With changes to Facebook news feed announced last week, content distribution methods should be at the forefront of your mind. Just come back from holidays and missed the story? Facebook is tweaking the algorithm that determines what pops up in your news feed.
Facebook said in a press release that they will be “showing more posts from friends and family and updates that spark conversation [and] we’ll show less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers or businesses.”
In other words, if you’re relying on Facebook to communicate with potential customers, you’ll have a problem.
It’s not the first time a social media platform has tweaked its algorithm. It won’t be the last. But each time it happens, it’s worth revisiting your strategies for distributing your content. If only to see if your strategy and priorities will still work.
What is content distribution anyway?
Content distribution is the third of your four pillars of content marketing. The other pillars are strategy, content production, and measurement. It is the process of getting your content in front of an audience. You can do this through email, social media, or video sharing services. You can also use off-line methods such as old-fashioned snail mail, third-party distribution, broadcasting, and other methods.
Content distribution is not the same as publishing on your own website. Publishing is just the end result of the content development process. Distribution is what you do next.
Creating content seems like so much work, people think that by putting it on their website, they have taken care of distribution. But that’s not the case.
Media companies have always known how important distribution is, and will often invest more in distribution than they will in actually creating content. That’s why TV stations own their broadcasting infrastructure but don’t always make their own shows. It’s why newspapers have fleets of trucks that get papers out to newsagents.
Why the Facebook changes are important
The whole idea of using content marketing is to find and grow an audience. Social media has always been a place where you can get yourself and your content in front of an audience who don’t know you yet.
In their press release about the new changes, Facebook said “Pages making posts that people generally don’t react to or comment on could see the biggest decreases in distribution.”
Elsewhere, spokespeople for Facebook added that the changes shouldn’t affect advertising on the platform. Facebook remains the most popular social network (depending on who it is you’re trying to reach). So the changes mean you don’t have to forget about it. But you do have to think about how it fits in with your plans to build an audience with your content.
The three main content distribution methods
For most businesses, there are three primary content distribution methods. You can try other methods, as well, but these three types are the basics you should always do. They are the most important methods to have in your strategy.
They are: email, social media, and native advertising.
EMAIL: Email is important because you can own it. You can know exactly how many people you are reaching, and who they are. There is no other content distribution method that gives you as much access to an audience as email.
All of us get spam email. And we all hate it. But we don’t hate it because we hate email. We just hate the content of spam. The trick to ensuring your email isn’t treated like spam is to make the content of it worth reading (or watching).
SOCIAL MEDIA: Despite the constant algorithm changes, social media remains the most important media. That’s because it’s more convenient, more widely available, and more personal than any other type of media.
Newspapers, TV, magazines and radio all work to their own schedules. But social media works to the audience’s schedule. Every time you open your social media feed, it’s different. And it’s already personalised to you, your friends, and your interests.
Social media is the best way to find strangers who are potentially interested in your business.
The companies that own social media platforms know that. That’s why they’ll charge businesses like yours more and more money to reach fewer and fewer people. It’s their business model. Get used to it.
NATIVE ADVERTISING: Native advertising is similar to regular, everyday advertising, in that it involves paying for access to someone else’s audience. But where regular advertising tries to sell a product or establish an emotional identity for a brand, native advertising tries to steal audience. You can only steal an audience away from some other place if you are offering that audience worthwhile and interesting content.
So the aim of distributing your content through other publications via ad space is to get their audience to come to you. Once you’ve done that, you can use your own channels (like email) to keep talking to them.
Why these three methods are the most important
You can use other means of distributing your content. But these three tactics, used together, are the most effective in terms of reach. The reason they are effective is together they cover the whole customer journey—from not knowing you, to discovering you, to engaging you, to inspiring you to tell others.
Once you have found a way to integrate them with your content, you just need one more element to fall into place and you have the magic content marketing formula.
That final element is perfect content.
Don’t be discouraged if you haven’t nailed that final element yet. No-one has. You could still be the first.