In 2015, content marketers understood more than ever the importance of strategic content distribution through social as publishers tackled the challenge of virtually non-existent organic reach of branded posts across platforms. Some of us learned the hard way the value of audience engagement and the essential nature of “paying to play” – or, leveraging paid promotions to amplify published pieces. When investing hours of time and oftentimes large budgets into developing relevant content for our audiences, we must ensure that content is reaching the people we want, when we want, where we want, and one significant measure of success is that of audience engagement.
This year, more and more brands flock to capitalize on the benefits of content marketing, becoming publishers and further crowding the branded content space. And with this rise of brands as publishers, social platforms are innovating and evolving once again, utilizing their audience data and optimizing their content distribution offerings.
As digital audiences relish the power of real time – live broadcasts via Facebook Live and Periscope, custom content delivered to them within their feeds thanks to constantly evolving algorithms, behind the scenes peeks into exclusive events on Snapchat – social platforms continue to build functionality to leverage the “Instant” trend. Channels like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google are doubling down on distribution efforts, and as content marketers we must consider these offerings when developing distribution strategies.
Consider these best practices for content distribution in an age where social media platforms are finding ways to make publishing content easier, faster and more user friendly.
1) Reach Audiences Where They’re Already Engaging – in an Instant
No matter your industry it’s highly likely that your target audience is actively engaging somewhere on platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn. The art lies in tapping into user data provided by the channels and leveraging their sophisticated targeting capabilities to reach users on the platforms in the moment they’re there. Content publishing tools on theses platforms like Facebook’s Instant Articles, and LinkedIn’s recent announcement to bring similar functionality to market, allow creators to ensure their content is making its way to relevant audiences in real time, amplifying reach and engagement.
2) In the Age of Bots, Show Your Humanity
Brands are rushing to utilize bot technologies on social media, simultaneously innovating and fighting misinformation generated through the emerging capabilities. When distributing and promoting content on social, don’t forget the importance of the human experience in making impactful connections with your audience. Social media is a powerful tool for humanizing your brand, and new offerings like Google Create allow makers to curate thought leadership via the story pillars they are passionate about – further enabling the movement toward the humanization of brands.
3) If It Doesn’t Work On Mobile, It Doesn’t Work
A 2015 e-marketer study reported mobile digital media time in the US is now significantly higher at 51% compared to desktop (42%). This begs the need to consider tablets and mobile devices when creating your distribution strategy. Utilizing social applications to distribute your content ensures your content is optimized for mobile, often reaching users directly in their streams during times they’re looking to consume and engage.
4) Embrace Platforms’ Roles as Publishers
At this year’s Facebook F8 developer’s conference, Mark Zuckerberg made it clear Facebook’s role now (and moving forward) is not limited simply to “social network” – or a media platform – or a one stop shop for entertainment. To its 1.6 billion active users it is all those things and more.
In April, Facebook opened its Instant Articles application to all publishers with a Facebook page. Creators who published on Instant Articles in its beta stage experienced 20% more clicks, 30% more shares, and users who clicked to content were 70% less likely to bounce from the page thanks to it’s quick-load capabilities.
This month, we anticipate big changes from Twitter as they work to release functionality that will allow for longer form content – outside of the standard 140 character limit.
With this in mind, it’s essential to change the way we think of these traditional platforms – not sure as social sites but as content hosts, sophisticated ad mediums, and engaging platforms on which to drive branded conversations.
5) Optimize Content Uniquely for Each Platform
Each social platform has a different personality, different user behavior, different strengths and weaknesses for engaging with your audience. As they continue to evolve and innovate, often weekly, it’s important to stay on top of news and capabilities for each platform, and test and try capabilities as they emerge.
Whether you hesitant to embrace the new path social media is carving for content distribution, or fully ready to embrace new technologies, the reality is this is content publishing has a future within social platforms. Invest your efforts on social to develop more influential, authentic engagement. This will only help your brand stay relevant within the ever-changing content sharing landscape.