As editor in chief at Business.com, paid distribution of our content is equally as important as the production of content. With Facebook's constant algorithm changes, and Google promoting their own content over others, content distribution requires an aspect of paid promotion in order to reach earned media.
As a rule, we don't pay to distribute all content-our approach is to only promote stories that have proven successful organically first. It's very similar to the approach that brands like Kraft take when using Pinterest as a sounding board for choosing the most popular images before they use them in their magazine or in commercials. For us, after an article reaches a certain organic threshold, we weave it into our paid distribution plan.
So while content is king, distribution is like parliament-it holds all the power. Here are some of the top platforms that we have found successful, and others you may want to consider.
Content Distribution for Page Views
If your goal is just to drive page views and nothing more, Facebook, Outbrain and Taboola have worked for us. But, here's the catch: if you have a smaller team and want a managed solution, SimpleReach is that solution. They work with 100+ publishers and have a predictive algorithm to determine how many social referrals an article will drive based on the acceleration of social sharing and resulting page views. Though we've occasionally seen bugs in the interface and discrepancies in the data, overall they are very customer-facing and a perfect managed solution if you are trying to drive page views and determine which pieces of content are resonating with the social audience.
According to Kent Krekorian, VP of Operations, they are "the only platform with code on-page, giving them the ability to close the loop between what's happening on distribution channels and your site, optimizing paid distribution for content that maximizes organic traffic. To me, focusing on prediction and real-time adjustment is much more effective than looking in the past and determining what worked.
If you have internal resources available, Facebook, Outbrain and Taboola interfaces are all very user-friendly, targeted and allow you to optimize bids and content based off audience.
Content Distribution for Brand Credibility and Direct Visits
If you are looking for ways to increase your brand awareness, drive direct visits, increase demand generation inquiries, and build direct traffic to the site, Nativo and Flipboard have solutions for all three.
Flipboard aggregates content through links culled from users' social media accounts and has 150 million users digesting content. Up until recently, Flipboard was only designed for tablets and smartphones, but just announced a new application tailored for desktop. In November, they reported that their readers were flipping about 8 billion pages per month. That's a lot of pages. For more on publishing and advertising with Flipboard, they have a nice, clean Q & A section here.
Nativo is a straight native placement play. You won't get traffic back to your site as the content resides natively within the publisher's site. This one that, in theory, is really interesting, here's the problem I have with it.: native ads can't be the same piece of content and a mechanical distribution. Native placements must be placed and crafted specifically for the audience that it's serving.
Producing unique creative for each placement is expensive. If other companies are successfully using the same creative placed natively in various publishers, I want to know how they're doing it, and replicate it quick.
Content Syndication Only
If you are looking for true syndication only, Newscred and a handful of others do this well. The problem is that most sites don't handle syndication properly and doesn't adhere to Google's guidelines and recommendations around syndication, which are:
- Use the rel=canonical tag to help consolidate the PageRank of the stories and avoid any issues with Google (source: Search Engine Land)
- Link back to the original article and provide attribution back to the original source
If you are not concerned about which site will rank for a piece of content than Newscred is a platform you should consider, if you qualify. Characterized as a content marketing platform, they have a syndication solution allowing brands to add content to their system, which is then hand-picked by their editorial staff.
If you get accepted into their publisher platform, you can show up on sites like Visa, Hartford or even Pepsi. In the Visa example, you can see that Gigaom, The Next Web, etc. all get exposure through their content, but there are no links or canonical back to the original article. There's just one line that says "This article was written by Kevin Fitchard from GigaOm and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network."
Other Tools You May Want to Rethink
Other tools like Zemanta and PRNewswire are often mentioned as another distribution channel. Zemanta claims that they place links back to your site on credible sites in your arena. If you really manage it daily, this is probably true. If you don't, it's a disaster. We started showing up on Chinese language sites (which we only operate in the U.S.), X-rated sites and mom and pop sites about raising kids (we are strictly B2B), so it wasn't valuable for the audience or for us.
PR Newswire and other PR distribution sites are also not a great option if you are trying to drive links or traffic. If, and only if, your content is of value to the media should you use these channels. I may be old school, but my background in public relations still holds true-don't make it all about you when pitching to the media, make it about them.