Creating great content requires considerable investment, in terms of time, effort, and money. Knowing this, it’s crazy how often I see marketers and brands fail to follow through by promoting their content to the fullest and maximizing its targeted exposure.
It literally makes me sad. I’m tearing up as I write this. One moment… Talk amongst yourselves.
Ahem. So the scourge of unseen quality content is one we must conquer. The path to doing so, I’m afraid, isn’t as simple as scheduling a bunch of links across the same old social feeds. This isn’t to say social media isn’t important, but this formulaic, reflexive approach is fast losing its luster.
The latest Content Trends Report from BuzzSumo found that social shares have dropped by 50% since 2015, owing to several different factors: increased competition for eyeballs, changes to Facebook’s algorithm, shifts in discovery habits for users. All of this means fewer referrals, less engagement, and less impact for content promoted solely through these channels.
How can we counteract this troubling decline? The first step in treating Invisible Content Syndrome is acknowledging it’s a problem, and developing a concrete plan to address it. To this end, our CEO Lee Odden created a list of 50 content promotion tactics that can be implemented during the planning stages of your next initiative. His suggestions will provide plenty of guidance for a broader and more robust promotion mix. Once you’ve committed to giving your content the continuing attention it deserves post-publication, it’s time to start differentiating.
Once you’ve committed to giving your content the continuing attention it deserves post-publication, it’s time to start differentiating. @NickNelsonMN #B2BContentMarketing #ContentPromotion Click To Tweet
This will be our focus for today: zeroing in on some of the underutilized channels capable of providing a competitive advantage. Instead of exclusively trying to compete with ephemeral Twitter feeds or mercurial Facebook algos, diversify with these seven B2B content promotion techniques that can help your best stuff stand out and get noticed by the people who truly matter to your brand.
7 Underutilized B2B Content Promotion Channels
Volume is about vanity. It really is that simple, I’m afraid. Unless your company profits directly from pageviews (via ads), there is no practical value in piling up impressions. It might feel nice to see a higher number of visitors, but if you aren’t driving action with the right people, you’re bound to end up feeling verklempt.
With an eye on quality and resonance, here are seven channels worth considering for your B2B content promotion mix. Because they are generally underutilized, there’s a good chance your competitors aren’t tapping them (yet) or using them to their full potential.
#1 – Influencers
Of course we’re going to start here. While influencer marketing in the B2B realm is on the rise, research shows that an incredibly small percentage (11%) of B2B brands are engaging in ongoing influencer programs.
Strategic influencers are vital conduits for connecting your content with key audiences. If you’ve done your due dilligence to identify individuals who align with your brand from a topical and cultural perspective, then their networks are likely highly qualified, and most importantly, your association with them can infuse near-instant credibility in the eyes of their followers.
Influencers themselves aren’t a channel, but rather a powerful entry point to several different channels. Once you’ve developed strong relationships with influential partners, you can work with them to co-create and share content that your mutual audiences will find value in. Depending on the type of relationship you cultivate, you could also encourage them to share prioritized content from their social accounts, on their blogs, in their newsletters, etc. Cross-mentions on platforms such as LinkedIn can also help your articles gain more visibility in feeds.
Remember: when you incorporate these influencers into co-creation campaigns, they’ll be more motivated to share, and their audiences will be more likely to take notice.
#2 – Employees
As Michael Brenner wrote recently at Marketing Insiders Group, engaged employees can be some of your brand’s most authentic and influential advocates. “Who better to sing the praises of your organization than an employee who truly believes in the value of what you’re trying to achieve?” he asks.
The operative word here is “engaged.” When employees are dutifully copy-pasting article links into their social accounts, the results will reflect the effort and enthusiasm. However, when they feel truly invested in the content and its success, this also tends to manifest.
Find ways to make internal content sharing more aspiration than obligation. We can do this by involving employees in the creation of content itself, gamifying the promotion process (“Free pizza if we hit XX% referrals from this platform!”), or conveying the benefits of personal brand-building on social.
Employee advocacy programs can provide structure and ease for implementing such initiatives. The Marketing Advisory Network’s 2017 Employee Advocacy Impact Study can shed some light here, highlighting barriers that keep employees from sharing company-related posts on social and so much more.
#3 – Customers
Much like employees and industry influencers, your customers provide an extra element of credibility when amplifying your brand’s content — both offline and online. Their networks likely include professionals within the same niche, so the audiences are inherently more qualified.
Obviously it’s great when a satisfied buyer is willing to participate in and promote persuasive lower-funnel pieces like success stories and testimonials, but that’s a relatively heavy ask. Conversely, providing them with practical content that’s useful to their followers will carry more appeal, especially if you tailor your message (i.e., “I think your customers will really like this article because…”).
#4 – Topical Forums
Message boards, subreddits, social media groups, and other focused online communities can be highly valuable for brands. Forums contain tribes of engaged, knowledgeable, connected people with an intrinsic desire to learn and grow. However, these established communities tend to be skeptical of unfamiliar outsiders — especially those who enter with a blatantly self-promotional motive.
In order to leverage these channels properly, you should build a long-term strategy around them. Create a functional presence in groups and forums long before you start sharing your own content there. Encourage your employees to participate in boards that interest them specifically. Ensure there is a clear match between the respective audiences and what you’re trying to accomplish.
One reason forums make our list of underutilized tactics is because they can often be used in the wrong way. As a general rule, it’s best to repurpose your content within these forums, rather than just linking out in the traditional sense. The primary goals should be establishing thought leadership, and generating meaningful conversations, rather than simply driving people to your website.
#5 – Industry Associations/Publications
Much like online forums, industry outlets have the advantage of pre-existing audiences organized around specific subjects or verticals. Whether it’s an online resource or still in print, people still trust the information from their favorite niche publications. Magazine readership remains high. Trade associations are filled with pros who are adamant about their crafts.
Once again, the key here is relationship-building. It can be really tough to pitch stories or earn coverage out of the blue. Consider connecting with publication editors or association leaders long before you start working the content promotion angle.
#6 – Email Segments
I’m not talking about blasting out content digests to your entire email list, or indiscriminately sending automated RSS links devoid of context. These methods are already widely in use, and the results are only worsening as people grow tired of inbox irrelevance. But email remains an effective channel for direct engagement, when used as such.
Rather than falling back on the spray-and-pray approach, try divvying your email list into segments based on interest, specialty, or function. The more granular you can get, the better. Then, share content via email with the segments for which it is most acutely suited. Customize your messaging accordingly. You could even consider composing individual emails and sending them along with a personal note to people you really feel would benefit from (and maybe share) a particular piece.
Remember: one pertinent reader/viewer who can take action is far more valuable than 10 who can’t.
Rather than falling back on the spray-and-pray approach, try divvying your email list into segments based on interest, specialty, or function. The more granular you can get, the better. @NickNelsonMN #ContentPromotion Click To Tweet
#7 – Direct Mail
It’s one of those classic mainstays that has largely gone out of style. How often do you receive a piece of mail at work that is actually tailored to you personally, and worth your time? Would such an item stand out to you?
Physical mail doesn’t have a place in most digitally-based strategies, which is exactly why it may offer a unique opportunity to reach important contacts. Tracking down someone’s office mailing address is often easier than tracking down their email address. This method isn’t necessarily cheap or scalable, but in cases where you really want to get your content in front of a particular account, sending a printed version (or just a note encouraging them to check it out online) can be a sneaky winner.
One B2B-centric example is *LinkedIn’s Sophisticated Marketer Quarterly, which stands out as a glossy, colorful product you can hold in your hands. It’s a great place for B2B practitioners to be featured.
Find New Audiences for Your Best B2B Content
One of the most valuable objectives for B2B brands is also one of the most challenging: generating awareness and influence with new audiences and prospects. Continuing to push the same cookie-cutter social promotion tactics won’t do the trick. In the era of content saturation, we must remain vigilant in finding new ways to reach and engage the right people.
Whether embracing the channels above or identifying others that make sense for your brand, I encourage you to think outside the box when it comes to promotion. And whatever you do, don’t make this essential marketing an afterthought. Because that leads to lonely content and general sadness. Ahhh here I go again, I’d better log off…
Want more guidance to B2B content marketing success that’ll turn your frown upside-down? Check out Annie Leuman’s recent write-up on powering through the summer slump.
*Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.
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