Social Media Distribution for Content Marketing: A Beginner’s Guide

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“If you build it, he will come.”

Upon hearing that call, Kevin Costner’s character in “Field of Dreams” is inspired to construct a new baseball diamond on his land – because if he builds it, players will show up. And they do. Upon building the field of dreams, ghosts of baseball greats magically arrive to play and recruit others.

It’s a heartwarming story. But aside from being an intriguing Hollywood screenplay, it bears little resemblance to real life.

In reality, Universal Studios spent approximately $15 million dollars to produce “Field of Dreams.” Keeping in line with standard practice, it probably doled out an additional $7.5 million to market the movie to ensure that audiences showed up in theaters. When calculating marketing budgets for movies, studios generally estimate about 50 percent of the production cost – because without marketing and distribution, well, you might just be wasting $15 million!

If we look at content marketing programs through the lens of Hollywood movie production, then your content hub is your theater. You may be showing the most amazing movie ever produced, but if you don’t have a strategy for filling your theater, then your high-cost, high-production value content is going unseen and becoming wasted assets.

Content marketing isn’t “Field of Dreams.” If you build it, they will not come. Every marketer needs to remember this.

For this reason, digital distribution needs to be a critical component of every content marketing program. Investing in distribution can be heavy. It takes time and money to find, develop, and nurture an audience.

But it’s also not that difficult. Here are some actionable ideas for how to think about content marketing and distribution as an inseparable pair that belongs in the same budget.

Why paid social media distribution is necessary for content marketing

Now that we understand why distribution is important to content marketing success, one proven way to secure distribution budget is by having a solid strategy that illustrates how distribution will increase your content marketing ROI. Ready to start crafting your strategy? First, let’s get the lay of the land. When we think about content distribution, a few key digital channels come to mind:

  • Social networks: Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn
  • Native advertising: Outbrain, Taboola, Nativo, Sharethrough
  • Media partners
  • Influencers

Today, let’s focus on social media.

Organic reach is dead. Long gone are the days when a brand or business could post something on social media and expect all their fans to see it, let alone engage with it.

Now, organic reach is at an all-time low; through our work with brands, we’re now seeing it hovering around 1.5-2 percent across platforms. It’s safe to say that social media is a pay-to-play world.

In addition, the amount of social sharing is essentially half of what it was in 2015, indicating that it’s a crowded, competitive world of content. So you not only need paid distribution; your content has to be unique enough to break through all the other blog posts, videos, infographics, and interactives vying for people’s attention.

The good news is that social media targeting has improved significantly. Whether you’re going after a lookalike audience by geography or interest, or defining a completely new audience, stronger targeting abilities can help you distribute your content marketing to your desired niche.

The need for mapping content to the buyer journey

It’s important to remember that we’re coming in, uninvited, to our consumers’ worlds. We need to be the best party guest ever! We need to show up and ask questions and tell jokes before we ever start talking about ourselves or what we’re selling. We need to treat our customers like humans and actually get invited into their world to effectively nurture them as leads.

At the end of the day, we’re using content marketing to drive business. But to do this, we need a robust content strategy that takes into account every step of the buyer journey. We need to define the furthest reaches of our brand’s storytelling and align it to what our audience cares about. This way, we’ll have relevant points for building relationships with consumers, no matter where they are in their journeys.

For example, if we’re a beauty brand and all we really want to say is, “Buy our lipstick!” what’s a story one step out from that? Perhaps it’s: “Experimenting with makeup is so much fun!” And what’s a story even further away from our core product message? Maybe it’s, “You are unique and therefore beautiful.” We should be making content against all three pillars. Our goal is to grab the attention of the people furthest away from purchase and nurture them from “You are unique and therefore beautiful” content to “Buy our lipstick!” content.

Lastly, redefine your content marketing funnel. How you would approach a product launch using television and print is not the same as how you would approach a product launch on social media. Remember, when we show up, we can’t just start talking about our product. We need to nurture our audience to a place where they are ready for product content. Everything we create has to have a consumer-first lens on it, especially when we’re vying for attention on Instagram with friends, family, dog photos, other brands, crushes, and Stories.

The competition is fierce.

How to build a social media distribution strategy for content marketing

Step 1: Find your audience

Where, exactly, is your audience? What social media channels are they on? These are all important questions to ask ourselves before we show up to the party.

Begin by looking at statistics to find out if your target is on the platform. Dig into reports and studies. Look at the audience targeting features on each platform. For example, try Facebook Audience Insights to figure out who your current Facebook audience is and where you can find your target audience.

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Once you’ve figured out where they are, determine what they’re doing on that platform. What do they like? With what content and brands do they engage? Who is best-in-class in and out of your category? Make sure you show up to the party ready to add value.

Step 2: Align the story with where your audience is in its journey

Remember, we’re trying to be a good party guest. We should create a range of content that feels in line with our audience’s mindset. If we have content designed to strike up a conversation with our audience, other content to drive trust and consideration, and content designed to drive direct response, our distribution strategy should take the same approach. We need to distribute the right content to the right people at the right time.

For example, if we’re targeting a new audience and we know they’re on LinkedIn, does it make sense to hit them immediately with a direct response product ad? No. Why? Because our audience is there to better themselves professionally, find work, or share content that makes them look smarter. And because they’re a new audience, they’re not familiar with us. How likely are they, really, to click on a bottom-of-funnel product ad? We’d be better off targeting them with a piece of editorial content that offers advice and thought leadership on how they can become more successful in their roles.

Step 3: Match content formats to stories and channels

Once you’ve aligned your story with your audience’s mindset and platform realities, make sure the paid formats you’re using also line up.

For example, if you’re trying to promote brand awareness, make sure you’re using an awareness-driving format like an Instagram story or Facebook Canvas. If you’re trying to drive traffic, use a traffic driver like a Pinterest promoted pin. Looking for direct response? Try a lead generation ad on LinkedIn or an app download card on Twitter.

Most social platforms have ad format guides to help you figure out how to match your business goals to actual ad formats. Taking a portfolio approach to distribution and promoting content across the funnel will help us figure out what our audience actually cares about.

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How to measure distribution success

Forget about “likes.”

Much like building an integrated marketing strategy, it’s important to align distribution tactics with marketing objectives and, ultimately, business goals. Determine which KPIs you’ll track at each stage of the funnel and make sure they’re progressive and building upon the previous ones. Review the analytics on a weekly basis (at a minimum) and determine how to optimize your strategy at each part of the funnel to prompt users toward action.

Here’s one way to look at your funnel: In 2009, Comscore reported that only around 8 percent of people on the Internet account for 85 percent of all clicks on banner ads. In 2016, Facebook found a similar thing happening on its platform: The number of people who were actually engaging with content (with likes, clicks, shares, and comments) was extremely low, compared to the people aimlessly scrolling through their feeds. Through 500 brand studies, Facebook found that when people spent more time with a piece of content or ad on Facebook, the more likely they were to remember it. This resulted in an entirely new metric on the platform: estimated ad recall lift based on time spent with the ad.

We use this example as a proxy, since Facebook is a behemoth and can directionally give us a better sense of what’s happening across the internet. With this reality, plus the rise of video, advertisers are looking to attention-grabbing metrics to build large cookie pools and create starting points for top-of-funnel leads.

Grabbing attention and then retargeting or simply targeting with trust-building editorial content that drives to a hub can be an effective one-two punch to break through the noise and begin the process of getting invited into your customers’ worlds.

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Once a user has come to your content hub, you can target them with more relevant, high-quality content – lower funnel content – and optimize accordingly.

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Finally, once they’ve listened to your jokes and showed that they’re truly interested by engaging with your content, it’s probably okay to bring up your product and drive them to convert.

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After all, you have been the best party guest, ever.

Jennifer Stenger is NewsCred’s VP of Business Development. Lydia Cox is a NewsCred Program Director.

Written by Lydia Cox and Jennifer Stenger for NewsCred and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by NewsCred

Q+A: Can I Mention My Products in My Content Marketing?

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“Ask a Content Marketer” is a column on NewsCred Insights where we answer your questions about content marketing. Got a question? Email us at success@newscred.com or reach out on Twitter @NewsCred and we’ll find the appropriate expert to answer. We won’t include your name or company without your permission.

Q. Is it okay for me to mention my products in my content marketing?

A. Short answer: sometimes.

Long answer: The more you mention your products, the more you run the risk of losing the trust and interest of your audience. The key to successful content marketing is providing customers and potential customers with the information they’re seeking. To build an ongoing relationship with your audience, you need to provide value without coming across as overly promotional.

It’s fine to mention your product or brand in your content from time to time – but always ask whether its primary purpose is to provide value to your customer or to you. If it’s you, then you might be in advertorial realm and you should probably rethink your decision.

Suppose you’re a denim company creating a listicle about the top 10 ways to wear a jean jacket. If you’re including a number of products and one of them is yours, that would be fine. But if the listicle only features your brand’s products and just includes quotes from people in your company, no one will trust it, even if it’s good content.

When in doubt, put yourselves in the mindset of your customers: Would you want to read the content you create? And would you trust it? That should be your ultimate barometer.

Additional resources:

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Meghan Catucci is a Content Strategist at NewsCred.

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Written by Meghan Catucci for NewsCred and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

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Ten Mile Creek White Water Park – White Water Paddling

Image for Ten Mile Creek White Water Park

Intro

Just an hour and some change from downtown Denver, here’s another man-made playspot that is the ultimate in park-and-play convenience. Plus here at Ten Mile, you’ll paddle under the watch of Mount Royal in one of the coolest mountain towns in the state.

What Makes It Great

If you’re up for it, you can put in up the road below the bridge at Officers Gulch and run the Class 4 creek down to the playhole. Spend some time here soaking in the sun and practice your latest play moves.

Then, turn your bow downstream and finish up the last mile of the creek, emptying out into the Dillon Reservoir. It’s easy to run a shuttle or take the bus back to your car.

This is a sporty little playspot that you’ll often have to yourself, especially during the week. The season is a little finicky…reliant on spring snow melt and varying greatly with temperature.

The public play hole is well marked with great spectator access.

Who is Going to Love It

This is a great place for those able to maneuver Class 4 water and want to practice some moves.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

Park in the public parking lot just off exit 201 (second Frisco exit off I-70) or across the street on Forest Drive at Ten Mile Creek Kayaks. Stop in and say "hello" to 'Mountain Matti Wade' and buy something from his shop to help support your local specialty paddlesports retailer! In exchange, he can give you all the beta on flows and hazards.

Written by Aaron Bible for RootsRated and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Aaron Bible

Tradewater River – Flatwater Paddling

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Intro

As a tributary of the Ohio River, the Tradewater River flows from Hopkinsville to Sturgis, Kentucky, and access is available at several points throughout its 136-mile length. The more popular section are the areas closest to Hopkinsville and Sturgis, but there are many, many stretches of river to enjoy if you’re willing to search for ramps or find a bridge to put in at.

What Makes It Great

Western Kentucky is covered in meandering blueways, and while the Tradewater River may not be swift, it’s the perfect river to float on a lazy summer day.

Rising in Hopkinsville near the Tennessee border, the Tradewater flows north/northeast before meeting up with the Ohio River. The geology of the river is mostly Pennsylvanian limestone, so large, exposed cliffs between thickly wooded meadows and pastoral farmland are common sights.

Ecologically, the Tradewater is home to a variety of common game fish, including Kentucky spotted bass, smallmouth bass, crappie, sunfish, and catfish. If you pay attention during your float, you can also see spotted gar and alligator gar, which can grow up to five feet long and surface often.

The Tradewater is navigable with just about any boat. Whether you take a canoe, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard, any beginner will be able to negotiate the occasional choppy section with confidence while moving around the river banks to look for deer, turkey, or to catch fish.

Certain sections of the Tradewater can get crowded during summer weekends, but anyone can avoid the crowds by finding a public boat ramp away from the canoe rental companies that set up shop on different parts of the river.

Who is Going to Love It

For anyone who loves a long summer day on the river, the Tradewater is a solid destination to drink something cold and relax down a quiet and scenic river. This float is definitely family and beginner-friendly, as well. It’s easy to find fun rope swings in deep swimming holes, small waterfalls, feeder creeks, and other places to stop and explore.

For conventional and fly anglers, the Tradewater is a great river to target bass, the plethora of brightly colored sunfish species, or just drag live bait on the bottom to pick a fight with a true river monster: the channel catfish.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

A lot of great folks have worked very hard to preserve large sections of the Tradewater, but there are still a lot of private farms and homes, so be careful to responsibly put-in, take-out, and explore on public land only, avoiding the private property.

Written by Charlie Morgan for RootsRated in partnership with Kentucky Tourism and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

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Top 10 Activities for a Rainy Day

Top 10 Activities for a Rainy Day
Written by Shenandoah County Tourism for Shenandoah County.

1. Tour the local vineyard: Cozy up on the couch near the fireplace on a rainy day as you take in some live music at one of the many local vineyards in Shenandoah County. In fact, Shenandoah County is home to 7 vineyards including Cave Ridge Vineyards, Cedar Creek Vineyard, Muse Vineyards, North Mountain Vineyards, Shenandoah Vineyards, The Winery at Kindred Pointe, and Wolf Gap Vineyards. If wine isn't your thing, the Winery at Kindred Pointe also offers their own ciders or be sure to try one of the area's local craft breweries such as Swover Creek Farm Brewery or the Woodstock Brewhouse.

2. Shenandoah Caverns: No matter the weather outside, Shenandoah Caverns is always a mild, 55 degrees underground. In addition to the world famous "bacon formation" stalactites, admission to the Caverns also includes admission to 3 other attractions: Main Street of Yesteryear, The Yellow Barn and American Celebration on Parade. This kitschy museum features parade floats from former Rose Bowl parades, Presidential Inaugurations, Thanksgiving Day Parades and more.

3. Duck Pin Bowling: Enjoy a little piece of nostalgia with a game of wooden duck pin bowling complete with original stadium style seating and old wooden tracks to return the balls.

4. Lunch at Woodstock Garden Cafe in Fort Valley Nursery: You'll forget it's raining outside with the colorful flowers and garden decor within the Garden Cafe. Enjoy a sandwich or salad made with locally sourced ingredients including their own farm, fresh pork specialties.

5. Woodstock Community Theatre: Where else can you still catch the latest blockbusters for under $10 a person?

6. Shop the O Shenandoah County Artisan Trail: With over 75 sites along the O Shenandoah County Artisan Trail, there is something to suit everyone. Find handcrafted treasures, explore artisan studios, savor locally grown foods and meet some wonderful people along the way.

7. A meal at Southern Kitchen: Nothing warms the soul on a rainy day like some good ol' southern cooking and the fried chicken at Southern Kitchen is to die for! They're also well known for their Virginia peanut soup.

8. Virginia Museum of the Civil War: This museum tells the story of the Civil War focusing on Virginia and the Battle of New Market where 257 cadets from Virginia Military Institute participated in the battle. This story is accounted in the blockbuster film, The Field of Lost Shoes.

9. The Edinburg Mill: The area's best kept secret, this museum features an abundance of history under one roof. Displays range from the agricultural history in the valley, fashion, civil war, and even an impressive collection of Red Cross memorabilia.

10. Route 11 Potato Chips: Visitors can watch as the chips are made before their eyes through the clear glass walls of the factory and sample each of their delicious flavors made from Virginia grown potatoes.

Written by Shenandoah County Tourism for Shenandoah County and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Courtesy of Shenandoah County Tour

A Guide to Marion, Virginia: The Best Place to Spend a Long Weekend Off the AT

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Some of the most scenic sections of the Appalachian Trail run through Southwest Virginia. But sometimes, even the most dedicated hikers need a break from the trail. Marion, Virginia, provides everything a wary hiker could need—and plenty of amenities for those just looking to spend a day or two on the trail. Even if the Appalachian Trail isn’t on your radar, Marion is a unique spot for a weekend escape in scenic Southwest Virginia. From historic charm to first-rate dining, the area makes a great home base whether you’re hiking from Georgia to Maine or simply looking for a quick weekend getaway.

There’s a Shower—A Free One

Mount Rogers is just one of the draws of Southwest Virginia.
Mount Rogers is just one of the draws of Southwest Virginia.

Ryan Somma

For those stepping off the trail and back into society, spiffing up your personal hygiene is probably the first step to take for most hikers. Not only is Mount Rogers, just 15 minutes from downtown Marion, but it sports a free outdoor shower specifically for AT hikers just steps from the trail and a few paces from the visitor center proper. For those staying in Marion for the weekend, the Mount Rogers is part of a pretty and rhododendron-filled segment of the trail, which an excellent option for a challenging day hike. Wondering how you’ll get from Mount Rogers to town? Don’t—there’s a shuttle that runs directly between the visitor center and Marion several times each day and it’ll only set you back 50 cents.

Culture and History Galore

Both history buffs and culture junkies will be happy in Marion. Not far from Marion is historic Saltville, once a bustling company town designed around the area’s salt reserves. Not only can you visit spots where the brine distilling took place and learn all about the process, you can also take a spin through Saltville’s Museum of the Middle Appalachians. Here the entirety of the area’s prehistoric past is at your fingertips.

Once your history-filled daytime adventures are over, catch a show at the architecturally amazing Lincoln Theatre in downtown Marion. One of very few Mayan Revival Art Deco Theaters left in the States, it offers up performing arts programming all year. You can catch everything from renditions of Aladdin to local musicians singing their hearts out on this stage.

A Good Meal

Whether you’re taking a break from dehydrated food on the trail or you’re looking to indulge during your getaway, good grub is essential and Marion delivers. And what would a southern experience be without proper barbeque? Wolfe’s is where you have to go if you’ve got finger lickin’ sauces, steaming mac and cheese, and traditional cornbread on the brain. If you want to cozy up to a little lunch joint alongside Marion locals, Sister’s Cafe is the spot. Owned and operated by longtime residents and serving up delicious coffee and tea to boot, you could easily kick back here for a couple of hours and just watch people go by.

Endless Adventures

The Back of the Dragon route between Marion and Tazewell is one of the area’s most scenic drives.
The Back of the Dragon route between Marion and Tazewell is one of the area’s most scenic drives.

Virginia State Parks

Plenty of places in Southwest Virginia are said to be the sites of paranormal activity. In Marion there’s the Abijah Thomas House, otherwise known as the Octagon House. An architectural feat that was briefly popular in the 1850s, the stop sign-shaped house is composed of bricks build by slaves on the property. There’s said to be ghosts floating around the house, particularly in the storage room that locals refer to as the "dark room."

For those who prefer to get their thrills in the "real world," plan to take a trip along the Back of the Dragon route between Marion and Tazewell—by motorcycle if you can. The twisty and turning road is a fun one to drive and serves up scenic views that are hard to beat all along the way.

Wine and Work

Whether you want to whet your whistle or put a few bucks in your pocket before you get back on the trail, you can do either or both at Davis Valley Winery near Marion. Although hikers can stop by and pick grapes for a few days to earn some extra money, the best thing about the winery is that it’s no longer just a winery these days. They’ve moved into distilling whiskey, vodka, and moonshine as well, so if you’ve got a crew with diverse tastes, anyone and everyone will be able to find something they like here. Even if you don’t drink, the hilltop scenery makes for a pretty place to spend a lazy day.

Supremely Cozy Digs

If you’re going to spring for a weekend off the trail, go ahead and treat yourself to some sweet digs that will put your adored tent to shame. The General Francis Marion Hotel is in a central downtown location and is, of course, titled after the town’s namesake itself. However, if you want something a little more down-to-earth feeling, shack up at the Collins House Inn. This sweet bed and breakfast is run by two ex-Midwesterners and leaves you feeling like you’ve just spent a weekend at your sweet southern grandmother’s house.

Written by Cinnamon Janzer for RootsRated in partnership with Southwest Virginia and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Virginia State Parks