It’s tempting to love our blog posts so much that we expect others to find and share them automatically. We produce blog posts and display them for the world to see, without thinking about the content amplification strategy . But how often are those posts seen? Your content is competing for attention with millions of others published every day.
Publishing quality content, even beautiful content, is not enough. You need to have an amplification strategy to ensure your content reaches your audience.
We recently asked Barry Feldman, consultant, copywriter, and author of The Road To Recognition, to deliver a lesson on amplification on a BuzzSumo webinar. Below I’ve set out the amplification strategies he shared, along with a series of questions from the marketers who attended the webinar and answers from Barry and Steve Rayson.
- Content amplification is the process and practice of drawing attention to your content so more people visit your site, read your posts, share your content and link to it.
- Marketers must amplify their content because the web is crowded with information and articles. More than 70 million blog posts are published every month on WordPress alone. And, even seemingly arcane topics, like “ferrets” have a tremendous number of posts about them. Getting attention from an audience in this landscape requires diligent attention to content distribution, as well as creation.
- There’s no one-size-fits-all formula, Barry says. But, there are processes and practices that have proven useful. Individual marketers can begin their amplification with these ideas, and adjust as they determine what works best with their individual audiences.
- The media used to amplify content can be grouped into three categories–paid, earned and owned—each with their own subgroups, downsides, and benefits.
Content Amplification with Paid Media
Paid media includes advertising, promotions and sponsorships. Using paid media allows for high levels of control and targeting. With paid media you are also likely to see results very quickly. And, this method allows you to scale your campaigns.
Paid amplification on social
On Facebook, the algorithm that controls content display doesn’t always serve your posts to the audience you’ve gathered there. To guarantee your posts have an audience, you need to pay for advertising. Pricing begins at $5.00 and goes up from there. But, even a small investment can go a long way toward increasing exposure to your content, Barry says.
Paid media is also an option on Twitter and on LinkedIn, as well as on Pinterest and YouTube, StumbleUpon and Reddit.
Other paid formats
Native advertising is designed to look like content that has been written by a publisher for free. BuzzFeed is one of the more famous publishers to use native advertising. Depending on the scale of your campaigns and the size of the audience, native advertising will be more costly than social media advertising.
Paid content amplification platforms like Outbrain, Taboola, or Adblade serve your content to audiences that they predict will be interested in it.
Pay-per-click services, available through Google AdWords, offer instant rewards. Barry recommends investing early in PPC campaigns to help build your audience.
Retargeting is another form of paid advertising. This format feels like the “ghost in the machine,” Barry says, because it serves ads based on your browsing activity. Visits to your site are tracked via cookies, then visitors see ads for your product or service after they leave your site. Adroll, Retargeter, Fetchback and Chango all provide retargeting.
Content Amplification with Earned Media
Earned media isn’t paid for or controlled by a brand. Instead, it’s bestowed on brands by customers or advocates. Word-of-mouth style endorsements, posts syndicated or curated by other brands and guest posts are all forms of earned media.
Earned media’s value lies in it’s ability to drive sales. As explained in a post by Heidi Cohen, research shows that people trust “someone like them” more than industry experts or CEOs.
This type of media also has a long lifespan. And it’s free!
Influencer marketing — Persuading people with an audience to share your content or mention your brand falls into the category of earned media. This works best when you build relationships with influencers over time, and they trust you and respect your content. Some post types such as round-up posts are also designed to be shared by those who helped create the post. There is also a separate opportunity for paid influencer marketing.
Building a social following is key to earning media mentions, Barry says. Facilitate the process by responding to comments on your blog. Also, make social sharing of your content easy and attractive by using images and twitter cards.
Search engines results are also earned media. According to Edelman’s 2017 Executive Summary, 6 in 10 people believe search engines more than human editors.
When thinking about your search engine ranking, remember it’s really only the top 10 or so spots that matter. Out of the millions of results returned for any topic in search, the vast majority will be ignored.
To rank well, you need high quality content that is optimized with SEO best practices, and you need to promote the content.
The most trusted form of any advertising in media is the all powerful word of mouth, Barry says. Although, today the term “word of mouse” seems especially apt. Word of mouth media can include recommendations, opinions posted online and mentions in other brands’ editorial content.
Content Amplification with Owned Media
Owned media include your:
- Social marketing channels
- Email subscriber lists
Owned media offers the most control, Barry says. Your company decides what is displayed (in most cases) and when it’s displayed. You control how often content is posted and how long it remains public. Owned media is versatile and has a long life span.
Keep email top of mind, as it’s a powerful form of owned media. People who are doing business and buying things skip breakfast more often than they skip reading their email, Barry says.
To build this platform for your business, offer lead magnets like checklists, templates, or courses. And make it easy for people to opt in to your email subscriber list.
Social marketing channels
Social media marketing, via posts that land in the feeds of the audience you’ve built, are another form of owned media. An argument can be made that social media channels aren’t entirely owned media, but Barry prefers to include social in the “owned” category.
The key to marketing well on social is to avoid a constant stream of sales pitches in your social posts.
In addition to standard social posts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest, consider groups and communities and make use of hashtags and @messages. Quote experts and don’t be afraid to ask for shares, Barry says.
Optimize your blog for sharing by making it easy for people to share your posts with like and share buttons.
Once you have the most prominent social networks covered, or even while building your following, expand your digital footprint with free platforms like Slideshare and YouTube.
Develop social strength by fostering employee advocacy, Barry says. Train your employees to share your message effectively on social media channels.
Stretch your assets
To maximize the ROI on your owned content assets, repurpose content regularly.
For example, an ebook can also be used as the foundation of a webinar, a series of blog posts, or a full slate of social posts.
Amplification strategies require commitment and should be tested to determine their value. Before you start a strategy consider how you will measure its ROI. When something works, practice it, and you will get better, Barry says.
Over time, you will make people crave your content.
Question and Answer
People who attended Barry’s session on amplification asked several questions. You can see the questions, and their answers below
Q1. What do you think about syndicating with Medium?
Syndication usually implies some form of automation, with posts displayed via some technological link. So Medium.com doesn’t technically fit the definition of syndication. It is, however, a place where you can copy and paste things you have published elsewhere. Try it, Barry says. More pages can result in more exposure. But, measure your results and if it’s not helping you build an audience, stop.
Q2. If you’re blogging once week and creating content that is 800 to a 1,000 words, and the posts hit long tail keywords and perform well, should your promotion include every blog you write? Should you write less and focus on topics that might be better for content promotion? The blogs I am writing are for clients on the topics of real estate, healthcare and technology. Traffic has continued to increase, but we are not getting links. We are not doing a lot of link promotion. A lot of our topics are good, but the posts don’t seem to be the types to promote long-term.
Great job on getting traffic! So much content fails to get shares and links, so we recommend focusing on the types of content that research has shown will get shares and links.
Buzzsumo research indicates there are five content types with the potential to achieve both high numbers of shares and links:
- Authoritative content that answers popular questions, such as ‘what is ..?’
- Strong opinion posts and political posts
- Content that provides original research and insights
- Content that leverages a trending topic but that also provides practical insights
- Authoritative news content on new products or developments
Q3. Based on your experience, how effective are share buttons and comment boxes for your blog?
Barry strongly recommends using them.
Q4. Can you rank the social platforms in terms of cost (ROI if possible) for B2B?
We can only answer from our own experience at BuzzSumo. We have found good results on Facebook, even though it’s not often seen as a B2B platform. We have had less success on Twitter. LinkedIn can be good, but we have found it to be the most expensive.
Q5. What type of post do you think will work best to boost on Facebook?
You can use your Facebook stats to see which of your posts are doing best, then boost those. Facebook also has a free targeting option that you can use to get your posts in front of your audience. You can target posts even when you don’t pay to promote them.
Q6. Any tips on how to decide which posts you should boost on Facebook, when you don’t have the budget to boost them all?
I think the golden rule is to boost the posts that do best organically. Mari Smith recommends waiting for up to 24 hours after posting to allow some organic reach to build up. Then, boost with part, but not all of your budget for that campaign. Allow shares to build again; then add to the budget.
Q7. Do you have tools or templates to organize your paid media budget?
Barry recommends checking Razorsocial.com for content amplification tools.
Q8. Should I turn on the social share counters for my blog?
Yes, counters provide powerful social proof. Popular content tends to become more popular. Just don’t allow them to have zeros beside them.
Q9. Should you encourage your employees to share company content?
Yes. If you create a social culture in your company, you will build an army of advocates. But, creating that culture may require more steps than you initially perceive. For example, sometimes people don’t share your content because they think they aren’t supposed to be on social at work. You can provide the training that will help employees advance your company’s goals.
Q10. How do you connect with influencers in the first place?
Start by being helpful. Share their content. Follow them. Comment on their blog. Offer them data or the use of your tool. Start with what can you do to help them. Attend conferences where they are speaking and introduce yourself at the end if only to say how much you appreciate what they are doing.
Q11. Do you know the average demographic that uses Twitter opposed to Facebook?
Pew Research has some great demographic information for the US market. You can find it here.
Q12. What about Quora? Should we consider it as a content medium?
It is a great platform for engaging with audiences and getting awareness if you are seen as an expert.
Q13. How many posts are there online about ferrets?