Gini Dietrich

How to Find the Right Content Distribution

By: Gini Dietrich | November 6, 2014 | 

Content DistributionBy Gini Dietrich

One of the things my team and I are working diligently on is finding new ways to distribute content and engage new audiences.

For instance, it’s quite lovely that PR Daily syndicates our content, but every time I see someone tweet something we’ve written from there, instead of here, I go a little bit more mental.

Those people have no idea the content isn’t unique to PR Daily and that there is an entire blog over here that focuses on education for our PR peers.

We love getting the extra awareness, but would love to also see our subscribers increase because of it. Not so much.

There also is an entire subset of communicators who have no idea we exist: Those who work inside corporations.

I get it. We work on the agency side so a lot of what we talk about is from that perspective. But we also create content and bring on guest authors to speak to those other audiences.

So content distribution is a huge push for us, particularly as we look to continue growing in 2015.

A Content Distribution Test

Sometimes, though, content distribution happens accidentally, as was the case with “How to Capture Blog Post Ideas” from August.

The post ran on August 5.

On August 8, Buffer included it in their newsletter (thanks, guys!) and it went out-of-control.

Buffer Effect

I love seeing those huge numbers, but they’re vanity metrics so I took a look at what kinds of traffic it drove…mostly because I was curious if people were just sharing and not actually reading.

Before Buffer highlighted the blog post, we had 908 visitors to that page and people spent an average of six minutes reading it.

Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 2.15.56 PM
After they highlighted it, we had an additional 1,019 visitors, but the average time spent dropped by a minute. The bounce rate also increased (not good).

Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 2.16.19 PM

Between the two, we had nearly 2,000 visitors in five days, with an average time spent of more than five minutes. We also gained 12 new subscribers, but considering we had more than one thousand new visitors, that’s not a very good conversion rate.

Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 2.15.42 PM

What is also interesting is several of the comments were from people who sell software that helps you capture blog post ideas and develop your content (asking our readers to buy their product). Not our typical community  members.

Content Distribution Data

Here is what that data tells me:

  • Content distribution through Buffer is an amazing gift because it provides social proof that people like your stuff (click to tweet). And, like it or not, people see those big numbers and think, “Wow. They must really know what they’re doing.”
  • It didn’t bring the right audience to our blog. Sure, some may have come because blogging is interesting to them, but they didn’t stay because they’re not communicators and blogging is not our focus.
  • More than 2,500 social shares does not equate the same in visitors. People share because they like the title and think it’ll make them look smart, but 25 percent don’t actually click on the link (fascinating!).
  • All of those unqualified leads hurt your averages. Yes, I know averages are lies, but just by comparing the top two analytics screen grabs, you can see it was harmful.
  • If you do a test with Buffer or Outbrain or another site that is meant to drive traffic, do it on a blog post that is focused on your niche. For instance, I might ask Buffer if they would kindly highlight a PR metrics post, for comparison.

There are lots of ways for interesting content distribution to find new audiences, increase your subscribers, and generate new leads. But they must bring the right people in because, well, those big numbers are lies.

Thanks to Danny Brown for working through this post with me.

photo: Shutterstock

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • chipgriffin

    Finding the right people is often a challenge for content creators. We all like to see big raw numbers, so there’s a natural tendency to go for clickbait headlines and topics. For those with promotional budgets, it becomes all too easy to use Outbrain or StumbleUpon or others to cause traffic spikes.

    Aligning the topics and traffic to your target audience will definitely produce better long-term results. However, even in case where you get a lot of useless traffic, you may still find some valuable nuggets in there (new subscribers, followers, etc.). So it’s important to dig through the topline data and see if there’s a subset that did achieve your goals.

  • I’m very interested to see what you come up with to increase your presence with corporate communicators. Do you find that this segment drive better leads or do Agency peers tend to put forth more referrals?  

    I also, can’t wait to see what super-cool tools you unearth that the group can steal and play with.  

    Fascinating that 25% of the sharers used the post as a vanity tweet. I guest that means that you are cool enough to be seen as cool to know.  So, that’s something.  It’s essentially the ultimate vanity metric.

  • Nicely said, Gini! This is just yet another good example of what you mean by vanity metrics and how they should not be your end goal. I know most other employers would look at this traffic spike as a gift, but in reality, it hurt you more than helped you. 
    Imagine how that high bounce rate will now send the wrong signals to the search engines and hurt your overall rankings. If only more people understood that….  :-/

  • I agree with Chip Griffin, below. While the overall numbers might now be so important, you might grab that golden person, who leads you to the next big client, let’s say. So, the overall outcome is fantastic! But again, it speaks to our company mantra: It’s a marathon, NOT a sprint. Also, Danny Brown?? Really…?? Great. Now his head is going to get even bigger! 😉

  • belllindsay Not while I have heathens like you to keep me in check. you faux Canadian you!

  • EmilyWenstrom

    This is big on my mind for the firm I work for these days–how to better get our content in front of more people … and the right people. Thanks for this great example of how to be thoughtfully analytical on this topic.

  • Great overview miss, and thanks for digging deeper into the metrics behind a Buffer share.
    Like you, I’ve had some of my content plugged into the Suggestions area of Buffer for when your scheduled updates are empty. And, like you, social shares went through the roof – at least on Twitter and the Buffer button, which makes sense given most Buffer users seem to prefer Twitter as their channel of distribution.
    Having said that, much like Stumbleupon and Triberr, this does not necessarily equate into excellent blog metrics. While shares were high, and a nice way to capture social proof, visits were decent (though not explosive). Of the ones that came, the bounce rate wasn’t good – whereas my subscribers and community generally visit 2 pages per visit, Buffer bounced around 90% of landing page. Additionally, I didn’t see any rise in conversations, either in the comments or across other channels.
    So, yes, it’s nice to be shared – but it’s nicer to have that share mean something more than an extra digit on a sharing button.

  • This made me laugh at the absolute truth of it: People share because they like the title and think it’ll make them look smart, but 25 percent don’t actually click on the link.

    Really interesting breakdown here. Quantity vs. quality of traffic continues to be a really interesting discussion when looking at content distribution specifically for some of the reasons chipgriffin laid out below. In some ways in can be a “chicken/egg” scenario.

  • Great breakdown and interesting, tho not surprising, stat on actual readers. I set a rule for myself that if I was going to be on Twitter, I wouldn’t share anything I hadn’t read. That makes for less tweets from me but for more valuable sharing. 

    And I learn stuff, too.

  • So, you mean the company’s bills aren’t paid by shares (and blog comments)?? BAH. So complicated! 

    Seriously though, I love case studies like these. And I think it’s funny, too, how many people share something without even looking to see what it is … just because they’ve heard it’s a “Twitter best practice” to share content. Siiiiigh

  • I actually find your data  ’25 percent don’t actually click on the link’ believable and lower than I thought it might be, albeit not happy with what it implies. I have always been baffled and amazed at the amount of Tweets, posts, shares etc on a daily basis that individuals and organizations produce and often questioned the authenticity of the shares, likes, RT’s etc. I questioned how anyone could absorb that much information and respond or share with true sentiment.

    I also understand that certain individuals or organizations have built a trust with their audience and therefore may have earned the automatic share of their work from friends, ambassadors or even the sycophants who simply want to be attached to influencers or to be part of the seemingly incrowd. What I have never understood and what I am garnering from your post is that this behavior can and often is self-defeating if not ingenuine. To me it is like feeding the dragon and goes against some of the principles of social media : conversation and context. 

    There was a time (honestly, there still is) that I thought my slowness or inadequacy in managing the social media scene was because I didn’t have a paid management system. This post has made me feel better knowing that my deficiencies are not entirely due to lack of will or money but perhaps a resolve to thoughtfully contribute. When I share a post, RT or comment I know I have read the material and feel good about sharing and thus haven’t contributed to the vanity of lies.

  • Eleanor Pierce I almost want to run an experiment with really offensive content, but give it a rainbows and unicorn headline, just to see what happens…. 😉

  • ginidietrich

    JayDolan WHAT?? No snark??

  • JayDolan

    ginidietrich Sorry, I’ve been saving the snark for the updated

  • ginidietrich

    JayDolan Ohhhh. Exciting!

  • Danny Brown Eleanor Pierce Ha! I’d love to hear how THAT experiment goes …

  • Wow, this brings up so many questions for me. (And a note of gratitude because there’s much to learn in the info here). Just this VERY morning, I RT’d a Spin Sucks post because seeing it in my stream, I knew I could trust it (although in all honesty it was something I had read or would read at some point today). I think I have been viewing it opposite (i.e., if I know/trust the person, it is a good thing to share their info forward even if I don’t have time RIGHT THAT MINUTE to read it). BUT ….. I will also say as a Triberr user there are MANY things in my stream I don’t approve; I do think it is important to ask “is this something people would expect from me?”. Thx as always for an educational piece.

  • JayDolan

    ginidietrich Yup. Trying to mix short form commentary with more in depth articles.

  • DannyBrown

    JayDolan Be still my beating heart… ginidietrich

  • ginidietrich

    JayDolan It looks really good! I like the newspaper feel of it.

  • Eleanor Pierce Danny Brown Please do this!

  • susancellura

    annelizhannan Love this! “This post has made me feel better knowing that my deficiencies are not
    entirely due to lack of will or money but perhaps a resolve to
    thoughtfully contribute. When I share a post, RT or comment I know I
    have read the material and feel good about sharing and thus haven’t
    contributed to the vanity of lies.”

  • biggreenpen I think that’s different, though. You will come read the posts you’re sharing. Most of the people are just RTing and not reading.

  • annelizhannan I’m the same way. I won’t share anything I haven’t read and thought about. I used to want to always comment, but have let that go for the sake of time. But I always read what I share.

  • Eleanor Pierce We’d be filthy rich if they were paid by blog comments.

  • Danny Brown Eleanor Pierce OMG. DO IT!

  • Word Ninja I think that is a very good rule!

  • LauraPetrolino It also goes to the ongoing conversation about big numbers vs. real leads we are having.

  • EmilyWenstrom If you represent consumer clients, this stuff works really well. But, when you have a niche, it’s not as effective.

  • Danny Brown Now if we could get the leaders of organizations to understand this.

  • belllindsay I actually looked at the 12 people who subscribed. Not one was a good prospect for us.

  • JRHalloran If only more people understood that, is right!

  • HeatherTweedy For sure they drive better leads. Our agency peers don’t share referrals. With the exception of one this year.

  • chipgriffin We did get 12 new subscribers, but not a single one was a good prospect for us. So yeah…

  • ginidietrich biggreenpen I remember a post or discussion a few years ago about tweeting without reading. Sometimes I did that, but after the discussion, I decided not to do it anymore.
    Tweeting without reading now feels like cheating to me. If one thinks their followers should read something, doesn’t it behoove one to read it themselves?
    Oh yes, I used “behoove”. 🙂

  • ExtremelyAvg I love behoove.

  • MatthewLiberty

    ginidietrich Thanks for the RT! 🙂

  • ginidietrich ExtremelyAvg I love behoove also!

  • ginidietrich biggreenpen That is true …..

  • ginidietrich

    MatthewLiberty 🙂

  • ginidietrich

    neicolec xoxo

  • chipgriffin

    ginidietrich but if they subscribed, presumably they found value in your content. As long as the content is on target, then they may still be valuable. If they consume your content and like it, they may share it. Of course, it’s also a good opportunity to figure out if that content was well-targeted to your prime prospects. It’s easy for all of us to confuse what interests us with what will interest our prospects.

  • Interesting that the average reading time dropped. I assume the livefyre comments are included, so if a visitor reads those as well (not including adding a comment) then the average time spent on the page I would think would increase.[I’m at 15 mins now including typing this comment].   Were there any scroll statistics captured?  Did visitors scroll to the comments section?  Some members do write thoughtful yet lengthy comments, don’t they annelizhannan

  • JayDolan

    ginidietrich Thanks! Just need to put the finishing touches on some of my longer pieces.

  • butterfly_89000

    Word Ninja less tweets, but more valuable sharing = the essence of content curation

    That is a good rule to have!

  • Ike

    A couple of questions for @DannyBrown, Danny Brown, and both ginidietrich and @ginidietrich.

    1) Of the sharing metrics, which would you put the most stock in?

    My gut tells me that the number of times someone has used “Email a friend” would be the gold standard, because it assumes intent, direction and additional work in manually typing the address of the expected recipient. I might retweet to a shotgun audience, but if I email something to susancellura, it’s because I think your info is a good fit for her, and that she is a good prospect for you. Call it the double-edged endorsement.

    2) Why in the hell do both of you have multiple Livefyre presences?

  • I think the moral of the story here is that traffic ≠ community. That said the Buffer example seemed to showcase a route to drive traffic from a different (albeit not desired) audience. 
    I bet in the same vein, you can tap into other audience by gaining visibility on other channels. For example, you mentioned Outbrain and Buffer as sources of traffic, who is to say you won’t get a different audience from getting a SpinSucks post cross posted to Medium?
    For that matter, who is to say you couldn’t potentially gain that targeted corporate audience by trying to get mentioned in some corporate newsletter? (Although I think in reality it is just that the in-house PR audience is just a small niche, and the marketing audience, which may be a larger potential audience, is still too excited about Neil Patel’s content to realize there’s value to digital marketers on a PR related blog too).

  • susancellura Appreciate the love Susan 😉

  • Ike Danny Brown ginidietrich susancellura

    I’m neither of those smart people, but I too once had two Livefyre presences, so I’ll try to answer anyways… 
    Yes, email-a-friend may show the greatest action, but I wouldn’t solely put stock in that, because it is going to be a much less occurring metric than others. Rather, I think it makes more sense to use page-uniques layered on top of a share metric (or conversion metric if you’re into that sort of thing).
    My preference for this is based around the data trends you can establish based upon the traffic you receive. From there, you can (hopefully) see correlates between increased traffic and increased shares/conversions… or, if not, find out why these three had correlates and that one did not. Boom… there’s your insight and action item for optimization. 
    Make sense or am just on too much coffee today?

  • I can’t read Neil Patel’s content, given the amount of pop-ups he uses. That kind of approach is an immediate close browser for me.

  • Digital_DRK I have to admit that I am not as lengthy in my comments or thoughts on as many blogs that I read (tsk, tsk on me) and often simply share to one of my social media channels with a small comment. 

    One of the reasons I do write in length here on Spin Sucks (not always on a daily basis) is that it often stimulates me and it is posted early in the morning. I start my social media rounds at 5am so if a blog is posted early it has more opportunity to get my undivided attention. By 8am I am just trying to catch up 😉 It really becomes a time issue unfortunately.

    I always read the comments as usually some of the best conversation. This blog is a perfect case in point. Plus it always delivers one or two chuckles for the day with all of Gini’s gypsies.

    Good questions you are posing, Darryl, as the comment reading does take quite a bit of time.

  • I’d put more stock in the email metric (that’s one I measure on my own blog and one of the sharing options I always use) as well as a click on something Iike Pocket, where the intent is also there to investigate at leisure, versus an easy immediate share.
    I also tie that into PURLs and campaign tracking to see where I’m being effective.
    On my own blog, I use Flare Pro for sharing, and that does a deeper dive into the behaviour of the sharer and the result of that share (most valuable network, for example, along with biggest advocate and visits ratio versus share ratio). It’s a great way of actually assigning value to vanity metrics when it comes to ROI.
    Re: Livefyre, you sure it’s multiple personal and not one account for Livefyre, and then one that pulls up the Twitter username? 🙂

  • Did you just call Gini smart?

  • Danny Brown I’ve always been afraid about the reliability of email sharing and apps like pocket… to me, because not everyone utilizes those when reading blogs you don’t necessarily get the full picture, no? 
    Also, really like your thoughts on Flare Pro; need to check it out (however not everyone gets the volume of shares you do!)

  • Danny Brown To be fair, I called you smart too…

  • True, the reliability I look at as the type of throwaway metric we often ignore. For me, even if it’s just one email referral, that holds ten times more sway than a tweet, because it’s contextual (to go back to Ike’s point).
    That’s the beauty of Flare’s insights, mate – the quantity of the share isn’t delved into as much as the quality. Because of this, it can show you where you’re winning, and with what content, which in turn helps identify how to encourage more sharing, both on high referral networks as well as lower ones.
    Tie that level of data into a content optimization tool like Atomic Reach, and you have a powerful front and back end combination for any type of content creator.

  • …smarter than me at least #SetsBarLow

  • (likes twice)

  • I like you. You can stay. 🙂

  • Who you calling a gypsy? I’m a Pict if you please!

  • JasKeller

    SpinSucks at this point, DannyBrown and I have overtaken your comment feed… sorry, ginidietrich

  • DannyBrown

    JasKeller Yes, but now the intelligence quota is up at least 37%… SpinSucks ginidietrich

  • JasKeller

    DannyBrown SpinSucks ginidietrich Allow me to step aside as Gini charges towards you… #RunDannyRun

  • DannyBrown

    JasKeller Meh, ginidietrich is 4’6″ in 8″ heels. I believe I have a decent chance of our running her 🙂

  • Tweeting without reading is like flushing without peeing. A waste of good water. Or tweet.

  • ginidietrich

    DannyBrown JasKeller SpinSucks I would say more like 77%

  • DannyBrown

    ginidietrich Especially if belllindsay is already in the comment stream… JasKeller SpinSucks

  • JasKeller Or from the LinkedIn publishing platform. You’re right – there are lots of ways to focus your traffic so it reaches the right people. Buffer and Outbrain and StumbleUpon are great for consumer content. Not so much for niche content.

  • Danny Brown Quite the analogy!

  • butterfly_89000 It also keeps my brain from exploding.

  • Danny Brown  Good thing the internet is at my fingertips when you comment or I would be lost. Sassenach, nerf herder. You make me think I am too old for you young whippersnappers 😉

  • @JasKeller SpinSucks DannyBrown ginidietrich Not really part of this thread but perhaps related to the value of time time invested in reading comments as well having them as part of the blog to incentivize the conversation. I have been reading Jas’  and Danny’s comments and banter on the thread and since both have professed how they have increased the the intelligence quota here, I thought I had better find out just who this Jas is and what he’s about.  I know all I need to know about the Canadian Scotsman 😉

    Low and behold, he’s in Boston, I am close to Boston (Cape Cod) , he has interests in digital health, I have interests in digital health. He’s works in communications, I worked in corporate communications. He worked in DC, I worked in DC. He was from Texas, I have visited Texas. Result: He gains a new Twitter follower and his blog is added to my Feedly. This to me is context, not vanity.  Ain’t social media grand!

  • Danny Brown Two points for “nerf herder”. It made me giggle.

  • Thank you  annelizhannan , of course my comment was “tongue in cheek”. Your responses are always consumed as delightful food for thought, within a  similar time frame as yours, usually coinciding with breakfast.  🙂

  • Danny Brown @JasKeller “is still too excited about Neil Patel’s content…” BAHAHAHAHA!

  • ExtremelyAvg ginidietrich biggreenpen Behoove is one of my favourite words.

  • Danny Brown Eleanor Pierce I’d read that.

  • Danny Brown I AM A TRUE CANADIAN!

  • belllindsay Danny Brown humbug….A True Canadian would have added “Sorry…Eh” to the end of that statement.

  • buffer

    briantudor That’s a very good point Brian, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts about this! 🙂 -Octavio

  • Hi Gini! Thanks so much for sharing your experience with Buffer’s content suggestions (and Danny, as well). 🙂 The metrics and insights like you’ve laid out here are such a giant help to us as we move this feature forward and make it more targeted and useful for both Buffer customers and content producers. 🙂

  • ginidietrich

    cmmitchell4 LOL! I’m glad someone caught that!

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  • Wow see what not having a computer does? I missed this Top 5 post for 2014.
    I would want to restate to your readers that this is how you test new ‘everything’ in your business. While not everything can be practically measured, for example switching number 2 pencil brands testing to see if how many more hours of writing from each above the prior brand would be a waste of time, But when you try something new compare it to the old with performance measurements. And if you don’t have any stats for your business processes good time to get on that. Especially if you make something.
    Lastly I would take this one step further as a lesson in determining value. You stripped away the fluff (site visits) to focus on the important measures such as new subscriptions. 
    I also think the PR Daily thing brings more stature than the lower tier business pubs like Inc and Forbes. Projects you as a validate voice to be obeyed…I mean heard.

  • Howie Goldfarb Isn’t there only one Number 2 pencil brand?

  • Ambercarl

    Good day! Thank you
    so much for this professional piece of writing. It was fantastic pleasure to