In 2011, when Right Source was but a few years old, our chief content officer Mike Sweeney wrote a post called “Distribution is King.” Though the distribution landscape has changed enormously in even just the last five years — not to mention the last 10, with the explosion of social networking affecting nearly every aspect of how we consume content — much of what he wrote in that early post holds true today.

There are certain steps you should always take, and certain rules you should always follow, to ensure that the content you’ve striven mightily to create receives the amplification and attention it deserves. But before you move into the details, make sure you’ve given your big-picture distribution efforts the same treatment you give your content creation, goals, measurement, and other areas of planning and strategy. Take the time to review the rules of the road and complete the exercise below, and you’ll be on your way to comprehensive content distribution in no time.

Remember the golden rules
Create remarkable content. Yes, this part is the hardest. An immense amount of energy goes into creating really excellent content. Do not mistake the short wording of this step as an understatement of its complexity.

Maximize distribution of your content on your owned properties — your blog, your social channels, your email list — and encourage your colleagues to do the same. Codify a process for how you will approach distribution. Start by sending out new content to the team and ask them to distribute to their networks after you update all company social properties.

Do these things regardless of what you’re promoting, and repeat the process with every piece of original content you have.

Complete this exercise
Don’t rush through this. Your answers to the following questions should become part of your content marketing plan so that your distribution efforts are part of a yearlong strategy, not just an afterthought of the writing process. With an actual plan in place, you’ll ensure you’ve tailored your content distribution to address your overall marketing goals and business objectives. Ask yourself these questions to come up with thorough, well-rounded plan.

  1. What problem does your product or service solve for customers? The answer will help inform where (beyond your owned properties) you should attempt to distribute your content. Have you considered online trade magazines? Industry forums?
  2. Do you know who your existing audience is? How much do you actually know about who is consuming the content on your website and social properties? Examine your referral traffic. There might be some surprises in there.
  3. Is there a new audience you’re trying to reach? Let’s say you’re trying to move upmarket, from mid-level do-ers to C-suite decision makers. Do you know where those folks hang out?
  4. Do you have enough existing, owned content to begin this effort? You’ll need to start with at least a few blog posts or pieces of larger anchor content in the hopper when you launch, and then start quickly producing content on a regular basis in order to develop a following on a channel you don’t own.
  5. Do you know what types of submissions the properties oft-visited by your current or aspirational audiences accept? In other words, are they going to charge you for the real estate your content takes up?
  6. Are you willing (and able, from a resources standpoint) to create and submit original content and risk it never getting published on the target property? Some properties will ask that you share only exclusive content with them.
  7. Are you committed to producing remarkable content for distribution on a regular basis and do you have a team in place to do it?
  8. Have you already handled the basics of distribution? (See above, on maximizing your own properties.)
  9. How are you going to measure the success (or lack thereof) for this effort? What do you hope to get out of the distribution engagements you establish? The answer could be as simple as “exposure.” But make sure you’ve determined what defines valuable exposure. Nebulousness is your enemy on this front.

Regarding Paid Distribution
You may think that having even a small budget to put toward paid distribution will change your whole game and give your reach a huge bump. The appeal of putting some dollars behind a distribution effort via platforms like Taboola or Outbrain, which promise precision targeting, is strong, especially given the amount of content out there that you’re competing with. Spoiler alert: nothing will change your game if the content isn’t good. Focus first on creating good content and distributing the heck out of it to eyeballs you’ve already captured. These eyeballs are valuable and you earned them all on your own — no paid effort required. If the content is great, it could open doors to being syndicated via other publications.

The takeaway here is that just like every other aspect of your content marketing effort, distribution requires planning and process. Without these, it will be nearly impossible to blast your channels with good material on a regular basis, and your distribution efforts will fail.

For more information about planning your content marketing effort, check out our eBook, “Build Your Content Marketing Plan: A 10-Step Guide.”