Flow is obviously a big fan of SEO as a way to get your website found, but we know better than to put all of your eggs into one basket. Besides, it would be a shame not to do more with the valuable content you create. Especially since a large part of your target audience might spend many hours a week on other channels than Google.
Each piece of content – whether that’s a blog post, video, or whitepaper – holds the potential to build your brand awareness and generate leads. To realize that potential, you need to bring your content to your audience. Not haphazardly, by randomly sharing something on Facebook whenever you think of it, but by following a thought-through content distribution strategy.
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What Is Content Distribution?
In general, content distribution is the sharing of any type of content on other channels than the channel the piece of content was originally published on. Sharing a blog post on Facebook, adding an Instagram post to your newsletter, and retweeting a tweet are all examples of content distribution.
Owned vs. earned content distribution
The distribution of your content can be in your control – you choose what is shared and where – or it can be outside of your control – your users or other businesses and publications decide to share your content on other channels. This is the difference between “owned” content distribution and “earned” content distribution.
Paid vs. organic content distribution
Earned content distribution is usually organic. Unless you have a mysterious patron somewhere, other people aren’t likely going to pay to share your content. They’ll just hit the “share” button or copy/paste a link into an email they’re sending to a colleague.
Paid content distribution is usually “owned”. You can pay to boost your own Facebook posts, to get Instagram ads in front of your audience, or to send traffic to your sales page with Google Ads. You can, however, also pay to simulate earned content distribution. Examples of this are paying an influencer to talk about your product, or buying an advertisement slot on a big newsletter.
Content distribution vs. content repurposing
You could look at content distribution as a copy/paste action where you literally take the link to a piece of content and share that on another platform without changing anything about the original piece of content.
Content repurposing, however, is the act of transforming a piece of existing content into a new piece of content that is more suitable for the platform you’re going to share it on.
Here is an example:
- Content distribution: sharing a link to a blog post on Facebook.
- Content repurposing: turning the key points of that same blog post into a short LinkedIn post.
Taking charge of your content distribution
There are various things you can do to optimize your owned and earned content distribution (yes, you can influence your earned content distribution!) and you’ll find out how to do just that in the rest of this article. But first, let’s see what role content distribution can play in marketing your SaaS.
The Role of Content Distribution in SaaS Marketing
What’s the point of creating great content if nobody gets to see it?
Content distribution helps you get your message in front of the right audience, on the right channels. As such, it’s the perfect complement to SEO. While SEO leads people to your website by getting you found in the search engines, content distribution takes your content to where your audience is spending its time and lures it back to you that way.
By sharing your content across relevant channels, you
- Build brand awareness: with people who see your brand pop up repeatedly.
- Establish authority: by showcasing your expertise and providing value.
- Create touchpoints: that keep you top of mind with those looking for the solution your product provides.
- Increase your chances of gaining backlinks and media attention.
- Can generate traffic and social shares that will expand your reach.
The benefits of having a solid content distribution strategy are plentiful. But how do you create one?
Developing a Successful Content Distribution Strategy
To gain success with your content distribution efforts, follow the steps below.
Research your target customers
Content distribution is only effective when you share your content in the right places. That is: where your target audience hangs on. You should already have one or more target audience personas but perhaps you haven’t yet researched what channels they’re most active on. If that’s so, this is the first thing you need to figure out before you can put together your content distribution strategy.
Analyze and organize your existing content
Once you know where your audience is most likely to find and engage with your content, you need to have something to share. Luckily, you probably already have a wealth of content you’re sitting on and if not, get in touch to discuss how Flow can help you create an effective content strategy.
Make a list of all the different types of content you have and where they are published (or stored, in the case of unpublished pieces).
Examples of types of content you can distribute are:
- Blog posts (and snippets, quotes, images, … coming out of blog posts)
- Instagram posts, videos, and reels
- TikTok videos
- YouTube videos
- Newsletter editions
- (Clips out of) podcast episodes
- Case studies
- Webinar recordings
This list will help you pick the right bits of content to distribute for each of your distribution channels.
Choose and dive into your content distribution channel(s)
Once you know where you can reach your audience, you’ll need to come up with different content distribution strategies for every channel. Each channel has its own publishing rhythm and the type of content that works well on one platform might not get a lot of engagement on another.
Lastly, your target audience may consist of different segments. They may all have the same need and could use your tool, but some of them might get their information from YouTube while others may look to LinkedIn.
Things to consider are:
- The type of content you’ll share (informational, engagement-focused, commercial, …).
- The format of the content you’ll share (video, image, text, a combination, …).
- When the best times are to share content.
- How often you’ll distribute content on a channel.
- Which tool you’ll use to schedule your content distribution (more on that later).
A lot of this comes down to experimentation, but you can also study what your competitors and other brands targeting your audience are doing and test if the same things work for you.
Quick tip: Don’t try to do this for all channels at once. Start with one channel and truly optimize your strategy there before moving on to the next one. This stops you from getting overwhelmed and simply throwing spaghetti at the wall in the hope that something sticks.
Add distribution to your editorial calendar
Aside from distributing content across various channels, you’re probably also creating new content specifically for those channels. Just a few examples are:
- Original newsletter copy.
- Engaging Facebook posts.
- Instagram lives.
That means you’ll need to combine your content distribution schedule with your “normal” posting schedule. Having everything in one calendar ensures that you don’t post two things at the same time or leave large gaps between content shares.
It also provides you with an easy-to-track overview of which types of content you’ve published and when so you can analyze better what works for any given channel, and what doesn’t.
Create content for distribution
Wait, didn’t I say content distribution is about copy/pasting? It is, but it’s not just that. Sure, you could just share a link to your newest blog post on Linkedin but the chances of that getting a lot of engagement are slim.
Instead, introduce your link (or image, video, or audio) with some fresh copy that pulls the user in, lets them know what the share is about, and invites them to engage. This is where the line between content distribution and content repurposing can get blurry, as you may choose to, for example, summarize the results of a study as a way to get people to click on and read the entire study. Sharing the study is content distribution, but summarizing it is, in a way, content repurposing.
Another thing you can do is create content specifically with the idea of distributing it later on. If, for example, you notice that your audience loves sharing case studies on social media, you can decide to create more case studies so you can distribute them on your channels, and, hopefully, your audience will share them onward for you.
Set goals and measure your results
Not only does the content you distribute need to fit the channel you distribute it through, it also needs to serve a purpose.
Do you want to drive free trial signups? Demo requests? Traffic to your company blog to further nurture your leads? Set goals and KPIs and determine which metrics you’ll track to know whether your distribution efforts are paying off and where you need to make improvements.
Normally, you should be able to adopt the goals already laid out in your overall content marketing plan.
Some other examples of goals could be:
- Driving users to a sales or feature page.
- Getting users to contact you.
- Driving newsletter signups.
Each piece of content you distribute should come with a desired action you want users to take and with a way for you to track if they’ve taken that action.
Content Distribution Tools
Distributing your content manually across all relevant channels takes up a ton of time and carries the risk that you’ll forget it and/or become inconsistent with it. Instead, decide on distribution days and times for each channel and use a tool to automate the work. You can still check your channels manually to engage with users.
There are content distribution tools that focus on specific channels, such as ClicktoTweet.com, and then there are social media schedulers such as HootSuite or MeetEdgar that allow you to schedule posts to different channels. The best option is the one that you’ll actually use, and that can distribute content to the channels you need, at the times you need it to do so.
Here are a few other tools you can look into:
Things to consider when choosing a content distribution tool
These types of tools usually have per-plan limits for how much content you can schedule in a month. Make sure to go for a tool that allows you to share as much as you need without making too big of a dent in your budget.
You’ll be scheduling content for distribution on a regular basis so you don’t want to get frustrated each time you need to do it. Opt for a tool that feels intuitive and have several members on your team try it out. That way, it doesn’t become a problem when the person in charge of content distributions falls sick or leaves the company and someone else needs to take over.
Start with “good enough”
There are some amazing tools out there with tons of features, but if you’re just starting out with content distribution, you might not need something as fancy. Have a look at your editorial and content distribution calendar to know how many times a week you need to schedule content on every channel and decide which features are must-haves, and which are simply nice-to-haves.
Especially if you’re a SaaS aficionado, choosing a new tool can feel like choosing a new toy and the process can easily carry you away from your core tasks. It’s better to start with a tool that does the job and change it once you’re super clear on your needs, than to spend days comparing tools that, in essence, maybe aren’t all that different.
Optimizing for Earned Content Distribution
It’s always a nice surprise when a big influencer shares one of your articles, or when one of your social posts goes viral. Too bad you don’t have any influence over earned content distribution.
Or do you?
By molding what you distribute to what works well for your audience across different channels, you can increase your chances of generating more shares. Other things you can do to optimize for earned distribution are:
- Analyzing what types of content gain the most links and creating those types of content.
- Tagging influencers in posts.
- Making use of sites such as HARO to share your expertise with journalists.
- Networking with influencers in the hopes that they’ll start mentioning your brand and sharing your content.
What About Paid Content Distribution?
Paid content distribution can be a great way to get your content off the ground and build brand visibility, especially when your SaaS is in its starter years. It generally works faster than SEO or building a social media audience – especially now that gaining organic reach has become harder than ever – but it carries more financial risk.
Options for paid content distribution are:
- Social media advertising, such as Facebook or Instagram ads
- Paid search such as Google Adwords
- Branded content placement (advertorials)
- Influencer marketing
Getting paid content distribution right takes a lot of trial and error, which means you can easily blow through a lot of money without getting a solid ROI. And when paid content distribution works well, there’s the risk that you become dependent on it.
For most startup SaaS, a combination of organic and paid content distribution is the way to go. Get your content off the ground through paid ads (and, perhaps, influencer marketing) while you build your SEO and social presence.
I’ve mentioned it a few times already but it’s so important I’ll repeat it: measure, run experiments, and keep adjusting where necessary. Even when you think you’ve crafted the perfect content distribution strategy, social media algorithms change and the needs of your audience may change as your industry develops.
Keep an eye on your KPIs to notice when results are affected, and keep trying new things to keep your content distribution efforts as effective as possible.
Keep Your Resources in Mind
Distributing content takes up time and money (unless you try to rely on free tools which is not recommended, as their functionalities are limited). Keep this into account when you’re creating your content distribution strategy:
- How much of your budget will you dedicate to this?
- Who on your team will be responsible for content distribution… and for replying to comments and DMs??
- Do you need to hire someone new?
- Which tools will you use to distribute your content and to measure your results?
Get the Most Out of Your Content
Content is only truly valuable when it delivers its value to its intended audience. Content distribution puts your content in front of your target customers across the different channels they hang out at.
But sharing your content is only effective when you implement a content distribution strategy that takes into account what works well on any given channel for your specific audience. That means:
- Researching your audience’s online behavior.
- Organizing your existing content.
- Analyzing and choosing distribution channels.
- Putting together a distribution calendar.
- Creating channel-specific content.
- Setting goals and measuring results.
- Testing, optimization, and iterating.
Newsletters and social media channels offer great ways to distribute your content, but the effect of a single share quickly winds down. Combine your content distribution strategy with SEO to bring in a constant stream of leads and get found in the search engines regardless of how other channels are performing.
Sounds good? Get in touch to let us help you create your strategy.