By Kevin Ciesielski, VP, digital marketing director
I recently spoke on a panel titled, Content Marketing: Creating a compelling mix, where we discussed content and inbound marketing. It was a great conversation that started around the creation of content, but one of the questions asked really got me thinking: “should we pay to promote our content?”
My answer – sounds like a “Schrödinger’s Content” problem. Only one person in the room got the joke so let me explain:
Erwin Schrödinger developed a thought experiment concerning a cat in a sealed box with poison. The theory states that you cannot know the state of something unless it’s observed. So the cat in the box is both simultaneously dead and alive until someone looks. It’s like the question, if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? Observation of the action or subject is all that matters.
And, of course, observation of your content is all that matters. If no prospective clients see your content, did you even post it? Let’s talk through it.
You did everything you were supposed to do. You created a content calendar, pumped out two blog posts a month, created a compelling white paper, then posted it on your website and sent a few sweet tweets. You are doing everything right that you can do on your own. You built it, but no one came, or at least as not as many as you wanted.
What went wrong? The short answer: you probably never broke out of your existing channels for promotion. If you don’t expand past your current subscribers and followers, the majority of your prospective clients have no idea if you are alive or dead. This is where the frustration comes for most content marketing efforts – so much work, time and money invested, and the returns don’t pour in.
This brings us back to the original question: “should we pay to promote our content?”
Growing an audience organically will take more time than you or your boss have the appetite to stomach. Organic promotion does work, but I recommend a combination of various paid techniques in tandem with your organic efforts to make it really accelerate. Below are a few suggested techniques to grow your audience.
Boosted posts: This is the idea of taking a piece of content in it’s native form and medium, then paying to take the normal restrictions and filters off to have it show up in your target prospect’s newsfeed. For example, if you are a brand on Facebook, each post is organically shown to less than five percent of your existing followers. Ouch. Paying to boost your content can break it out of that five percent, and even reach further to drive new engagement with new prospects.
Press releases: WHAT? Ya. It’s 2016, and this “traditional” method of promotion is finding new legs in the digital world. With the right release and story, you can accelerate your efforts with placement in physical papers and online sites that already have an existing network of potential customers.
Native advertising: Native advertising is paying to have your content show up on an established publishers’ site as a part of the native editorial. This should be editorial, not self-promoting. Make sure it includes a call to action to another relevant piece of content on your own site with an appropriate conversion point. If you are paying for a placement, make sure it pays off.
You don’t have to break the bank on paid promotion of your content. As you grow your audience and get the wheel of content spinning, these paid promotion efforts can be wound down as your organic reach grows. Of course, you could keep pouring gasoline on the flame as long as you kept seeing tangible, measurable results (aka sales).