Around what does your content marketing strategy primarily revolve? I’m going to take a well-educated guess – your blog. Am I right?
Having been in the content marketing game for many years now – first and foremost as a blogger – I have been living by the promise that if I write quality articles for the various websites that I’m involved with, then traffic and leads are only a few well-chosen words away.
In the past, this has been absolutely correct. Blogging has indeed been a solid strategy that Web 2.0 has welcomed in no uncertain terms. Following decades of businesses shoving interruptive marketing messages down consumers’ throats, content marketing has come as a welcome relief to an increasingly informed and digitally empowered world.
It’s certainly been a democratizing experience, as I’m sure all of you who are reading this will agree. Any business, large or small, can start a blog – and most have. Over the years, this has caused a seismic shift in the way marketing information gets distributed and consumed. Consumers no longer wait for a business to reach out to them. Instead, when they want to find out about something, they head online and conduct a search – and our blogs have been there to ensure that they are furnished with the information they’re looking for.
The purpose? To drive visitors to our websites. Blogs create interest, add value, build audiences and credibility and trust. Get your blog right, and conversions are just around the corner.
Change Is in the Air
However, consumer behavior is changing. And a few other things are changing, too. Namely, the power and positioning of social networks.
Blogs formed the center of content marketing strategies because they drew people to our websites, and websites formed the center of our businesses. We wanted our content to be consumed on our website, because that’s where we were also asking users to consume our goods and services.
But social networks are evolving in ways that are rapidly challenging this heretofore tried and trusted principle.
These days, content marketers need to be aware of some new trends facing the industry. Instead of continuing to centralize our strategies around blog posts and the occasional eBook, we need to be thinking about what’s happening on the likes of Medium and LinkedIn (both large networks where original, high-quality content is being published).
What I’m talking about, of course, is a decentralized content strategy. A strategy that consciously moves away from the primarily website-based publishing approach, and into additional realms where the focus is not entirely on you, but rather where large volumes of content is already being produced and consumed by engaged communities. To put it simply, decentralized content is the stuff that you create for the web that is both stored and consumed on a third party’s domain (a little like guest blogging, in this respect).
Below is our brief guide to help you understand what you need to be thinking about in terms of your decentralized content strategy.
A Guide to Decentralizing Your Content Strategy
Quality Still Counts – Perhaps Even More
Let’s be clear. As you can imagine, decentralized content means shareable content.
I know what you’re thinking – all content, even the centralized stuff, needs to be shareable. However, the difference with decentralized content is that you’re putting it out there amongst audiences that are not your own. When you write a blog for your website and share it amongst your own social following, these people are already actively participating in engagement with your brand and your output. They have chosen to follow you on Twitter or wherever it may be because they are interested in what your company does and says.
However, when creating decentralized content, your audience isn’t a given, and therefore your content needs to be shareable and interesting in its own right. In short, you can’t rely on the reputation that you’ve already built as a content creator for your brand.
Therefore, your decentralized content needs to be perhaps some of the very best stuff that you’ve created to date. This is what is going to make it shareable amongst communities not of your own making. When publishing on third-party platforms – especially for the first time – users aren’t there to find you per se, but rather to find great content. Once they do so, they will then share it – and, much like guest blogging, this will direct different audiences in your direction.
And let’s be clear again. Decentralized content is not a replacement for centralized content. Rather, it is a means to augment it.
A decentralized content strategy creates additional avenues through which new audiences for your centralized content may be drawn. By building your reputation as a great content creator on the likes of Medium and LinkedIn, your hope is that new audiences will begin to show interest in what you do and where you come from, and that will eventually lead them to start investigating the other content that you produce for your website. It’s a long-game for sure, but one that’s geared towards driving new traffic and new interest in what you and your company are doing.
LinkedIn and Medium – Your Mainstay Decentralized Content Networks
I made a point of the continuing importance of producing quality content simply because the audiences on your two most important platforms for decentralized content – LinkedIn and Medium – demand it.
Indeed, when Medium first came on the scene, it was an invite-only platform. This meant that your content had to be of a certain standard even to be considered for the network. It was a bold move, but ensured users that they were only gaining access to the very best industry research and opinion pieces on the web.
It’s not so tough to get accepted onto Medium these days – though you still need an invite from an established user. However, Medium doesn’t display posts in chronological order. Instead, much like Reddit, it gives priority placement to quality posts, as determined by Medium’s algorithm.
Ev Williams, who helped create Twitter and Blogger and co-founded Medium with Biz Stone, explains:
“What we’re doing is ordering things by our best guess of the relative quality/interestingness of the different items—according to the people who have seen them. […] It’s not a direct popularity ranking. It takes in a variety of factors, including whether a post seems to have been read (not just clicked on) and whether people click the “Recommend” button at the bottom of posts. The ratio of people who view it who read it and who read it and recommend it are important factors, not just the number. (This is an attempt to level the playing field for those who don’t already have large followings and/or a penchant for writing click-bait headlines.)”
Quality, in short, counts for everything on Medium.
And the same goes for LinkedIn publishing.
LinkedIn is of course the network of choice for B2B professionals. And so, as a professional network, the quality of your content must be of a professional standard.
What’s important to remember with LinkedIn, however, is that this is the platform where professionals go for quality insights. As such, if you’ve got some research that you want to share, then you should consider LinkedIn first before your blog.
LinkedIn also plays host to a hot community for debate. Opinion pieces, therefore, can make up a strong part of your decentralized content strategy. If you’ve got some ideas that you think might ruffle a few feathers, then get ruffling on LinkedIn. You’re far more likely to attract attention on this platform than you are if you were to initiate the same thing through your blog. Why? Because LinkedIn is a social (professional) network, and users arrive there ready to participate in conversation and debate. Visitors to your blog, by contrast, are more likely to be looking for information rather than to have their views or beliefs challenged by some of your more radical thoughts.
However, the ultimate goal for your LinkedIn output remains the same – to build your reputation as a thoughtful, active contributor to your industry. New conversations may be initiated through your LinkedIn publications, but eventually you want these users to follow the trail back to your website and your blog.
In short, your decentralized content strategy is still about playing the same game – it’s just the rules that are different.
Over to You
The biggest thing I want you to take away from this post is the fact that you shouldn’t fear decentralizing some of your content so long as it’s of superlative quality. If your content is good enough, consumers of it will find their way back to your blog and your website where you want them. Your decentralized content strategy, therefore, is simply about going out in search of new audiences, rather than relying on them always coming to find you. Medium and LinkedIn are the perfect places to start your search.
What do you think of a decentralized content strategy? Do you use LinkedIn and/or Medium for your company's advantage? What about other platforms, did we miss any? Let us know in the comments below!