Words at work

– 10 min read

Content distribution: How to build buzz and engagement every time you hit “publish”

Alaura Weaver

Alaura Weaver

It’s one challenge to create content. It’s another to get your intended audience to see it. And that is the ultimate goal — to get your audience to see and engage with it. Without that, there’s not much value in it. (Except maybe the personal and individual feeling of accomplishment. Hooray!) 

No, the step after creating content may be the most difficult — distributing it. And for that you’ll need to develop and execute a strategic content distribution plan. Or more simply: you have to figure out where to share it. 

Here we’ll help you understand the different channels available to you, and show you how you can make the most out of them.

Summarized by Writer

  • Content distribution is important to ensure your message reaches the right people.
  • Common content distribution methods include owned channels, shared channels, paid channels, and earned promotion.
  • Owned channels are free but require active work to build an audience.
  • Shared channels are a cost-effective way to reach a wider audience.
  • AI tools can help repurpose content for different channels without changing the message.

The benefits of an effective content distribution strategy

You know you can’t publish your writing and just hope your audience will see it. But once you’ve created a blog or any other piece of content, what do you do with it? 

Sure, you usually publish blogs on your website, but what about your other content — videos, podcasts, ebooks, social posts? How do people know that you published something new? Where do they go to find it? And why should they care enough to read it?

Your content distribution strategy helps you answer all of these questions. It outlines processes to guide where and how you publish content, including:

  • Which platforms and channels to use, based on the type of content and its message.
  • How often to post, depending on the channel and your content strategy.
  • Who to target in different scenarios, and how to cater your messaging to connect with them.

A clear content distribution strategy helps make sure what you write shows up in the right places, whatever they may be. That way, your audience not only sees your messaging, but engages with it. 

Distribution is so important that Ross Simmonds, CEO of marketing agency Foundation, has a refrain: “Create once. Distribute forever.” There’s a lot of opportunity to reach your audience with a single piece of content. (If you need more proof, he talks about the value of distribution a lot.)

Sharing and publishing content in different formats and for different platforms also helps you extend your reach and help you generate brand awareness. The stronger your distribution strategy, the more places your content will show up and the more people will see it. That includes consumers that are already a part of your audience, plus other people who may not have seen your messaging otherwise.

The four content distribution channels to target

You know who your audience is and have a good idea of what to say to them. But there’s a lot of channels you can use to reach them. Using the wrong one could mean your message isn’t quite right for the medium — while sending a full blog as an email might come across as lazy and hurt your conversion rate, missteps like communicating the wrong message on social media could alienate your followers and hurt your brand’s reputation.

If you want your message to have an impact, you have to understand what type of content works best for each channel, how best to optimize it for maximum results, and how to repurpose existing content without additional costs.

1. Owned channels

Owned media channels refer to any type of media channel, content, or platform that a business has control over. And they’re the bread and butter of a good distribution strategy — but they can’t be the only way you disseminate content.

Generally, these are the channels we’re most familiar with as marketers because we create and maintain all of the content on them. Here at Writer, we have our blog, the Writer’s Room. Plus, our standard company website with all of its landing pages, and an email newsletter. At your organization, you probably have all of the same channels at your disposal, maybe even more. Examples of owned media channels include:

  • Websites (and everything that lives there, like blogs and self-hosted forums)
  • Mobile apps
  • Podcasts
  • Newsletters (both digital and physical direct mail lists)
  • Customer loyalty programs

These channels are great because you already know how your company uses them, including what content to create and how to publish it. Because you own these channels, you have complete control over them, from the exact time your content publishes to what your content talks about and the environment in which your audience will see it.

But owned channels also come with one major drawback: you have to actively work on building an audience, especially if you’re trying to support the business’ growth goals. If you just blast out your content, it’ll be a crapshoot whether anyone sees it. And even if they do, they might not be in your target audience, so they won’t care.

Encouraging website visitors to sign up for email newsletters and optimizing your website for SEO is a good start. But if you don’t use other distribution channels, you’ll miss a lot of potential customers.

2. Shared channels

Using shared channels in your distribution strategy is a cost-effective way to expand your reach, especially since you can usually post content for a low cost (if not for free). But they’re easy to overlook. And the results can be hit or miss.

There are three primary channels to consider using in your distribution strategy:

  • Social media, like LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok, where audiences share information, create conversations, and engage with one another. Thanks to algorithms and paid content, it’s not guaranteed that your content will reach a large organic audience, but you can’t dance if you don’t show up to the party.
  • Social publishing sites, like Medium and Substack, which act as a secondary publishing site for long-form, written content. Because these sites already have their own base of readers, sharing through them makes it easy to reach audiences who might not have seen your content otherwise. 
  • Online forums, like Reddit, Quora, and shared Slack communities are places where you can meet and interact with like-minded people. Identify where your customers or prospects may be looking for answers, connections, or support. And don’t treat them like a self-promotional channel to casually share blog links or press releases and the like. (Some channels like Reddit actively resent that approach and may ban you from a group.) Instead, authentically engage with the people there. These spaces are meant to build communities. Consider them venues to increase brand awareness. The more visible you are as a representative of your brand (even if that brand is yourself), the more you frame yourself as a trustworthy expert in the field. 

3. Paid distribution

Paid media channels — like Google Ads, or social channels like Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn — are a double-edged sword.

If you pay for an ad or sponsored post, people will see it. And depending on the channel, you can control who you target as your audience, which means your content reaches the right people. Plus, you get access to robust metrics that you can use to inform future content decisions.

But paid distribution is expensive. And deciding whether you want to pay for distribution can be as much determined by how big or small your budget is, as how confident you are you’ll reach the right people.

Silvio Perez, founder of AdConversion, looks for what he calls the “Google Ads sweet spot” when working with clients. In his experience, paid distribution (particularly on Google) is most effective when you check all three of these boxes:

  • You’re operating in a recognized category
  • Your cost-per-click prices are reasonable
  • The keywords you’re targeting have more than 100 searches per month.

If you want to ensure your paid efforts support the rest of your content distribution strategy, follow these best practices (if you aren’t already):

  • Repurpose your best content so you can maximize its value by paying to promote it in various ways. For example, you could pull key points from a sponsored blog post to create multiple sponsored social media ads.
  • Bid on ads. Most paid channels auction their most valuable properties to the client willing to pay the most who also have the highest quality ad. Place your bids on your most important target keywords to help drive traffic to your website and support your organic distribution efforts.
  • Direct readers from sponsored posts back to your owned channels. For example, this sponsored article written by Western Governer’s University Washington highlights student-mentor relationships and links to the degree program pages on the University website.

4. Earned promotion

Earned promotion is the most rewarding way to share your content, because, well, you earned it!

It can be hard work to win guest post opportunities or create a social media post that your audience wants to share with their own followers. But when you do, it’s worth it because the promotion comes with two major benefits:

  • Your content reaches a much wider audience, which can help you to increase your brand awareness and website traffic.
  • The promotion acts as an endorsement. It gives potential customers insight into what others have experienced with your business or product, creating trust and credibility among new customers.

But how do you convince your audience to promote your content for you?

One option is to offer incentives, like encouraging social media followers to post about your brand with a special hashtag for a chance to win prizes. You can also offer a discount code in exchange for product reviews. Or, you could simply ask your followers to share your content with their friends and followers with a message such as “Share this if you agree!”

Figure out the right mix of content distribution channels 

Having the right mix of content distribution channels is pivotal for any successful content marketing plan.

It’s essential to gain an understanding of which channels are best leveraged and how they most effectively reach your desired audience. Looking at what channels other organizations in your industry are using can provide insights into which pathways are already profitable. Experimenting with multiple channels can help you determine which ones fit the needs of your particular audience and content. 

When an ideal channel combination is identified, exert your energies on those channels that are most beneficial, reaching your target market and delivering the desired outcomes.

Distribute content to all four channels: repurpose with AI

Distributing content through multiple channels requires you to adapt it to create new drafts that are appropriate for each platform. And the more distribution methods you use, the more versions you’ll have to draft. Fortunately, generative AI tools like Writer can help you repurpose content for any distribution channel you can imagine.

The image is a screenshot from the 'highlight' feature in Writer being used to provide an example of AI content repurposing
The Writer highlights feature summarizes articles at a high-level and creates posts for social media distribution

For instance, the highlight tool in Writer makes it easy to generate the content you need for distribution, from article summaries and meta descriptions to tweets. Plus, the recaps builder creates summaries of recorded material like webinars, interviews, and podcasts so you can turn them into episode descriptions, social posts, blog posts, and more. Generative AI makes it possible for you to reach the right audiences in the right channels in a fraction of the time.

Learn more about how AI can repurpose content for different platforms without compromising or changing your messaging.
Check out The content repurposing strategy: Your key to avoiding content burnout