So you’ve written an amazing blog post that provides an engaging, detailed answer to a question your prospects always ask. You’ve used facts, statistics, images, maybe even a graph or two. But now what? Do you just click “publish” and hope the world discovers it?
Creating content is only half the battle.
The next step is spreading the word with content marketing. “Content marketing” is just PR-speak for getting the word out. The best way to do this is with trial and error. We’ve included many suggestions below – try some or all of them, and track which strategies bring you the best results. When you share on LinkedIn, for example, do you get more interaction than when you send a tweet?
Distill the steps that work best for you into a checklist. Then use that list each time you create a new piece of content your readers would find valuable. The more thought you put into this process beforehand, the more you can automate or delegate after the fact.
Don’t forget that content takes many forms these days. You don’t have to be a writer to create interesting, helpful content. Your prospects and clients might enjoy podcasts, slide decks, or infographics in addition to written posts.
5 Content Marketing Strategies for Beginners
Let’s get something out of the way — no one is expecting you to do everything on this list. These are suggestions based on popular tools and strategies content marketers use to share their work. Your audience may love Facebook and email, but avoid LinkedIn and Twitter. Or they may love LinkedIn, but get their real answers from Quora. As you learn more about your audience, keep notes. It may also be worth asking new clients where they heard about you. You’ll start to get a feel for where your message is most visible. These are the place you want to be sure you hit when sharing something new.
Strategy #1: Promote Your Content via Email
If you read our previous post, Email Marketing for Life Insurance Agents, you know that a mailing list is an extremely effective way to reach people who are interested what you have to offer. You probably reach out to your mailing list during Life Insurance Awareness Month, or to say Happy Holidays. But have you considered contacting them when you’ve got a new blog post or eBook? If you have clients and prospects who aren’t big on social media, email is a rock-solid way to get your ideas in front of them.
It’s up to you whether you send an email every time you publish or every so often. This choice depends on your publishing schedule. An email every day is probably too much; an email once every week or two is better.
Some mailing list service providers, including MailChimp and AWeber, have RSS-to-Email campaigns that can automate the process entirely, sending a blast to your subscriber list every time you publish a post. Once these campaigns are set up, you don’t have to do a thing except publish a new post. If you publish once a week or less frequently, this may be a good option for you.
BONUS TIP: Don’t underestimate the power of your email signature for content marketing. If you send a lot of email, you’re missing a golden opportunity. Update your signature with links, images, offers, and more. Invite recipients to check out your newest or most popular content. This can be as easy as inserting a link and a quick description in Outlook, or using a plugin like WiseStamp that works in Outlook.com, Gmail, and more.
Strategy #2: Promote Your Content on Social Media
On social media, your top priority is to entertain and educate your audience. It’s not to rack up followers or ask for likes, shares, and retweets. If you’ve created content that’s relevant and attractively presented, chances are you’ll get those without asking.
When you share new content, set aside a few minutes 2-3 times a day to check for feedback and interaction. The world of social media moves fast, and you want to respond quickly to those who comment or share your work. You should reply to all comments, even if it’s just to say “Thanks for reading!”
Facebook. Post to your business page as well as your personal profile (if appropriate). You can share a link and let Facebook pull an image and teaser text, or upload a relevant photo and add the content link in the post text. If you quote people or companies in your content, feel free to tag them (using @UserName in the text of your post).
If you’re a member of a Facebook group that would find your content both relevant and enjoyable, consider posting there, too. Be sure to respect and follow group rules - self-promotion is not always allowed.
Twitter. Share a link to your post with relevant hashtags. It’s a good idea to share new links more than once. Each tweet should be slightly different - focus on a new point, quote, or statistic so people who see both tweets still learn something new. If you quote people or companies in your content, feel free to tag them (using @UserName in the text of your tweet). Here are a few relevant hashtags for our industry:
LinkedIn. Post to your profile and/or company page. You can share the link, or upload a relevant photo and add the link to your content in the post text. If you quote people or companies in your content, feel free to tag them (using @UserName in the text of your post). Like Facebook, consider sharing the post in any relevant groups you belong to, if the group rules allow self-promotion.
Pinterest. Pin an image from your content to a relevant board, with a helpful description and a link to your site. Your description can be up to 500 characters, so take advantage of them to include a helpful summary and a call to action.
Instagram. Upload an image from your content to your profile. Don’t forget to include one or more of the relevant hashtags listed above – hashtags are key on Instagram.
Strategy #3: Promote Your Content on Bookmarking & Curating Sites
Unlike social media platforms, which encourage interaction, there are also platforms designed to store and share links to great content. Bookmarking and curating sites are like personal collections of links you can share. It’s a great way to store content you know you’ll want to read later, as well as to share links with others interested in the same topics. These are just a few examples of bookmarking and curating sites – feel free to seek out others!
StumbleUpon. Think of a “stumble” as the equivalent of a like. When a user “stumbles” your content, it means they liked it and think others might like it, too. StumbleUpon then shows that content to users with similar interests. Of course, users can give a “thumbs down” to something StumbleUpon shows them, so your best bet is content with humor, heart, or clickbait. Lists and comprehensive tutorials also do well. Although it’s better if someone else “stumbles” your content, you can also submit links yourself. Click here to check out StumbleUpon’s guide for new users.
Reddit. Reddit is tricky because there are strict rules against spamming or self-promotion in most subreddits (forums devoted to a single topic). We’re mentioning Reddit here because you may already be active on Reddit, or you may know an influential user who would be willing to share your content. Although Reddit has the power to drive a lot of traffic, users don’t take kindly to those who break the rules, which often include self-promotion. The easiest way around this may be to include a Reddit sharing button on your blog so users who are already familiar with Reddit can share your content from the source.
Scoop.it. This network contains content boards grouped by topic, with links to relevant content included. To use it, join the site and search for topics that match your content. Follow relevant topics, and click “Suggest” to submit your post’s URL. An editor will need to approve your post, but once it’s included, it will be shared on the topic board for all that topic’s followers to see. Click here to create your free account.
Strategy #4: Promote Your Content in Forums and Q&A Networks
You might already be a member of sites like ProducersWeb or Quora. If not, it may be a good idea to become one and start participating. You can raise brand awareness and position yourself as knowledgeable in the field. Most forums and Q&A networks let you create a unique signature block that appears with your posts, a great place to link to your best content. Use an engaging call-to-action like “Check out my post on 10 Things You Never Knew about Life Insurance Marketing,” for example. Be sure to check the forum rules before posting. Some forums limit the number of links you can share, or the time frame you have to wait before you share another self-promotional link.
BONUS TIP: Want to find new forums that aren’t already saturated by the competition? Try BoardReader, a search engine for forums. Search by topic/keyword and you may find places to post that your competition hasn’t discovered yet.
Strategy #5: Repurpose Your Content
You’ve probably heard the old saying, “Measure twice, cut once.” In content marketing, we reverse the idea - produce content once and spin it multiple times. If you’re putting in the work to gather facts, statistics, examples, images, and other elements, you might as well maximum exposure for it. Repurposing your content allows you to reach new and bigger audiences who might not be keen on reading blog posts, for example, but they may be very keen on checking out new decks on SlideShare, for example.
Here are a few ideas for repurposing your content:
- Turn a post into a deck for SlideShare. Remember, you can easily embed SlideShare decks on your LinkedIn profile, too.
- Turn a post into a video for YouTube. Film yourself reading a post or discussing it free-form and post it on YouTube. If you’re demonstrating how to do something (like use a new financial app or read a life insurance policy), make a screencast to show your audience exactly how to do it.
- Turn a post into a podcast. Record audio of yourself reading a post and upload it to SoundCloud or start a podcast and make it available through iTunes.
- Turn a post into an infographic. Have a post with a lot of stats, numbers, or otherwise dry facts? Spice it up with graphics! You can hire a designer, or try your hand at one of the tools created to help non-artists create visually pleasing images and infographics. Check out Piktochart, Canva, and Venngage for inspiration.
The great thing about repurposing your content is that you can re-share the new versions in the same place you shared the originals. Someone who might not have clicked on a link share, for example, might really enjoy an infographic.
There are many more things you can do to drive traffic to your content - we haven’t even touched on paid traffic, guest blogs, or link roundups, for example. If you’re just beginning, stick with the easy, free options listed above until you feel confident enough to know which audiences are responding to your content and which sites will be most valuable in terms of paid promotion.
Which content marketing strategies are you most excited about? Which have worked well for you? We'd love to hear from you in the comments.