Content promotion is not something you should only consider after you have created and published your content. For PR professionals, promotion comes first, and for good reason.
If you adopt that mentality, your editorial planning will go from just ‘content’ to ‘marketing content’. In this article I share a range of ideas, with links to some of the best resources available for further reading.
Infographics: Infographics have become a widely-used method of gaining content promotion. Produce a fantastic and useful article and you may find people linking to it. But if you produce a nice piece of info-art that demonstrates some great facts in an impressive way, you may find your content gets more shares. Images are easier to share and there are no duplicate content issues with infographics – other bloggers can simply take your graphic and embed it into their own article without worrying about what Google will think.
Gamification: You can encourage your audience to interact with your content rather than just reading it. Introducing games can mean anything from a caption competition to a voting system or a treasure hunt. Some companies have gamified content across social media, such as running competitions to encourage Pinterest users to share pictures of products from their site on to their own pinboards. To achieve this, you need to have the right content planned and publish it in the right way.
PR or ‘viral’ content: Creating something noteworthy enough to receive media coverage or thousands of shares can pay off. You can’t contrive viral success, but you can create stories and put the tools in place to help make them ‘go viral’. I once worked on a site that used competitions as PR stories. One day, we ripped out our kitchen sink to install a new one, and decided to give away the old sink in a competition. The Daily Star ran a story featuring the winner posing with the old sink.
We also purchased the real titles Lord and Lady of Old Trafford and found two Posh and Becks lookalikes. They were then dressed in Man Utd shirts with the names Lord and Lady on the back, and photographed for a press release to announce the fact that we were giving away the titles as a prize.
Of course, there are more than ten ways to promote your content – the tips below are just a selection of methods and tools you can use.
Post the link to your article to social bookmarking sites like Reddit, StumbleUpon, Digg and Delicious. Reddit is generally the best referrer of traffic, with StumbleUpon second, but there is a reason for that. Reddit is a community and, as such, is intolerant of blatant spamming.
You have to be an active member of the community to post occasional links to your own content. Your content is always more likely to perform better on these sites when it isn’t shared by you.
Art drives sites like Pinterest, We Heart It, Tumblr and Flickr. The more eye-catching the art, the more likely users are to like and share it. The images you use are just as important as the words on the page. Remember, some sites will only accept images of a certain size.
Don’t just auto-post content to Facebook and Twitter – customise your posts. Use relevant hashtags (on Twitter and Google Plus) to reach a wider audience than the one following you. On Facebook, edit the title and description of the link and add your own comment to encourage your friends and followers to share. Generating conversation is the best way to widen the reach of the links you post on social networks.
Create optimised videos with links back to your page on YouTube. These can be shared and embedded in lots of other places. However, you also need to think about what you can do to get the videos seen, boost subscribers to your channel and increase visibility of your site. A promotional video won’t get shared by lots of people. Make videos that suit the audience, not ones that force the audience to listen to your sales message.
Ensure you build and maintain relationships with key influencers. Give them the kind of things they like to share – if they like them, they’re likely to pass them on. The more people that share your content and link back to you, the higher your domain authority will go which, in turn, will boost your search engine ranking. Tools like Followerwonk and ManageFlitter can help you with this.
Promoting your content to your own subscribers works. A well-designed and carefully written email newsletter can encourage repeat visits, which is good for brand reputation and customer retention. Also, don’t underestimate the importance of email over social media. All the big social networks rely on email to keep us going back to their own sites.
There are thousands of journalists and bloggers out there constantly looking for things to write about. Many of them like to write articles based on other pieces they have read. Contacting these writers direct may lead to your article getting featured in another one. You could build a mailing list of other writers and there are tools that can help with this, such as BuzzStream.
Pingbacks were a good idea when blogging took off. The idea of a pingback is you write an article in which you link to another blogger’s article. That blogger receives a pingback notification and your article link will appear on their article. Bloggers can use pingbacks to help each other achieve more site traffic.
Unfortunately, the system is widely used by spammers, so not all professional bloggers make use of it. When used sensibly though, pingbacks work – writers like to know when someone else is linking to their articles.
Let’s say you publish an article on your website that you want to push traffic to (either for marketing or SEO reasons). One thing you can do is write related articles as guest posts for other blogs. Those articles can link back to your original, hence boosting the rank value of the page, and the potential for referrals.
Unlike content promotion for one article, PR is about getting one story out to lots of places. In some cases, a distributed press release will just be re-published with few changes, but quality media outlets will tell your story their own way.
I can’t finish without pointing out that content is easier to promote in lots of places if it is of a high quality. Great writing and good resources appeal to people. The more care you put into your content, the more likely it is to be regarded as shareworthy.
There are two things to consider here. First, newsworthy content that is likely to attract a short burst of promotion – there is value in frequently publishing topical content.
Second, great evergreen content can slowly gain links and shares over a longer period. Its timeless nature means you can promote it again and again.
Remember that however great your content is, it won’t promote itself.
For more ideas, read our Deep Thinking article on How To Increase Web Traffic.
Steve (RIP) was Services Director for Vertical Leap. He started professional life as a magazine journalist, working on music magazines and women's titles before becoming a web editor in 1997, then joining MSN to work purely in online publishing. Since 1999 he has worked for and consulted to a broad range of businesses about their digital marketing.
Categories: Content Marketing, PPC
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