There is a great quote about content amplification that I think about a lot, and it goes; “Content is king, distribution is queen, and she wears the pants.”
No, I know what you’re thinking, but it wasn’t Voltaire. It was Jonathan Perelman, VP of Agency Strategy at BuzzFeed, during his talk at Behance’s 99U Pop-Up School event.
Because it’s true. The old mantra has been repeated so many times, and it’s so well known, that everyone is at it. Agencies, brands, individuals. Everyone is creating content.
But so much content is being created that nobody is thinking about what to actually do with it.
It’s not enough to create ‘good’ content – you need to get it in front of the people that matter. People that your content is going to resonate with. And that, fellow content marketers, is where the real challenge lies.
So, how do we do this?
Well, the best content marketing amplification thinks cross-channel. As content marketers, we are forced to use every single tool in the toolbox to get the content that we’ve created in front of the people that matter. We didn’t spend all this time creating content for nobody to look at it.
I once read that you are supposed to spend three hours promoting content for every one hour you spend creating it. Which seems like madness at first. But then you really think about it and… it seems less mad.
I don’t know about you lot, but I spend hours, days of my life even, creating content, both large and small, only for it to sit on sites and not really do much?
I’d love for it to be amplified. And I’d love for my clients to buy into the methods that we need to get it out there. And I want the same for you too.
So, let’s look at some of the best ways to amplify your content and get it in front of the people that matter. That way, you can take it to your clients and get the budget to do just that.
At Croud, we structure our content around a Hero, Hub and Hygiene framework, so I’ll be going through each of these three types of content and exploring options that cater specifically to that particular type. Strap in.
When we talk about hygiene content, what we’re looking at are product pages and key landing pages. As a result, these tend to be landing pages that are already being promoted as part of the current ongoing marketing strategy.
Even if you don’t have huge budgets, at the very least you should be promoting your hygiene content on social media. Simply getting it out there is far enough, for now.
If you do have the budget, paid social activity offers you some of the best returns on investment around, especially with the many layers of targeting available to you.
Because hygiene content is incredibly product-focused, pretty much any other direct response (DR) or semi-DR related activities will work well here too, including email, influencer marketing, PPC, and display.
Hub content is typically your blog content, although any sort of news, ideas, or events hub can also be classed as hub content. For example, the Croud blog is a great example of hub content (wink wink).
It also might seem like an obvious way to promote content, but you should also make sure your hub content is easily discoverable on site. This might sound a little obvious but you’d be surprised at the number of sites that hide hub content away in a corner when it should be more streamlined into a customer journey.
Hub content is there to attract customers and answer questions and queries they might have, among other things. Hiding these answers away in some dusty corner of the site isn’t a great user experience, and actually creates more work for you in the long term.
One of the best ways to promote hub content is via social media. However, unlike hygiene content promotion, which is incredibly DR focused and looks to drive conversions, hub content promotion looks for a different goal.
Hub content wants to inform and educate your audience, as they tend to be further up the funnel at this point. Therefore, the targeting options for paid social can be really useful here.
If you want to get more granular with your paid social activity when amplifying hub content, one of the best ways to do this is a method called super retargeting.
Super retargeting is a method of content amplification that was created by Larry Kim, of Wordstream. The basic premise is that you overlay more granular parameters on top of your remarketing campaigns, to ensure that the people who actually will engage with your content get remarketed to.
Super retargeting is incredibly effective, as you target people who:
- Have already visited the site, so they’ll recognise the brand
- You suspect will be interested in this particular piece of content
By using this method, you increase your chances of people engaging with the content, as well as being able to actually use and/or action something off the back of it. And because you target such a small subsection of people who are likely to be interested in your content, it’s often quite cost-effective too.
Compared to hygiene content, where influencers are usually paid to directly advertise and/or sell products (for example, through voucher codes), influencer marketing offers something totally different when it comes to hub content.
Here, influencers serve a dual purpose, the first of which is content creation.
If you’re low on internal resource, influencers serve as a great way to not only amplify content but also to create it in the first place. By outsourcing the creation of the content to the influencers, you get an expert in their field to produce something engaging for you.
Second, the bit we are focusing on is the amplification. Most influencers will be happy to share the content that they’ve produced, whether that’s across social, in any blogger groups that they’re a part of, or linking back to your content from their own blog.
This is a really powerful tactic to help drive traffic to hub pages and introduce your hub content to wider audiences outside of your normal one. However, make sure that you know exactly why you’re engaging influencers, and clearly define their objectives before you begin.
Because hub content is designed to appeal to people who are slightly further down the purchase funnel, display advertising can work really well here.
By overlaying the targeting for customers that you think are in the purchase funnel already, for example using retargeting options, and getting them to view your hub content, you increase your chances of people actually being able to engage with (and potentially action) your content.
This works especially well for B2B, as you can guarantee that you’ll get the eyes of business owners and decision-makers on the content that matters. Because B2B purchase cycles are typically very, very long – anything that you can do to speed this up is important.
Similarly to display, native advertising can be a great way to get eyes on your content. However, native is able to give you a much higher click-through rate (CTR) than your standard display ads.
Just make sure you follow the standard native advertising rules, such as making the content appear as seamlessly on the host site as possible.
If you use this tactic, this gives you the perfect opportunity to try out some A/B testing, so that you can drive some real insights for future content creation.
You should be A/B testing both your headlines and your choice of imagery so that you can see what drives a better CTR. Because native advertising hits so many people, you should see a clear winner in your choice of imagery and headlines, which you can then build into your brand guidelines for future use.
Hero pieces of content are your large-scale, tentpole pieces of content that are produced around key events or dates and relate to the industry you operate in. This can be anything from an event, survey, interactive campaign, tools, or even large-scale influencer campaigns.
Because hero pieces are large-scale awareness pieces, they tend to cost a fair bit of money, especially compared to the often not-as-expensive hub and hygiene content. Therefore, this is really a chance to pull out all the stops when it comes to content promotion and amplification, to get the best possible ROI for your hero content.
The amplification method that is most commonly associated with hero content is press. Because hero content is designed to drive awareness, it lends itself well to a PR approach, digital or otherwise.
A lot of hero content is constructed to drive the generation of backlinks to the client’s sites. If this is the case, digital PR cannot be ignored, as this is the primary method for creating backlinks.
There are many prongs to digital PR, from approaching the national and regional press, right down to looking at angles that trade press, BAME, LGBT and other niche presses would find appealing.’
This is where your hero content comes in. Hopefully, you’ve been considering how the press will react to your hero content during the ideation phase. If not, think about supporting materials you can use as a hook to drive press engagement. Photos, surveys, vox pops and quotes can work well here.
Finally, let’s not forget Rand Fishkin’s advice – it’s worth reaching out to sites that rank on pages 2-3 for our particular industry keywords to see if they will cover the hero content too.
Influencer marketing is another great channel for hero content. Whereas in hub content, the influencers contributed to our workflows and inadvertently amplified our content, for hero content they help amplify and active the content in a much more traditional way.
During hero content periods, influencers really give us a way that we can provide direct activations of our content to consumers.
For example, if you’re running a user-generated content-focused hero piece, influencers are able to direct people to take part. If it’s a competition, the influencers can help direct their own audiences to enter.
Paid social, arguably the most versatile channel, can also help when it comes to hero content.
If you’re focusing on storytelling, which – let’s be honest – you should be, sequential targeting on either Facebook or Instagram can be extremely helpful. If you’re feeling extra creative, unusual ad formats like canvas ads can give your campaign that little something extra.
One of the best ways that paid social activity can complement a hero content piece is by targeting journalists. The benefit of this is you can target your creative to be more storytelling, and make sure that journalists who have probably seen your press release will see these ads too. All it takes is a simple ‘Job Title > Journalist, Editor’ in the targeting options, and don’t forget to check that handy Instagram box to target the younger, more junior journalists.
We would suggest whitelisting the publications that you want to appear in, rather than giving the Facebook’s algorithm free reign.
Display advertising is primarily used as a DR activity, and rarely to amplify content. But really, display content can be a major key in helping a piece of content get real eyes on it. If you’re looking to create a hero campaign that looks similar to a grassroots one (but in reality, it’s more like astroturf), display advertising is the way to do it.
As we no doubt all know, the way that display advertising excels above other channels is in its targeting features – so this is where you should concentrate your efforts.
Think about the various groups that will want to engage with your hero content. Segment and use targeted creative to target these groups, and really drive them to your content.
Native is another good channel that can be used for hero content distribution, especially if you’re looking to produce white papers or reports.
A lot of industries rely heavily on the generation of reports and whitepapers as a way to generate press coverage and establish themselves as thought leaders.
Targeting based on the contextual keywords on a page is really key here, especially for driving traffic that actually is relevant to the site. Yes, native can drive an enormous amount of traffic to your site, but you want traffic that will actually engage with the hero content.
Obviously, not all of the channels listed will work for each specific type of campaign – so this is where our creativity as content marketers comes into play. It’s down to us to select the channels that we think will work.
The best campaigns come up with creative ways to do this, so you should too. Think about what is right not only for your campaign but also for the business overall.
Do you have any examples of creative campaigns that use these channels in different ways? Do you think I’ve missed off a good amplification method? Drop me an email to let me know.