How Content Distribution Works

“If you build it, they will come.” 

This infamous quote from Disney’s 1989 hit “Field of Dreams” has been the battle cry of free-spirited creatives for almost 3 decades. For many, watching Kevin Costner questioning the validity of this mantra echoed by a disembodied voice whilst investing an absurd amount of time and money into the creation of a baseball field in the middle of nowhere just to watch it <spoilers> actually pay off in the end </spoilers> served as an inspiration to make their own dreams a reality regardless of how unrealistic they were.

Perhaps this message was delivered at the right place and time, as the 90s would serve as a revival for independent creatives. Technology’s rapidly increasing speed and social connectivity lead to huge gains for those who knew what to build. It was a decade that birthed billionaires Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos.

Three decades later, we find ourselves in a paradoxical state where it’s never been easier to tell people about what we’ve built with content, but it’s never been harder to keep their attention. Baseball isn’t doing that well, either, but I digress.

So how do we change with the times to make sure our content gets the recognition it deserves?

The answer is effective content distribution.

Now before we dive any deeper, I want to make it clear that this is STEP 3 of a greater process. Don’t put the cart before the horse. If you haven’t done an overall brand evaluation (discussed in our livestreams) or developed a solid content strategy (see our post here), please do not start your content marketing journey with content distribution strategy.

Ok, all caught up? Great! Let’s go…

Firstly, let’s discuss the different types of content distribution your brand will experience.

Earned Distribution 👥

Earned distribution is when a 3rd party either shares your content or creates independent content discussing or praising your brand. Whether your product and/or service is being reviewed by an industry relevant YouTube channel, or someone is boastfully sharing photos of what your brand does or provides on Instagram, you’re experiencing earned distribution.

This type of distribution is likely the most effective form but is also the hardest to come by. Typically, it’s a byproduct of content, a product, or a service that is designed to be easily shared. That said, like all “word of mouth” promotion, it’s the type of content distribution where you have the least amount of direct control. And while it’s great to optimize your content, products, and services to easily earn distribution, it’s unwise to rely on it.

Paid Distribution 

Paid distribution happens any time your content is shared in exchange for compensation. Basically, advertisement and sponsorship. Whether you’ve paid for a Google Ads campaign, boosted your Facebook post, or compensated a YouTube channel to feature your brand, you’re participating in paid distribution.

Paying for advertising can be a fantastic way to boost your brand message’s signal, but it can also be expensive. If you haven’t refined your content’s targetting (both in its development and its demographic delivery), you could easily end up tossing your money into a void. We want to be sure to avoid that, which is why we should probably start out content marketing efforts by focusing on…

Owned Distribution 

Owned content distribution takes place on all platforms under the direct control of your brand. Whenever you post on your website, send out a tweet, or upload a video to YouTube, you’re participating in owned distribution.

This form of distribution provides us with the greatest ratio of cost versus control. In other words, we can use this method to create and share content most affordably and with the greatest potential for an intentionally designed end product that creates an emotional impact on the audience. For this reason, it’s the most logical place to start when it comes to distributing your content.

Which platform should I use? 🤔

It’s a good question, but finding a good answer can be very difficult. Let’s start by categorizing platforms to get a better idea of which ones do what.

One quick note: Platforms are not beholden to any one category, but generally focus on one more than another. Instagram, for example, has a primary focus on photography but also offers limited video services.

One more quick note: Your website is capable of distributing all forms of content. Websites are a fantastic tool that all businesses should utilize, but that’s a different topic for another day.

Text 

Examples: Medium, Blogspot

These platforms offer services focused on distributing written articles or blog posts.

Image 

Examples: Instagram, Pinterest

These platforms offer services focused on distributing photography and other still images.

Video 🎥

Examples: YouTube, Vimeo

These platforms offer services focused on video content.

Audio 🔊

Examples: Soundcloud, iTunes

These platforms offer services focused on audio content such as podcasts and music.

Live Broadcast 

Examples: Twitch, Mixer

These platforms offer services focused on broadcasting live video feeds.

Multimedia 

Examples: Facebook, Twitter

These platforms offer services that offer to distribute all of the previous types of media.

As you reflect on this list, realize that my intent in drafting it was more inspirational than explanatory. If you’ve taken the appropriate steps to define your brand and content strategies, this list should start to make it abundantly clear which platforms will suit your content best. That’s fantastic!

Now let’s consider one more important factor…

Time.

Each platform establishes a different rate of turnover for the content distributed on it. This somewhat predestined lifespan will directly impact a brand’s ability to impact its audience. The design of not just our content, but the process that creates our content, must take this timeframe into consideration.

High Turnover Rate 

Examples: Twitter, Instagram

These platforms demand a much higher volume of content than others. Twitter is exceptionally notorious, with a feed that easily washes away a tweet that doesn’t inspire a retweet or two…hundred. Content distributed here can’t be low effort, but must not require an extensive amount of time to keep content flowing regularly.

Medium Turnover Rate 

Examples: Facebook, YouTube

These platforms allow content to survive almost indefinitely as long as people continue to share it, or their search engines place it prominently behind a search term with extended relevancy. Content that survives longer on these platforms tends to be both high quality and high effort. It must be noted, though, that your brand must continuously post content here to remain relevant to the platform’s distribution algorithm.

Low Turnover Rate 

Examples: Just kidding!

That’s right, low turnover rate platforms simply don’t exist. Sure, it’s possible to create a video on YouTube that maintains a high search ranking related to something that will always remain relevant, such as getting the number one search result for “baked chicken recipe” with your cooking tutorial. The problem is that new competition is constantly flocking to every major content platform. Unless your channel is continuously pumping out tutorials that elicit a positive response from YouTube’s users, YouTube’s algorithm will eventually lower rank.

What I’m trying to say is that consistency is what really unlocks the doors of content marketing. With that in mind, it’s important to understand your brand’s bandwidth with regards to content output. Reference your content strategy to ensure that whichever platform you choose aligns with your desired content schedule.

It’s also important not to try and dominate too many platforms at once. Only choose a number of platforms you think you can handle (2-3 is a good place to start for many brands), and try to choose two that have an appropriate synergy. If you like to livestream and then edit those videos into compilations, consider getting on Twitch for the live broadcasts, YouTube for the edited videos, and Twitter to update your audience when you go live or have uploaded a new video.

Platform Hacks 🛠

Once you’ve chosen your platforms, it’s important to try to discover any special tips or tricks each one has that you can leverage to gain your content greater distribution. These are typical features of the platform such as user tags, search engine optimization (SEO), or hashtags.

Hashtags (#) link your content to a list of other people’s content using the same hashtag. Platform users take advantage of these lists to find new content that’s relevant to their specific interests.

These technical bits of platform-specific info all tie into a much greater (and more abstract) concept…

Content Optimization 

This is basically the principle of using every tweak and tactic available to us in order to squeeze every last drop of value we can out of our content without putting in an amount of effort that actually decreases its value. It’s a tenuous tightrope walk that requires a level of expertise or guidance in order to be pulled off perfectly. That said, a working knowledge of content optimization doesn’t require you to be a master in order for it to be effective.

Generally, content optimization draws on knowledge tied to either the craftsmanship behind the creation of the content itself or an understanding of human psychological behavior and response. Some examples might include tips like…

Asking questions of your audience is a great way to build engagement.
People engage more with photos featuring human faces.
Bad video quality is forgiven by the audience much easier than bad audio quality.

There are lots of resources for learning about how to get your audience to respond the way you want them to your content, but to attempt to list a bunch of tips/tricks here would defeat the purpose of the article. Content optimization has much more to do with content production than distribution, but you should be aware of it before you start uploading frequently.

What platforms are you currently using and to what effect? How often do you post and what are you posting? Share in the comments below

Subscribe to our email list

What’s Your Emotional Impact?

😁😍😮Emotional Impact😤😢😭

All of us strive to provide our audience, customers, and users the best possible product that we possibly can (if we’re being sincere). Sometimes in our endless quest to create the perfect product or service, we get tunnel vision.  In doing so, we start to lose focus on something else that may be even more important than how these offerings can solve a person’s problems: how we make people feel. The ability to leverage the emotional impact of our brands is invaluable.

Humans are prone to impulsive or reactive behavior when certain emotions are triggered. While this reaction can sometimes be harmful, it’s an evolutionary trait that has served us well for thousands of years. The feeling of fear may alert us to danger that we should flee from. The feeling of lust may drive us to courtship and reproduction. The feeling of anticipation may cause us to become increasingly analytical in our preparation for an upcoming event.

Modern brands are already leveraging this, but many of the examples that may come to our mind first may feel manipulatively coercive. Fashion ads invoke feelings of inadequacy in order to motivate sales. Ads for alcohol may make people feel as if they’re missing out on a great time by not imbibing.

But there’s another side to this. Emotional impact can be used not just to lure the unexpecting, but to decorate a customer experience to elicit delight, in turn, increasing their satisfaction and building customer loyalty.

If you want to start utilizing emotional impact in a sincere and meaningful way for your brand, draw out a timeline of events an individual might go through before, during, and after the process related to your product or service. Then evaluate your customer’s emotions during each step of the process.

How do they feel when they finally realize they need your brand’s help?

If they’re sad, it’s important to use a comforting tone which is nonjudgemental, especially considering how they may be judging themselves at that moment.

How do they feel during the process?

If it’s not an easy thing for them to do, such as an exercise program or a type of therapy, consider how you can point out a client’s successes at regular intervals to encourage them and reaffirm the value you’re providing.

How do they feel after the process is over?

If you offer a service that is typically perceived as unremarkable, a handwritten thank you card afterward can make the experience unforgettable, transforming an ordinary customer into a brand evangelist. 🙌

In doing this, you’ll start to develop a user experience that’s attractive and supportive, creating repeat customers for your business.

How do you leverage emotional impact? Do you have any questions regarding your audience’s emotions?

Consider sharing your feedback in our Facebook Group, Tactical, a community with daily content for business owners, marketers, and designers developing brands.

Subscribe to our email list

7 Things You Need to do BEFORE You Make Content

Content.

This word, more than any other in the last decade, has been beaten to death in the context of branding, marketing, and business development. There may be a good reason for that. The world seems to have an endless appetite for it.

You probably know you need more of content in order to establish yourself in whatever market you’re trying to reach, but do you know the who/what/when/where/how behind not wasting your precious time developing it?

It probably comes as no surprise that this question is why so many businesses drag their feet when it comes to creating content. While others might try to encourage you to look past your doubts and just get started, I’d argue that this gut feeling exists as a survival response we’ve evolved as human beings to keep ourselves from squandering what little precious time we have on this earth.

So what exactly will fill this empty feeling of impending failure? The answer is a content strategy, and you can develop yours in 7 simple steps.

Step 1 – Define Your Goals

Start out by identifying all of the goals you’re trying to accomplish with your content. Are you trying to get new customers for your business, users for your app, attendees at an event, or just people in the audience to enjoy the show? What kind of product or service do you want to offer the viewer, reader, or listener? Do you want them to join a community of like-minded members?

Getting clear on your objectives first thing will give you an excellent point of reference whenever you’re making decisions regarding your content down the road. As you proceed, continue asking yourself, “Is this moving me closer to my goals?” If the answer is yes, you’re likely on the right track.

Step 2 – Define Success Metrics

How are we going to measure the achievement of our goals? Is it by the number of impressions, conversions on your webstore, or members joined? Defining success metrics keeps us aware of whether or not our efforts are yielding results, which can tame that emotional deficiency that comes when thinking about the hours it takes to craft the perfect video, blog, or podcast.

Step 3 – Content Audit

Before we act, we should reflect. Winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize for Economic Sciences, Daniel Kahneman, says that human beings have basically 2 methods of thinking. System 1 is built for speed and specializes in things like reflexive behaviors for things like sports, casual conversation, or simple reading. System 2 is designed for more complicated tasks like complex equations, intricate movement, or listening intently to one instrument in a song.

The second System is much better at analytical reasoning, so it’s important to shift into it before we do something important. Slow down before you start shooting videos or writing blogs to take the time to reflect and review past content you’ve made to find both successful and unsuccessful attempts as examples of styles and techniques to either repeat or avoid, respectively. It can make a world of difference when it comes to the impact your content will elicit.

For those of you who have little to no experience creating content, try to review the most recent informational writing you’ve done. Old college or even high school reports can be quite revealing when it comes to our strengths and shortcomings with regards to communicating ideas, especially if they’re graded by an instructor.

Step 4 – Evaluate the Competition

Now that we’ve taken a healthy look inward, we’re better qualified to eye up the competition. Feel free to dig into them the same way you just tore into yourself. You owe it to yourself NOT to be nice in this instance. It’s not like we’re doing it to actively belittle them, anyways.

If you’re the kind that gets discouraged when you see the thousands of hearts and comments on your competitor’s Instagram posts, pivot to find the chinks in their armor that can be exposed to create an advantage. Their Facebook page could be an abysmal wasteland of low engagement. Take the time to reverse engineer both their successes and failures in order to turn them into your strategy.

Just remember: don’t imitate, innovate! The goal here isn’t to jack a popular hashtag or leverage someone else’s audience (though I’m not ENTIRELY against these ideas in certain contexts). We want to freshen up our own unique ideas by getting a good idea of what has been done before.

Step 5 – Ideate Content

Put on your thinking cap and get ready to write down all of the ideas that are likely already racing through your head after such a comprehensive dive. Draw inspiration from every success and failure you’ve observed in order to ideate content that can actively achieve your goals.

Maybe you retool some old content in the context of an Instagram tactic inspired by a competitor’s successful campaign. Perhaps you film a series of informational videos on a topic relevant to your business’ industry that got a competitor’s blog post a ton of engagement. Hopefully, these examples give you a good idea of how you can turn all of your recent research into actionable ideas.

Step 6 – Evaluate Your Bandwidth

What resources do you have available? Is there a competent crew ready to get on the job, or are you struggling just to turn on your computer? Believe it or not, both of these scenarios are capable of proucing some grade A content, but only if an accurate evaluation of the situation is made.

Don’t attempt to replicate your competition’s high production 30-minute talk show (complete with a live band and audience) if the only camera you’re working with is the one on your smartphone. Why bother setting yourself up for the dissapointment of inevitably not measuring up when you can focus that energy on getting creative within your limitations? Limitations are the whole reason why people get creative in the first place. What would be the point of challenging ourselves to make things that are greater than the sum of their parts if we had unlimited resources?

Step 7 – Establish a Content Creation Workflow

Now that we’ve got the ideas, let’s plug them into a schedule. I’ve touched on this before (https://www.facebook.com/aetoricdesign/photos/g.190424928224940/2176143502402473), but I want to make a few quick points on scheduling that are extremely important here…

BE REALISTIC!

Nothing discourages creativity like a missed deadline and nothing makes us miss a deadline more than overly optimistic planning.

BE UNDERSTANDING!

Sometimes, there are emergencies that throw us off. Be prepared for life to try and buck us off our horse and to get back on after we fall off.

BE PATIENT!

All good things take time. Your content is a continuous work in progress that deserves an appropriate amount of time to grow and blossom into the world.

I hope you feel much more prepared to tackle your content after reading and following through on this post. What kind of impact do you want your content to make?

Consider sharing your feedback in our Facebook Group, Tactical, a community with daily content for business owners, marketers, and designers developing brands.

Subscribe to our email list