Developing a Content Marketing Strategy: Choosing a Distribution Channel – Part Four

May 3, 2013

by Dave Crader

Welcome to the fourth addition to our Content Marketing Strategy Development blog series. You may be interested in reading these previous posts before diving into this one:

Part 1: How To Develop a Customer Persona
Part 1 explains why customer personas are important and how to develop them.

Part 2: Aligning Personas to Your Sales Funnel
Part 2 helps you identify opportunities for additional content that will push prospective customers through to the next stage of your Sales Funnel.

Part 3: Choosing a Content Format
Part 3 compares content formats and explains how to choose the best format to tell your content story.

And Part 4 will compare content distribution channels. We’ll be explaining why it’s important to choose a channel before creating content, what channels exist and how to choose a channel that aligns with your content goals. A content distribution channel is the channel used (Facebook, YouTube etc.) to get your message in front of your target audience.

If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!

-Benjamin Franklin

So, you’ve made it to part four. Congratulations! You’re probably wondering by now when I’m going to get to the content development portion of this series. Don’t worry! I’m getting there, we promise. Our goal with all of this planning is to help you save money down the road. Planning is cost-effective. Re-formatting and re-distributing content after it’s already been created isn’t. Let’s try to avoid these costly mistakes so we can allocate more money to what really matters – better content, and lots of it!

The content and the format drives the distribution channel – not the other way around.

In Part 3, We ended with “The content drives the format – not the other way around.”  The same is true when thinking about content distribution channels. Obviously, the content format will drive the channel of distribution (you’re not going to put a White Paper on YouTube…) but, more importantly, the content strategy should also drive your choice of distribution channel.

To clarify, your mental thought process should look something like this:

What Content Distribution Channels Exist?

Channels can come in the form of “Social Networks:”

Or “Content Sharing/Distribution” websites such as:

Presentation sharing sites:

Image sharing sites:

Video sharing sites

White Paper distribution sites:

Infographic distribution sites:

Document sharing sites:

Press Release distribution sites:

Each Social Network has its own unique audience, which is why each social network requires its own unique content strategy. For example, Facebook users are generally more interested in ‘fun’ topics while LinkedIn users are generally more interested in ‘serious’ business related topics.

Content Sharing/Distribution websites are a bit different. You won’t necessarily need a unique strategy for SlideShare in addition to a unique strategy for Author Stream. The two distribution channels are very similar and don’t necessarily need a unique content strategy to be effective.

How to Choose a Channel That Aligns With Your Content Goals

Now that we’ve explained the ‘why’ and the ‘what,’ it’s time to discuss the ‘how.’ We’ll start with each Social Network and Content Sharing/Distribution site’s demographic information, and then we’ll go over a few examples of good and bad content goals for these channels. We’ll be skipping highly specific press release, infographic and white paper distribution sites because the format of content distributed on these sites should be pretty obvious.

Social Networks


Demographics

  • 18-24 is the most popular age bracket
  • 60% female
  • 40% male
  • Household income below $30,000
  • “Some College” and “Bachelor’s Degree” are the most popular education levels
  • Most users browse while at home

Good Content Goals

  • Increase brand awareness with a B2C audience
  • Increase brand trust/authority
  • Increase website traffic
  • Receive feedback

Bad Content Goals

  • Increase direct leads / sales

What Works

  • Posts with video, images or links attached
  • Funny and light hearted content
  • Quotes and questions
  • Contests and promotions

What Doesn’t Work

  • Extra-long posts (140+ characters)
  • Posts with heavy sales messages

Demographics

  • 35-44 is the most popular age bracket
  • 50% female
  • 50% male
  • Household income above $30,000
  • “Bachelor’s Degree” “Master’s Degree” are the most popular education levels
  • Most users browse while at work

Good Content Goals

  • Increase brand awareness with a B2B audience
  • Increase brand trust/authority
  • Attract new employee talent
  • Increase direct leads / sales

Bad Content Goals

  • Increase website traffic
  • Receive feedback

What Works

  • Posts with video, images or links attached
  • Business related content
  • Content related to work performance
  • Inspiring content
  • Quotes and questions

What Doesn’t Work

  • Contests and promotions
  • Extra-long posts (140+ characters)
  • Posts with heavy sales messages

Demographics

  • 18-29 is the most popular age bracket
  • 45% female
  • 55% male
  • Household income between $30,000-$50,000
  • Some college
  • Urban residents

Good Content Goals

  • Increase brand awareness with all audiences
  • Increase brand trust/authority
  • Increase website traffic

Bad Content Goals

  • Receive feedback
  • Increase direct leads / sales

What Works

  • Tweets with images
  • Tweets with links to quality industry content
  • Tweets about new topics

What Doesn’t Work

  • Asking questions
  • Tweets with heavy sales messages

Demographics

  • 18-29 is the most popular age bracket
  • 80% female
  • 20% male
  • Household income above $30,000

Good Content Goals

  • Increase direct leads / sales
  • Increase website traffic
  • Increase brand awareness with a B2C audience

Bad Content Goals

  • Increase brand awareness with a B2B audience
  • Receive feedback

What Works

  • Content that appeals to women
  • Images of items that people want to buy even if they can’t afford it
  • Content about children and parenting
  • Content with prices
  • Food related content
  • Visual stories
  • How-To information
  • Images and Infographics

What Doesn’t Work

  • Contests and promotions
  • Video
  • Asking questions
  • Posts with heavy sales messages

Demographics

  • 18-34 is the most popular age bracket
  • 38% female
  • 62% male
  • Household income between $30,000-$50,000
  • Very technical audience (Engineer, Developer, Software Engineer)

Good Content Goals

  • Increase brand awareness with a very technical audience
  • Increase brand trust/authority
  • Occupy more real estate in Google Search for branded searches
  • Receive feedback

Bad Content Goals

  • Increase direct leads / sales
  • Increase website traffic

What Works

  • Posts with video, images or links attached
  • Extra Long Posts
  • Google+ Hangout Webinars

What Doesn’t Work

  • Posts with heavy sales messages
  • Contests and promotions

Content Sharing/Distribution


Demographics

  • 18-34 is the most popular age bracket
  • 50% female
  • 50% male
  • Household income above $30,000
  • Highly educated audience
  • Highly professional audience
  • Commonly viewed at work

Good Content Goals

  • Increase brand awareness with a B2B audience
  • Increase direct leads / sales – especially in a B2B market
  • Increase website traffic 
  • Increase brand trust/authority
  • Increase opt-ins (e-mail, download, form submit)

Bad Content Goals

  • Increase brand awareness with a B2C audience
  • Receive feedback 

What Works

  • Well-designed slides with lots of pictures
  • Slides with links back to your website
  • Slides using Slideshare’s paid opt-in advertising service
  • Presentations with less than 20 slides
  • Presentations with less than 25 words per slide
  • Presentations with audio and video included
  • Visual stories 
  • Case studies

What Doesn’t Work

  • Presentations with lots of words
  • Poorly designed presentations
  • Presentations with heavy sales messages
  • Asking questions
  • Contests and promotions

Demographics

  • 18-34 is the most popular age bracket, but all ages have a strong presence
  • 46% female 
  • 54% male
  • Household income between $30,000-$50,000
  • Commonly viewed at school

Good Content Goals

  • Increase brand awareness with a B2B and B2C audience
  • Increase brand and individual trust/authority

Bad Content Goals

  • Increase direct leads / sales (self-hosted videos are better for this)
  • Increase website traffic 
  • Receive feedback 

What Works

  • Funny content
  • Educational how-to content
  • Short content >4 minutes
  • Fast, entertaining content
  • Videos with babies or cats
  • Contests and promotions
  • Video reviews
  • Travel directions
  • Visual stories that use both audio and visual elements cohesively

What Doesn’t Work

  • Unnecessarily long videos
  • Videos with heavy sales messages
  • Product demonstration videos 
  • Videos with misleading titles
  • Videos with poor audio (poor video quality is tolerable)

Demographics

  • 18-34 is the most popular age bracket
  • 50% female
  • 50% male
  • Household income above $30,000
  • Highly educated audience
  • Highly professional audience

Good Content Goals

  • Increase brand awareness with a B2B and B2C audience
  • Increase brand and individual trust/authority
  • Increase direct leads / sales

Bad Content Goals

  • Receive feedback

What Works

  • Case studies
  • Content formatted for printing
  • Infographics
  • Document Templates (Resume, Cover Letter, Invoices, Contracts etc.)
  • Books
  • Recipes

What Doesn’t Work

  • Uploads with heavy sales messages
  • Contests and promotions
  • Asking questions

Consequences of Choosing the Wrong Distribution Channel

In some cases, choosing the wrong distribution channel can result in negative consequences for your brand. Followers and fans may unsubscribe and in some extreme circumstances your account may even be closed. This doesn’t happen often, but when it does the cause can usually be traced to heavy sales messages within the content. Taking time to understand each Content Sharing/Distribution and Social Network site’s unique audience before distributing your content will help prevent these negative consequences from occurring.

Using More Than One Distribution Channel

There is nothing wrong with using more than one distribution channel for your content. In fact, I’d highly encourage it. A blog post can usually be re-formatted and re-distributed for about half of the cost you paid to get it written. What you’ll need to decide, however, is if it’s worth your time to make such transformations after the content has already been produced. One clever way to way to kill two birds with one stone is to make the draft version of your content its own content format. For example, the interview conducted for your blog post could be turned into a podcast. The storyboard of your YouTube video could be turned into a PowerPoint presentation. The creative brief of your infographic could be written as a press release. Get creative with it!