are often used interchangeably, but there’s a clear distinction between them — and most people, marketers included, don’t know the difference between the two.
That’s why rarely anyone reaps benefits from distribution within communities.
Distribution tactics for communities aren’t and shouldn’t be the same as for social platforms.
Per definition, communities are: Places focused on collective user experience where people come together around shared interests.
Social platforms are: Places focused on individual user experience, where the user is the center of interaction.
All communities are built upon exchange, and money is the only term of exchange that doesn’t work within communities.
As soon as people sniff that you want to take their money you’re as good as done. This is because people contribute to communities because they want to — they want to feel that they are helping others.
When you distribute content within communities, remember that people are there because they want to be there, and they help because they want to help, and you should do the same.
Don’t try to sell, self-promote, or excessively mention your company and product.
Giving something away for free is a good strategy for making money, because once you establish authority, people in need will reach out to you for help — and that’s when you can sell to them.
First and foremost: Understand that not every channel is right for you or your business.
Before you go searching for advice on how to create video content, for example, decide if the video is the right medium for you.
When it comes to distribution, always remember that people love people. They want to interact with other human beings, not companies.
So, if you want to do video content, you either need to be good in front of the camera, or be able to hire someone who is.
Video is a great medium that has the biggest reach, but if you can’t do it right at the moment, other mediums can generate the same results.
I don’t know you, and what your business is about, so I can’t give you any general advice like:
- Three days after you’ve published a blog post, upload it to Medium.
- Chop the blog post into a PDF file for LinkedIn (LinkedIn Carousel). Comment and share a link to the original post.
- Distribute across relevant Slack, Discord, and Facebook groups.
These aren’t actionable insights, they are ideas for possible content placements.
Here’s how you can decide which channels are right for you:
- Do an ICP analysis and answer these questions:
- Are you going after VCs, or customer development? Investors and your target audience don’t want the same type of content from you. Create separate content strategies for these two groups.
- Where do they spend their time? Look at your audience and understand what channels they are spending time on. Specific Discord channels, subreddits, Facebook and LinkedIn groups, TikTok, Twitter…
- What are the main purposes of those platforms? (LinkedIn’s main purpose is business networking, and TikTok’s is entertainment)
- Does my brand narrative resonate with those platforms? (Everyone’s target audience is on TikTok, but if you are selling internet security software to companies, TikTok might not be the best channel for you)
- Analyze your budget and allocate it accordingly. If you can’t afford to distribute content on more than one channel, it’s better to excel at that one platform than to fail on numerous ones.
It’s that simple, two steps. All you need to know is where your TA is, and if you can afford to distribute content there.
For most B2B SaaS companies, from my experience, the right distribution tactics are:
- Start from the blog — Create long-form written content on the topic your target audience is interested in.
- Distribute it on LinkedIn first — As you publish content on your blog, distribute it on LinkedIn both from the company page and from your personal profile if you’re the CEO/Founder/Manager.
- Introduce Twitter — Once LinkedIn has kicked off and you’ve hit the plateau, start distribution on Twitter. If you have enough resources, you can do Twitter and LinkedIn simultaneously.
- Dive into Quora, Subreddits, + Slack, and Discord channels — If people are talking about what you offer in these communities, you want to be there. Answer their questions, never try to sell, and be genuine. Remember, these are communities, and game rules are different.
Depending on the resources, you can share video content on LinkedIn and Twitter too. If that’s something you can manage to do effectively, ensure to share that content on YouTube as well.
“Collaborations are a gateway drug for distribution.” — Gary Vee
When talking about distribution and content, collaborations are often cast aside or completely forgotten. But they can ease your way into content distribution significantly.
The best way to start with collaboration is by finding people in your niche and reaching out to them. For example, if you are an email marketing SaaS, you can collaborate with influential email marketers — you can create a video with them together, or they can write a post for you.
Then, both you and the collaborator will share that content on your social media, and that way, you can reach their audience too. You would be surprised how many experts and thought leaders would gladly collaborate with you, even if you are a small startup.
All you have to do is:
- Create a list of topics/ideas for collaboration
- Create a list of experts/thought leaders with considerable following and engagement (5k + for LinkedIn)
- Reach out to them. The more people you reach out to, the more likely you will land a good collaboration.
2,000+ words later, here you are!
There are dozens of channels where you can reach your target audience, and when choosing the right ones, always remember:
It’s not a distribution channel, it’s a place where people spend time, where people engage with other people, where people create content, for people.
If you want someone to do it RIGHT for you, while you focus on business growth and what really matters — schedule consultations with us. 😉