I’ve been telling creators and businesses to build an exit plan before it’s too late. The way social media algorithms are evolving. There will be only a content engine.
No Influencer, No Creator, No Social Media business. What we would have left is an AI-controlled content engine.
That engine never gives a creator or business enough time to build that connection. Or brand messaging. We all are going to be affected by this. Me too.
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September 26, 2023 - 19 min read
Since March 2023 I have distributed my content across Internet without skipping a day. Content Distribution is messy and you won’t find anyone telling that unless you ask them to reveal the truth. (by holding them in arms)
What is Content Distribution? It is isn’t often talked about but Content distribution happens into different ways.
First, Content Distribution is manually done by an individual like me. Second, Content Distrubution is done by others because of either convenience or the act of stealing.
If you create Personalized content, Both type of distributions will happen. I used the term “Personalised Content” because don’t mistake it for creation of great content. It doesn’t matter you have great or good content. Automatic distribution of your content is unlikely because great doesn’t mean highly consumable.
Highly Consumable aka Personalised Content gets often stolen because it works like a charm. I know that because my personalised content has been stolen a lot and it did much better for Content Thiefs.
Instead of being a crybaby, I learned that Personalized Content is a call from consumers. It is meant to be stolen because more people want to consume it. Don’t become the barrier between people receiving what they need and you being a crybaby to stop the distribution loop. I call this nature of content marketing.
The Stealing Part happens ignore it. I require your focus on the human nature of getting your content shared by others with credits. It generally happens when you make sharing more convenient. Most people aren’t familiar with this but product development at social media apps focuses a lot on the idea of making content distribution more convenient. Whenever a new content format launches, Sharing APIs are made accessible to developers and public. Allowing easy distribution of content.
Like that, You need to focus on the distribution funnel that exists on online ecosystem. It starts with social media sharing buttons within your blog or social media platforms. (Yes, I certainly don't have social sharing buttons on this website as it is going through a redesign). But first it starts here where you make it easier for them to share. The regular strategy is often having social media buttons to increase chances of reader sharing the content. But that is too normal nowadays and often people forget to focus on them even though they liked the article. Quick Question, when was the last time you actually used them to distribute someone else's content?
I certainly don't. That is why prompt the audience in the middle or at the end with a message oriented text. Asking them to share the article or post because you wrote it due to X reasons that matter. Make sure after reading, they realise that what you wrote is meant to shared with more people. That is how content reaches TikTok these days, I have seen hundreds of videos were people organically react to an editorial article from The New Yorker or Washington Post, etc. Because at the end of the writing, The author made it clear what he wrote needs to be heard.
That is easy to do when the post is focused on the topic not the act of marketing. For marketers, It is about straightforward reminder of why the marketing wrote it. A great example is 'Think with Google' the famous blog exists because google wanted to build that culture of expertise around their workforce. Trying to promote jobs at Google by showing the young learners that at google you don't just earn, you learn from talent and experts at the company. And it was very clearly revealed when they launched the resource.
Too many Blogs and resources are launched without company's revealing purpose of them. That affects their content distribution because the end user doesn't get the emotion behind the content. Truth to be told, after writing content for other companies I know blogs are launched always without a purpose. But even having a fake purpose to tell works sometimes. It's never too late. Tell the audience either in the middle or the end your writing purpose and make them share the writing even more.
Does your company blog included a discussion about purpose? May be not. I had it. What you are reading is categorised as "Insights" because blogs are leverage for My work. 'Insights' are Knowledge I acquire on regular basis distilled into an unfiltered writing. It is meant to share the best with others.
Now, you have the starting part where you focused on the purpose sharing element and social sharing buttons. Easy part: Done. The Next Place of Distribution is when you create for a social media platform and people share it naturally.
The Content formats changes how likely are people to share your content. And in terms of video content User interface does the same. Starting with TikTok & Instagram Reels by showing the number of shares the platform encourages other users to share the post. Wanna see this working in real-time? In a slack chat be the first one to react and add an emoji more people will click on the emoji to react and engage. Test again with no emoji, very likely that you won't get the interactions from others.
The reason this works everywhere is presence of others makes us more likely to join the interaction. In Practicality may be try to be the first one to use share buttons on TikTok & IG. Highlighting the count of shares on your videos.
Second, Distribution through formats. On twitter, You will find a set of twitter threads going viral. What if I told you majority of them are transcripts of podcasts and videos. In my network I talked to many creators that grew from repurposed distribution of content from other creators. Summing up content from others in a personalised format of content. A great example is Sahil Bloom & Sachin Ramje both creators grew by distributing content from each other. What Sachin did was visualising content from Sahil's newsletter and tweets for people interested in reading content in images. Sachin credited sail in his tweets and then sahil retweeted that tweet to his audience.
A simple Idea of X person distributing content to a similar audience but the demand is different. Because personas change and requirements too. I distributed my content to multiple platforms but some of my content I never distributed because of my own limitations. But I found others doing it for me, my newsletter content was getting distributed with credits by one of my readers. That's natural don't feel sad if the content you create doesn't get much eyeballs maybe you haven't tested the best content format for that audience. This natural act tells you to do that experimentation as much as you can until you find the right format.
Coming back to natural act, this happened on twitter. But it can happen on any platform. A blog to a linkedIn carousel or thought post. A quote on twitter or threads app to Instagram post. And a Reddit Post to TikTok reaction video. A million examples on Internet, for businesses they think this doesn't help. why?
Because this natural act of content distribution doesn't connect with why people buy or why will they remember you? All businesses need to rethink this because it does. When you have brand tone and identity integrations figured out.
Brand Emoji's on employee profiles and social media handles help with remembrance of your business. The reason I mentioned highly identical internet searches is because broad results will soon get handled by AI. You need to interconnected and make sure that topic discussions are very relevant to a group of audiences. When that group feels like they are being served content that matters, they will share it with others.
Brand watermarks are important because your brand identity is the most known element of your business on Web. Most algorithms are likely to recognise your authority and prioritise your content when it is distributed by others. This also helps your organic growth when you do social media marketing.
The social media app theory is all about if your ideal user uses reddit and they love it. What's their secondary social media app to use? Find that and make sure you are making distribution of content from X to Y easy. Because that user might want to share your content forward to connections on that app. For Example, Medium & Substack posts were getting heavily shared to Instagram stories. Now both of these platforms provide media assets and options for regular users to share your content more easily.
Take Twitter to Instagram Stories for example. For TikTok, Do you know most clicked link on Facebook? It is TikTok. TikTok introduced the ability to download videos and they had watermark at the end. That led to what? Organic sharing and then people shared downloaded video + source on Facebook benefitting TikTok and Creators.
Do the market research to find how your follower on X social media app prefer to distribute content with others. First you understand the flow and better it through new practices. The ones you might develop over time.
Probably because regular content distribution is broken. When I started distributing my content manually it was real hard. I faced no organic reach on social and community platforms like reddit, Facebook groups and forums banned me. You are likely to get the same experience with community bans and no reach because that's how regular distribution works.
First, many creators/businesses do content distribution with help of their influence. They might ask their followers to join them on X platform. That helps them to have a kickstart and it does help. Still you have to remember that they use that X platform less than their main social media app. Kickstart is cool, don't get overwhelmed by that growth. When doing distribution always focus on the audience that likes to. use that platform most.
Second, You got that kickstart, now what's next? The next state is time consumption. Every platform has their own star creators and you need to network with them to get the juice out of distribution. If you aren't doing so, your distribution isn't getting the best results. How I approach networking on distribution is simply reach out on your main social media platform. Because it is very likely that because of your following and authority that person is more likely to connect with you.
I did this with Amanda Natividad, She is a huge influencer on Twitter with over 100k followers. Pretty hard to connect with her when you are a content distributor, not creator. What I did was connect with her on Instagram and then build that connection. Making that relationship expand to Twitter or other platforms. Save yourself time and connect where people see you as an authority, first impressions matter.
Third, The "Thought Leader Ego Issues" and "Money Making" issues make it hard. Why I said content distribution is broken because of these two issues.
First, We have community distribution. A variety of Startups & SaaS platforms go to reddit, Indie Hackers, Hacker News, Facebook Groups & others. Thinking that a link and Intro to your content is enough.
90% of the communities are owned/moderated by companies & Thought-leaders seeking their benefit first. It is very likely that you will get banned if they feel endangered by your presence. I was lucky on reddit where the moderators felt endangered by my presence after I successfully built my community within their space. And that support from members couldn’t allow them to ban me.
I wasn’t lucky on Facebook groups where two communities banned me even though I was getting the most likes within their community. The members loved me, but I was silenced.
That’s the state of community distribution. What I learned from my mistakes was switching to natural distribution. Now my distribution strategy contains:
When the community is on slack or Discord, both platforms allow to add a Bio. In that, Adding company & Brand Identity was the key. In the content, I deleted every mention of that content being promotion towards my business. This works, because your content becomes your identity & people will find you if they want to see more of you.
In case of Facebook Groups, First what I did was instead of having links in my post. I switched to Comments but that didn’t work for too long. Now the rule is to have no links. What I did was creating an alternative profile that shows no relation to the brand.
Distributed content through that profile to facebook groups. Acted as natural distributor instead of being promotional. At the end of the post, I only had this sentence “credits: The Social Juice Newsletter” or “X Client Name”. For Moderators & Owners it meant I was X person distributing content from Y source because I liked it. Instead of being promotional.
PSA: You should never be promotional, value-first is appreciated. What I mean here is 99% of communities have blocked the options for marketers to even have their earned value back to website or business. To fight against that, I am telling you this strategy.
I run my own community. I don’t like members that only promote, give and take is the best option.
Moving to External Distribution System, Referrals, Influencers, Organic PR & WOM (Word of mouth). It hurts me that how fast this idea of allowing others to serve your community is dying. A majority of Influencers & Creators will not distribute your content forward because they have jealousy against you. Instead they will continue to promote their content or likely choose another source to talk about that topic. It happens because I have experienced that.
How to fix this problem? And the bigger question is do you want to build an exposure distribution system?
On LinkedIn and Twitter the connection network is most important. That network builds a loop to distribute each other’s content. Creating an impact leading to more distribution.
If you neglect that like I did you might feel quite sad. Because your impact within your industry might be huge, but your content never reached the “Distributors; PR & Influencers”. The ones who might distribute it further. Internet is huge, 10k ,100k,1M followers doesn’t matter. There are a huge set of influencers that never get the recognition of their work because they are part of a different circle. The same can happen to you, your content is reaching the right audience. Your business is good.
But the Industry doesn’t see you as the chosen one. No one writes about your success, business or community. Why? Because you are disconnected from the distributors like a self-published Author.
Now this form of Distribution isn’t necessary. This is what you desire. Yes, Few are lucky to get this distribution automatically. May be you live in New York or Berlin. Everything you do even when it’s little earns you exposure.
The Best marketer isn’t the most known marketer. Do you think Seth Godin or Gary Vee are the best marketers? Nope.
They had the distribution figured out in the starting of their career. Seth wanted that distribution, then he didn’t. I always tell Brands to be careful with this form of distribution.
Because External Distribution isn’t controllable. And it can die pretty quickly making your Business a fallen trend. For Personal Brands; CEOs & Individuals it might not die off or make a huge impact because we are human, we change.
Businesses maintain a consistent brand image in the consumer mind for a long period of time. Hard to bounce back when External Distribution F**ks up. If you have made up the decision of chasing External Distribution, The process is very simple be where they are.
Shift a little bit of focus from your own community to serving those distributors.
Starting with PR, Make your content digestible for them. When they need help or call you for expert opinion. Make sure you give them Clarity. You can use AI, Give the PR profile to ChatGPT & then share your work with AI. The Bot will find the relevant statements from your business in the past about X topic. Give them to PR & Journalists every single time they need.
Second get into Influencer Bubbles, Most Influencers are biased because that is what influence means. You have to build your own narrative to sell to the audience. The Distributors of content writing for big news publications and communities are part of different sub-set of influencer bubbles.
Find the Bubbles getting most exposure and then network with the members. Engage with them on their main social media channels. Often I have seen those bubbles don’t need consistent content distribution. They only need the narrative believer, once you tap into their narrative. They will start believing into your narrative and will distribute your content to their community.
Third is Getting Money Exposure, A variety of LinkedIn C-level Executives & Leaders don’t like or interact with content because of opinionated content. You have to be oriented toward their brand to get exposure and distribution. Don’t seek interactions, seek hidden distribution.
A variety of Huge Businesses like Airbnb, Google & Atlassian monitor content and distribute internally but they never interact for obvious reasons. To get work and business from them.
Just make sure you have either tagged them or built connections with a set of team members on a social channel. Increase the probability of them discovering your content. Then, Distributing it forward becoming referrals of your work.
To prove why this works, I only have two words “social listening”. Most small businesses have started doing it. What makes you think the big brands don’t do it?
Ending at Regular Content Distribution, The simple and well-know strategy in the world of distribution is “Design For X”. The Marketer tells you to take long form content and repurpose it with help of Editors or AI. And distribute it forward. Very Simple.
Long Form Content = Youtube Video, Blogpost, Webinar, Event recording, Masterclass or a Live Stream.
The Task is to Convert Long form into short form content for different social media platforms. What most do without resources to repurpose the content well is:
You could be doing all this and you may have nothing to check your ROI for this sort of Distribution. You ask why? Because you need content strategies for each platform.
There You have it. This is the most used distribution strategy. It is time consuming and you will need more resources & help from the team to apply it.
Natural Distribution means you have a content strategy that works well to allow organic distribution done for you by audience and admirers of your content.
External Distribution means you will have to use networking and authority. Then, that strategy will lead to those connections distributing your content on their strong channels. You overtake their core channels through this framework because most people like to speak where others are available to listen.
Exposure Distribution is only a slightly different than External. You focus majorily on people like PR persons & other marketers that lead to more exposure not more business.
Regular Content Distribution is an act of marketing yourself organically with exchange of time for customer engagement. You are spending time to manually repurpose content to different platforms with a general understanding of what needs to be optimised forthe X channel.
In Natural distrubution you don’t optimise for X channel after creating content. You create content while thinking about optizing for X & Y channels.
The General understanding of social media platforms is important, I am in the proccess of writing one-page guides for social media platforms. Those guides are meant to help readers with understanding current state of the app & best practices. I have been kind of lazy with finishing writing about every platform. So far, I have covered these platforms:
I have yet to finish writing about a set of different social media marketing channels. But it takes weeks for a single person to finish these write-ups. I appreciate you sharing this guide forward with your team, other creators or B2B businesses.
Nothing against Paid Media or paying for promotions. I have been part of major paid distribution campaigns from B2B companies like Storyblok & Insider Intelligence. And being on the publisher side promoting their content to my audience, I would say paid distribution is more of a paid media strategy than an act of content distribution.
The real definition of Content Distribution in my world is:
Content Distribution is an engine built by your team to build a natural flow of content like a river. That river flows through different segments of Internet. Your Paid Media teams are playing role of God and disrupting that natural flow to increase the flow of that river.
Simply meaning that paid media distribution fastens the process and you achieve your desired results faster. But you still need to do everything I told before to master content distribution.
Content Marketing overall is built on a principal that brands that get organic will also get paid media right. But Brands that get Paid media might not get Organic content right. That’s why practice organic content distribution dynamics, before jumping to paid distribution.
When Distribution done right, one of the biggest impact you will see would be on Branded Search. Most B2B brands & Content Creators have built their branded search through distribution channels like publications, Content & PR. That is easy to track through Google Search Console & SEO tools like Ahrefs, Semrush & others.
After this measuring social media distribution individually is easy to do. Most All-in-one social media management tools or CRM platforms like Hubspot & Sproutsocial will provide you with a dashboard to find your ongoing performance. The hard part is interconnecting your content distribution and making sense out of time & resources spent. For Creators & Small businesses, don’t fall for tracking you won’t have enough time to make sense out of it.
To B2B brands, I would recommend to build a google sheet and maintain a list of all your content getting distributed and use a data tracking tools like Supermetrics for collecting marketing data.
Paid Distributors will generally share data and brand awareness results when the 1:1 connections are built. Otherwise you will need to do the social listening to track distribution done without your input.
My Personal Take on tracking content distribution is tracking depends on who is responsible. A lower-level community manager will always need to track the performance not that it’s necessary. It’s because of the job position , distribution is always doing magic even when someone at a starting level.
As a creator, I don’t like to track content distribution because I know engagement measuring tools are meant to fool me a little to either making me create more or feel low about results. Distribution is all about expanding the impact of my work.
I will now head to bunch of different marketing channels to distribute what I wrote here. Before I do that, I have an end message for you.
I don’t think chapter of Content distribution is closed here. I have yet to breakdown some of my favourite creators/B2B marketers doing great marketing with their existing content. To read them, consider subscribing to my newsletter. Where I not only share insights. But act as distributor of golden marketing content from other marketers.
Not many content marketers have written great distribution guides. But this read from MKT1 about content distribution is one of my favourite and in depth reads. In future, I plan to refine this rant + insight post into a well-written guide like the above from MKT1.
For further content strategies and marketing reads, feel free to check my blog or Insights page. To save the hassle, You can check my services page & sign up for work inquiry.