Content marketing is growing, which is great news for customers wanting new information and for businesses wanting to provide value to their customers. But, as more and more content becomes available to readers, it becomes necessary to make sure your content actually gets noticed.
The attitude towards content marketing seems to be “build it and they will come.” But it’s not likely they will come unless you tell them about it. An effective content strategy should include targeted social media, email, and outreach promotion, so your content gets in front of people who want to see it. And once they do see it, they’ll likely want to talk about it, which is why monitoring conversations around your content should also be a key part of your content strategy
Note, if you haven’t created a content strategy yet, read this guide to creating effective content.
For larger pieces of content, you’ll likely want to send out an email campaign, and reach out to industry influencers or run a PR/outreach campaign.
Your readers will quickly unsubscribe if you constantly send emails, so make sure you time them around major content launches. Besides frequency, there’s an art to email marketing:
Always personalize emails with readers’ names (Hey Greg!)
Make sure your content is useful--aim to provide value to your readers (to really get at the heart of what your readers want, use advanced email segments)
Put your brand’s personality front and center
Keep things visually interesting
When you send out an email announcing a content launch, it’s easy to let things get really text-heavy, which will instantly turn readers away. Australia’s Integer is an excellent example of a company that effectively uses email to promote content. It does this by giving readers little snippets of articles they can read, but it doesn’t overwhelm the reader with large blocks of text.
When you use email to promote a piece of content, it can be tempting to send out very text-heavy emails, but you’ll quickly lose readers if you take that approach. Keep your emails visually interesting, keep text short and concise, and always explain the value of your content to the reader.
While reaching out to industry influencers and asking them to promote your content can be an effective strategy, it can also be very hit-or-miss. You might have more luck reaching out to sites who have previously shared content to similar to yours.
For example, if you created a piece of content similar to Mashable’s guide to Reddit, you could use Open Site Explorer to find all the sites that shared that guide.
You could then reach out to the editors of those sites and let them know you created a similar piece of content you thought they might find interesting. This increases the chances that you reach out to someone who would share your content and genuinely find it interesting.
For smaller pieces of content, a social push should be sufficient to get the word out--you don’t want to inundate your email list with constant updates. To maximize the number of people who see your social efforts, make sure to tweet and post when your followers are most active.
Followerwonk is a great tool for strategically planning your Twitter promotion. Under the “analyze followers” tab, you can see when your users are most active. Keep in mind that users are active on different platforms at different times. For example, Facebook users are more active at night, while Twitter users are more active during the day.
You can use Facebook Insights to similarly track when your fans are online on any given day of the week. Generally, Facebook users are more active at night and on the weekend.
You can also use Insights to create targeted posts for fans based on their age, gender, interests, etc. This will allow you to reach people who will find your content helpful or entertaining.
Google+ is a great platform for targeted sharing--simply share your content with your relevant circles. You can also share content with relevant communities your brand is part of--this will get your content in front of people who have similar interests as your business, but who may not have discovered you otherwise.
Similar to Twitter, G+ also allows you to use hashtags and specifically mention people who you think will find your post interesting; use both of these features to get your content in front of a larger, relevant audience. Because G+ also integrates Google’s other features (including Hangouts and YouTube), you can host a live webinar, Q&A, or post a video as a follow up promotion.
While G+ is a great platform for targeted sharing, keep in mind that it’s a mostly visual platform: long blocks of text will be ignored.
When it comes to responsiveness, 53% of consumers expect a brand to respond to a tweet within an hour. Consumers clearly want brands to engage and respond to their thoughts.
In terms of monitoring the conversation on social media, there are several routes you can take:
You can use Topsy to search by the URL of your content. This will show you every instance your content was shared--both with original and shortened URLs. Topsy is convenient because it not only gives you the total number of tweets, but also who tweeted it and when. You can also simply type the URL of your content into the Twitter search bar to see when it was shared.
Tracking shares and engagement is very easy on G+; all you have to do is search the URL of the content in the G+ search bar. This will show you all the times the content has been shared on G+, the +1s, and the comments.
Facebook isn’t as easily traceable as other social media platforms; you can’t see exactly who shared your content. However, once you post a piece of content to your wall, you can see who else has shared it and liked it. You can access Facebook Insights to find the number of clicks, comments, and shares. Other than that, you can use a tool like SharedCount to see how many likes, shares, and comments a URL has.
Pinterest has its own analytics dashboard, where you can see pins from your site. You can look at your most pinned, repinned, most clicked, impressions, and reach. You can also use this URL to quickly look at pins from your site:
Tracking the comments and questions your content generates on these platforms will allow you to keep tabs on how the content is being received, as well as engage with and respond to customers.
As content marketing budgets grow, the need to invest in a long term content strategy will become necessary for success. But even if your brand creates highly targeted content, your content won’t likely gain traction unless you show it to those who will find value in it--which means promoting your content and responding to the conversations it generates will become a key component in your strategy.