Content Distribution Starts at Zero


You’ve just developed a great piece of brand content:

  • a video
  • a blog post
  • an infographic
  • a survey

How many people are going to see it?

Without a content distribution strategy you should expect exactly zero.

That’s right. Nada. No one.


The days when you could post content on social channels and expect large audiences are long over. You need a plan. Without a plan you’re just relying on chance that your content is going to reach the right audience.

You need to start by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Who is the audience for your content? (And please don’t say everyone. Prioritize your targets)
  • Where are your audiences? (What channels do they normally use to find content?)
  • What are the metrics that spell success? (What numbers do you have to reach to declare victory?)

Let’s get specific. You have a video case study that tells a powerfully emotional and visual story about how one customer is using your product to achieve their dream. In other words, the quality of your content is excellent.

You want your content to hit your key customer demographic: mothers between the ages of 30 and 45. In fact, you have created the content with this audience specifically in mind. You want views of the video to be the key measurement. You need at least 250,000 views within the first week to declare success (and impress your boss).

So start at zero and begin to design a distribution strategy to hit your number – and your target.

Let’s start with owned channels.

Your Facebook page has 350,000 fans – most in your key demographic. It’s a great place to start. But you know that a posting the video there will only reach a small percentage of your Facebook community. So you pay to augment the reach. The posting will now hit half your Facebook fans: 175,000 fans.

You also will post links to the video on Twitter where you have 12,000 followers – at least twice a day for three days. Each tweet will focus on a different aspect of the video and you’ll track to see which tweet works best. The tweet that works best will become a promoted tweet on the fourth and fifth days targeted at your followers and their followers.

You will also post the video on your corporate blog, which has 8,950 subscribers. A link to the video will go out in your corporate email newsletter which reaches 125,000 people.

Lastly, you post to your YouTube channel which has 1,090 subscribers.

Next we turn to earned channels.

You bundle the video with a strong news hook and pitch your targeted media. All the trade and business publications that you have developed a relationships with. Not only do you pitch the publications, but you pitch the reporters and editors. Will they tweet the link? Will they post to Facebook? Explore how you can work with them to embed the content on their channels.

Next come the bloggers. You have at least 10 bloggers you work with all the time. You approach them with a paid placement. They agree to write a blog post and embed the video. They will also tweet and post on their Facebook pages. This is a paid opportunity and they have to fully disclose the relationship with your brand. The overall reach of the bloggers is 750,000.

Now we go to paid channels.

You work with a distribution partner like Viral Gains to seed the video with dozens of media companies. Viral Gains agrees to send 100,000 highly targeted views to your video. You also work with OutBrain or Taboola to put a link to the video on articles and content on media sites that are related to your content. They agree to send another 100,000 views to your video.

Now you have a plan.

Through the paid distribution you are guaranteed 200,000 views. You have seeded the video on other distribution channels with a potential of 1.3 million viewers (not including the media pitching). Once you become more experienced in distribution you’ll have developed a formula to know your average returns on these audience numbers.

As you can see, paid runs across all the channels. That’s the way content distribution works now. It’s not advertising. It’s not a media buy. It’s using paid to drive audience and reach your targets.

You hit the switch on the plan.

A week later your video has 780,000 views and it’s still growing. There are conversations on Facebook, Twitter and on your key blogs about the video. Your audience is liking and sharing the content. Media are taking an interest.


And it all started at zero.


6 Turnkey Solutions for Content Distribution (via Mashable)

2 Responses to “Content Distribution Starts at Zero”

  1. George – Great take on the need for both content and distribution. Its akin to the cable industry. ESPN was one of the few content generators that “jumped the shark” and became more valuable to the distributors than they were to it. There aren’t too many companies that product content that can do the same. Thus, our content distribution strategies tend to be heavily “paid” and “owned” these days. In fact, I’d quibble that your second item under “earned” is, in fact, a “paid” distribution strategy. Thus, further demonstrating just how small a slice of the pie earned media “earns” these days.

  2. Hi Eric:
    I agree: paid pretty much spans what we used to categorize as PAID, EARNED and OWNED.

    There is no sense in producing content if you don’t have a plan on how to get it into the hands of your target audience!

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