Sorry to break it to you, but with millions of other businesses doing the same thing, that isn't going to help you cut through the noise. At all.
And hoping that someone will just stumble across your content isn’t a good strategy, either.
In reality, you need to AMPLIFY YOUR CONTENT.
Without content amplification, your hard work and effort will remain essentially “on the shelf collecting dust".
Creating content is less than half the battle. If you don't have a distribution, or amplification strategy for your content, then you're missing out on more traffic, more awareness, more backlinks, better SEO and a more engaged audience.
And, of course, all of the above usually lead to additional commercial benefits such as more customers and more sales.
In this article, we’re going to break down content amplification, tell you what it is, how it works, and how you can get the most out of it so your content can start to work harder and more effectively for you.
We’re going to answer the most common questions we get that relate to content amplification, such as:
- What is content amplification?
- Why is content amplification so important?
- How can I build a content amplification strategy?
But enough with the preamble. Let’s jump in and get right into the good stuff.
"The reason we shy away from content distribution or amplification is that it feels far better to be creative and produce, than it is to encourage people to watch/listen/read, as this side takes far more effort. Then again, the reason we are creating is to motivate people and get them to subscribe, enquire, interact and buy.
What is really important is to have something to say that can be amplified. Distribution channels work really well, once you have something to distribute. So, make sure that your message links to your values and that can strike a chord with others. This is how you find your allies, make sure your work is seen and people want to feel a part of it and prepared to stand with you."
- Mark Masters - We Are The Media
What is content amplification, and why is it so important?
Content amplification is the act of promoting and distributing your content across multiple channels (paid, owned and earned) so you can increase the reach and impact of both your content and your brand.
However, amplifying your content does more than simply provide your brand with additional exposure. It also allows you to position yourself as a thought leader, and build valuable backlinks, as well as build relationships, and increase both engagement and conversion rates with your target audience.
There are many different ways to amplify content. Paying to promote your content on Facebook or Twitter, leveraging influencers to promote your content, publishing your content on other platforms with an already captivated audience - they’re all different ways to amplify your content, and we’ll get into them in a bit more detail later on.
Without amplification, it’ll be much more difficult for you to get the results you want from your content.
Every single day, there are millions of new blogs published. Yes, not all of them will be competing with what you’ve created, but that’s a lot of potential noise getting in the way of your message. And organic reach is getting lower and lower all the time.
Because organic reach across the board is down, way down, when it comes to creating content - and you may be producing the best stuff out there - the likelihood is that without amplifying your content, it’s not going to perform well.
“You’ve written an amazing article – and now what? You can’t expect the results to happen without some distribution work on your end. This includes content amplification – a multi-channel approach to increase your brand’s reach. It’s taking your owned media, and combining it with paid and earned media. It’s really knowing the right places – and people – to help amplify your message to your audience.
Through content amplification, you’re able to extend your reach into new areas you couldn’t achieve on your own through organic methods. It’s getting out of your echo chamber of your current customers and brand loyalists and finding new and relevant customers who wouldn’t have necessarily heard of you otherwise. Amplification done right brings customers to you who didn’t yet know how much they needed you."
- Cathy McPhillips - Content Marketing Institute
The problem with organic traffic
OK, that’s a little misleading. There is no problem with organic traffic.
The problem lies with the expectations people have when it comes to organic traffic. And, frankly, the delusion that generating it is both a) easily achievable and, b) that it is the only traffic source worth aiming for.
Listen, organic traffic is great. It’s wonderful. If you’re getting huge organic traffic and your website and blogs are appearing right at the top of search results for your most relevant and valuable keywords and phrases, then brilliant! You’ve smashed it already.
Chances are, though, that’s not the case. Because, 1) only a handful of businesses across the entire planet can claim to have achieved the above. And it’s a constant battle for them to remain at the top. And, 2) organic reach is in decline across the board.
We’re not saying achieving a first page ranking on Google for your content is impossible, but it may take both time and resources that you currently don’t have to get there. So, before you become a high-ranking Google superstar, you must find another way to get eyeballs on your content.
You need to amplify content so you can generate the consistent traffic and backlinks you need to get it the awareness and engagement it deserves, and to get it started on the long, arduous climb towards the first page of search results.
“Imagine this scenario at the most important trade show in your industry - Your sales team picks up their badges and heads for the show floor, eager to make connections and meet potential buyers. Your product/service is the exact right fit for these prospects, and your message has been carefully crafted to resonate with them. But your booth is set up at the empty convention center across town. Maybe you were trying to stretch your budget. Or maybe you thought your product/service was so exciting that buyers would go out of their way to find you. Your sales team heads back to the office empty-handed, a complete waste of time and energy spent setting up your booth where your buyers were not.
This is exactly what happens when you create content with no plan to distribute it. Only a select few companies can afford to buy their way to the top of Google’s search rankings. The only way to get the most out of your content is to distribute it where your buyers are likely to be. And while your website might be the most strategized, optimized, digitized, mobilized website in your market, your buyers simply are not likely to spend a great deal of time there (especially if you hit them with gates and form-fills).”
- Abby Sorensen - Follow Your Buyer
Creating content is less than half the battle
That’s right. All that time you spent researching, planning, creating and publishing content is less than half of what’s required to give your content the best chance of generating the return on investment you want from it.
Depending on who you talk to and the articles you read, you may have heard people saying content creation is anywhere from 20-40% of the job.
The rest of it? You guessed it; amplification/distribution/promotion - whatever you call it. Whatever it takes to get your content in front of everyone you want to read it.
But let’s not get bogged down in specific percentages. The only thing you need to know is that you need to spend more time promoting your hard work than you do creating it. Because the competition for attention is fierce, and you need to cut through the noise and make sure people are actually engaging with your content. Otherwise why spend the time creating it in the first place?
"Beyond simply creating a really good post, you'll also need really great content amplification methods in place. In fact, everything that happens AFTER you publish a piece of content is much more important than the post itself. This is because sharing content across appropriate channels and talking about your findings and products gets your brand in front of more people.
This being said, content amplification is the core driver behind reaching your business goals and hitting your KPIs. Whether you want to improve your brand awareness, get more qualified leads, gain new partnerships, or just position yourself as a thought leader in the industry, content amplification can help you hit those targets. Do remember to stay away from vanity metrics though. Just because a lot of people like a post of yours on LinkedIn doesn't mean they read your article and it's a far cry from them actually making a purchase.
The best advice I have to ensure you're seeing real results from your content amplification techniques is to choose the right networks and websites to promote your content. You'll first need a clear image of your buyer persona. By analyzing potential customers and their behavior, you'll see where they spend most of their time and, above all, what determines them to make a purchase decision. Then, all you have to do is craft the right messaging revolving around the benefits they're looking to get and stay consistent on a couple of networks of choice. Feel free to include the same terms and pain points they use and remember to be responsive so the conversation is bidirectional."
- Alexandra Cote, B2B and SaaS Content Writer and SEO Strategist
Building a content amplification strategy
Of course, it’s easy for us to say that you should include content amplification in your strategy, but wouldn’t some practical, actionable tips be even more useful?
We thought so too.
But, before we get started, be warned that this article does assume that you have already;
- Created audience personas so you know who you’re creating content for
- Completed an audit of your content to find out what has worked and what hasn’t
- Created useful, valuable content that your audience actually wants
If you haven’t done the above, then you will need to do that before you can properly take advantage of the information in this article. It’s still useful, of course, but without having done the above, your content won’t perform regardless of how well you amplify it - especially if you haven’t created any!
“I find most businesses focus too much on creating content to support their latest whims (product releases, press releases, campaigns, etc) and then sharing it out on every platform they can think of. But here's the problem: no one is going to happily read or share your press release, product announcement, or marketing campaign!
In order to grow, businesses need to understand their audience. They need to define the questions their potential customers are asking, the content they are already engaging with, and the platforms where they readily share it. Growing businesses consistently create and amplify the content that their customers are sharing. The secret to amplifying content is to create the stuff people actually want and let them do the bulk of the sharing!”
- Michael Brenner - Marketing Insider Group
Step 1: Determine the goals for your content
Before you can jump into the actual promotion of your content, you need to figure out exactly what the goals are for each piece.
Are you after more traffic? More engagement on social platforms? Ebook downloads? Email subscribers? Paying customers?
Different types of content will do better at achieving different goals, so it’s important not to assign all of your goals to all of your content. A gated ebook will likely be better at generating email subscribers than a case study, for example.
Assign achievable, realistic and relevant goals to each of your pieces of content and it will be much easier to track the effectiveness of your content.
Step 2: Pick your channels
Now you’ve got your content and your goals figured out, it’s time to pick the most suitable channels to amplify your content. If you’ve completed audience personas, you’ll already know some of the places where your audience hang out. List them and pair them up with the content that fits best.
If you haven’t completed audience personas yet then this step will be trickier, so make sure you go back and get them done first. You’ll find some of the common channels and the type of content best suited to them below.
Step 3: Pick your budget
Often paid media gets a bad reputation for being only accessible by companies with deep pockets. And indeed there’s a misconception that only the big budgets win.
However, that’s just not the case. While you might not have the spending power of the titans in your industry, that doesn’t mean you can’t generate great results from your budget.
It also doesn’t mean you can’t achieve great results with a purely organic, zero budget campaign either. It’s just that you’ll be giving your content a better chance if you can back it up with some paid promotion.
Picking a sensible budget for your content amplification is a fine art, so it’s great that the folks over at Hubspot have produced some excellent templates to help you plan your marketing budget. Click here to find them.
Step 4: Amplify Your Content
Now we finally get to the actual amplification bit of content amplification. Yay.
It’s time to publish your content to each of the channels you’ve chosen, message those influencers or collaborators to give your amplification a boost, and pay to get it in front of your ideal audiences.
And remember, the promotion of your content should never stop until it’s no longer relevant, or it’s not performing. So keep tweeting, emailing, sharing and telling everyone about that latest must-see video you created - the world needs to know!
"Content amplification is getting more eyeballs to the content you create. Researching and creating content is only half the job. The other half involves promoting and getting it in front of as many people as you can, which is what makes content amplification so important.
My favorite way to amplify content is by creating pieces that feature experts and then sharing them with the featured expert via email and social (by tagging them in your post). There’s a good chance these experts will share what you’ve written with their audience as their token of thanks. This, in turn, helps get more eyeballs to your content. On a side note, featuring expert insights adds authority to your piece and provides more value to your readers as they learn from others' experiences and examples. So, the entire process is a complete win-win-win."
- Masooma Memon - Ink and Copy
Step 5: Analyse
The job of amplifying your content is never done. Now it’s time to analyse your results and find out what’s working and what’s not.
Look at the goals you set for your content - have they been achieved? Could your content be more effective?
Analysing your content as you amplify it will help you see where the failings are, and how you can improve things to generate better results. Don’t ever assume you know why something is or isn’t working - be sure of it.
NOTE - Google Analytics (GA) is super useful when it comes to analysing all sorts of data related to the goals and KPIs you’ve set up for your content, so make sure you know how to use it well. If you’re not too confident with GA, Google themselves offer free training to get skilled up - take advantage of that.
Step 6: Rinse and repeat
It’s time to go again. Need to change the goal of one of your pieces of content? Do it. Need to re-write that blog so it’s more focussed on what your audience wants? Do it. Need to pick a different social media channel because the results you were getting weren’t good enough? Do it.
Content amplification is a marathon, not a sprint. Constantly testing your assumptions and analysing your results will put you on the right track and make your content far more effective at delivering the results you want it to.
Keep at it, improving all the time, and who knows, maybe you’ll land that number one spot on Google (even if it could take a long time - don’t expect this to happen overnight). But even if you don’t your content will be working a lot harder for you, and you’ll be a lot happier for it.
Now you know what you need to do to put together a content amplification strategy, let’s go into a bit more detail about the amplification options available to you.
Understanding your amplification options
Typically, there are three ways you can amplify your content - using owned, earned or paid media. In this section, we’ll break each of these down for you so you can understand which options fit best with your content goals, and your available resources.
"Amplifying your content across various media should be an integral part of any digital marketing campaign, for two main reasons:
Pushing your content to national press and niche industry publications - both online and in-print - will earn you valuable backlinks that can greatly increase your ranking on the major search engines. Ranking well is super important as 91% of people don’t even scroll past page 1 when searching for a product or service. Not only do backlinks help drive conversions and online revenue, but the content itself can be a big driver of referral traffic to your website.
Top tip: To create content that’s ideal for amplification, you can ask yourself the following questions:
Brand – Are you in a position to tell this story? Are you knowledgeable on the subject?
Audience – Does the idea appeal to your target market?
Breadth – Does it appeal to lots of different media?
Linkability – Have you created a resource on your website that the people can link through to for more information?
Emotion – Does the story provoke an emotion?
Social currency – Is it something people would be willing to share?"
- Jake Holyoak - Mediaworks
Owned, Earned and Paid
We’re going to take a look at the various owned, earned and paid media that you can use to amplify your content.
First up, it’s owned media.
Owned media is a marketing channel you have complete control over. Your website and your blog, your email, and your social media channels are good examples of owned media that every business, without exception, should own.
Website / Blog
The main place (but not the only place) you should be publishing your content is on your own website’s blog. With the constant rise and fall of social media channels, totally relying on other platforms is never a safe thing to do.
Like using your own website and blog, using emails to promote your content is a no brainer and should be done with every piece of content you publish. In fact, you should be using content to build an email list too.
The better your content is, the more people that will subscribe to your email. And the more of them that subscribe, the bigger your owned audience is to promote every piece of content to.
It’s a virtuous circle. Embrace it.
Roughly 77 percent of B2B marketers use email newsletters to amplify their content and connect with large databases of leads. (brafton.com)
Social Media Channels
While you don’t own your social media channels like you own your website or email list (if they shut down tomorrow, you’d lose your account), you are able to use them as often as you like to promote your content.
With 4.1 billion users on the internet, failing to use your social presence to expand your audience equates into a missed opportunity, especially when 94 percent of B2B consumers research online before making a purchase. (marsdenmarketing.com)
Understand, however, that the social media platforms you enjoy using the most might not be the right ones to reach your audience. So, knowing exactly where they hang out will help you figure out which ones to be most active on.
Now we’re onto earned media.
Earned media is essentially online word of mouth. It’s media exposure for your content that you haven’t paid for, nor do you own the channels involved. It’s extremely valuable for your brand but, as its name implies, you must earn it. The best way to do that is always to create genuine value with your content.
9 in 10 purchasing decisions are influenced by colleague recommendation ; leads generated through earned media are highly valuable to your business, and far more likely to become clients. (leadforensics.com)
Social Shares & Mentions
Every time someone shares your content on social media, you’ve earned some media. Of course, the content will have to be both exceptional in quality and super relevant for someone to decide to share it amongst their own social media network, but quality content should always be one of the goals before you create anything.
Social shares and mentions could range from a retweet of your post on Twitter, to an independent share of your article, with commentary, on LinkedIn.
Different shares and mentions have different levels of value and impact - you could argue, for example, that the LinkedIn example is more valuable than the Twitter, as the effort to create such a post, with commentary, clearly shows the individual has engage with your content, and will likely see a bigger impact with that person’s network than a simple retweet on Twitter (although that also depends on WHO is doing the retweeting!).
While all have some level of value, social shares and mentions on their own aren’t really the end goal - it’s what all that lovely extra attention can lead to that makes them so valuable. The more attention you can earn, the more people will see your content and engage with what you’ve created, hopefully becoming subscribers and customers down the line.
"If the content is built to be promoted, amplification is easy. If not, it's very very hard. Two things that make the difference: data and visuals. Interesting data gives you quotable nuggets that are easy to share and reference. Compelling visuals are necessary to get traction in social media.
This explains why charts and graphs are so powerful. Data visuals make amplification easy.
When a post has a bit of original data, presented in a visual, it's primed for both shares and links. It's sharable, quotable and memorable. Here's an example:
This image sparks conversation. It gets word of mouth. It gets linked to. It gets shared. It's mentioned in presentations. It's been covered by editors. Without images like these, content promotion is way more work."
- Andy Crestodina - Orbit Media Studios
A backlink is a link to your article from another website, and they are absolutely crucial when it comes to getting your content to rank highly on search engines. So much so that legions of ne'er do wells have sprung up offering to sell multiple backlinks from high authority sites for a low, low price. Avoid these people like the plague - your website and reputation will thank you for it.
What you’re ideally after here are proper ‘do-follow’ backlinks from high-authority, relevant websites with good reputations, as they’ll have the biggest impact on your content’s ranking. However, getting them is easier said than done.
Creating high quality, valuable and shareable content is a great start, but you may also need to perform an outreach campaign to ensure the websites you want links from are aware of your content.
NOTE: There are a tonne of resources sharing tips on how to do great outreach, but we’ve found Ahrefs to have provided the best advice. So check that out here.
Finally, it’s time to look at paid media.
Paid media involves any media exposure that you’ve paid for. With it getting harder and harder to get your message in front of people organically, paid media provides you with a great way to ensure your target audience is seeing all that content you’ve worked so hard to produce.
And more and more content marketers are doing it.
“84% of B2B marketers report using paid distribution channels for their content marketing. 72% of that group use paid or promoted social media posts.” (B2B Content Marketing 2020 Report)
Google ads. The key to ranking on Google these days. Not strictly true, of course, but without Google Ads, the likelihood of your content appearing on page one of Google is slim, what with all the competition you’re up against.
As with any paid advertising, make sure you do your homework first, target the right keywords and audiences, set a budget, and keep testing your ads until they’re achieving the results you want.
Google isn’t the only major search engine, either. There's also Microsoft’s ‘Bing’. While it doesn’t enjoy anywhere near the market share of Google (the latter has an 86.36% share of the market in the UK as of June 2020), there are still millions that use it.
According to this article, on average, Bing ads come in at a slightly lower CPC (there’s barely a difference between them), and generate a slightly higher click-through rate. Of course, these are just averages, and some research will need to be done to figure out which search engine works best for you.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn - they’ve all got advertising options. But what platform is right for you? Will you find your ideal audience by sharing your thoughts in 280 characters, or by expanding your network on LinkedIn?
Picking the right platform, or platforms, to advertise your content depends entirely on the work you’ve done figuring out where your target audience “hangs out”.
If you’ve been thorough and detailed in your approach, you should be able to choose the appropriate platform without too much hesitation, fairly certain that you’re targeting the right people in the right place.
While influencers can share and engage with your content organically, it is also possible to work with influencers by paying them to promote your content.
Perhaps there’s someone in your industry that has a lot of clout with your audience, and you’d like for them to mention your content in a share or a retweet?
Understanding who the best influencers are in your industry, and the sway they have with their audience, is absolutely crucial to getting success from this method of content amplification.
And make sure you check all the various social channels as different influencers may be best suited to different platforms.
NOTE: SparkToro is an excellent tool to help you find the best influencers in your industry - saving you a lot of research time.
Putting it all together
Make no mistake, content amplification is absolutely vital to the success of your content. You need to ensure that the people you are creating your content for actually get a chance to see it, enjoy it and engage with it. Otherwise you’re wasting your time.
Great content is all too often left to rot, forgotten and unseen in the deepest recesses of a company’s blog. Don’t let that happen to yours. Take the advice in this article on board and start planning how you can amplify your content and drive more traffic today.
It won’t be easy - nothing is when it comes to doing content marketing properly - but it will be worthwhile.
Best of luck and, if you’d like to get your content amplification efforts off to a great start, consider signing up to Converge by clicking the button below, and we’ll help you promote your content on autopilot.