Most companies appreciate both the value of content marketing for driving new traffic and building a community, and the challenge of regularly creating valuable content. But while creating awesome content is a significant challenge for most businesses, its not the only hurdle to building a successful content strategy.
Creating content is just step onepeople have to actually read your content for it to add any value to your business. Building a readership does not happen overnight and in order to gain any traction you must take active steps to get your content in front of the right audience.
We all know that savvy social media usage is key to drive readership and promote engagement with your content, but there are other, faster ways to find readers regardless of the size of your community.
In Defense of Paid Distribution
There are several paid channels that you can leverage to draw attention to your content and to build a strong readership over time. Marketers are sometimes hesitant to use paid channels to promote content, as we tend to think of content marketing as a ‘free’ marketing channel, despite the fact that a robust content strategy requires significant time, effort, and yes, money. Paying to help build readership is a good way to help launch your content, particularly before you have an established reader base.
There are platforms that aim to solve this specific problem. One service, Outbrain, matches your content with articles on news publications and blogs, allowing your content to appear as a ‘related article from around the web.’ You’ve probably seen Outbrain in action on sites like Mashable and CNN. StumbleUpon also offers a paid service that can help your content get discovered by a relevant audience, and because you know the traffic is well-matched, tools like this can do wonders to place you in front of a relevant, interested audience.
What these tools can’t guarantee is immediate purchase intent. Depending on how closely your content aligns with your product offerings, you may not be directly advertising to users who are ready to buy. But this isnt necessarily a bad thing. Building a loyal reader base means your reach is amplified, so even if someone who reads your content isn’t in-market right now, someone in their network just might be.
Social Ads to Engage Your Audience
Social advertising can be an effective way to reach new communities, particularly because the robust interest and demographic targeting can help you zero in on people who are likely to be interested in what you have to offer.
Twitter advertising gives you the opportunity to get your content in front of people outside your immediate community in a manner thats relatively unobtrusive. Promote tweets with links to your content targeting the people for whom it’s most likely to be relevant. Twitter allows you to target search results (for example, you can target by hashtag), by interest (based on publicly available profile and tweet data), and by geography. Some combination of the available targeting options should provide you with a solid means of accessing your desired audience.
Depending on your subject matter, Facebook advertising, with its robust interest targeting, may be able to help you reach your desired audience. However, in the B2B space, Facebook advertising, though powerful, may not be the most relevant. For B2B marketers, LinkedIn Ads can work very well, particularly to drive readers to pieces of evergreen content like white papers or ebooks. LinkedIn allows targeting by industry, company, and job title. This targeting can be incredibly effective depending on how focused your content is, and whether it is designed to resonate specifically with a particular industry or title.
Track, track, track
A robust content strategy is a significant investment, but you should be tracking (or attempting fiercely to track) ROI at every turn. Bear in mind that no two companies are alike, and no two content strategies were created equal. What works wonders for one company may well be an unmitigated disaster for another. You should experiment to find which types of outreach work for your content and your audience, measuring your success every step of the way.