I talk about dealers in this post. When I had some friends edit it, they accused me of writing yet another Breaking Bad comparison post. Let me point out that there are many other kinds of dealer networks: Cars. Games. Chocolate. Bootlegged copies of Asia’s 1983 world tour. “Dealer” is just the right word for this example. Relax.
Like it or not, you’re a content marketer: Content is your product. But no one notices it. No one consumes it. So you’re a frustrated content marketer (as am I).
What’s going on? There are plenty of interested people out there. You create good stuff. You have a distribution problem. You lack the network to distribute your product to the people who want it. So promoting it is like this:
How do you solve a distribution problem? Find those who own strong distribution networks and need your product to grow them. Find dealers.
Working with dealers, content promotion is more like this:
The best dealers are sites that grow through curation of material related to them:
- Content sharing networks, like SlideShare
- New and growing toolsets, like Piktochart
- Industry-specific, user-generated content sites and publications, like Moz or MarketingLand
Instead of beating your forehead flat against the brick wall that is Twitter (or Facebook, or LinkedIn), find great dealers. Love them. They’ve already chipped away at the wall. They’ll deliver your content to their audience for you, getting you the exposure you need. They are your dealers.
Some of my favorites:
Content sharing networks
I spend most of the rest of this article talking about content sharing networks. There’s a reason: These are the best dealers. These sites have built distribution networks. Their purpose in life is to host and distribute fantastic content. Their networks are well-maintained, and they’re very deliberate about promoting the best stuff.
They need your great content to keep those networks happy and growing. In other words: They need your products. You need their distribution. It’s a match made in heaven.
SlideShare is a huge library of presentations and presentation-style content.
Audience oomph: SlideShare always tweets and posts their favorite presentations. They share with their 232,000 Twitter followers and over 400,000 Facebook friends. And their own site is a social network in itself. Hundreds of thousands of SlideShare users search for great content every day.
Why I like it:
- Home page placement isn’t purely vote driven. While lots of views certainly help, SlideShare editors feature their favorite content, so the site avoids the popularity contest you sometimes see on other sites.
- They support embedded content. You can embed any presentations you upload on your own site. I’ve had featured presentations get 100,000+ views. 20% of those views came via the embedded slideshows on the Portent site. Onsite visitors promoted using a huge content distribution network? Sign me up.
- You can generate leads using their built-in lead forms: Place a mandatory or optional lead generation form at the start of your presentation, in the middle or at the end.
SlideShare needs great content, day-in and day-out. They need a great product. Without it, they’re an empty storefront. If you create presentation-style content, SlideShare is your perfect dealer.
Tip. Convert your presentations to Acrobat PDF before you upload. Otherwise, any non-standard fonts you use may turn to gobbledygook.
I have to be honest: I’m ambivalent about LinkedIn Pulse. There’s a lot of verbal vomit on there. On the other hand: LinkedIn. Larry Kim uses Pulse as well as anyone out there. Have a look at his work.
Audience oomph: It’s LinkedIn. If you can get into the LinkedIn Pulse—that’s the LinkedIn feed for Pulse (confusing, I know)—you end up in front of about 200 million users give or take.
Why I like it:
- Publishing is very straightforward. There’s no expectation around content length. Alas, there doesn’t appear to be any standards, either.
- You can leverage your LinkedIn networks to get views.
Like I said: Ambivalent.
Tip: Keep at it. LinkedIn favors persistence. The more good stuff you publish, the more people like/view your content. That seems to increase attention, getting you more likes/views, and so on. LinkedIn is more of a popularity contest, but it’s one where you have a chance.
By the way: It’s not obvious where you go to write for Pulse:
It’s hard to classify Medium by type of content, but they’re definitely a great network. Authors publish long-form-ish content across a dizzying array of topics, from marketing to LGBTQ issues to football.
Audience oomph: Medium has a mind-boggling 1.6 million Twitter followers and 145 thousand Facebook friends. Your chances of a social share are small, but still better than getting a direct ‘home run’ on a major social network, and the upside is huge. Like SlideShare, they have a big internal network. I published a story, told colleagues and friends about it and got 900+ reads (not views – full reads) in two months, generating 8,800 visits to Portent.com. That’s higher than my average on the Portent blog.
Why I like it:
- Medium is first and foremost a writing tool, not a marketing tool. They make it easy to create some really nice-looking pieces. Anything you publish and share will be easy for your audience to consume.
- The site allows highlighting and paragraph-by-paragraph commenting. That ups user involvement.
- Readers can recommend content, thereby boosting it within the Medium network.
- You can designate other Medium collaborators. Not really a marketing thing, but I like the ability to give credit to those who help you write.
Tip. Get your pieces edited before you publish. Polish is always important, but it will take you far on Medium.
Bonus tip. Tag carefully. This site’s all about categorization. Aiming for the ‘biggest’ category isn’t always the best idea.
Content sharing networks aren’t your only option. Yes, they’re great. But some of the other dealers offer huge opportunities. Don’t ignore them:
Always look for companies that are trying to gain a foothold for their tools. These companies often build content sharing networks to distribute the great stuff their users create. They have a very strong incentive to distribute your work—it may be the best way to grow their user base. Plus, you get to play with all manner of cool new toys.
Haiku Deck is an online toolset for creating gorgeous slide decks. Far easier than Powerpoint and usually with better results. They aren’t that new in Internet terms, but they’re definitely growing. They have an onsite gallery and feature the best slide decks. They also respond in social media and clearly understand the product-dealer virtuous cycle-upward-funnel-good-news-thingie.
Tip: Support the dealer. When you post about a new piece you published on a content sharing network, don’t just link to it. Mention the content sharing site where it’s located. They’ll appreciate it, and you’re repaying their help distributing your content.
Look at industry specific sites and publications, too. In marketing, for example, write something great for MarketingLand, Moz or another site, they’ll distribute it to gigantic audiences.
If you shrug and say “Yeah, that’s only for marketing,” you’re missing out. Whatever your industry, there will be sites looking for great content.
Tip: Find sites using Google. Search for [TOPIC] “submit a story” and [TOPIC] [TOPIC] “contribute”.
Bonus tip: Don’t spam. If you build a list of sites and start submitting everything you write to every site on that list, you’ll get yourself in trouble. See Not Crap, below.
Be aware that your results depend on quality. Dealers need good products. If you provide them with lousy content, one of three things will happen:
- They’ll stop accepting your work
- They’ll continue accepting it, but stop promoting it
- They’ll promote it, thereby publicizing your ability to produce crap
There’s another, even bigger downside to spamming dealers: You’ll create copyright and ownership issues. Some of these sites want exclusivity. They’ll be pretty unhappy if they see your article pop up on multiple sites.
Continuously build your dealer network
By the way: At some point, you’ll be tempted to dump the dealers and distribute 100% of your content ‘direct.’ I don’t recommend it.
Definitely transition more content to direct. The benefits are clear: Better brand recognition, links, direct social shares, etc.
But you’ll still need those content sharing sites to amplify and re-amplify your content. The more successful you get, the more sharing sites pay attention to your content. They’ll offer better distribution deals because they want your stuff. You can still help each other.
A quick note: You may notice I use the phrase ‘content marketing’ in this post. I surrender. The term makes me cringe, but after five years of fighting it, I beg for mercy. I’m jumping on the bandwagon with as little sarcasm as possible. Please support my cowardice by not saying anything.