The 3-Tiered Hierarchy of Content Syndication
Syndication is one of the most important pieces of the “content marketing” process. Writing and publishing the original article (or infographic, or video, or any piece of material, really) is only the first step. Even if you create something informative, entertaining, valuable, and shareable, it won’t mean much unless there are actual people around to read and consume it.
Syndication attempts to solve that problem by making the piece available to a wider audience. For brands just getting started with a content marketing program or those without a loyal readership, this is absolutely essential part of the puzzle.
Still, the term “syndication” is vague, and can refer to a host of techniques, processes, and strategies designed to make your work available to a greater number of people. With so many options available, it can be hard to decide the best route forward for your brand. Each brand has a unique target audience, a specific budget, and a specific set of resources to work with, so it’s virtually impossible to identify any one “best fit” for all brands.
What we can do, however, is establish a broader framework—one that doesn’t dig too deep into specific channels, but does help the majority of businesses understand the most important elements of a content syndication plan. Under this framework, I’ve identified three “tiers,” which dictate both an order and a degree of importance for the overall campaign. Within each tier are a number of different options for individual brands to choose, but as a general rule, all brands should focus on “tier 1” syndication, followed by “tier 2” syndication, and of course then “tier 3.”
For the remainder of this article, I’ll be diving deep into those tiers specifically, explaining what they are, why they’re important, and various options that marketers have when using them.
Tier 1: External Publishers and Blogs
The first tier is all about getting published on platforms that people are already using to find and read material. For example, you could write a post and submit it to a leading industry online magazine, which could get it seen by several thousand active readers instead of the few that your blog currently naturally generates. As you might imagine, there are many options for this; emerging brands in the content scene will likely be limited to local publishers, small publishers, and niche blogs and forums for their work, while more experienced content marketers can move up to national outlets.
This external form of syndication isn’t limited to a singular external post, either. You don’t have to write a post and publish it offsite to gain offsite benefits. For instance, you can publish your article on your own blog and earn a link from an external publisher citing it; the more original research and unique claims you write about, the more likely you’ll be to naturally attract these kinds of links. There’s also the option of taking advantage of social bookmarking sites like Reddit and StumbleUpon, which accept user-submitted pieces of content to distribute to its readers.
Tier 2: Straight Social Media Syndication
Once your relationship with one or more offsite publishers has been established, the next tier of syndication is social media syndication. This tier is much simpler than getting published offsite; instead of trying to build relationships with external publishers or attract links naturally, you’ll have full control over your distribution. Most brands choose to do a big push of their content when it’s first published, posting an excerpt or the title and drawing people in with a link, then following up over the course of weeks and months with occasional varied redistributions of the same article (to attract more traffic for those who didn’t see it the first time around).
Most of this can be done organically, but most social platforms also offer paid boosts to extend the reach of posts. I should also mention that not all social media platforms are equal, and should not be used the same way; Facebook has the largest user base, but what attracts a user to share an article on Facebook isn’t the same as what attracts them to share one on LinkedIn. Know your platforms, and know your audience.
Tier 3: Influencers
Finally, social influencers should only be broached once you’ve established an offsite and traditional social syndication pattern. Since you’ll be dealing with individuals rather than platforms or networks, you’ll have to make individual pitches (albeit short ones), and work on maintaining ongoing relationships to solidify your chances of getting shared by them in the future. Influencers are social media users with large followings and a great deal of cumulative respect; getting one of your articles shared by them can open up your audience to thousands of new potential readers. If you’ve already got a dedicated social following and some extra visibility from offsite publishers, this will go even further to boost your authority.
This three-tiered system doesn’t cover every option available for content syndication; it leaves out a handful of noteworthy channels, such as paid traffic, email blasts, and subscriber feeds. But it does represent a critical opportunity to get ample traffic, visibility, links, and authority with a minimal amount of direction and effort. Adhere to this 3-tiered system as closely as possible when you establish a plan for your content syndication; after experimenting with different individual channels, you’ll soon find a rhythm that suits your brand and your audience perfectly.
Want more information on content marketing? Head over to our comprehensive guide on content marketing here: The All-in-One Guide to Planning and Launching a Content Marketing Strategy.
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