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The In-Depth Guide to Content Promotion

by Sharon Hurley Hall

Content marketing is an excellent tool for building authority, gaining influence, enhancing visibility, getting attention and, eventually, winning sales. But creating the right content is only half the battle. If you don’t promote your content so that people have the chance to see it then there’s no point in creating content at all. That’s why content promotion is such an important part of content marketing.

The web landscape is crowded and getting more crowded every minute. At the time of writing, there were almost a billion websites online, with more being created every second. And the 3.3 billion internet users are very active, especially on social media. On Facebook alone, users like 4.2 million pieces of content every minute. Meanwhile even goldfish have longer attention spans than the average person, who comes in 1 second shorter at 8 seconds.

The bottom line: if you want people to notice your content and spend longer than a few seconds reading it, you need to work on content promotion.

Why Knowing Your Audience Matters for Content Promotion

I’m going to assume you already have a content strategy. If not, this series of articles on Contently is a good place to start. One foundation of your content strategy is knowing your audience. Why? Because knowing your audience gives you a heads-up on what kind of content will interest them. And knowing your audience also means you know what content they are likely to share and where. That’s crucial information for content promotion.

The best place to start with understanding your audience is Google Analytics. Not only is it free, but it contains a wealth of useful data on the people who visit your site (whom you can assume are at least marginally interested in your content). In addition to an overview of their age and gender, you can also see how your content performs in different affinity categories, in market segments and other interest categories.

google analytics interests

What’s just as important is the overview of social media activity and inbound links. If someone has linked to your content, then that’s someone you can follow up with to promote future content. And if your traffic is coming from certain sites and they stick around, that also tells you that those same sites might be a good place to promote.

Understand Your Audience with Social Analytics

To get more detail on this and to learn even more about the type of content your audience loves, check out the stats on all the social media sites you use.  They vary in depth and usefulness, but here’s an overview of what you could learn.

  • On Twitter, clicking on the audience tab in Twitter Analytics will give you a snapshot of the interests, language, lifestyle and behavior of your audience. You can also drill down into each chart to get a good idea who’s paying attention to your content on social media. For more insight into your Twitter account, try tools like Tweet Binder, TweetReach and Commun.it.
  • Facebook Insights gives broad-brush information on the age and gender of your audience, but you can find out more by using a free tool like Fanpage Karma.
  • Pinterest analytics also gives broad information, but it’s useful to click on interests. This shows you a list of topics, boards your audience has pinned to and brands they love. For additional information, try a tool like Tailwind.

Another option for understanding your audience is to track data across multiple sites and see if there are common features.

Who is Influential? What Do They Share?

As well as understanding your audience, you also need to understand what experts and influencers share, as you’ll be using them as part of your content promotion strategy. Several tools work well to help you with this. Here’s one way this could work.

First, use Klout to identify experts in the topics you care about. Set up your Klout profile, add your topics of interest, then return to the “explore” page to see featured and top experts for each area of interest. Do this for all the topics of interest, then add them to a list for further exploration.

klout explore

Next, visit Klear and use the search functions to find the profiles of all the people on your list. Explore these, paying particular attention to their top content (if shared on Twitter, you can see retweet numbers at the bottom left of each card) and the people they are talking to. This may give you a few more names for your list.

klear profile view

You can also research potential influencers on Buzzstream Discovery. Just type in the name or search term and press enter. Then select the people who interest you from the list of results and check out their full profile to see their content, online footprint and network.

buzzstream discovery

If you have a Buzzsumo Pro account, visit the site and do a search to find the most shared content related to your topic. For any relevant piece of content, click on “view sharers” to get a list that you can sort by page authority, domain authority, retweet ratio and more. And you can see other links shared by those people. Try not to get sucked into a rabbit hole; this online sleuthing can be addictive!

Using these tools together, you should have a list of people who will be interested in sharing the content you create. You’ll be able to use that list for your own content promotion strategy.

How to Promote Your Content on Social Media

With a combined audience numbering in the billions, social media is a key target for your content promotion efforts.

One issue to consider is whether sharing will be automated, partly automated, manual or, most likely, a combination of all three. Here’s what they look like.

Automating Social Sharing

While nobody recommends full automation of your social media accounts – after all, they ARE supposed to be social – some automation can be helpful. If you’re going to share every post you publish on Twitter, then why not automate the process? Tools you can use to automatically share your content once it’s published include:

twitterfeed
  • Twitterfeed, which works with your blog’s RSS feed.
  • Zapier or IFTTT, which use zaps or recipes to trigger automatic actions (check out these IFTTT recipes for examples)
  • The WordPress Jetpack plugin, which shares to a variety of social media sites
  • Pulling new content into your email newsletter account for automatic distribution (most providers offer this service in some way)
  • Automated sharing to LinkedIn and Facebook groups via Hootsuite or similar tools.

Partial Automation

With some tools, you have to intervene before automation kicks in.  Examples include:

ifttt social media
  • Where new content pulled into your email newsletter account has to wait for you to confirm or tweak it.
  • Pulling content into Buffer via IFTTT, Zapier or Buffer’s own feed import tool and then manually adjusting social media updates before they go out.
  • Using CoSchedule Editorial Calendar to create and schedule social media updates for new content.
  • Logging into your social media management tool or social media dashboard of choice to optimize how updates are handled.
  • Using a tool to share to multiple Facebook pages or LinkedIn groups.

Manual Content Sharing

Manual sharing is, of course, where you visit different sites and share the content yourself or have to take action to make sharing happen. Options for this include:

  • Joining LinkedIn and Facebook groups and sharing your own content where it’s relevant
  • Becoming part of a Triberr community and sharing content there (Triberr can also be automated or partly automated and is also a good way to get other people to share your content).
  • Joining relevant communities such as Inbound.org, Growth Hackers and adding your content there.
  • Joining social sharing communities such as Viral Content Buzz
  • Using a service like JustRetweet to extend your reach on Twitter
triberr stream

In most cases, you’ll have to add your content manually, though some sites offer WordPress plugins or automatic import. It’s also worth noting, that most communities expect reciprocity, so you’ll have to share content from others if you want yours shared.

Getting the Timing Right

An important aspect of content promotion is getting the timing right. Social media analytics can help with this, showing you when your audience is online and sharing. Many social media dashboards also provide this information or, if you’re a Buffer user, you can use its optimal timing tool to analyze your account, suggest the best sharing times and replace your current schedule.

Another approach is to use the research that’s already out there about social timing. Three useful pieces of information are:

  • Schedule LinkedIn updates during the week for maximum visibility (Social Media Examiner)
  • Schedule Twitter and Facebook updates on Thursdays and Fridays if you want more engagement (Buffer)
  • Reach 80% of your potential updates by scheduling social media updates for the Central and Eastern time zones (Kissmetrics)

This gives you a good starting point for your own schedule so you can get maximum visibility while avoiding overwhelming your audience.

Extend Content Reach with Influencers

If you want to make content promotion even more effective, it’s useful to get other people to help. While your online network is a part of this, it’s even better to work with influencers. Now’s the time to use that list you created earlier.

Remember, you have already established that the people on your list like and share content like the content you are publishing. So now your goal is to let them know about it and ask them to share. While it’s easier if you already have a connection with at least some of the influencers, you can also get good results from a cold approach, as Sujan Patel found.

Contentmarketer.io is a great tool for helping you bridge the gap. You can either upload a list of the people you want to connect with or have the site scan your post for influencers. Then the web app pulls together a list of contact details. Finally, you can use it to contact people via email, direct message or tweet, with all your outreach efforts stored in one place.

contentmarketerio

While Content Marketer is a paid tool, you can use the free Notifier (Twitter login required) to send a personalized tweet to get attention. The added benefit is that their followers may see your tweet, investigate and share.

notifier

You can also reach influencers via LinkedIn, either by participating in the groups they belong to or sending them a message via InMail. This doesn’t have to be complicated. For example, here’s an approach that I received by email:

outreach email

I checked out the content and shared. Try something similar with your list. If you’re using Content Marketer, it includes templates. Otherwise, try the examples in this article on best practices for cold email outreach.

Paying for Content Promotion

PPC CrazyEgg

Another way to get eyes on your content is to pay for promotion. As Neil Patel points out, pay per click advertising is an efficient way to promote content without taking up a lot of time, though it will take a while to get it set up.

You can also promote your content via social advertising. Your main options are:

  • Promoted tweets on Twitter
  • Boosted posts on Facebook
  • Sponsored updates on LinkedIn
  • Stumbleupon advertising
  • Advertising on Reddit
  • Promoted pins on Pinterest
  • Instagram advertising

This can be extremely effective. For example, in one Facebook ad campaign I ran for a Caribbean non-profit, the update was seen by more than 7,000 people compared with the usual 50-150. In addition, several people attended the event being promoted as a result.

For more on social advertising, check out these three resources:

In addition to social advertising, there are several content distribution networks which serve up your content as related posts on other people’s sites. Well-known examples include OutBrain, nRelate and Taboola, but there are others.

10 Other Ways to Promote Your Content

Other ways you can promote your content include:

  1. Syndicating it. Sites like Forbes, Huffington Post and Business2Community often republish expert content.
  2. Reposting it. Try importing your content to Medium or posting it via LinkedIn’s blogging platform to reach new people. To avoid worries about content duplication, consider creating a shorter version and linking back to the original.
  3. Adding your blog content to an aggregator site like Alltop
  4. Promoting your latest post in your email signature. Use Wisestamp to help with this or just add a link manually in your email program.
  5. Guest blogging, contributing to a roundup or being an expert source or podcast or video guest. There’s usually some room for self-promotion.
  6. Posting your content in answer to questions on sites like Quora, discussion groups or forums.
  7. Creating your own publication via Scoop.it, Paper.li or Rebelmouse which you can share on social media or embed on your site. You can also create your own Flipboard magazine.
  8. Taking part in link roundups.
  9. Sharing selectively with friends and family. They already love you and are often happy to spread the word.
  10. Promoting content offline via speaking and networking events.

How to Get More from Your Content (So You Can Share it More)

tweet example

If you’re sharing a piece of content via multiple channels, you don’t want to overwhelm people, especially if they follow you on more than one channel. Content repurposing can solve that problem. Repurposing takes the content you already have and changes the format so you can make it work for you in different ways.

A good starting point is to pull out some tweetable or shareable quote and convert these to social media images, but you can do a lot more. As we’ve mentioned in the past, you can also:

  • Make your blog post into a slide deck
  • Make an infographic from blog post data
  • Create a video

These all give you the chance to share the same basic content in formats that will appeal to different audiences. You can also use repurposing to build your list. For example, Crazy Egg has created PDFs of some of its in-depth content, with a bonus item when people opt in.

Following Up on Content Promotion

analytics google

Source

Finally, to get even more from your content promotion efforts, track your results. To do this:

  • Use Google Tag Manager to improve social interaction tracking in Google Analytics.
  • Check social media analytics on all sites.
  • Use social listening tools like Buzzsumo to see how your content is doing
  • See who’s sharing your content and keep track of them so you can approach them again
  • Keep tweaking your strategy to align your goals with your results

Useful Resources

If you want to learn more about content promotion, these three articles will help:

With the right content promotion strategy you can get your audience’s attention and build a relationship that ensures they are interested whenever you publish a new piece of content. What other strategies and tools do you use for content promotion?

Read other Crazy Egg posts by Sharon Hurley Hall.

14 Comments

DON’T MISS OUT

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Sharon Hurley Hall

Sharon Hurley Hall is a professional freelance writer and blogger. Her career has spanned more than 20 years, including stints as a journalist, academic writer, university lecturer and ghost writer. Connect with Sharon on her website.

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  1. Zsolt says:
    May 27, 2016 at 4:28 pm

    Fantastic post!

  2. Anonymous says:
    February 7, 2016 at 5:03 pm

    Excellent article! We will be linking to this great post on our site.

    Keep up the great writing.

  3. Sarah A. Parker says:
    February 3, 2016 at 3:48 pm

    Hi Sharon,

    Thanks for the TweetReach by Union Metrics shoutout. We appreciate it! Anyone with questions or who’s interested in learning more can always find us on Twitter @UnionMetrics.

    – Sarah A. Parker
    Social Media Manager | Union Metrics
    Fine Makers of TweetReach, The Union Metrics Social Suite, and more

    • Sharon Hurley Hall says:
      February 4, 2016 at 6:42 am

      Thanks for the additional info, Sarah.

  4. charlie patel says:
    February 3, 2016 at 9:16 am

    Excellent resource Sharon! There are so many great tools in your article.

    We appreciate you mentioning Triberr. Thank you.

    • Sharon Hurley Hall says:
      February 3, 2016 at 10:39 am

      Happy to, Charlie. Glad you enjoyed the post.

  5. Justin McGill says:
    February 2, 2016 at 7:52 am

    Love this piece Sharon. LOTS of great resources mentioned. Thanks for linking to our cold email best practices post as well. Cheers!

    • Sharon Hurley Hall says:
      February 2, 2016 at 9:13 am

      Thanks, Justin. Happy to link to such a great resource.

  6. Deepak Gera says:
    February 2, 2016 at 4:16 am

    Hi Sharon, Very informative post. I’ve seen couple of articles about content promotion but I always felt that these techniques work great if site is already have some good traffic and well known to others. But when it comes to newbies who just started to make a way feels difficulty in grasping all these promotion techniques and as a result all goes to aggressive link building which again can be dangerous by search engine penalties.

    My point here is, do we have any step by step guide or something for newbie to constantly and slowly building links and promote content for longer terms.

    • Sharon Hurley Hall says:
      February 2, 2016 at 9:15 am

      Hi Deepak, I think these strategies will work for everyone, though of course it’s easier to do some things if you already have a bank of content. If you don’t, then you need to start by creating some. And you don’t need to be afraid to approach influencers if you’re new. I’ve seen lots of people have success with the strategy, but you have to have something worth their time.

  7. Simcha says:
    February 2, 2016 at 1:20 am

    Great post!
    I’ve been seeing a lot of talk lately about IFTTT but I have been meaning to check it out since it sounds like it could really help save me some time. Though it looks like a tool that requires a series time commitment to get set up, so I need to try to fit that in.
    And thanks for including WiseStamp! Email signatures are the prefect place to promote blog posts and articles, and we love being able to help our users do this through our app.

    • Sharon Hurley Hall says:
      February 2, 2016 at 9:16 am

      I tried WiseStamp in its early days and loved it, Simcha. Like you, I’m barely scratching the surface of what’s possible with IFTTT – it’s an incredibly rich tool.

  8. Sue-Ann Bubacz says:
    February 1, 2016 at 3:13 pm

    Sharon:

    Always find something new and interesting reading your work and it looks like I have found more to try again, here, so thanks.
    Question: what do you think about Snip.ly?
    I’ve noticed Kristi Hines using it some and may try it out. But, then I saw a critical view of it on Mark Schaeffer’s blog and he finds it unethical. Hmmm. Maybe it’s me, or maybe he is tainted, but I didn’t see or consider the evil uses until he pointed it out. What do you think? Thanks and take care.
    Sue-Ann

    • Sharon Hurley Hall says:
      February 2, 2016 at 9:17 am

      When I first heard about Sniply, it sounded like a good idea, Sue-Ann, but when I read more, I decided not to use it.

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