Executing a successful content marketing strategy is about more than simply generating as much content as you can, as fast as you can. You need to amplify your content – that is, share it and motivate others to share it – so that it has the impact you want.
Getting the right content is vital to successful content amplification. It doesn’t matter if you publish thousands of blog posts, podcast episodes, or YouTube videos, if you aren’t giving your target audience what they want – and what they are willing and eager to share.
But how do you know if your content strategy is successful? Here are some approaches to amplifying your content and measuring the results.
Define your goals
Before reviewing your content, it’s critical to define the outcomes that you want. Otherwise it’s easy to be sidetracked by “good” results in areas you aren’t targeting. For instance, a hundred likes on a tweet are meaningless if the tweet was designed to generate revenue but didn’t result in any sales, but is a great result if you’re targeting increased social interactions.
Some metrics to consider include:
- Direct sales
- Referred sales
- Ad and/or affiliate revenue
- Social engagement
- Newsletter and/or blog subscribers
- Domain authority
Each piece of content marketing you produce should have a definite goal in mind, in order to help you tailor your approach. If you have a new online course available, selling registrations will likely be your priority. During periods between new educational offerings, you might want to focus on increasing newsletter subscribers, or raising your brand recognition and domain authority to build a larger platform ahead of your next course or seminar release date.
Content marketing often forms part of a larger sales funnel, so each individual element may have a different goal relating to its position in the funnel. If your overall goal is to sell registrations for a course, your funnel may look something like this:
- Social media post linking to blog post
- Blog post leading to mailing list signup form
- Direct email offering the first lesson free
- Free lesson convinces learners to buy the full course
At each stage of the funnel, the learner is enticed to take another step toward the final goal (making a purchase) through offering smaller incentives. Every step has the potential of resulting in the end goal by itself, but the funnel as a whole will generally be more effective than any individual stage.
Reviewing your content strategy in relation to both your primary objective, and the goal of each individual step, enables you to gauge their effectiveness and your strategy’s overall success more accurately.
What is content shareability?
One important metric that may be hard to define is “shareability” – a core element of content amplification. This is the likelihood of a post or update being shared between users, often (but not always) via social media. The chance of a post being shared depends on a variety of factors, including the size of your following and your typical online engagement rate, but some blog and social media posts are inherently more shareable than others.
Time-sensitive updates, such as announcements that a new book or course is available, have high shareability, as do breaking news and opinions. If everybody is talking about a new development in your field, now is the time to issue a post or social media update about it. If you take a week formulating your thoughts into a 5,000-word blog, the conversation will probably have already moved on. So, if one of your goals is to increase your social media engagement, being timely is often more important than being comprehensive.
Shareability based solely on timing is, by its nature, short lived. While it can be very valuable for increasing followers and subscribers or potentially fueling a launch, it’s important to also develop content that may be shareable over a longer period. In-depth posts that address a perennial need – like, for example, this Learning Revolution post – tend to get shared again and again over tim.
Infographics – that is, visuals that capture interesting and useful information in a concise and compelling way – are another approach. While not as powerful as they once were, they can still generate a lot of shares and backlinks to your site. For course creators, I particularly like what Brian Dean calls “instructographics.” – i.e., infographics that teach. He shares this example in his own amazingly shareable post Link Building Strategies: The Complete List (which, of course, I’ve just added one more share to).
In general, reviewing past performance of your posts will give you the best idea of what content is shared by your audience and can help point you in the right direction for future ideas to amplify your content. Are your followers sharing information about your courses, books, and other products, your blog posts about your subject, or that one tweet you fired off replying to someone else?
Understanding what generates shares and engagement from your followers shows you what they’re following you for. Ideally, you are being followed by learners who are waiting for you to release a new product they can buy, or who are engaged with your subject and looking for more information and discussion points. But it could be you’re being followed by hundreds of people who don’t care about your field at all and are only following you for your comprehensive grasp of dad jokes and memes. Analyzing the engagement trends of your previous posts can provide vital information about how your followers are motivated and what content prompts them to engage.
Repurpose your content across multiple platforms
Online, people tend to move in isolated bubbles. Your Facebook followers might be primarily active in your private learners’ group, while on Twitter people follow you to engage in discussions about the latest news in your field. If you only deliver your content marketing through one platform, for example via blog posts, you could be losing out on engagement because some of your followers will never see it.
Cross-posting content is the first step in expanding your reach, and can usually be automated. That ensures your latest blog posts are sent automatically not only to blog subscribers, but newsletter members and followers across all social media platforms. You can also cross-post from different social media sites, for example Facebook business users can link their pages (but not profiles) to Twitter, and cross-post automatically. Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, and more can also be automated, either natively or through a third-party scheduler such as IFTTT. My own approach is to schedule items in Hootsuite for sharing on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.
Caveat: When enabling automations, beware becoming stuck in a cross-posting loop where your Twitter reposts from Facebook which reposts from Twitter, and so on. Limit your cross-posts to one-way automations in order to prevent this. You don’t want to create an echo chamber or noisy feedback loop when you amplify your content!
While automation is useful for distributing a content marketing campaign, you shouldn’t rely on it to do all the work for you. If you find you’re only using an online platform in order to cross-post content, it probably isn’t worth your time. Social media users like the people they follow to be social, meaning you should be engaging with other users on a semi-regular basis. Neglecting to do so will result in low-quality followers, and low engagement. Cross-posting is a valuable tool for content marketers, but it isn’t a replacement for real content generation.
In order to maximize your content amplification efforts, go a step beyond cross-posting and consider repurposing your content in order to fit the various platforms where your content is shared. Use key quotes from your blog posts to share as tweets or other social updates, illustrate your website with infographics that can be used on Pinterest, and cut short segments from longer videos to publish on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.
All of this, by the way, is an example of marketing you can offload. It is the perfect type of work to outsource to a well-trained virtual assistant.
Give audiences what they want
The more appropriate your content is for the platform on which it’s posted, the more shareable it becomes. Users log on to TikTok looking for videos, on Twitter they want succinct messages, and on your website they might want longer, in-depth articles. Using the same content across all your varying online platforms will only produce limited results, because each audience is expecting something different.
Even when you do match your content marketing to the platform, there will still be variables in engagement and success depending on how your specific audience responds. The free stock images you use to illustrate blog posts might be perfectly suitable for your website, but on an image-focused site such as Pinterest or Instagram, they fall flat. Equally, a video clip cut from one of your online classes could perform exceptionally on TikTok, but fail to deliver results on Facebook, where the majority of users browse with videos muted.
When reviewing how your content has performed on each platform, it’s important to consider all the possible variables, not just the general category. The reason one video performed well and others didn’t could be as simple as it containing captions. Stock images might fail to excite viewers, but infographics could be widely shared. When a post doesn’t generate results, consider why. How does it compare with other posts that did perform well? Some of the variables to keep in mind include:
- Platform (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, your website)
- Type of content (image, gif, video, link, etc.)
- Length of content
- Tone of content (serious, urgent, funny, etc.)
- Use of captions/text
- Publishing time (hour of day, day of month, time of year, etc.)
- Past audience engagement
- Relevance to current news/events
- Quality of content
Remember to set reasonable and attainable goals. If you’re just beginning to build an online following, it’s unreasonable to expect thousands of interactions from only a handful of posts.
Also consider how many clicks it takes to get from viewing the content to completing the goal. For example, if you’re creating a post to drive people to your newsletter, don’t send them to your website homepage when you can send them to a dedicated sign-up landing page. If you want somebody to purchase your book, give them the direct link to purchase, rather than making a generic announcement that it’s available from bookstores.
Every click is a potential fall-off point in your funnel, so remove them wherever you can.
Make engaging with your content easy
Ideally, your content is designed to match the style and format of the platform on which it is shared. It’s always a good idea to double check how your posts perform, particularly if you are using automations to cross-post from one platform to another. Your latest blog post could easily convert into an email, but you might find on social media platforms the thumbnail uses the wrong image, or the description you used for the snippet is too long or short.
Social media sites periodically update how posts from other sites render on their platforms, so it’s a good idea to check your posts on a frequent basis to ensure they still render correctly. I also recommend using a plug-in like Yoast which enables you to specify the images that should appear on different social media sites (while also helping you turbo-charge your search engine optimization).
Telling your followers what you want them to do is also key to getting the engagement you want. Calls to action are a fundamental part of online life and an essential part of your efforts to amplify your content. Users expect to see them on every page they visit. CTAs have become so prevalent that we automatically seek them out, looking for that prompt of what to do next. Rather than feeling intrusive or obnoxious, they are a cue that online users seek out. Including a call to action in your posts is critical to driving as many viewers as possible to take the next step, be it read your book, subscribe to your newsletter, or enroll in your latest course.
If you’re sharing content via social media, check your privacy settings. If you’re running a professional or business page, you should make as many posts public as possible, and provide contact information so it’s easy for new learners to find you. Pin a post with details of your latest course, seminar, or book so it’s the first thing new visitors see. Always use the most direct link you can to avoid attrition, and double-check everything works as it should.
Know your audience
As you continue to generate content for marketing your brand and products, you’ll get to learn about your audience and how they respond to each post and video you publish. It’s important to be predictable in order to give your followers the content they want and expect. If you attract followers to your website who want to increase their knowledge of your subject, they are less likely to engage with posts about your personal life, and may even unsubscribe completely. However on another channel you might have cultivated a following who are there because they love hearing what your dog did this week, and will be less engaged with serious, educational content.
Cultivating disparate audiences is not a bad thing — it gives you the opportunity to expand your reach by attracting a variety of followers across different online channels — but in order to get all those audiences to engage with your content marketing strategy and join your sales funnel, you have to provide the type of content they are used to seeing from you.
Use your funnel to define success
While unexpected results can and do occur when creating content for online distribution, it’s important to always keep the original aims of your funnel in mind. A particular content strategy might net you half a million social media followers, but that’s a meaningless metric if they don’t ultimately subscribe to your e-mail list or purchase your educational products. Whatever other results your content marketing delivers, judge the success of the strategy by the original aim.
Analytics tools are critical to helping you understand how your content is performing. The number of followers you have on each platform, the engagement rate of individual posts, the hits to your website, subscribers to your newsletter, and sales of your course or seminar are all vital metrics, but there isn’t always a clear relationship between publishing a post and making a sale.
One way to overcome this is to use an URL shortener with tracking features, such as bit.ly. Although it might take a little longer to set up each post, by documenting the link clicks you generate, you can review which elements of your content marketing strategy are really delivering results, and also pinpoint places in your funnel where learners are falling off.
Amplify your content today
Successful content marketing strategies take time to develop and perfect, so don’t be discouraged if your initial results fail to impress. The better you understand your audience, the platforms on which you’re conducting your content marketing campaign, and the triggers that work best for your followers, the more information you have to direct your strategy and tailor it to deliver results, be that more followers, increased engagement, or sales of your next product.
Most of all, keep in mind that you probably already have content – maybe a lot of it – that isn’t getting the return for you that it could. Start today with taking some of the steps outlined in this post to amplify your content and pull prospective learners to you.