We’ve talked a lot about how to craft your content, including using pictures, and even how to write for mobile. But no matter how beautifully crafted your content, it’s no good if nobody reads it.
Attention spans are shrinking
Let’s assume that you’re publishing great content on a regular basis, in the same place, probably your own or a company blog (and if you’re not doing this, why not?). But you may be having trouble generating the readership. Not surprising, really, because one research study on internet use suggests that the average attention span has fallen from an already-small 12 seconds in 2000 to just 8 seconds in 2013. To put this into perspective, the attention span of a goldfish is apparently 9 seconds. A massive 17% of page views on the internet last fewer than 4 seconds. And there’s a lot of competition for page views.
So what you can do to make sure that your content is read? In a world of increasing competition for the attention of your customers, distribution is key. Of course you already know about selecting your channels, but let’s take another look at the issue of distribution, which is much more than just wise channel selection, and akin to business development.
A distribution strategy
Having a strong distribution strategy isn’t just a matter of tweeting about your latest blog post. It requires a much more concentrated focus on the best way to get your content to your customers. And yes, you read that right: that’s not just ‘out there’, but to your customers specifically.
How can you get your message to your customers? The good news is that there are several really good channels that you already have access to. These include:
- Yes, really. Just send your network of customers a quick email telling them that you’ve just posted a new blog article, giving a one sentence summary of why they might be interested, and a link to the blog. You’d be surprised how many people will click through. You can even add a picture to emphasise the importance of the content. This does work: look at the way that LinkedIn and Quora send a summary of the week’s ‘most visited’ posts.
- Via your company’s sales teams. They’re in contact with your customers all the time. That’s what they’re paid for, in fact. Talk to your sales teams about what’s bothering your customers, and post content that answers their questions and solves their problems. The sales staff will be delighted to discuss it with customers and spread the word about your content.
- Via your personal and business contacts. You almost certainly have a vast network of contacts, including various organisations, whether business or trade associations, or from networking events. You can reach out to them, and ask them to publicise your content via social media. If even a few do it, you’ll likely broaden your reach. But again, be careful about not calling in favours that don’t lead anywhere: you really want to focus on your customers.
There are also other possible options that will broaden your reach, but may take a bit more work. You might, for example, syndicate your blog to other blogs or media channels. You will need to put some work in to find other blogs that are read by your customers, because otherwise it’s wasted effort. But once you’ve found them, put some time in to build up relationships with them, and return the favour. It’s a win-win situation.
Similarly, have you thought about publishing via LinkedIn? It recently opened up its posting policy, to allow anyone to post, and welcomes content. The key to posting on LinkedIn is to make the content interesting and personal; a company perspective is no good. But if you can face putting in the time to get your content into the form that works, LinkedIn is widely read, and highly influential. At least some of your customers are likely to be watching.
Focus where it matters
As Gary Vaynerchuk , the founder and CEO of a social media brand consulting agency says, content may be king, but distribution is queen— and runs the household. Developing good content is all but pointless if you don’t give serious thought to how you are going to distribute it in a way that will make sure that it is read by your customers, and those whom you wish to influence in their buying decisions.