Did you know: Some bloggers recommend you spend as much time promoting your content as you do writing it.

(Derek Halpern of Social Triggers has an 80/20 split: 80 percent promotion, 20 percent writing.)

Wow, this is an area I fall well short on. I’m so impressed by those who hustle to get their content out there and in front of as many people as possible who can gain value from it.

Over the past few months, I’ve learned a lot from content promotion experts and am starting (slowly) to work some of these practices into sharing the blog posts I write here at Buffer. I’d love to pass along a few of the strategies I’ve tried already and the ones I’m excited to experiment with. I’m hopeful you’ll find some insights here that can work no matter the size of your blog or audience.

Content distribution strategies for blogs big and small

Content Promotion Strategies for Blogs Big and Small

1. Send new content to your email list

One of the best things you can do for your blog or brand is to build an email list. It’s one of the best channels for reaching the largest percentage of your followers. People have opted in to hear from you; they’re primed and ready to open, click, and engage with what you send.

For an example of the power of email, we send each new Buffer blog post to 40,000 people (thanks, everyone, and if you want to sign up, you can do so here.)

Of those 40,000 people, 7,500 open the email and read what’s inside, and 1,800 people click through to the full article.

Buffer's email open rate and clickthru

 

By comparison, an average Facebook post for us is seen by 1,800 people and clicked 51 times (all our latest social media stats are here).

The takeaway: Grow an email list.

We were fortunate to be able to double our email list growth in one month by focusing on a few key strategies. We did this without an email popup, which is a great strategy for lots of blogs but just didn’t quite feel right for us. Our most successful CTAs are:

  • Slideup CTA that comes up from the right corner of the page after a user scrolls 60% down
  • HelloBar (pinned to the top)
  • Feature signup box on the main blog domain (blog.buffer.com but no other article pages)

2. Share multiple times to social media

We’re grateful for the chance to share with large audiences on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn. Sharing once to these networks let us get a new post in front of 1,000s of readers who then have the potential to share it with thousands of their readers, and so on and so on.

Jeremy Waite shared this amazing stat in a post about social media rules:

1 active user is a BIG deal. They have 140 friends. And their friends have 140 friends each. Therefore 1 piece of great content has the chops to reach 2.7m people within just 4 generations.

How your audience grows on social media

And we share each blog post more than once, according to a promotion schedule that spreads the promotion across a week or more (often stretching out to a month).

3. Syndication

Over a year-and-a-half ago, we shifted focus on Buffer blog outreach from guest post opportunities to syndication. We started pitching our best-performing blog posts to other blogs in case they’d be interested in republishing.

This was super useful for us because it

a) allowed our content to help a new audience

b) provided great value and fast content for websites we admire

c) was a bit of a minting machine for our content—instead of spending 8 hours writing a new guest post that would be published one time, we spent 8 hours writing a great post for our blog and another hour or two helping get the same post published on a number of other sites.

We shared a bit about this process in our post “How to Become a Columnist.” At a very high level, these are a few of the techniques that were most helpful as we got started.

  1. Start with guest posting. The more, the better. Buffer’s co-founder, Leo, wrote around 150 guest posts in a nine-month period.
  2. Refine and improve the content on your own site. Writing tons of articles, on your own site and on sites of others, can only help but improve the work you publish and promote. This process led to a couple big hits on the Buffer blog.
  3. Submit your top-performing posts. These often come with built-in validation (in terms of social shares, comments, views) that make it an easier decision for the potential publisher to say yes.
  4. Expect some no’s along the way. We didn’t get into all our top choice blogs right away.

Buffers-Path-to-Syndication

4. Send an outreach email

I’m really excited to share this one.

This strategy had a 66 percent success rate for us.

Two-thirds of the people we reached out to regarding a post of ours responded and shared with their social media crowds. For our post 10 Time-Saving Tools, I wrote a greeting to each of the brands that were mentioned, more of a “thanks for creating an awesome tool” rather than “please share this post.”

Here’s the exact email I sent.

Sample outreach email

I’m quite new to this strategy, so there’s likely a lot of ways I could improve here. The tone and message, for instance, is somewhat in line with the How to Win Friends values that guide our actions here at Buffer. (And I imagine you could possibly get away with being a bit more direct with the ask.)

One assumption I’ve made: People love hearing good things about themselves.

Sharing these positive mentions seems like a natural outcome.

I’ve found that we do this at Buffer, sharing links on Twitter that mention us in a list of tools or cool work cultures.

And here’s a neat tip if you’re interested in this strategy: You can use a tool like contentmarketer.io to scan your post and get you the names and contact info for anyone you’ve mentioned. Lickety-split.

5. Mention an influencer (then mention that you’ve mentioned him or her)

If you need a reason to reach out to a big name in your industry, include the person in your post. Then give them a heads up.

outreach email

One of the quickest ways to do this is with a quote. You can ask ahead of time to see if they’d be willing to share something for your story, or you can pull from an article or interview they’ve done elsewhere and cite the source. Either way, it gets your foot in the door for reaching out later on, once the post is published, and you then have the potential big bump from their audience if they choose to share.

Adam Connell of BloggingWizard wrote about the value of a roundup post—a piece of content where a number of influencers are asked to contribute, e.g. “40 Experts Share Their Favorite…”, that sort of thing.

One of the reasons why these posts are so effective is because influencers have contributed content that they have written themselves. This makes them far more invested in the success of the content and the fact that appear next to other extremely influential people within their market sector makes them even more willing to show off the content to their following.

(And if I so choose, I could now reach out to Adam, letting him know I mentioned him here!)

6. Submit the post to a content community

Here’re a few that are specific to our niche:

To be honest, this is one strategy I wish I was better at. I don’t submit any Buffer blog posts to these places; any mentions come organically from those submitting our posts on their own (thanks, all!).

From what I’ve studied, there are a couple of unwritten rules at play here:

  • Focus on more than just self-promotion. Don’t join the community and solely share your own stuff. Share other articles, comment and vote on other stories, be part of the community.
  • Share your best stuff. Don’t share every single article you write.

So perhaps the best way to go about sharing is to focus first on spending time with the community. Bookmark the site. Pin it to your browser. Put it on your home screen. Engage and interact regularly for a week or more before you submit your first self-promotional post and keep on engaging afterward.

7. Connect with a mentoring/peer group

I’m part of this really cool group of marketing friends who drop by a Slack chat room. Every so often when a new piece of content gets published, the writer hops onto the group and asks others to take a look and provide any feedback. And to share it, if we’d like.

slack network

If you’ve got a similar set of like-minded friends or colleagues, you can combine forces and creative energy into a group like this. Slack is a wonderful way to organize. Not only can groups like these help you become better at what you do, they can be a great source for helping with promotion and growth of your content.

8. Make it easy for readers to share your content

One of your best content promotion sources is the people reading your content.

Make it easy for readers to share your story by adding social media buttons in strategic places. Here are a few of my favorite tools and tips on how:

1. Click to Tweet. Grab quotable snippets from your story and include them as Tweetable blurbs. With a tool like Click to Tweet, you can turn the quote into a shareable sound bite that a reader can send to Twitter with one click.

click to tweet

2. Pin it button. For the visuals and infographics you create for the post, add a Pin It button so that readers can easily share to Pinterest. You can grab the code from Pinterest’s webiste. We use a WordPress plugin that gives us a bit more control; for instance, we have the Pin It button turned off by default and we can add it manually to any image we want by simply adding an image class of “pinthis.”

3. Image Sharer. Similar to the Pin It button, SumoMe has a really great website add-on that creates a social share button overlay onto your images. You can choose networks like Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, and (yes!) Buffer, and you can control where on the image the buttons appear when a user hovers.

imagesharer-hero

9. Focus on the places that get the best results

One of the best posts I’ve read on content promotion strategies is by Shannon Byrne on KISSmetrics. She shares all the strategies she’s used at Mention, which is super helpful to see how to put a plan in place.

She’s got this one section in particular that shows how to go about finding the distribution channels that work best (and focusing on those places moving forward).

Her tips:

  1. Looking at referral sources in Google Analytics
  2. Monitoring keywords to discover what conversations are happening, where
  3. Looking at what content is trending on the forums our audience is on

Take a look at the forums and groups you’ve identified as relevant distribution channels. Which posts are being discussed the most? Which are seeing the most upvotes? Use these are inspiration during topic ideation, then write a post (or webinar, or podcast) from your unique perspective.

One report in particular, related to the referral sources in Google Analytics, has been really insightful for us on the Buffer blog. Shannon recommends pulling the referral sources report (going to Acquisition > All Traffic > Referrals) and noting the bounce rate for each channel.

referall bounce rate

The average bounce rate for our referrals is 80 percent. From this report, I can see that Feedly and Fast Company are good sources for us and that it might make sense not to focus too much on additional reach at Growth Hackers.

10. Paid ads and remarketing

Of course, you can always go the paid route, spending money on social media advertising or pay-per-click ads on search engines.

Robin Burton of SEO Site Checkup even recommends a look into remarketing, the process of setting a cookie on site visitors that then shows your ads to these folks when they’re on other sites.

You can chase your audience across the Google Display Network with image ads by using the cookies you obtained when they read your content. You can reach up to 84% of your visitors across 5-10 different sites between 10-18 days a month, which is well worth the effort for a strong brand campaign!

11. Repurposing

This tip stretches a bit into ways to get more out of existing content. Distribution is often just about getting your new content as wide of reach as possible. So with repurposing, it’s important to make sure the original content shines as brightly as can be.

So one of the ways to work with repurposing is to grab snippets and excerpts and repost them to websites like Quora and LinkedIn that have their own publishing tools.

ciotti linkedin help scout

Medium’s recent announcement of dashboard-writing also is a sleek option for getting bits and pieces of your article out there (and linking back to the original to read the rest).

Summary

Content promotion strategies

There are tons of great strategies to try for getting your content seen by the most people possible. This list touches on a few. Are there any of your favorites that you don’t see here?

  1. Send to your email list
  2. Share on social media
  3. Syndication
  4. Send an outreach email
  5. Mention an influencer
  6. Submit to a content community
  7. Connect with a mentoring/peer group
  8. Make it easy for your readers to share
  9. Focus on the places that get the best results
  10. Paid ads and remarketing
  11. Repurposing

Which of these promotion strategies have you tried? It’d be great to hear your thoughts on the topic! I’d love to hear any of your comments below.

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Written by Kevan Lee

Director of marketing at Buffer, the social media publishing tool for brands, agencies, and marketers. We’ve got a new podcast! ?

  • Nailah

    Great article, Kevan! Do you happen to know if there is a click to tweet version for squarespace? A long shot I know.

    • Hi there Nailah! Thanks so much for the comment! I wonder if clicktotweet.com might work for you? I think they’ve got an embed option.

  • Great article Kevan! I always wondered how you promoted your content at Buffer outside of social media.

    I had few discussions about repurposing and if it could affect SEO (duplicate content). There was an article on QuickSprout about it: http://www.quicksprout.com/2014/11/03/should-you-repost-your-blog-content-on-other-websites/
    Apparently using a rel=canonical should get it covered. I was wondering if you experienced any SEO changes after syndicating or repurposing content?

    • Hi Aurelie! Great to hear from you. 🙂 Really good question; the SEO side of things is something we’ve thought a lot about here. I think we’ve found that rel=canonical is preferred whenever we can help it, although it’s not a dealbreaker if some of our partners aren’t able to do it. My sense would be that Google should have no problem assigning the right hierarchy to posts so long as one is published before the other. 🙂

      • It makes me feel a little more confident about syndication to see you didn’t have any set back. I just wonder if Google takes the authority of websites into consideration as well as the posting date when determining which is the original content (I know that’s the problem Neil Patel talked about in his post for QuickSprout).

        And I see I wasn’t the only one wondering about this 🙂

  • Awesome post Kevan! This was a nice succinct summary for most of us bloggers who spend way too much time on creation and forget about the promotion. Shared this on my Facebook page as well.

    • Thanks so much, Sam! Great to hear!

  • Lindsay Talbot

    Great post! Kevan, I’m curious for #3 – syndicated content – did you ever run into SEO issues by duplicating your content? Or did you change the articles enough to avoid any penalties?

    • HollyR

      My thoughts exactly. Syndication is definitely great for you…but not exactly “great value” for other sites. Google considers it duplicate content and it hurts the other site’s SEO unless they mark it as no index. Although I guess if the other site only cares about thought leadership, it’s a win.

      • RicardoB

        You can ask the other site to put a canonical tag referring your original URL as the original content. It´s easy and it helps you to get some authority.

    • Hi Lindsay! Thanks so much for the comment! Great question. We’ve been syndicating content for more than a year now, and in our experience it hasn’t had a negative effect on SEO. We had an instance of SEO oddities last August (you can read the details here: https://open.bufferapp.com/august-content-report/), and other than that, it’s been smooth sailing.

      There’s some great discussion on the topic also in the comments of this post, if you’re interested. https://blog.bufferapp.com/how-to-use-medium

    • Elizar Caraecle

      Hi Lindsay,

      Content Syndication always includes a Unique content through its description just to make sure that you are on the safe side when it comes to SEO.

      Elizar

    • Lindsay I am doing syndication for my website blog http://www.pulpstrategy.com/blog/ since an year and haven’t faced any issue of content duplication till now.

  • Love how easy contentmarketer.io makes it to find the right email + twitter handles. Saves a lot of time when doing outreach emails 🙂

    • Glad you’re enjoying that one, Ramin!

  • Great tips! On #5, could you please provide an example of how you would ask them to share your post to their audience? We want them to share our article, but we don’t want to beg them to do it 🙂

    • Thanks for the question! That’s a great one. In my experience, it can often work really well if you don’t specifically ask for the share but just to let the person know they were mentioned or included. Often times, this will be enough to trigger a desire to share on their own – and I think it feels a bit better also to not have to ask explicitly! I could be wrong here, too, very open to other perspectives on this!

  • Good summary and a great starting point for most people who are looking to get their content out there. After a couple of weeks, you’ll realize that a portion of your marketing effort drives a much larger share of your total traffic, at which point you should think about optimizing the time you’re spending promoting your content as well.

    If after a few months you realize that your newsletter, Twitter and LinkedIn are generating 80% of your pageviews – you should realize that spending time on Facebook, Pinterest and marketing communities promoting your content may not be the best use of your time and you should just get smarter about the way you promote your content on the platforms that drive the most amount of traffic and engagement for you.

    Eventually, your advocates on these platforms will spread the word to other platforms (or so you can hope!).

  • I have listened to your tips on engaging in the community and am happy to be interacting and sharing what I enjoy with my audience. This post is one of them. Thanks again and have a terrific Tuesday Kevan! 🙂

  • Wowaeewa. @kevanlee:disqus you just attempted to solve one of the biggest challenges of us content marketers. Your post has so many actionable steps with brilliant examples. Love the way you reached out to tools that you mention in your posts. Great way to be to the point and build following. Will read this post twice over in the next hour 😀 and get going with most of it. thanks

  • Hey Kevan! I just got so excited to see the content circle in here! Thanks so much for sharing. Excellent post!

  • TheMashupFactory

    Great post.. so much stuff to learn 🙂

  • This is the most comprehensive and informative article on content promotion that I have read in awhile! The only thing that’s missing is the “Click to Tweet” button under the ‘How Your Audience Grows” section. Those are some amazing statistics that really highlight the great potential market that may be reached through social media sharing. I never saw beyond the first few shares of a post but your article has opened my eyes to the vast possibilities that social media platforms provide. You have helped me “take the blinders off”. Thanks so much for sharing this.

  • Fantastic, can’t wait to put some of these to use.

  • Casey Hynes

    Thanks for sharing all of these great insights, Kevan! I’ve struggled a bit with promotion when it comes to my own work, so I can’t wait to implement some of these strategies with my next post.

    • Sounds great, Casey! I’d love to hear back with how it all goes for you!

      • Casey Hynes

        Absolutely, I’ll touch base after I’ve tried some of these out 🙂

  • Nice, thank you. This is different from other post you find on the net that repeat the same thing

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  • Adrian

    how come you didn’t link the medium announcement? where can I find it?

  • Tristan

    Helpful tips. Sending outreach email is a good strategy. you need patience on this one. Also, if you do good social media promotion, you can really drive traffic from it. I read this http://www.optimindseo.com/7-simple-must-asked-questions-to-have-a-winning-content-strategy/, it gives you ideas about content strategy. I’m sure creating great piece of content + good content promotion strategies, can give you high volume traffic in the future.

  • It was useful useful blog content to improve more traffic to website..

  • Elias Rufus

    Kevan, like Lindsay I too am fully invested in tip number 3. However, I have a bit of hesitation towards the first tip. Is it really better to deliver content over e-mail? I would think that spreading a short “catch-ya” comment with a link to the content would be better. Then the client will deliver measurable traffic to your site.

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  • Reddy

    Skeptical of the email list technique. Very much dependent on what you’re selling, but presumably effective for blogs. Not so much with other things in my experience.

  • Candice Carter

    Hi Kevan,
    Great post, just curious how much time do you spend on SEO, I know there is a lot of debate on whether SEO is dead what are you thoughts?

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  • Sanket Nadhani

    Thanks for this. Would love to know more about repurposing on LinkedIn and Quora. Do you link it back to your blog to read the complete article? What kind of numbers do they drive for you? And do people still hang out on Quora and LinkedIn (both of them have gotten so spammy these days that I personally don’t find much value)

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  • daveharrison4

    I started a blog on my website http://www.jagransolutions.com and i was looking for the ways to increase traffic and content syndication, It was very helpful post Kevan.

  • Today

    Hi Kevan, I know this is an old article but finally got around to implementing a strategy (your tip #4 in particular). When you say syndicate an article to be published in multiple places (per #3), does that have any negative SEO implications? Thanks!

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  • Yoram Pohl

    This is great Kevin, information i am looking for. With point 5 does it have the same impact if you write about others with your own opinion, versus them giving their opinion? Also if you do a post such as on social media influencers and it is not focused on just one niche, will people still be likely to share it? Thanks so much

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  • Points #4 and #5 are brilliant, IMHO – making everything about them is a good way to get a lot of shares and engagement 🙂

  • I have JUST started the syndication route and so far it is quite exciting. My thought is that I can only create so much content but with syndication my content can extend reach.