Social media has become the principal tool for modern content distribution. Publishing a blog? Post it on Facebook. Created a white paper? Distribute it through LinkedIn. Designed a graphic? Share it on Instagram. We all know the drill. It’s safe to say that social media has become the go-to distribution engine for most people and businesses.
But the simplicity through which anyone can share ideas on social media has an obvious downside. It’s now harder than ever to rise above the noise of social media to gain real traction. Every time you click publish, your content must compete for attention against cat memes, baby photos, and hot takes — not to mention today’s breaking news.
For content-forward businesses, reaching your target audience today means diversifying your distribution tactics to include platforms outside social media. Here are several alternative content distribution tactics you can try at your company.
Search Engine Optimization
Optimizing for Google search is what most of us think of when we hear the phrase “SEO.” It’s popular because it’s powerful. Google owns over 86 percent of the search engine market share. If your blog or website appears in the top spot for a target search term, you can receive about 31 percent of that traffic.
Video content has exploded in popularity. Building an informative or entertaining YouTube account can be a great way to build an audience around your ideas or brand, much like you might using Twitter or Instagram.
But here’s the real stat we should all pay attention to: YouTube is the second largest search engine, after Google. When your video is optimized for YouTube search, you expand the discoverability of your brand and channel.
While Pinterest contains social media-like features, at its core, the tool is a visual search engine. People use it to source graphics and photos. Next time someone on your team creates a graphic, consider uploading it to Pinterest and optimizing it around your target keywords. You can earn backlinks and site visits by simply uploading and optimizing images you’re already creating.
An alternative to writing content for your own website is writing guest posts for relevant blogs and publications in your niche. (Built In, for example, considers guest pitches.) There are two primary tactics for landing guest post opportunities:
- Write an article first: In this case, start by considering the writing guidelines of the publication you’d like to pitch. Read some of their articles to understand the styles and topics they like to publish. Then, write an awesome article that fits their preferences and submit the ready-to-publish version to an editor or through a blog’s submission form.
- Send a pitch first: Often editors prefer to hear an article pitch before they see an article. This is an opportunity for the editor to provide additional notes about what they’d like to see. Not to mention, it saves the writer from wasting their time and energy if the editor doesn’t think the article would be a good fit.
News stations, radio shows, podcasts, and bloggers are responsible for consistently delivering interesting ideas and stories to their followers. If you tailor a pitch to the right journalist, writer, or media personality, many people might gladly feature you before their audience. The key is pitching topics that matter to the audience of the medium you’re targeting.
When most of us think of online communities, we likely think of Facebook groups. But there are many non-social media alternatives to Facebook groups where you can network with other people online. Here are two of the most notable communities:
Most people exclusively use Slack to interact with their colleagues. But you can also join hundreds of public Slack channels that exist purely for networking and sharing ideas.
You can discover public Slack channels using Slofile.
Forums and social media are practically cousins, sharing many characteristics in common. The line between forums and social media is pretty blurry.
Think about it: Are Reddit and Quora considered social media or forums? It’s hard to say confidently. Either way, forums are an awesome place for sharing content and spreading ideas because of the heavy reliance on community engagement. Simply look for opportunities to answer questions that are relevant to your expertise (and content).
Submit to Content Aggregators
Many newsletters and blogs exist solely to reshare and distribute other people’s content. These are content aggregators and media curators — people and organizations who gain a following through their personal taste. For example, Tim Ferriss publishes a weekly newsletter, 5-Bullet Friday, which usually includes links to articles, videos, and other media he’s consuming.
The challenge is, most media curators don’t have a process or system for considering submissions. Ferriss simply shares the content he’s discovered through his network.
The good news is, you can find curators who do ask for suggestions. These sites and newsletters will gladly promote high-quality, relevant content to their followers. Here are a handful of places you can submit:
Build a Newsletter
Any content creator knows how hard it can be to get customers to visit your website. It’s even more difficult to get the same readers to return to your website again and again without a tool for improving audience retention (in other words, a newsletter).
At the end of the day, the most powerful distribution engine is the one you own. Email newsletters are an easy way to keep past visitors coming back to your website. It’s among the most powerful alternatives to social media distribution. Email arrives in chronological order, as opposed to being filtered through an algorithm like social media sites. In addition, newsletters serve as a marketing tool for telling regular readers more about your company, products, and upcoming promotions.
Don’t Just Go Through the Motions
It’s easy to go through the motions when it comes to promoting your content. Many companies spend hours creating high-quality articles, videos, and podcasts — only to half-heartedly distribute their work by clicking publish once on social media.
The alternative is to take content distribution seriously. That means finding ways to diversify your traffic sources, testing a lot of promotional tactics, and doubling down on what works. As you experiment with new distribution tactics, bookmark this article for ideas and inspiration.