It’s well-known, that the competition to reach audiences in the digital universe is fierce. How do you make the most out of your limited advertising in a competitive traffic acquisition space? The answer is simple: get people to share your content. Build “buzz” into your PR, promotions, and distribution strategy.
Let’s start with some simple math. If you pay a content recommendation company $300,000 to distribute a series of articles you’ve created to a group of 1 million people, you are paying $0.30 for every person you expose your video to. But if an additional 500,000 people see the video after it’s embedded in a blogpost on BuzzFeed and shared by your customers on Facebook, your cost-per-viewer decreases.
The bottom line is that you need an integrated content promotion strategy: you need a healthy mix of organic and paid traffic, which comes from building trust with your target audience. But sharing doesn’t just happen—it takes careful, behind-the-scenes planning. In my career as a tech journalist and now content marketing writer, I’ve seen every tactic out there. Here are the 4 that stand out:
1. Create content using one of your most valuable resources — user data
The interactions you have with your customers can reveal fascinating trends that, when presented the right way in a piece of content, can be very interesting to wide swaths of the general public.
Perhaps you run a marketing platform and can tell business professionals which industries have recently increased their spending in an effort to add new customers. Or maybe you’re a clothing retailer and you can tell sports fans which teams are selling the most merchandise. The best part about these insights is that they are exclusive to your company, meaning that any article or blog post that’s written about them needs to cite your brand and link back to your work (you can set a Google alert for your content to make sure people are citing you correctly).
As an example, the compensation database PayScale once produced a report of the college majors that its users said were most likely to lead them to meaningful careers. Since just about everyone is interested in seeking out a satisfying work experience, a colleague and I decided to use the report to create a slideshow of the best 20 majors for having a fulfilling career after you graduate. The post we made generated 500,000 pageviews, exposing thousands of new people to PayScale and its content — without the company paying us a single cent.
2. Partner with a celebrity or an influencer in your industry
Nothing will make people interested in your content faster than the inclusion of a person they are already care about.
From a publisher perspective, there’s a huge incentive to feature content about certain celebrities because those people all have large fanbases who will drive ad revenues for the media outlet by clicking on a story about their favorite athlete, entertainer, or business leader. These diehard fans will also be extremely willing to share their favorite celebrity’s latest project on social media. As a bonus, your content will get additional attention when it shows up in people’s search results as they are looking for information on the star you’ve featured.
For instance, Newcastle’s hilarious fake Super Bowl ad in 2014 generated tons of earned media (nearly 1.5 million views on Buzzfeed alone), not only because it was great, but because web publishers knew they could get people’s attention by putting actress Anna Kendrick’s name in the headline.
3. Make content that ties into the news cycle.
A great way to extend your reach is to create content that ties into the conversations people are already having about major events like the World Cup and the Academy Awards, or important issues like gay rights and climate change. Putting an interesting twist on the day’s new allows you to reach new customers by weaving your brand into discussions they are passionate about.
Unfortunately, this is a very popular tactic, and you’ll likely be competing for attention with many other brands on any conversation you attempt to join. In order to stand out, it’s important to ask yourself two questions: 1. Is the content we’re creating sufficiently different from what everyone else is doing? and 2. Are there other similarly positioned brands capable of offering the perspective that we are planning to provide with our content?
Last year, the Procter & Gamble-owned feminine hygiene brand Always executed this strategy to perfection by creating a 3-minute video that tied into the larger conversation people were having about female empowerment and the “Lean In” movement. In the video, a director asked men, women, and children to act out what it meant to “throw like a girl,” showing viewers the difference between the strong, confident way girls think of themselves and the condescending stereotypes affixed to them by adults. The video earned coverage from mainstream sites like Time and Daily Mail, and became so popular that Procter & Gamble chose to show a shortened version of the video as an ad during the Super Bowl.
4. Be proactive and efficient about sharing your content with publishers
Many brands use a shotgun approach to public relations by emailing their content indiscriminately to a giant, automated list of reporters and influencers. While I don’t fault anyone for trying to get their content in front of as many people as possible, the truth is that reporters hardly ever give any real consideration to these cold, impersonal pitches.
Instead, you should focus on building relationships with a small group of people and publishers that are influential with your target audience. While often overlooked, taking the time to create trust with people before you ask them to share a piece of content will pay huge dividends for you down the road.
When I was a reporter, I was much likelier to consider a pitch if it came from someone I had met for lunch or chatted with on Twitter. In fact, on a busy day, I would often just ignore all of the content sent to me by people I didn’t know personally. I would also give people I liked feedback as to why I wasn’t interested in a particular story, whereas I generally wouldn’t bother providing insight to strangers even if they explicitly asked for it.
To be clear, no one is going to share your content with their audience if they don’t think it is of high quality and relevant to their followers. However, if you have a strong relationship with the people you are pitching, you can at least guarantee that they will take the time out of their day to look at what you’ve sent them and respond to your emails. Most likely, your competitors won’t enjoy the same privilege.
Long Story Short
At the end of the day, the goal of creating organic buzz is the same one you should be pursuing in all of your distribution channels. That is, you’re using content to build meaningful relationships with your brand’s stakeholders.
By giving thought to how your content will organically spread across the web, you’ll be able to create an integrated distribution strategy where paid and organic media work hand-in-hand to deliver outstanding experiences to your target audience — regardless of where they come across your content.
Indeed, chances are that if the bloggers and thought leaders love something you’ve made enough to share it with their followers, it’s a good bet that your customers will be similarly smitten.
Check out the Taboola resources page for more tips for content marketing success, along with data sheets, webinars, videos, ebooks and more.
Want to learn more about how Taboola can help boost your content marketing efforts? Contact us today!