In 2013, Buzzfeed’s VP of agency strategy and industry development, Jonathan Perelman, uttered these famous words: “Content is king, but distribution is queen, and she wears the pants.”
Perelman’s metaphor rang true for a lot of us; and it’s a lesson we’ve had reinforced over and over in the process of working with our clients, in the UK and in Australia.
It’s one thing to know it though, and another to actually develop your distribution framework, testing and measuring the success of your content as you go. Here are my top tips for content amplification based on our experiences at The Dubs.
Your amplification framework 101
For any content marketing programme to be effective and deliver commercial returns it needs to do more than just sit there and look pretty – it needs to reach its intended audience. But as the effectiveness of traditional channels like print and display advertising declines, we can no longer rely on them for media distribution.
So financial businesses are seeing the need to evolve their content strategies, incorporating sustainable distribution channels such as social media and paid amplification, to reach targeted audiences at scale.
Choosing your distribution channels
Choosing the most appropriate channels for distribution is key, both to access your intended audience but also to do it in a sustained and cost-appropriate way. For example, if you were to decide that printing newspapers is the best way to reach your audience, you might find the cost overhead in print machinery, staff, and trucks to drive newspapers to the audience would not make it a viable approach, especially when scaled to a global audience.
Any distribution strategy needs to work for both the business and its audience.
Social media offers cost efficiencies and a means to meet the needs of both the audience and the business. It also supports the long-term strategy of building a direct, constant and valued relationship with the audience, as opposed to a ‘pay-to-engage’ model of traditional advertising (which stops delivering engagement when you stop paying).
The role of social amplification
Amplification is the bedrock of any distribution strategy.
Initially, when your social media channel reach is small, any organic distribution of content will be limited. Amplifying content by paying to reach targeted audiences will deliver much greater reach and therefore can start to deliver engagement from day one. You can also use it to amplify the social channels themselves (paying to attract more followers), which will, over time, increase the scale of the audiences who follow those channels and the reach of any organic activity.
The upshot for a brand is that any amplification of content is executed only on pay-for-engagement models such as CPC (cost per click), meaning the business only pays for activity that is driving return. This is the complete opposite of many traditional media buys where impressions are the standard.
Measuring content performance
Performance needs to be judged across many criteria and at different points within the maturity of a content programme. Expecting commercial ROI from day one should not be the goal; instead, building credibility as a source of valued information (the reason your audience returns for more) becomes your holy grail. This needs to be tracked through base channel metrics such as followers, content reads, subscribers, likes/re-tweets, etc.
However, as the business matures (year one+) in its content strategy and the scale of its audience expands (thus proving itself to be a credible source of content), goal-oriented, commercial measures should be implemented, such as analytic conversion goals and leads pushed into the sales funnel.
Let me use an example
The global content programme for our client Aberdeen Asset Management – ‘Thinking aloud’ – launched in early 2015 in the UK and US with associated social media channels and a continuous amplification strategy. Since then, it has scaled to 25 markets across the globe and publishes and distributes content on a daily basis. Thanks to the amplification of its channels and content, Thinking aloud now has 100,000 Twitter followers, 45,000 LinkedIn followers and over 4.5M video views.
More importantly, as the programme has matured over the past two years, commercial goal measures have been implemented allowing all content consumption to be tracked against business needs and commercial sales.
[Full disclosure: Aberdeen Asset Management is a client of The Dubs]
My 3 main take-outs for a financial brand
- The production and publishing of content is pointless if it’s not being distributed to the intended audience.
- Expecting immediate commercial returns is not realistic. Being seen as a credible source of information is; from there commercial measures can be implemented.
- The quality and sustained frequency of content is key to growing an audience and therefore maximising any organic distribution or amplification. If you can’t provide the content when you say you will, why should the audience follow you for more.
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