When working on content marketing, adjusting the time you spend between creation and distribution can be difficult. In this posts, several experts give their best tips on how to choose a good balance.
As you start writing blog posts and distributing on various media (social media, communities, forums…) you might wonder how to balance your efforts. Most of the content planning and analysis can be done asynchronously : planning can be done much in advance, and analysis could be scheduled regularly.
However, it’s not the case for content creation and distribution. Most of the time you will tackle them sequentially. You’ll write a post then you’ll distribute it. Though it’s not a fixed rule you might find it more convenient. Moreover, some content have expiration dates, so you have to do the distribution within a certain time frame.
What experts are saying
When I was first faced with this question, I asked people on Inbound how much time they were spending on content creation versus distribution. Inbound.org is a very nice community where you’ll find the most passionate content marketers.
I had the pleasure to receive lots of contributions. Back at the time I decided I should write a full recap, so that’s why I’m here today.
Distribution is boring
First and foremost, you might soon realize that distribution is a boring task. Most of the time you need to prepare an interesting message to introduce your post and then adapt it for various channels. So you’ll spend most of your time rewriting the same kind of introduction.
Even when the task might seem a bit more diverse (such as answering related posts on Quora to drop your link) boredom is often the reward of several hours of work. Here is for instance what Andrew Gale, a Real Estate Tech Entrepreneur, told me :
I would actually say any ‘promotional’ task that you spend a full day on, is completely and utterly brainsucking boring. Try legitimately answering questions on Quora for more than an hour straight. You will lose your mind.
Andrew Gale (Flyerco.com)
Distribution gets easier when your audience grows
To balance the preceding section, it should be noted that distribution gets easier when you have a loyal audience. You’ll get more organic mentions and reshares when you have recurring readers and enthusiastic followers.
If you are just getting started, then you are going to end up investing a lot of time in the promotion of blog posts and any other type of content you produce. You may actually spend more time on the promotion of content vs its production.
Kieran Flanagan (EMEA Marketing Director @ Hubspot)
Therefore it means that you really need to be patient when starting blogging. Building a fan base is not a quick. You need to write interesting posts to enchant your readers, but you also need to push your posts artificially in front of people who don’t yet know you. As Ian St Clair puts it :
If the time isn’t put in to make the content great, there’s no point to share it on social outlets.
Ian St Clair (Editor @ Denver’s Broncos)
Not every type of content requires intensive distribution
Depending on the type of content you produced, you might not spend the same amount of time to amplify it. People sometimes talk about “Big Bang” content to describe assets that have a potential to spread easily. From your side of the table, you can easily assert which content is Big Bang. Again let me quote Kieran Flanagan on this :
[Big bang content] includes some unique imagery, expert analysis, expert quotes, unique data you’ve sourced from somewhere, or is a really in depth post on a topic your audience really care about.
Kieran Flanagan (EMEA Marketing Director @ Hubspot)
I’ll make a shortcut here, but to summarize :
Not Big Bang
- your ‘ordinary’ blog posts
- your guest posts
- marketing presentation decks
- in depth articles
- white paper / e-book
- research-based infographics
- conference decks
- … any asset you felt in love with when creating it
Big Bang Content might spread far away
The exception lies in scoops (if you produce news). They will have a big potential for buzz, but they are short-lived and won’t require intensive distribution to spread.
After you sort out what type of content you’re going to amplify, the tactics vary. Here’s a quick recap from Takeshi Young :
A typical blog post might just get posted to our social profiles for a couple days, whereas a meatier piece of content might also involve e-mail outreach, submissions, etc.
Takeshi Young (SEO manager @ Optimizely)
To give you a feeling of what an in-depth blog post looks like, I selected a recent post from Mike Allton about blog promotion (I just received a disqus notification about it and it fits perfectly here) : Blog Promotionology, The Art & Science of Blog Promotion
Spend AT LEAST 50% of your time on distribution
Though opinions diverge here, most of the experts who answered the original thread said that you should dedicate at least 50% of your time on distribution. This is just a rule of thumb. According to them, you might waste you time if you don’t spend enough time on the amplification task. Say you worked on your copy for 5 hours, then you should brace yourself and spend at least another 5 hours especially on the distribution.
As for when to stop, well, Ron Sela gave me a good hint :
I guess that I invest more than 50% of the time in distributing and promoting content, when compared with the time that it takes to actually create it. I guess that it all boils down to the marginal return on on each additional hour (and I know that methods for calculating ROI on content can vary considerably).
Ron Sela (Content Marketing Strategist @ Dapulse)
So, to rephrase Ron in my own words : when you feel that you made everything that was possible to amplify your work… then just stop.
Write down things that worked for you
I suggest that you start writing down the various tactics you used over time, together with your “recette magique” (yes, Elokenz will teach you some French expression over time) and secret hacks. Share your tactics and tips within your team.
By doing this you might learns things more quickly. Knowledge is a valuable thing in content marketing. For the next promotion, just reuse your list, and try a new tactic.
Distribution brings more than simple exposure
When you’ll use distribution’s tactics (see section below) you’ll do personal outreach, you’ll comment on blogs, you’ll chat on social networks. So basically you’ll create one-to-one connections.
Part of “distribution” is reading, commenting, sharing or otherwise engaging in other people’s content that interests you. It is relationship building.
Frank Strong (Communication Director – Sword and the Script)
These connections are really important. They are opportunities for the future. Always return the favor. You might offer a guest post or offer to share some content via your channels.
I’ll make a small digression here to list various distribution’s tactics. That’s not the point of this article, and you might find many many tips on a recent thread @ Inbound : How do you distribute your content ?
- Email Marketing : the first thing to do when you start a blog, create a mailing list to send newsletters. Once it’s done, you have a channel to spread your articles, tips, deals, … whatever is interesting to your readers
- Social Networking Promotion (Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin) : this one sounds obvious
- Social Bookmarking : some tools such as StumbleUpon or Digg works on sharing links with the community, they’re called social bookmarking sites. You can use them to push standard content.
- Blog Comments : you can share your links via comments on related blog posts
Distributing Big Bang Content
In addition to the previous channels, you can additionally use :
- Guest Blogging : publish on other blogs (friends, partners) on a topic related to the post you want to amplify
- Republish on external platforms : Medium, Linkedin Pulse are good examples of places where you might adapt and republish your content
- Personal outreach : by email influencers, bloggers who might be interested by your recent piece, you might get additional exposure if they accept to relay it.
- Questions sites : post your link as an answer to questions on Quora or Yahoo answers.
The evergreen content case
Some of you content will have no expiration date. These pieces are part of what we call ‘evergreen content’. Since the distribution can be done on the long run (very very long run), and if you want to maximize the exposure over time, you have to add a bit of automation.
Here is how I typically do for evergreen content. I spend some time to do classical distribution and note down few Twitter updates that worked well in terms of retweets or clicks. For that you can use the Twitter Analytics feature.
With this list of possible updates in hand, I feed a custom tool that I’ve build for Elokenz. The tool is responsible for regularly re-posting statuses. The tool will soon be available on Elokenz Beta (to those who have already access). In the meantime, what you can do is to schedule you mentions with tools such as Buffer or Hootsuite.
Here are the few takeaways the nice Inbound community shared with us :
- Though distribution might be boring, you need to spend some time on this task.
- Distribution gets easier when you become known. So, don’t give up if you just started and that your efforts don’t pay off.
- Not every kind of content requires a heavy distribution effort. Instead, focus on the pieces that are really valuable.
- Try to spend at least the same time on distribution than you did on creation : if you have created a good article and if you don’t amplify it, you will have wasted your time.
- Write down lessons you learned along the way. You might reuse them for your next post.
- … and finally : distribution will bring much more than views. It will also bring opportunities for you.