Your content distribution strategy is only as good as the processes that support it. You may have the best social content in the world, but without an effective framework in place to keep your campaign moving, it will always underachieve.
So what does an effective distribution process actually look like? First, you need to be clear that the processes and strategy are related but subtly different. Strategy is about what you want to achieve, processes deal with how to reach those goals.
Let’s take a look at the three stages of a social media campaign and what needs to be addressed in each.
1. Before content distribution
Your process begins before content production, by defining exactly what you want your campaign to achieve, and how that aligns to overall business strategy. Marketing does not exist in a vacuum, and you need to be able to prove the value of your efforts.
So the very first part of your process is to ask a lot of questions, and to capture the answers to each:
- What are we trying to achieve?
- What does our ideal client look like?
- How do we best connect with these people?
- What do we need to say to begin engaging with them?
#Tip: BuzzSumo is your friend here
Alongside social listening tools, such as Falcon’s Listen function, there are a number of free/mium tools available, with BuzzSumo being one of the most useful for competitive research. Simply enter a topic of interest and you will be instantly rewarded with a list of the most shared posts on that topic. You can also search domain names for a list of these sites’ best-performing social posts.
Some of these questions can be answered based on the experience of previous campaigns, so you must assign resources to look at historical performance.
You also need to look beyond the marketing department to gather data that can help fine-tune your content and distribution choices. The company CRM system is a goldmine when you need to identify trends among your leads and customers.
This will, of course, trigger a second round of questions:
- What additional insight can the sales team provide – and how can we make sure that information is captured and fed into our planning?
- What qualitative information can we gather from interviews with existing customers? This could be as simple as sending an email and similar low-hanging fruit.
- What has our social listening program uncovered, particularly with regards to trending topics, interests of our target audience and their pain points?
- How can we combine all of our data streams (CRM, social service and support etc.) to increase the granularity of insight?
- Which internal resources can we use to produce content for our campaign?
#Tip: Use a content pool
A content pool is an asset management tool enabling marketers to store items used in previous campaigns. It can save a lot of time through repurposing as well as ensure brand and messaging consistency. If you use a standalone asset management tool, be aware that the more advanced social media management platforms are increasingly opening their APIs for easy integration.
Putting insights to work
Once your data has been collected and analyzed, you should have a well-rounded understanding of your customers, their needs, and their business pains. These insights will then be used to determine the actual content you produce and to build a schedule for social media posts.
You will also need to determine how best to spend your budget. It is critical that you spend the same on distribution and promotion of your content as you do on its production. The choice of content format will also be a major factor in how well it performs with your audience – would they (and therefore your business) gain more value from a blog post or an ebook?
2. During content distribution
At this point in your strategy you are ready to build a full calendar for the campaign, helping to codify the rest of the process. You will need to determine several factors including:
- The channels you will use to target your ideal prospects.
- The messaging tone and format that will best resonate with these people.
- The content approval process that will assess each asset/update for compatibility with brand messaging guidelines.
- Whether you can exploit the specific features of these networks for added reach. Facebook Custom Audiences are one option that will help you narrow down your audience by excluding unlikely prospects, or fans you don’t want to spam.
- Consider your organic vs paid ratio – the former should guide the latter, you can read more about that here.
This plan will map out the content that needs to be created, the people who need to be involved, the distribution channels you will use, and when each asset needs to go live. Using a social media content calendar will allow you to visualize this plan more easily – and assist the rest of your team in balancing their workload to ensure content is created and distributed on time.
One final task to consider before production begins is the creation of some social media posts guidelines. This framework will help to ensure that all messaging is consistent, regardless of the distribution channel.
#Tip: Be sure to test
Multivariate and A/B testing are simple ways to test the waters in the early days of a campaign. For all the technology involved, content will always have that alchemy quality where one mix will succeed where a very similar one doesn’t. The simple process of testing two images or headlines against each other can pay off substantially with increased clicks. You can read more about the tactic of A/B testing here.
When you have your content in place, you can finally trigger the actual distribution process.
3. After content distribution
With the campaign and strategy underway it is essential that you have some processes defined that will ensure performance is measured and assessed in real-time. This monitoring will help you track progress towards the overall goals of the campaign and that content is being distributed according to your schedule for social media posts.
Even more importantly, early monitoring will identify where content is underperforming, giving you an opportunity to adjust the plan to compensate. It could be that a shift in trends for your target audience means that you need to change the content being shared to increase relevance. If your processes leave performance reporting until after the campaign has completed, you miss chances to better connect with your audience.
As Intel’s social media strategist Ekaterina Walter noted:
“The biggest issue is the amount of time it takes to make a decision internally. It is a time of ‘now marketing,’ or what I call ‘agile marketing’ — we cannot afford to spend too much time making decisions or creating elaborate processes of approval. We need to act quickly and nimbly; otherwise, the opportunity is gone forever. This is the biggest hindrance to digital creativity.”
With a robust but flexible process in place, you can adjust your campaign on the fly in response to real-time observations.
Once every task on the content distribution calendar has been completed, the last remaining task is to collate the overall results of the campaign. Your reporting process needs to identify:
- How well each asset performed.
- How each distribution channel performed – particularly those that exceeded or fell short of expectations.
- Whether the campaign goals were reached. For example, if you distributed an ebook did it deliver on the number of downloads and leads you defined in the beginning?
- Insights that need to be fed back other departments to improve your products and services.
- Any changes in the social landscape created by your campaign/content.
- Total return on investment and any budget under- or over-spend.
Tip# Use a URL Shortener
Underrated and underutilized, URL shorteners not only spruce up unsightly long links, they are the simple way to track campaign performance. Falcon’s version lets you customize tags and parameters and connects directly to Google Analytics.
This will always be a learning process
These insights can then be applied to refining your next campaign for even greater success. You should also perform and end-to-end review of the entire content distribution process to evaluate how well it assisted in reaching campaign goals. Encourage all your stakeholders to comment on what did (and did not) work, and use that feedback to optimize each distribution channel, and to address any shortcomings identified.
After all, the more refined your content distribution process becomes, the easier it will be to manage future campaigns