You’ve probably read or heard somewhere that you need to be doing content promotion, right?
Someone (maybe me) has been chewing your ear off about the importance of getting your content seen by more of the right people.
And, while it might be annoying, I firmly believe that you do need to do that. Because without promotion, content is doomed to fall flat. It’s an unfortunate but simple truth.
Spending all that time and money creating content you’re proud of is wasted if no-one ever sees it and, thanks to the fierce competition for attention out there, it's getting harder and harder to ensure that happens.
Gone are the days of simply publishing frequently, targeting some key words and letting the search engine algorithms do the rest.
And, not to hammer home this point too much, but the stats are pretty grim when it comes to organic reach.
1. 90.63% of all pages get zero traffic from Google, and 5.29% of them get ten visits per month or less. (Ahrefs 2020)
2. 94% of blog content gets no backlinks at all. Most of the 6% that does, gets just 1 link. (Backlinko 2019)
3. The majority of social shares are generated from a small number of posts. 75% of all social shares come from only 1.3% of published content. (Backlinko 2019)
Add ever-changing search engine and social media algorithms to this melting pot of problems and you’ve got a situation that’s far from ideal for any content creator.
There is an answer, though - content promotion.
However, I’m aware that it’s one thing saying “content promotion solves the problem”, but quite another making sure you’re doing it right.
So, in this article, we’re going to take a look at some of the common problems and issues content marketers are having with content promotion in particular, and how they’ve overcome them.
Without further waffle scroll down and get stuck in.
Hold up, James - before we start can you just give us a quick refresher on what content promotion is?
Content promotion is the term used to describe the process of getting your content in front of more of your target audience. If you’re distributing, syndicating or amplifying your content, you’re promoting it.
By promoting your content, you can extend its reach to new audiences, increase engagement, drive more traffic to your website, and increase leads and conversions.
Which is exactly what we want our content to do, right?
OK, let’s get on with it.
Problem: Content Promotion Without Allies
Andy Crestodina (Orbit Media)
How difficult is it to promote your content without allies? Very, says Andy Crestodina.
“If the content lacks a quote from a contributor, I find it very hard to amplify. I can share it on social media, but if I have no reason to add a mention (and tag another account) then the reach is always more limited. It's as if content without contributor quotes has an inherent disadvantage in social media.”
So how do we fix that issue? Collaborate with others and engage your communities and audience before you create content.
“Reaching out to people while writing, asking for quotes, and adding them to the article is the obvious fix. But it's even better to socialize the topic before the writing begins. It's easy.
Post a question relevant to the topic you plan to write about. See who interacts. Ask a few to contribute a quote, but also make a note of anyone who left a comment. These are the folks who found the topic interesting.
When the post is published and you're ready to share on social, then you have all kinds of people you can mention and tag, because the article is an extension of the conversation you started already.”
Problem: Promoting Out Of Date Content
Joe Pulizzi (Creator Economy Expo)
It’s one thing to promote content, but if it’s not relevant any more, it’s not going to have much of an impact, even if more of the right people are seeing it.
“Review old content,” says Joe Pulizzi, “small changes in your previously posted content can make big changes in your SEO findability. For a long time we ignored updating older content...before we took SEO seriously. Now we review over 100 keyword phrases per month and where we stand, and then periodically update older content to help us go up the search engine charts.”
Not only does this have an SEO impact, it will also increase the value of your content by making it more relevant to your audience, and its shelf life too.
Problem: Where To Start With Content Promotion?
Ross Simmonds (Foundation)
One of the biggest struggles businesses face is where to start with content promotion.
As Ross Simmonds says, “They don't really know where they should go to spread their stories and content, and because they don't have that clarity to understand where their audience is spending time, they don’t see the results they want.”
To fix this issue, we need to go back a step and go deep into audience research. Ross explains,
“One of the key things that every organization needs to do is invest in research to understand and uncover the channels where their audience is spending time and the type of content that they're looking to interact with on those channels in a positive way.
If you can find these channels and then spread your stories on these channels, you're going to increase the likelihood of being successful with your content promotion efforts.”
Problem: Content Silos
Erin Balsa (Haus of Bold)
A problem that doesn’t get as many headlines as some of the others in this list is the creation (intentional or otherwise) of silos between the content creation function and content promotion function.
As Erin Balsa explains,
“Most SMBs I work with do NOT have a content strategist, or even a documented content strategy. Or, they have an editorial calendar with keywords and blog titles, which they think is a strategy but it's really a piece of strategy execution.
Without a holistic content strategy that guides cross-functional content planning, creation, distribution, and measurement, this will continue to be a problem. Without it, different teams work on disjointed strategies ... and there's little attention paid to organic distribution outside the typical "share it from our company page and stick it in our newsletter" approach.”
But finding a solution to this problem can be as simple as looking to outside help for a fresh, unbiased set of eyes.
“Hire a content strategist in-house (if your company's at the stage where it makes sense to) OR hire a consultant who can build a holistic strategy that works with your existing processes. You also want someone who offers ongoing oversight and support because a strategy only works if it's executed consistently over time.”
Problem: Feeling Overwhelmed
Cathy McPhillips (Marketing AI Institute)
Sometimes, the amount of work we need to do to promote content effectively can be overwhelming. As Cathy McPhillips discusses,
“With the amount of content we produce, it’s hard to keep up with the content creation of these posts. Did we get all the Twitter handles right? Can this content we created for Twitter be repurposed for Facebook or LinkedIn? How can we pull snippets from the content to create a YouTube, Instagram Stories, or TikTok strategy? What hashtags should we use, and how often should we post?
There are so many questions and so many ways to promote the content to our community, subscribers, and followers. Often, it’s overwhelming to make sure every element is taken into account strategically.”
So, what’s the solution here? A focused, documented strategy, of course.
“We document a strategy that focuses on both (a) the ability to execute and (b) impact probability rating. If it’s easy to execute but it may not have a big impact, we may skip this and move to strategies that we know will work. This comes from the digital marketing agency PR 20/20’s “Marketing Growth Hackathon” model.
It helps take the long list of ideas into a manageable, executable plan. Then, if there’s additional time or data, other tactics can be added in.”
As it turns out, proper, thorough preparation before doing “the thing” is, in almost every situation, a hugely beneficial thing to do.
Problem: Only Promoting Content When You “Find The Time”
James Tennant (Converge)
Treating content promotion as an afterthought, or something to do when you find the time to do it, is a mistake (but one many companies fall foul of).
I’m often frustrated by this, and it’s the first thing you need to look at and fix if you’re ever going to do content promotion, and therefore content marketing, successfully.
If you’re using the “Field of Dreams” approach and hoping people will find your content organically, you’re not helping matters. Far from it.
You need to change your mindset and include content promotion as a key part of your overall content strategy from the very beginning. Bake it into the plan from the beginning and consider it as important as creating content.
Commit to content promotion and your content marketing ROI will get better. I promise.
Problem: Finding the balance
Robert Rose (The Content Advisory)
With content promotion, it’s all about trying to be seen by more of the right people. And, sometimes, that can lead us to, as Robert Rose puts it, “offer up some dramatic, provocative, or otherwise “click-baity” post to promote (paid or earned)”, to try and get more clicks or “go viral”.
Robert continues, “Interestingly, my challenge here is NOT the virality, or the increase in popularity that one might think. Rather my challenge is that when you constantly wrap your content in such a provocative manner, the discussion becomes about the provocation rather than the value of the content you’re promoting.”
So, it’s all about finding the balance between producing content that serves a genuine purpose and provides your audience with value, but that also might share a different opinion, or a spiky point of view, to capture attention.
But how do we find that balance?
“What I have found is that you cannot float between one or the other. If you want to have a “provocative conversation” – you must do it occasionally, and with the knowledge that you are discussing the provocation.
If this becomes your exception, then the consistent delivery of valuable content does seem to have a better chance of engaging slightly more audiences – but more importantly engaging them in the right way. What you give up in reach, you more than make up with the value of the engagement.”
So very, very true.
To wrap things up here, let's look at all of the advice again and share some quick, actionable takeaways.
Problem: Content promotion without allies
Collaborate with others and engage your audience before creating content, to broaden its potential for promotion.
Problem: Promoting out of date content
Regularly review and update old content to maintain its relevancy and SEO findability.
Problem: Where to start with content promotion
Invest in audience research to identify where your audience spends time and what content they engage with.
Problem: Content silos
Hire a content strategist or consultant to ensure cohesive content planning, creation, distribution, and measurement.
Problem: Feeling overwhelmed
Develop a focused, documented strategy to manage and prioritize content promotion activities
Problem: Only promoting content when you “find the time”
Incorporate content promotion as a key component of your content strategy from the beginning.
Problem: Finding the balance
Avoid being overly provocative in content promotion. Strive for a balance between valuable, audience-centric content and capturing attention.
Successful content promotion is less about reacting to algorithm changes, trends, and the latest hot platform, and more about understanding your audience, fostering relationships, and consistently delivering value.
It's about balancing the tempting lure of 'click-bait' with the long-term value of quality engagement, and avoiding the trap of feeling overwhelmed by focusing on impact over sheer volume.
Oh, and actually making sure you do some content promotion in the first place. It turns out that bit is pretty important, too.