The industry buzz that greets Content Marketing continues at pace as the tactic that can help brands redefine their proposition and differentiate their position from the competition. Indeed it’s very definition has changed, been re-purposed and continues to be re-interpreted but it’s safe to say Content Marketing provides a foundation for your digital marketing tactics to be used in a more joined up, strategic way to help drive the company objectives and in turn it’s digital strategy.
But what about maximising the reach and engagement of your content and how do you continue to justify budget spent on your content marketing through analytics measures? Distribution of your content efforts is crucial and your branded digital marketing communications channels will be the natural route for engagement to customers and prospects. However, if your own branded channels lack the digital footprint to drive incremental reach what other tactics are available?
Enter content syndication. As defined by Search Engine Watch: “..Is the process of pushing your blog site, or video content out into 3rd party sites, either a full article, snippet, link or thumbnail”. Content Syndication is not a new tactic, take a look at Yahoo or MSN and you’ll notice thousands of articles syndicated across their platforms sourced from other news publications and industry verticles that feed high traffic sites with content. The below example from CNN shows an example of links to syndicated content that CNN believe would be relevant to their audience and thus help to keep their site “sticky” by maximising time on site and pages viewed per user session.
Image source: Outbrain
Facebook has reignited the syndication model and how this model can be optimised for social media through Instant Articles – giving a way for newswires and global content providers a means to promote and re-purpose their content through Facebook, providing a route for their content to engage with new demographics and audiences
The opportunities around content syndication are obvious. By forming alliances with other high traffic, reach and engagement partners, content can be driven to new audiences and drive further reach but it also provides opportunities for content brands to align with new digital ecosystems with their syndicated content appearing on different platforms such as desktop, mobile, apps, internet of Things and the emphasis for brands to build more external collaboration. A recent article by Econsultancy emphasise the point that should a brand invest in a content syndication strategy, “you need good content to make those networks effective”
To consider whether syndication is a channel to consider for your digital strategy, brands should consider the following:
- Business Objectives – What are your business objectives e.g. is it to drive incremental visits, to drive engagement, lead or sales generation? What could syndication provide you differently to what your branded channels could offer?
- Understand your digital audience – Is there an appetite and need for your content on other platforms and media providers? e.g. Does your content offer you a unique selling point (USP) that you could turn into a reason to syndicate the content?
- Content Strategy – To even consider the creation of syndication, you need to ensure you have your own house in order i.e. Your own content strategy, delivery and team are in place and are producing on-going, consistent content being delivered through your own branded channels
- Opportunities to engage new audiences – Perhaps your content already drives engagement but by re-purposing the existing content to reach new audiences and demographics, it could help to re-invent your branded content onto different channels which target new audiences
- Opportunities to drive potential cross marketing and advertising opportunities – By syndicating out your content, you’re creating new opportunities for collaboration with digital partners as well as getting to understand new audiences and new ways to execute content strategies.
- Pipeline of Partners – You need to create a pipeline of potential syndication partners with reasons as to why and what they would provide your brand as well as supporting your content initiatives. As a Check GWT, inbound links, affiliates
- Monitor, Manage & Measure – Ensure you are monitoring each of your syndication partners e.g. what type of content works best for one partner over another? Get insights about their own audiences so to fine tune the content you want to syndicate, how do you propose to measure the impact of syndication? Is it through referral traffic, brand search, social followers, revenue through advertising? Brands should be measuring their “complete” digital footprint, not just through their branded channels but everywhere their brand is mentioned
Brands as Knowledge Centres
I have previously discussed the opportunities for brands to re-define themselves as knowledge centres and the opportunities there is for brands to monopolise not only their industry verticals but to also seek new markets and audiences by reinventing their content initiatives and partnerships. This was emphasised by a recent report released by Search Metrics who emphasised the need for brands to:
- Drive Authority – Are you informing and delighting your audience by telling a great brand narrative through the content you’re delivering?
- OVP – Do you have an online value proposition at the heart of your digital strategy? Analyse the competition and benchmark your proposition against other brands operating in different sectors to understand how they have differentiated themselves from their competitors
- Are you building a narrative – Fine tune your digital narrative that can be communicated through your online content. Engage in conversations through social media channels with your audience and reach out and build direct relationships with your customers and audience giving your brand a personality and a human element to your proposition and online reputation.
Content Syndication will continue to re-invent itself and become a key battle ground for brands to drive their digital reach and engagement as they look to embrace more channels to syndicate content that are non-branded channels. A recent article by Adobe suggests that more and more leading brands such as Unilever, Microsoft and Pepsi will be investing more their time and budget in syndication programs and away from paid media campaigns.
In fact, to engage with younger audiences, brands need to wake up to the opportunity to collaborate and distribute their content through strategic partnerships especially with the multiple platforms now available appealing to different audience demographics. This was emphasised by Jimmy Maymann, CEO at Huffington Post who suggested that “more than 50% Millennials get their media through distributed sources”