How to use distribution channels like LinkedIn and Medium in your content strategy.
So you’ve made progress with your content marketing. You have a blog going, you share your posts on a few social media platforms, and you’re seeing some results. But you want to see more.
Blogging is the bread and butter of any decent content marketing strategy. If you aren’t focusing on your blog first and foremost, you’re robbing your website of the content it needs to attract organic search engine results. It’s also the backbone of your social media strategy. Without blog posts, most B2B marketers have little to entice social media followers off LinkedIn or Twitter and on to their website.
But that doesn’t mean that your content strategy can’t accommodate some of these other content distribution channels. Sites like Medium and LinkedIn have a lot to gain from your insight, but they also have an interest in keeping their traffic on their site. Your goal is to use the platform to draw visitors off their domain and on to yours.
Just to be clear: we’re not talking about content syndication, which is republishing the same piece on multiple sites. That’s a different topic that we’ll cover another time. What we want to explore in this post are ways you can attract a wider audience to your website, where they will fall into your carefully-crafted marketing funnel.
So as always, start with your website. Give your visitors something to do when they come to you, such as an opt-in form to fill out. Once you have your calls-to-action in place, it’s time to bring in traffic.
What content distribution channels should you look at?
There are any number of industry publications you could look at that might be great places to target for guest blogging. But if you’re looking for open sites where you can publish an article and get it in front of thousands of people, then there are a few obvious choices. However, to avoid splitting your time in too many directions, think about your audience.
Most of the ones we’re about to discuss are good places for B2B businesses. Medium and Quora work slightly better for entrepreneurs, while LinkedIn is a great place for larger businesses. As you’ll see, we recommend avoiding Reddit and BuzzFeed, even though they’re some of the larger sites out there.
You will also have to consider who is writing for your brand. These publications are all looking for an individual author—someone with a name and a face. They’re not looking for a corporate logo. If you are having someone ghost write your content for you, make sure you know how to post or optimize to these sites, or make sure you’re comfortable sharing your login information.
LinkedIn is a popular choice among many established businesses. If you have a business page on LinkedIn, you should already be sharing your content to that channel. However, in order to publish original content on Pulse, you will need to use your personal account.
Pulse works much like a content management system: you have a place to upload a featured image, some rich text formatting options, and a nicely formatted profile. Once you publish, your post will reach your connections on LinkedIn, as well as other people who are following that stream of industry news.
This is a great way to establish some industry credentials and improve your profile. But to really do you good, you will want to link people back to your website. One way to do this is to publish part of a blog post with the line “read the full story…,” but I find this a little cheap. My preference is to write some supplementary material that can enhance your blog post. Then you can link back to your site with a line like “I wrote more about this in my recent post…”
Medium is large in the minds of many content marketers these days. With its huge reach and its penchant for attracting industry thought leaders, every one wants a piece of the action. However, the rules for Medium apply much the same as they do for LinkedIn: make the content worthwhile, and link back to your website.
While a lot of LinkedIn traffic will come from your connections, on Medium you will go farther on the strength of your content. For this reason, you will need to write a catchy and compelling think piece to get any traction.
I prefer using original content rather than republishing an old blog. However, you can often use old blog posts as inspiration for a Medium piece. Try taking a list article and reversing it (Top 10 best… becomes Top 10 worst). Or find a trending topic and write your own take. Articles on current topics work well on content distribution channels, because any posts here have a naturally shorter expiration date than they do on your blog. So, try writing about what’s hot, but link back to the more foundational pieces on your blog.
Honestly, I like Quora, but it has a different format from Medium or LinkedIn. Quora is all about asking and answering questions. This means that it’s harder to adapt blog posts to fit the style. What you can do, however, is look for relevant questions, and include a link back to your blog in your answer.
To do this without being obnoxious, you’ll need to do two things. First, set up a profile to establish your credentials. Because Quora is interested in attracting experts, people will actually want to see that you’re established in your field. Second, actually answer the question. Don’t just link to your blog. Give your response, and either at the top or bottom of your post include a line that says “I wrote about this recently, you can check out more of what I have to say in my blog post…”
You have to provide a thoughtful, relevant answer to get any upvotes. But if you take the time to provide original content, no one will mind if you link to related material on your blog.
I’ve seen people recommend using Reddit as a distribution channel, but for the life of me I can’t see why. For one, Reddit is hostile toward marketers. They don’t want you spamming their boards with links, so the likelihood that this strategy will backfire is high.
Yeah, you could still track down some relevant subreddits, build a reputation for yourself in the community, and begin to enact a tentative strategy, but the only way I see this working is if you have either no marketing budget at all and are hoping to build a groundswell movement of true believers (in which case you’d better be prepared to invest in that community), or you have a massive marketing budget and you don’t care about losing money on a long shot gambit.
This isn’t a great place for B2B businesses, unless you’re marketing a startup to Millennials. And frankly, I’ve rarely seen a marketing post on BuzzFeed that didn’t come off as forced and awkward. Is your business cool now? Do you get the young folk because you can post on their hip blog? Again, unless you have money to throw away, focus your efforts elsewhere.
Publish original content, but don’t abandon your own blog.
Publishing to a distribution channel can put your content in front of a huge audience. In fact, I’ve heard some marketers suggest that you can run your entire blog off Medium or LinkedIn. However, I think this is a bad idea for four reasons:
- It’s not sending traffic to your site where it will bring in conversions.
- It’s not contributing to your domain strength or SEO.
- It’s not branded.
- If the platform changes, then all your content goes with it.
For this reason, these publications should only ever be supplementary. They should also be original. While duplicate content is becoming less of an issue (or at least one that comes with some positive tradeoffs), it’s simply harder to show your audience that you’re providing value if you’re copying the same post to these different channels.
Instead, take a topic you know well, and write about it a second time with a slightly more targeted twist. Then watch your metrics and see what kind of results you get.