Quick Fixes to Polish Your Online Presence

You want to go to dinner, but your regular pizza place is packed. You turn to Google. You want to order flowers for your mom for Mother’s day. You turn to Google. You have a new candidate coming in to interview this afternoon. You turn to Google. You heard someone say that they recommend an auto mechanic. You turn to Google. Every day, people are turning to Google to find things that they need, be it a product or service.

Have you ever Googled yourself? Or your business?

If not, you should stop for a second and go check yourself out. What you see is essentially your online presence, your virtual resume. This is what people see when they are looking for your product or service, you or your business.

Yes, you might think that your Facebook page and website show the epitome of what you are, but do they show up when you are Googled? If not, it’s not lending as much as you thought to your online presence.

What will show up when you are Googled are the networks that you are the most active on, if they are public. For example, this is what it looks like when I Google myself:

kala google

We’ve got my Twitter and my LinkedIn at the top, followed by images. There are also things on here like past jobs and blog posts that I have written.

What does it say when you Google yourself or your business?

Now, how do you get this Google search to be a little more of what you want people to see? Here are some quick tips to polish your online presence:

  1. Consistent profile picture – My “Google myself” example is the perfect example of what not to do with your profile pictures. To present a polished and consistent front, it’s important that all of your public social profiles (from Pinterest and Instagram to LinkedIn and G+) to your author pic on the blog should be consistent. A nice, professional photo of your face, sized correctly, has proven to enhance interactions and connections. People love putting a face to a name, and this is your chance to do that.
  2. To stick with the theme of consistency, if you’re a business – ensure that your logo, company name, and website are consistent across all your platforms. There is nothing more confusing than having different versions of your company name or logo on various sites.
  3. For your business to show up in Google, make sure you register with Google My Business, and that this information (hours, contact info, etc.) is consistent with the information found on your website.
  4. Next, what do your profiles, blogs, and websites say about you or your business when someone does find them and click through? Ensure that your voice is consistent, your contact info is easily accessible, and that visitors know what you and your company are about when they get there.
  5. Content, Content, Content – The more content produced across your various platforms, the more Google is going to pull your website, social media, or blog up to the top. Google loves fresh information. My Twitter and LinkedIn are at the top of my Google search because a) my Facebook has privacy settings and b) I update them both a ton. At Duct Tape, we produce a ton of content. When you search “Duct Tape Marketing” you gain access to all of our sites and platforms, and even a link to Amazon to purchase the Duct Tape Marketing book. Pretty good, right? 

duct tape google

 

If you’re active online, your online presence can be overwhelming. There are online ads, SEO efforts, massive websites and dozens of social media platforms, but what do people see when they search you? These quick things to check should help your audience start turning more of the results you’d like them to see when they look you up.

IMG_2750Kala Linck is the Community and Content Manager at Duct Tape Marketing. You can find her blogging her travels, praying for summer or tweeting about marketing, coffee and cats @tadasunshine.

How to Systematically Create an Annual Editorial Calendar

I talk about content, well, all of the  time. I know many of you are sick of reading about it, but I don’t think it’s going away anytime soon. In fact, high-quality content that addresses the needs, concerns and questions of your ideal clients is pretty much the price of admission these days.

It’s not enough to create and optimize web pages and call that content either. You must commit to producing content much like a publisher of a magazine and you must do it strategically.

Content is Strategy

Waking up on Monday and deciding what to write about on your blog is not a content strategy. Content is such an essential element in the marketing puzzle you must plan your content like you might your promotional calendar or budget for the year.

Taking a strategic view of content means you must understand the body of work you need to create over time to turn your content efforts into an asset that will serve your business long-term.

In my view, this means applying the same kind of keyword, competitive and linking research that most associate with SEO to your editorial approach. And that’s the point really – in order for your content to pay dividends it must help drive traffic, shares, influence and conversion.

Finding Your Themes

The first step is to start making a list of your most important themes. I generally try to find three core themes and about nine supplemental themes. (Nice tidy 12 monthly themes.) Your core themes are the kinds of things that might be found on your homepage or even in the title attribute of your home page. Or, perhaps the main navigational elements of your site.

Your supplemental themes round out the list and while not as important, certainly make fodder for your ongoing blogging efforts.

Start with brainstorming. Lock yourself away and start thinking about the kinds of things people ask about the most, where you make your most money, or where you see the greatest opportunities in your industry. This is often enough to create a good start to your list. Obviously, if you have a team, get them involved – they may actually know better than you. (Industry jargon that means nothing to the prospect must be left out here.)

Now take that list to the Google Keyword Planner and see if you can find themes that have significant volume. You must balance key terms with being too generic though. A term like “marketing” wouldn’t make sense as a theme, even for a marketing consultant, but a term like “referral marketing tactics” might.

From this work, you should have developed a pretty solid dozen or so candidates for your monthly themes. I also like to take the terms to the Google search page and see what they suggest as related searches and who shows up on page one for these terms now.

BuzzSumo

Researching Topics

Now that I have my terms I want to get more specific ideas for actual topics I might map to each month.

For this task, I lean pretty heavily on a tool called BuzzSumo. There are other tools that can be useful, such as Topsy, but BuzzSumo does so many things I find myself sticking to it.

The basic thing BuzzSumo does is show you the most shared content for any term you put into its search box. (Note this can be a URL as well if, for example, you want to see most shared content on a competitors site.)

I use it to uncover actual highly shared blog posts around each of my themes so I can get some solid ideas for my own content and see what types of things get shared the most by others. You do have to use a little creativity here – for example a plumber that does bathroom plumbing might also search some common problems related to bathroom plumbing to find good ideas.

I might also employ a site like Quora to see the kinds of questions people are asking about my themes. Answering questions is always a good idea for a blog post.

Going Beyond

Now that I have a good start to the actual topics related to my themes, I want to start figuring out who else writes about my themes, who else like to share this kind of content and what sites are seen as influential in the space.

Again, BuzzSumo is a pretty great power tool. With the higher paid plans, you can discover a list of influential bloggers related to the topics you are interested in. I generally follow and list these folks on Twitter and even subscribe to some of their blogs in Feedly so I can start sharing their content. Eventually, I may try to develop the kind of relationship where I could ask one or more of these folks if I could submit guest content or if they would like to do so for my site.

You can also narrow your topic search to include only guest posts. It’s pretty good bet that a person likes to write guest posts or a site likes to take guest posts if they show up on this search.

This is indeed a way to get more content to fill your plan but it’s also the strategic part of building links to your site and gaining exposure for your content outside of your own efforts.

I further use BuzzSumo’s info to show me who is linking to and sharing content related to my topics and often create more lists to look for more strategic relationships beyond what people might call the “usual suspects in thought leadership land.”

Editorial Calendar

Now Document

By this point, I have a pretty good amount of content identified to fill in my plan so it’s time to turn to a tool to document a plan and calendar. You can use any spreadsheet really (Smartsheet, Google Sheets, Excel) to document your themes across twelve months and then simply add the elements of your platform – blog, podcast, guest posts, eBooks, etc. Then you set your goals for how much content you want in each element each month. (I wrote a post a while back called 10 Ways to Use One Piece of Content – you should read this post as well if today’s idea appeals to you.)

For a specific view of each month, you might want to add an editorial calendar as a spreadsheet or by using a WordPress plugin. It’s pretty amazing how simply documenting a plan seems to help get more done by keeping the focus on the future rather than scrambling to create the present. (I realize that’s not a very Zen idea, but it’s the reality of business.)

You know you need content, so stop fighting it and start making a plan that allows you to better delegate, build and amplify your content asset.

 

How to Use Your Content Platforms to Gain Valuable Customer Insights

Audience data 240x180You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on industry research or surveying your audience — most small businesses already have plenty of data collection tools right at their fingertips! The savviest businesses utilize their content to gain invaluable insights into their customer and potential customer base to understand what they want most- here’s how you can too!

Google Analytics

To get a good baseline for who your audience is, use your website’s Google Analytics data. On the left sidebar, click audience, then explore the demographics, interests, and geo sections. The location, age, gender, industry and topical interests of your website traffic is all displayed in these section. The interests section of your audience report contains particularly insightful gems. Affinity Categories relates to the other lifestyle interests they have, while In-Market Segments shows you their product and purchase based interests. Other Categories hones in on the most specific topics of interest or activities.

Blog Topics

Which blog posts get the most shares, views, or impressions on your blog and across your social networks? It’s important to distribute your blogs across a wide variety of platforms to get a feel for as many different segments of your audience as possible, as well as to get a better sense of the piece’s success. Sharing your blogs widely across the web also brings more traffic back to you site, and continues to feed into what your insights.

Downloaded Resources

You should make a few helpful pdf downloads available on your website. Not only is this a great way to capture emails, but it’s also a useful tool to see where your audience’s interests lie, or what problems are currently affecting them. Make sure all your resources relate to your business in some way- it wouldn’t be particularly helpful to learn what someone’s favorite color is or where they would most like to vacation.

Emailed Content

Whether you use a full on CRM like Salesforce or a simpler service like MailChimp- take note of what content your readers are clicking on. When sending them blog updates, industry news, or new services offered- note where their interests lie. Deliver more, similar content to see if you can hone in on the specific topics they care most about. Optimize your newsletters for key learnings.

Quizzes

People love quizzes, especially on social media. It’s also a genius way to learn more about your audience than any other technique. An easy tactic to start is a quiz themed to “What ___ Are You?”. Make sure you come up with questions that will help you in your your quest to understand your audience, such as “do you like to attack and solve problems, or do you seek the advice of others?”.

Facebook Insights

Immediately upon logging into Facebook, navigate to the left side menu and select Insights. You’ll find your Facebook audience demographics under the People category. Be sure to also note the section for when your fans are online to see what types of content you should be sharing to this audience. Lunch hour readers prefer entertainment, while morning browsers are primed for news. Long reads are best for the evening and weekend. For many brands, their Facebook audience consists of different groups, using Facebook at different times. Optimize your Facebook posts for greatest potential to collect the most audience data possible.

Twitter Analytics

Every user can now access their Twitter analytics. Similar to Facebook, Twitter’s Analytics lets you see basic audience demographic information (do you see any differences between your Facebook and Twitter audiences?) as well as an overview of your tweet performance. Twitter add-on Followerwonk assesses the bios of your followers to provide you with insights on their interests and how they describe themselves. You can see who else your followers tend to follow, what they tweet about and Followerwonk points you in the direction of new groups to go after (moms who love DIY or dads who like soccer).

LinkedIn Audience

When viewing your company page, select Analytics. You’ll see a concise listing of your posts’ performance as well as audience demographics. LinkedIn shares what level of professional attainment your followers are: entry-level employee through owner or VPs. You can also select Industry and Job Function from the audience data drop down menus. It’s highly advisable to appropriately tailor your content to appeal to the right level of reader: decision maker or someone who might suggest your company to the decision maker.

 

pro pic 150Diana Mackie is a small business writer, specializing in marketing and content. Diana writes for AllBusiness, Huffington Post, Social Media Today, Duct Tape Marketing and many other publications. She is currently the Chief Content Officer at Funding Gates. Diana attended Fordham University and now lives in New York City.

 

5 Ways to Produce Eye-Catching Content Without a Designer

photo credit: kaboompics

photo credit: kaboompics

There’s nothing like great content. I create it for work. I create it for fun. Crazy? Perhaps. Especially since creating good, visually appealing content is a huge challenge faced by many.

There is no rule that says you have to hire a pricey graphic designer in order to generate beautiful, design-rich content.  Of course, design specialists are a great resource to have on a team – but, for many earlier-stage businesses, increased costs and headcount may not be ideal.

Luckily, a universe of tools exist that enable quick content creation for even the non-designers among us – whether it’s as simple as a quick meme or as elaborate as an ebook. Slim, bootstrapping teams could wear a designer hat and produce the rich content quickly and inexpensively by enlisting some of these fantastic content-producing tools:

Capture the moment with Skitch

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 7.32.16 PMSkitch is a great app that helps brands tell a visual story – and it’s free! Grab a quick screenshot on your device and mark it up with arrows, boxes, text and more. Skitch lets you mark up images, digital assets, PDFs, and other files with arrows, callout boxes, text, and more.

I find that at least once a day I use Skitch’s “Screen Snap” function to grab all or part of my screen for use in content. I don’t need to plug my captured image into another program for further cropping and other editing since the all-in-one features of Skitch enable me to do so right in their app. A great time saver and useful tool for supporting your talking points with a rich visual design.

Skitch is owned by Evernote but does not require an Evernote account to start using. Try it out and screengrab to your heart’s content.

Don’t use any old font, use Dafont

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 7.32.42 PMSick of using Times and Ariel in your creative. Aren’t we all? Luckily, resources like Google Fonts, Font Squirrel and more offer a wealth of wonderfully designed, open-source fonts to add a little character to your characters.

I like Dafont for its abundance of options that range from general purpose to highly specialized. Each font is well-tagged so the site’s great search function could pull up just what you’re looking for. Simply download, install and use a desired font in graphics, presentations, ebooks and more – just make sure to check for any attribution requirements.

Pound out a quick infographic with Piktochart

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 7.33.07 PMThere’s nothing like a good infographic to capture an audience and teach them something new. When it’s simple to create in just minutes and free, it’s all the more reason to inject them into a content strategy.

Piktochart is quick and simple for anyone to create professional-looking infographics, reports, banners, and presentations. An intuitive interface and simple drag-and-drop features help a designer-less team fake it until they make it.

Get instant access and “start creating in 30 seconds,” as the site’s homepage describes. Start yours from scratch, choose from customizable free templates or step up to Pro for some more options.

Along with the vast library of templates, you can find over four thousand graphics to really spruce things up, or get more custom and create your very own images. When generating visual creations to represent your brand, avoid a clunky MS Paint design and make them look professionally mastered at low commitment.

Become an author with Guides.co

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 7.33.14 PMHave what it takes to write an informative eBook but lack the design skill to bring into fruition? Guide.co offers the perfect solution.

We’ve all experienced the power of eBooks, in educating an audience, adding credibility and thought leadership status to a brand and capturing more qualified leads. But the more comprehensive the piece of content the more time and budget it consumes.

Guides.co provides a useful, plug-and-lay model to take on the burden creating an attractive body for your killer copy. Like Piktochart, Guides.co offers multiple templates to kick off your design – and easy-to-use customizing features help to guide your guide to fit your brand.

Guides.co even goes the extra mile and hosts your content on their site for the world to discover!

Get interactive and think ThingLink

ThingLink adds a totally new form to social media that brings life to your content. The tool makes interactive visual graphics easy to make and void of the premium price tag.

The site integrates with others like YouTube, SoundCloud, and Vimeo to pull in sounds and videos to add to your graphic.

Register for free or get a few other advantages with a membership – but you might not need to spend the extra cash. The tools basic features enable users to design quite rich, interactive videos and images to incorporate into a content marketing strategy.

Even better, once completed, ThingLink lets you tag your piece and share with your social network along with their own community. Interact with other creative ThingLink users for ideas, inspiration and feedback.

Go forth and design

Designing is not easy. Supplementing the talent of an experienced designer will save costs but could indeed reduce the effectiveness of a content strategy. However, since more basic content is better than no content at all, getting your engine running with intuitive and affordable tools is key.  Helpful apps that enable the everyday entrepreneur or busy marketing generalist to design without breaking the bank or eating up your time is lifesaving.

Have any questions about improving your content strategy? Contact me! 

VinceVince is a passionate digital marketing specialist with a track record of evangelizing technology to modernize business development and brand building in the startup through enterprise levels. Skilled in strategic data-driven campaign management, Vince focuses on demand generation programs that influence growth, including marketing automation, social media, digital advertising, search engine optimization, blogging, public relations, video and event marketing.? Vince is a well-established Twitter influencer under @vince_tech and Founder of Boom Digital, a boutique digital marketing agency specializing in supporting the growth of early-stage startup companies through social media, content marketing, and design.

 

10 Ways to Use One Piece of Content

content marketing

The only way to wring more value out of your content is to understand the intricate connection between your content and your strategy.

Now, don’t hit the back button just yet – I purposely left the word strategy out of the title of this post because I know that what you want is a magic bullet, but here’s the deal – content put in the context of strategy is the closest thing there is to the magic bullet.

The purpose of a business is to make and keep a profitable customer – the purpose of content is to help you make and keep a profitable customer – if that’s so – and it is – then why don’t people create content with that intention?

The idea of content marketing begins and ends for so many with – “It’s Monday, what the heck should I write today?”

What if instead you thought a little bigger – what if you thought we want to be seen as the trusted, go-to service provider for what we do and our value proposition is that we bend over backwards to make you happy when nobody in our industry even tries to.

Now, perhaps you’ve had a strategy meeting with your team and you all agreed that’s your core strategy, but no one thought to bring that into the content you produce.

If you did you would:

  • Write a blog post that outlined the 7 questions you should ask your current provider and make it a core lead generator
  • Turn that blog post into a series of videos that the sales team can send out one by one to prospects
  • Develop a Slideshare deck and presentation that you feature on your LinkedIn profile
  • Turn that presentation into a value packed webinar
  • Record the webinar and feature it on your homepage
  • Create an autorepsonder series that delivers emails to prospects over the course of a month
  • Create an infographic and shop it around to high traffic websites
  • Turn your infographic into a direct mail postcard for a targeted blast
  • Get seven of your happy customers to pose one of the questions via video and feature it all over your website
  • Dig up case studies that map to each question and extend the original post and graphics into an eBook

Did you see what I did there – I just took one landmark content idea and turned it into 10 useful iterations. See, the secret to success with content isn’t quantity – it’s intention. If you create content with the intention of finding ways to use it to create awareness, trust, connection, education and conversion, you’ll likely create an asset that provides massive return.

Now, understand this isn’t simply recycling content into different mediums, it’s giving the same content a different and needed useful stop along the customer journey.

Oh, and I didn’t even get to point where you turn this content into an evaluation process and ultimately a part of your service delivery.

So you see you don’t need more content – you need the right content in the right context – and that’s all.

How to Choose the Right Content Platform

Why do we need so many content platforms?

information overloadSometimes it feels like we are drowning in our Twitter feed and don’t have time to read through all of our Feedly blogs. We are in information overload, and it’s not slowing down. Social media, emails, blogs, websites, advertisements, radio, television, are all coming at us with tons of “need to know” information. Wouldn’t life be easier with one content platform? One place where we get all the information we ever needed?

Yea, that would be great. Unfortunately, just like some of us are listening learners, some are visual and some are doers, everyone consumes information in different ways. Certain topics might be interesting to some people, and they will spend time reading into the topics, watching videos, looking at pictures, clicking through to find more information. Others might not even get through that headline.

For that reason, we have hundreds of content platforms to choose from. That being said, how do you choose the platform that is right for your organization?

  1. Examine your ideal customer.
  2. Identify your assets.
  3. Match your tools with your time.

Examine your Ideal Customer

If you don’t know who your ideal customer is, stop right here and go read this. For those of you who do know who your ideal customer is, do you know where they spend the most time online? In order to know what content platforms to focus on, you absolutely have to know this.

If you are spending time on Facebook posts and advertising, but your ideal customer is reading reddit, then you are throwing money to the wind, and no one wants to do that. Examine your ideal customer, where they are getting their news, where they are shopping, and ultimately, where they want to see information about your brand.

Identify your Assets

Many organizations attempt to participate on certain content platforms because that’s where their ideal customer is active, but don’t have the right assets to be engaging on that platform. If you offer a service rather than a product, a visual platform like Instagram might be difficult to participate on. If that platform is where your ideal customer is active, you’ll need to spend time developing those visual assets.

Determine what kind of information you already have available, and then push the limits with that information. Determine how it can be turned into a video, photo, graphic, podcast, blog post, website page, etc. Take the content you have, and turn it into the content you need!

Match your Tools with your Time

This step is where you determine what you need to be doing, with what you are capable of doing. If I am someone’s ideal customer, for example, a brand might want to reach me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, e-newsletter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and via commercials during Survivor. A little overwhelming, right? Don’t worry, there are plenty of ways to scale your content strategy:

  • Plan Plan Plan
    Planning your content out can help you get the most out of the content that you have – and will help you to not constantly be looking for something to use. You’ll be prepped and ready to go with your next post, picture, etc.
  • Quality Trumps Quantity
    Producing content for the purpose of producing content isn’t fooling anyone. With the amount of content available today, people can be picky with what they are soaking in. Make sure you are offering the best value for your customers as you can.
  • Repurpose
    Again, thinking outside the box about content that you already have is a great way to really drive home good information in a variety of ways. Be creative and you’ll get more miles out of your blog post and podcasts than you ever thought possible!

What content platforms are you trying to reach in your content strategy?

Kala LinckKala Linck is the Community and Content Manager at Duct Tape Marketing. You can find her blogging her travels, praying for summer or tweeting about coffee and cats @tadasunshine.

How to Be or Not Be In a Digital World

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 3.15.06 PMWe’ve watched online presence transform from a hobby or a pastime into a mandatory, crucial, and overwhelmingly powerful tool practiced by everyone familiar with the World Wide Web. What is fast becoming clear is that 10 years from now, online presence will replace resumes and will serve as our business card whether for professional purposes or social and romantic ones. This reality lends urgency to the question of how we, average Joes, promote ourselves on the web? How do we become our own content marketing, SEO, and copywriting team?

Gone are the days of posting whatever feels right at the spur of the moment anywhere and everywhere on the web. The good old days of carefree frolicking on the net have made way to a new and very different kind of web presence. This is the time of the carefully thought out posts, the manicured pictures, and the well-formulated responses. These are the days of the meticulously crafted Likes and Shares and the cautionary tales of intimate affairs gone viral and private pictures haunting teenage girls.

At the Social Fresh Conference a few months ago, three out of five panelists chose to discuss digital presence. In the words of the table’s moderator, “practically every business in the world knows the importance of an online presence. Most people find it off-putting if a business doesn’t have a website to talk about itself.” With recruiters and hiring managers in businesses of all sizes turning to the web to gain insight into potential candidates and one in every five employers using social networks to screen job seekers, it is clear why being MIA online is deemed anachronistic, hidebound and even suspect.

Hard Times for Small Businesses

This is a paradox unique to our time. We live in a profoundly online culture with enormous access to information. However, many small to medium businesses have not quite caught up to this digital explosion and find themselves lagging behind, always one step behind the latest social network taking the world by storm.

In Came the Social Media Assistance Tools

In the world of online, where a need is determined, a product is usually not far behind. In the wake of the ever growing social platforms, online services have sprung up to offer tracking, management, and synchronization support. Software such as Hootsuite, Oktopost, and Sociota provide a one-stop-shops for managing all your media accounts, Lithium offers to nurture all your customer support and care relations for you, and Engagor targets conversations involving your business or brand as they happen in real time across all social media platforms. Such services were constructed with the small business sector in mind. They aim to provide an answer for businesses that don’t yet have those big marketing departments and extravagant social budgets.

Yet services catering to small businesses go far beyond online management and monitoring tools. With the understanding that even brick-and-mortar businesses are in need of serious web visibility came a slew of geo-based software such as Moment.me, which will aggregate all relevant social media posts related to an address you input.

If a Dog is Man’s Friend Then…

I’ve heard it said that social media assistance software is a small business’ best friend. Like a good assistant, it badgers you as little as possible with questions you don’t have clear answers for and before you know, it gets the job done. If tracking your social media traffic is what you’re after, communicating with your customers in real time, or making yourself relevant on as many social media platforms as you possibly can, these tools have your name written all over them.

b&w author pic 1Anat Richter is Content Marketing Director at emaze. When she isn’t tapping away in its Tel Aviv offices, she is documenting life on the web as a user and a guest blogger.

 

Are Paid Content Distribution Platforms Cost Effective?

Content Distribution img3_BK_HoCCreating great content is only one aspect of digital marketing. In order for that content to be effective you need an audience, you need eyeballs and traffic.

Generate enough traffic and that content will drive a steady uptick in conversions and a return on your marketing budgetary spend. Finding that audience is often the hardest challenge.

Social and Guest Blogger Networks

Social media is becoming an increasingly pay-to-play environment, especially on Facebook. Organic traffic to Pages is below 2%.

With over 100,000 factors influencing who sees your content on Facebook, if a post isn’t popular enough it may only reach a few hundred unless you put some ad money behind it.

An alternative is to target bloggers and media outlets directly. Ask to be published as a guest blogger. Get enough outlets in your network, and you could have hundreds of thousands of new readers and fans of your content, which ultimately leads to conversion upticks. This approach does take time, but it works. Buffer, a popular social media sharing tool, leveraged a guest network to generate millions in revenues.

Paid Content Platforms: A Distribution Alternative?

Not unlike creating a sponsored post on Facebook, a range of content distribution platforms have emerged over the last few years, aiming to automate the challenge of finding an audience for your content.

They broadly work in the same way: you upload the content (which is published locally, on your blog), set the budget and timescale, then launch the campaign. Anyone familiar with online publishing and managing ad campaigns should be fairly well accustomed to the technology and processes.

The following are some of the most popular distribution platforms on the market.

Outbrain

Content Distribution img2_BK_HoCCost-per-Click (CPC) $0.25–$0.35

Outbrain boasts a global reach of over 560 million (as of September 2014, comScore), with 80% of the world’s leading brands already working with them. They have a distribution network (which is ultimately what you are paying for) which includes real estate on some of the most high-profile media outlets, including CNN and ESPN.

Nativo

The Outbrain link appeared at the bottom of an article on the Independent websiteViewable CPM rates (vCPM): $10–$18

Rather than just an iteration on the Outbrain model, Nativo has two key differentiators: Firstly, it charges vCPM rates rather than CPC rates, which means you know people have seen your content. Secondly, content is published within media outlets and blogs, like Entrepreneur.com.

They work with over 1,700 publishers and claim a 300% increase on the performance of native ads. It is like having an external content network, with all the heavy lifting taken care of.

Taboola

CPC: $0.25–$0.30

Similar to Outbrain and other competitors, such as Disqus, Taboola provides a content distribution platform on a CPC model.

How to implement (while factoring in downsides)

With all of these you can target using geography. None will get you as close as a sponsored post on Facebook, so all come down to trial and error. Have a budget and timescale that will allow for some fine tuning. Most also provide detailed analytics, which allows you to see what’s working and what isn’t.

Depending on your budget and resources, doing a side by side comparison (depending on your audience and the content) with promoted content across social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Tumblr – where the average promoted post gets reblogged 10,000 times). See which works best for your brand, which results in the highest upticks in traffic and conversions.

Winning the distribution game is key to making the most of your content marketing. As Gary Vaynerchuk noted, content may be king, but without distribution you have no queen and your household will be a mess.

Benjamin+KerryBenjamin Kerry is Managing Director of Precise English, an SEO copywriting agency in Stockton on Tees, England.  He specialises getting businesses set up online, from well-written content to designing and developing a beautiful & functional website.