You’ve probably heard the age-old saying, “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear, does it make a sound?” The same idea applies to content distribution. Your brand may have a lot to offer—but if people are unaware of what you’re doing, you may struggle to achieve success..
People often assume their work will gain exposure if they share it on as many content distribution channels as possible. However, this strategy is not only time-consuming, it also fails to take the target audience into consideration.
As a content creator, I have spent many years learning what does and doesn’t work. In this guide, I’ll share the different types of content distribution channels and what each is most useful for. I’ll also go over the differences between paid and free content to help you plan your content strategy.
The importance of Content Distribution
It’s estimated that 7.5 million blog posts are published every day. If you want your target audience to find you, you can’t wait for people to stumble upon your content. Instead, it’s important you use the different content channels at your disposal to increase your chances of connecting to and having an impact with the right audience.
Because the right content distribution strategy enables you to reach and engage with a larger and more appropriate audience, it can help significantly increase brand awareness and loyalty. This, in turn, leads to more sales and increased revenue and growth for your business.
Different content distribution channels
From Facebook and Instagram to newsletters and blog articles, content distribution channels are any form of media that help you share and promote your content. They can be broken down into three main categories:
- Owned content belongs to your company or brand. As the creator, you control how your content is published. Owned content includes your website, blog, social media profiles and email newsletter.
- Earned/shared content refers to content shared by a third party voluntarily (that is, without being paid or otherwise compensated). This includes magazines, social media shares, blog mentions and customer reviews.
- Paid content is content that is created or shared by others for a fee. It includes pay-per-click advertising (PPC), paid social advertisements, and paid influencer content.
Let’s look at the advantages of each in more detail.
Owned Content Distribution
A primary advantage of owned content is that you have full control over how it’s created and presented. You decide what to share and when. This high level of control makes owned content ideal for long-term marketing strategies.
Blogs, social media posts and newsletters also lend themselves to a loyal readership, and all the associated advantages. Compared to occasional content consumers, loyal subscribers read 7x as many articles, make 4x as many website visits, and stay engaged for 30% longer when viewing content.
Owned content is also important for search engine optimization (SEO), as you not only control the keywords employed, but also where users are directed after landing on an article or page, reading a newsletter or viewing a social media post.
Popular owned distribution channels include:
Your website serves as a central place for your audience to learn about your business and its products and services.
Your website should include all the most important information about your company and what you have to offer. The user experience should be enjoyable. It should load quickly and feature intuitive navigation and an attractive design.
Finally, it should be optimized for search engines, which means using keywords that are appropriate to your brand, ensuring all your content is indexable, and performing regular content audits.
Blog posts are a great way to demonstrate Experience, Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness (E-E-A-T), boost website traffic, and drive conversions. You can use your blog to share detailed product knowledge, answer customer questions, tell your company’s ongoing story, and discuss industry-relevant topics.
Your blog will also likely be the main driver of your brand’s visibility on search engines. Creating blog articles that rank high on Google will help increase your brand visibility and credibility. In fact, companies with blogs have 55% higher website traffic and generate 67% more monthly leads.
Plus, blogs cost 62% less than traditional advertising—while generating 3x as many leads.
If you didn’t already know: Wordtune offers some great ways to make your blog writing more impactful. You can add statistical and historical facts to lend authority to your writing, get helpful suggestions on how to write more concisely, and make sure you’ve explained your topic clearly with clever analogies, examples and counterarguments.
Seven in ten Americans say they use at least one social media channel. The popularity of social media means your content has the potential to reach a large audience. When users like and share your content with friends and followers (see Earned Content), this further increases content distribution.
Social media is also beneficial for finding new customers. People who don’t follow you can still find your content through hashtags and tagged location search filters.
Use social media to demonstrate relatability and showcase your brand’s personality. Videos, behind-the-scenes photos, testimonials, polls and quotes can humanize your business, demonstrate your values, and provide you with credibility.
Email subscribers are a valuable asset. Signing up to receive frequent content shows they are interested in your business and value your perspective.
As existing customers, they are also more likely to appreciate promotions and offers. Sharing exclusive resources and tips can help retain their interest and support.
Earned Content Distribution (shared channels)
As the name suggests, earned content is not something you can just buy or create. It only happens when third parties choose to share your content for free.
Earned content shows credibility and can help position you as an authority in your industry. Of course, this also depends on the reputation of whoever’s sharing your content. The secret to great earned content distribution is to produce high-quality, valuable-rich content.
Here’s what you should know about the different earned content channels:
Getting published in a media outlet is one of the most desirable forms of earned content. This is because media publications generally have strong credibility and website traffic. A feature on a respected publication can boost your brand’s authority, resulting in more leads.
Media outlets can also help your website’s SEO as publications will usually include a backlink to your website.
Creating a press release is a great way to get featured in a media outlet. Check out our guide for tips on how to write the perfect press release. Wordtune also offers a host of features to help write concise, engaging press releases.
Blogs, roundups, and reviews
Professional bloggers are constantly looking for products and news that their readers will find interesting. Establishing a relationship with bloggers and review sites is the first step to earning this kind of content.
Start by identifying the kinds of blogs you want to get featured on and reaching out to their owners with a thoughtful and engaging pitch. Why should they be interested in sharing your brand? What about it will resonate with their readers?
You can invite bloggers to review your brand. Offering them a free sample of your product or service in exchange for an honest review toes the line between earned and paid content, but it allows them to review your product without having to pay for it themselves. If they’ve recently done a round-up of similar products, you might ask that yours be included in the next update.
You can also ask if they would be happy to have you as a guest blogger, and you can offer them a spot on your company’s blog, if they’re interested. For example, you could offer tips and solutions based on your industry knowledge that their readers may find useful. Another idea is to offer an interview with your brand’s CEO or an employee.
Besides bloggers, you can receive earned content through your own customers. Asking people to leave a review encourages them to share their thoughts, whether that be on your website or on review sites like Trustpilot.
With millions of users, Reddit offers the opportunity for significant exposure. Create an account and use the search bar to find communities (known as “subreddits”) that you can join.
Provide advice and tips to user questions within these subreddits. This can position your brand as an authority and increase its trustworthiness. Make sure you share information that does not just link back to the benefits of your business, as you may appear inauthentic.
A social question-and-answer website, Quora attracts older audiences who are typically seeking professional and serious advice. Quora’s millions of active readers makes it a valuable place for content distribution.
Sign up to the site and use the search bar to enter keywords relating to your business. From there, you can find questions to answer. Offering solutions and tips can position you as an expert within your industry, boosting your brand’s credibility.
Paid Content Distribution
While it obviously comes at a cost, paid content distribution has many benefits.
If you are a new business, you likely have a smaller network of owned and earned distribution channels. Because of this, it’s more difficult to find new customers. But with paid content, you can reach your ideal customer who has yet to discover you.
Paid content can also provide crucial analytics. Knowing how your audience responds to your targeted content improves your overall marketing strategy.
Paid content distribution options to know include:
Beneficial for website SEO and credibility, sponsored content refers to content you pay a publisher to post on their site. You’ll get the greatest impact by focusing on blogs and publications that are popular with your target audience.
You might provide the content or ask them to create something. This could be an entire blog post or webpage, or a feature in an ultimate guide. If a publisher writes about your business, the coverage blends in with the rest of the site’s content so it looks less like an advertisement.
With PPC (pay-per-click) campaigns, you pay for your ad to appear on a search engine (like Google) or participating websites. Each time a user clicks on one of your paid links, you pay a fee.
The most popular PPC provider is Google Ads, although there are many others.
There are several advantages to PPC ad campaigns. You’ll generally start seeing clicks come through quickly after launching your campaign. It’s easy to measure and track, thanks to the sophistication of platforms like Google Ads. You can target customers perfectly, based on location, demographic, interest, keywords, and even if they’ve interacted with your brand before.
PPC is most effective when you have a well thought-out call-to-action in place. What do you want people to do once they have clicked your link? What is the desired outcome? For instance, if you want to increase sales, you might want to link to your shopping page. If you want to expand your social media following, you could link to one of your social platforms.
Social media companies generate income through third-party advertising. This involves brands paying to feature their ads on users’ social feeds. Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, WeChat (China) and TikTok are the most popular social media platforms.
Paid social ads can be a cost-effective option. 26% of individuals say they buy brands they see advertised on social media. Plus, like PPC, they offer the ability to target users by interest, location, age and gender, and more, and you get access to valuable metrics and insights.
Similar to publications that have a trusted and loyal readership, influencers have followers who keep up-to-date with their content daily. Paying an influencer to distribute your content can encourage their followers to check out your brand. Influencer marketing may not be the first channel that comes to mind, but there are serious benefits.
89% of marketers find it to be as or more effective than other channels, and 71% agree the quality of customers and traffic is better than other sources. Plus, there are many platforms available today that serve as a middleman between you and relevant influencers, greatly facilitating the task.
Determining Which Channels are right for you
Choosing the right distribution channel for your business depends on your time, budget, the desired outcome, and whether you are working alone or as part of a team. Here are some key things to consider when choosing the right distribution channels:
Solo marketers vs. content marketing teams
A content team can create a larger distribution strategy because they have more people to focus on different distribution channels. For instance, one person can research industry blogs while another can research influencers to contact. This distribution of labor makes it easier to target multiple channels and audiences at the same time and enact more complex marketing strategies.
Individuals, however, have fewer resources and must consider how much time they can commit when choosing an appropriate distribution channel. For example, owned and earned content is powerful, but it takes a long time to build up momentum. Paid channels can help generate revenue while you do this. You can still have a comprehensive, multi-channel marketing strategy, but you will need to pace yourself and be realistic about what returns you can expect on your investments both in time and money.
Free content distribution vs paid distribution
Free distribution offers the ability to test different messages and strategies without a financial risk. It can also help businesses increase their organic reach, trust, and credibility with customers. Choose free distribution when you want to provide valuable content to your customers, and want to increase your own channel traffic.
Paid distribution can help businesses reach a wider audience, build brand recognition and trust, and generate more leads and sales. Advertising on platforms such as Google and Facebook allows you to promote your products or services to a specific target audience.
Paid advertising is also ideal if you have a very specific target audience in mind. Finally, it can be useful if you are struggling to reach new consumers via your own platforms. Choose paid distribution to quickly reach a large, specific audience and boost brand awareness.
B2B vs B2C content distribution
Your content distribution strategy will likely differ depending on your target audience: businesses or individual consumers.
B2B businesses usually focus on professional milieux and media, such as LinkedIn, trade shows and events, webinars, case studies, and white papers. Content should be authoritative and can be more detailed and technical.
Content distributed to consumers focuses more on being engaging, entertaining and human. Social media, influencer marketing, blogging, email marketing and video content are all important channels.
Of course, there is overlap between B2B and B2C content channels, and brands should use a combination of channels to reach their target audience effectively.
There are many different content distribution channels. Owned, earned and paid channels each come with their own benefits and challenges. To determine which channels are right for you, consider the resources at your disposal and the audience you’re hoping to reach.
Above all, make sure that the content you create is high quality and impactful. Wordtune can help you write engaging social media posts, thoughtful blog articles, eye-catching ad copy, and more.
This article was co-written with Wordtune. Wordtune didn’t write the whole piece. Instead, it contributed ideas, suggested rephrasing alternatives, maintained consistency in tone, and of course - made the process much more fun for the writer.