Many content marketers view “promotion” as a phase that begins once content goes live. The truth is, promotion should begin much earlier than that, running parallel to production, and most of the promotion work should be completed before launch. Here’s a plan framework you can use for your next content campaign.
A good promotion plan begins with audience research and the development of targeted messaging.
If you have the time and budget, doing research like survey analysis is really helpful. At BuzzStream, we’re a bit more informal. Our planning stage usually involves a discussion of who we’re creating the content for and what their needs are. We use analytics data from previous pieces, information about what we’ve seen performing well on Twitter, and insight from conversations we’ve had with customers.
We segment our audiences based on the value they’ll get from the content. For example, one group might be new to online marketing and would use the guide to level up their skills. Another group might be people in charge of outreach teams who could incorporate our guide into their training materials. A third group might be influencers who don’t really need to learn anything new but who appreciate good outreach content to share with their followers. These segments become the foundation for influencer lists and outreach messaging.
Before beginning content creation, you should spend some time thinking about what you want to communicate to each of your audience segments. (Developing personas can be really helpful here.) Think about what benefit each segment will get from consuming your content. Ask yourself what will motivate people to share it, and then spend some time thinking about reasons why people might choose not to share.
If you’re a team of one, this process can be more of a mental exercise than a physical document. If you have a team, creating a shared doc that everyone can refer back to is extremely useful.
Here’s an example of some of the questions you’ll want to ask during this stage:
Once you nail your audience segments and messaging, you can be more confident about content creation. You’ll know exactly how and why you’re benefitting the groups of people who are most important to your business, and that knowledge can guide you as you make important decisions about the piece.
2+ Weeks Before Launch
As you’re developing the actual content, you should also develop a list of people and websites that you want to share it. The earlier work you did on audience development can is your foundation here. For each segment, create a list of top-tier and mid-tier influencers.
As you go, make note of what medium you want to use to reach each of the influencers (email, social, etc.) You should also figure out whether a cold pitch will work or if you’ll need a relationship first.
To figure out how big your influencer lists should be, think about what your coverage or sharing goals are. How many people do you expect to write about you? Take that number and divide it by your usual outreach response rate. That’s how many people you’ll need to send outreach to.
Good content marketers often begin with long lists influencers and then narrow them down to only the most relevant, targeted prospects for outreach. It’s a time-consuming but worthwhile process. If you want to work this way, your initial list length should be about 5X the length of your ideal outreach list.
Engaging Before Launch
Next, take your influencer lists and make a goal to engage with each person or website on that list at least once before you pitch your content.
For those influencers that you think would be okay with a cold pitch, you can do something simple like a tweet a post and @ mention them. This will at least get your name on their radar.
Influencers who you want more of a relationship with will require more involved engagement. Begin monitoring them via Twitter lists or Feed.ly and look for opportunities to provide commentary on something they’ve written or shared. A single @ mention on Twitter isn’t enough. Try to reply to a tweet and spark a conversation or consider leaving a thoughtful comment on one of their blog posts. If you have the time and resources, look for opportunities to meet them in real life at conferences and events.
Week Before Launch
The week before your content goes live should be a very busy one. This is when you’ll need to draft all of your social media posts, outreach emails, and customer messages. You may want to queue up social media ads and plan targeting, as well.
One of the best things you can do before your content goes live is pretest it with influencers. You get the benefit of their buy-in and their good advice about ways to improve your content or messaging before you share it with the world.
You can be really strategic and send your content to a subset of influencers who you want to target, but we’ve honestly seen a lot of success just by asking for volunteers.
We’re finishing up our newest BuzzStream guide about Content Promotion. Would you like a review copy? Let me know. (It’s good, I promise 🙂
— Matt Gratt (@mattgratt) March 14, 2014
However you go about it, be sure to give the influencers enough time to actually look over your content and provide feedback.
You should plan to write at least two email templates for each of your audience segments. (If you have three segments, that’s at least six templates total.) The template variations should test elements like subject line or CTA. They should also leave room for personalization.
Your most important influencers (the top 5 or 10 people and websites on your list) should get completely custom messages. To save yourself time on the day of launch, write them in advance. Hopefully by this point you’ve chatted or engaged at least a few times, so that personalization can refer back to previous conversations you’ve had.
Influencer campaign framework
Day of Launch
The day your post goes live, your goal is to share it as much as you can. This means post it to social media, put your ads live, and begin outreach.
As you work through your outreach list and begin sending messages you’ll start to see patterns in the results. Certain templates will perform better than others. When this happens, kill the bad ones, go with the good ones, and then maybe even create a new variation to try.
You’ll also often find that you’re connecting with some groups better than others. If this is the case, invest more deeply in the segment that’s working. Expand your influencer lists and try more outreach to that group.
Moderate & Respond
Make yourself available to moderate comments on what you’ve shared, retweet the nice things other people have said, and reply to any questions that come up. This will help you build stronger relationships with the audiences you care about and give you opportunity to further amplify your content.
Week of Launch
The initial buzz your content created will likely begin to fade out as the week continues. Use this time to do more of what’s working and claim some of the easy victories.
Look to see which of your paid social media campaigns performed the best on day one. Invest more heavily in those channels and that messaging. If you find that everything has flopped, try again with a different headline or different targeting criteria.
Continue to share and retweet the nice things people have said about your content. Pay special attention to major influencers who say nice things during off-peak hours. A well-timed retweet could provide a nice traffic spike.
Make sure you take the time to submit your articles to email newsletters and weekly roundups. Be sure it’s been shared within relevant subreddits and social bookmarking sites. These are simple things to do that can bring nice, qualified traffic to your content.
If your content went even a little bit viral, there’s a good chance people shared it without crediting you. Use reverse image search, tools like Fresh Web Explorer, and other link reclamation tactics to find all of those instances and secure the link.
As things wind down, don’t close the door on your content. Keep a Tweetdeck search running in the background so you’ll catch when people share it. Be sure to send a genuine thank you when they do.
Use the twitter and feedly lists you created to continue to engage with influencers. Odds are that if they were important to this campaign, they’ll be important in the future, too. The more you can do to build relationships, the better.
Monitor social media, email services like HARO, and the web in general for opportunities to repurpose or reshare your content. You may find opportunities to turn it into a case study or suggest it as a resource.
You could also use tools like BuzzStream to schedule regular site prospecting and get a batch of fresh contacts delivered to your inbox on a weekly basis. Scroll through these sites for opportunities to place your content.
After your promotion campaign draws to a close, spend some time reviewing metrics like shares, visits, and conversions. Call out things you’ll want to remember for next time.
You should also refer back to your original influencer lists. It’s likely that some people who you initially considered moderate tier 2 influencers proved to actually be tier 1 advocates. Reorganize the list based on the results of your campaign, so you can be better equipped to move into the next project.
Complete Content Promotion Plan
Content Promotion Plan, from The Advanced Guide to Content Promotion
What do your content promotion campaigns look like? Let us know in the comments or tweet to us @BuzzStream.