Marketing Mythbusters: Increase Your Reach Through Syndication
In previous articles we’ve helped you get started with content marketing. Once you’ve got a regular schedule sorted out, new, engaging content, and a fairly loyal blog following, what next?
The answer for many companies is Syndication. Syndication is a word you might know from television programming or newspaper comics. It simply means some entity other than yourself is actively distributing your content.
Syndication for content marketing purposes means partnering with other blogs or portals to make sure new audiences see your content.
Is Your Brand A Fit For Syndication?
If you’re planning to cast your net for syndication and you haven’t posted one blog post, you’ve put the cart before the horse. You should have a minimum of 12 posts under your belt, with feedback, to even consider syndication channels. The reason for this is twofold:
1) You want to test your content to see what types resonate with your audience and work out the kinks before you commit to a partnership. The first thing you will be asked by a potential partner is for article samples.
2) You want to make sure that the samples you present had decent traffic, some comments, and were shared on some social networks.
Using What You’ve Got: Researching Partnerships
Just like with most online and social media endeavours, you need to spend time doing research on the types of blogs and portals you should partner with. Just because you visit a particular blog many times a day doesn’t mean it is a right fit for the type of content or the point of view your brand is putting out into the world (for instance, a blog that uses biting comedy might not be your favourite if the writer decides to include you in his or her targets.)
Go back and look at a blog’s archive and get a real sense of its point of view of your vertical. You need to be sure this is a good potential partner for you, but also that you will not be duplicating content that has already been published.
While there are free places to syndicate content, which we will cover, you need to be aware that most of the time a content syndication partnership is a pay-to-play endeavour. Blogs (especially really successful ones) look at it as you “paying for their eyeballs,” and on the web, qualified traffic has a cost associated with it.
Once you have a short list of potential partners, you should look them up on their contact-me page or, in the case of larger portals, look for their “Business Development” contact. By going directly to a marketing or business development representative, you will be showing that blog you’re serious. If you send inquiries to info@, it could be eons before you hear back.
Alternatively, head to LinkedIn to see if you can find a blog author’s contact information directly. This is another great way to cut to the chase with decision makers.
You’ll need to set up an expectation with any blogs you wish to partner with, so you need to have a sense of how often is reasonable to post. Don’t inflate the numbers; quality is better than quantity in this instance.
How to Approach Partners
Once you’ve got a list of people to contact, and you’ve made initial contact, schedule a 30-minute phone call with the team in charge of your partner blog. In this meeting, you want to explain why your company is so great (because of your point of view, tips, or specific industry knowledge) and why your brand could be of benefit to them. Don’t do the hard sell here. You want to make sure that potential partners don’t see you as pushing your own agenda, or hard to work with.
Be ready with answers to any analytics questions, such as visits, social lift (how many shares you get: easy to calculate if you use a button like AddThis), and comments.
At this point, there will probably be a negotiation over fees to syndicate. If you can, negotiate a trial period so no one side is locked into the agreement.
Next, you should put together a framework of what the next few articles will be, with deadlines, and make sure all parties agree. Keeping everyone on the same page is critical to maintaining a good syndication partnership.
Don’t forget about analytics and success metrics. Define together what success looks like, and make sure that your partners provide you with analytics so that you know how your content is performing. Once you have a few articles under your belt, you can gauge these metrics against your own blog metrics and see whether your content is resonating with your audience.
Other Syndication Options
If your company is running against a tight budget, you have a one-off article you’d like to share, or you’d just like to try out your content with a different audience, consider posting your content on sites like Yahoo Voices or Quora.
Syndication for Unusual Content
If you had a chat, discussion, or event happen in social media, you can put all of this content together in a Storifystory. (Or you can use it to tease out or post a précis of the full story.)
If you have content that is in a Gallery, list, or short format, consider posting to a site like Buzzfeed. Once the domain of meme-seekers, Buzzfeed now covers many more topics. You get analytics built right in, and they have premium partner options available.
Syndication takes the best of your content and exposes it to new, targeted audiences in a way in which you can directly build customer relationships. You can augment your reach quickly and easily by spending a little time researching and negotiating lasting partnerships, or go independent. Every type of content has a built-in audience. Syndication helps you find them and talk to them directly.