This whole digital world is a funny beast. Just when you think you have it figured out, it changes.
I am often asked, “How do I promote blog posts and distribute my content?” because what worked in 2010 no longer works today.
Of course, the answer is often “it depends,” which is a crappy answer, but one size does not fit all.
You definitely have to test what works for your audience and keep evolving as it changes.
That said, there are some good rules of thumb you can follow, particularly when it comes to content distribution.
The Basics of Content Distribution
One would think, in 2015, this wouldn’t have to even be said, but the number of blogs I come across that don’t do these few basic things is rather astounding.
- Social Share Buttons. I told you. It’s basic. But the social share buttons are not on every blog. I recently was in meeting with a very sharp CEO. She said, “We think we have the content thing down, but we can’t figure out distribution.” When we looked at her blog, they didn’t have the social share buttons or comments enabled. It’s hard for people to share when you don’t make it easy for them. I like AddThis and Simple Share Buttons (we don’t use a plugin here; they are embedded in the code).
- Enable Comments. Yes, I know there is controversy about whether to enable comments, but I fall firmly on the side of “you can’t build community or distribute your content” (particularly when you’re starting out) if you don’t have comments open. Danny Brown is testing Google+ comments on his blog (which I like and it’d be interesting to hear his results) and you can also test Facebook comments. I prefer Livefyre.
- Make the Shares Easy. This is a mistake some of even the most seasoned bloggers make. Make it easy for your readers to share! This means you should set up your plugin to have your Twitter handle in it and an easy way to grab the headline. Adding a button, such as Buffer, will also shorten the link for you (which is very, very necessary). For instance, if I click on the Buffer button here for Lindsay’s post from yesterday, this comes up: Newsjacking: The Good, the Bad, and the Superbowl by @belllindsay http://buff.ly/15HsEfR via @Spinsucks. It has the headline, the author’s Twitter handle, the link, and our Twitter handle. Super, super easy for someone to share. I just tried to share someone’s blog post the other day and it said, “VOTE_TITLE http://buff.ly/2sU8b4s via @sharethis.” Not easy for me and doesn’t help you at all.
We recently submitted a proposal for a new business prospect and, in the email I sent with it attached, I said, ‘Even if you don’t hire us, please take this advice. Set up your social share buttons and enable comments. This is an emergency!”
This is not a nice-to-have. It is necessary. If people find you (which we’ll cover next) and you make it difficult for them to share, your content distribution will suck.
Now it’s time to think about how to help people find your content.
This is not a “build it and they will come” campaign. You have to build it, go find them, and (in some cases) drag them kicking and screaming until they realize you have something of huge value to them and they end up staying.
- Email. I always chuckle to myself when people say, “I love your newsletter!” The reason I laugh is because we don’t have a newsletter. This blog goes out in email once a day and people call it our newsletter. Whatever you call it, get your content out when it is published. If you publish once a week, get it out in email at the same time on the same day every week (you can schedule it, just like you would any other email). Help people find your content where it is easy for them.
- RSS Feed. Some of your readers will be more sophisticated and won’t love getting more emails, but definitely want to see your content. This is why you’ll set up an RSS feed. Those people (like me!), will use a tool such as Feedly or Flipboard to get their content delivered to them daily, but without the hassle of filling their inbox. You can do this through FeedBlitz or Mailchimp.
- Social Media. Social media definitely is not one size fits all, so I will tell you what works for us and you can adapt.
- Twitter. On the day it is published, we tweet the link four times (three hours apart). On day two, it is tweeted twice, and once on day three. Rich Brooks and I just had a conversation about how often to share older content and I admitted (on air, none-the-less) that we don’t do a good job of it beyond Twitter. So that’s a goal for us this year.
- Facebook. We share the blog post on the Arment Dietrich page only once a day. I’m super picky about what I share on my personal page so it might go there once a day. Typically, though, I only share the Spin Sucks Inquisition and Gin and Topics on my personal page. If I were ready to evolve and test some more, I’d post every Spin Sucks post on my personal page for a couple of weeks to see what happens.
- Google+. We share each post on Google+ once a day and everyone who works here shares it on their personal pages, too. While it isn’t a great social network for, well, being social, it does wonders for search engine optimization. Don’t neglect it!
- LinkedIn. LinkedIn is only once a day on our personal accounts, as well. And we share in any groups we belong to. We also share to the Arment Dietrich page and to the Spin Sucks showcase page. I also am testing (just started last week) sharing other types of content on our company page to see if that will increase engagement there. And Lindsay Bell-Wheeler is using the publishing platform to see if that increases our distribution.
- The Others. It’s important not to ignore StumbleUpon, Reddit, Pinterest, Digg, and some of the others. Test posting in those spots just once a day and see what happens. For instance, we know Pinterest is the number six driver of social referrals and StumbleUpon is number eight.
- Comment on Other Blogs. For those blogs that have comments enabled, comment on them! Start a conversation. Say something smart. Respond to a comment someone else has left. Do all of this with “latest blog post” active so the link to what you’ve recently published shows up. While not everyone reading comments will click on that, if you do it often enough, it will begin to send you some readers.
- Tag People. Eleanor Pierce does a great job of tagging people when she shares our content. For instance, today she’ll share this blog post on Google+ and then, around noon, she’ll go back in there and say, “I love what Rob Biesenbach said about content distribution” and will tag him so he sees it. This encourages him to comment on the post there and share it with his circles, as well.
This is what works for us, but remember content distribution is all about testing and figuring out what works for your readers. And it will change. So you have to keep trying (like I’m doing with LinkedIn right now).
I have one more section on using offsite marketing for content distribution, but I’m already at close to 1,500 words (and I’m 13 minutes late in publishing), so I will save it for tomorrow.
I leave the comments open to you now. If you tell me some of the things you do for content distribution, I’ll include them in my post tomorrow.
photo credit: Shutterstock