Most of us tend to think that our own little world is the center of the universe, and that certainly applies to content marketing. If you believe the hype, that’s all anybody thinks about. But the truth is that, while most large corporations have thoroughly embraced content marketing, a lot of smaller businesses — the ones with small staffs of strategists and operators who spend a zillion hours a week just getting it done — know just enough to be dangerous. Well, not dangerous…but maybe ineffective. They know they’re supposed to have a blog (i.e., “content”), and they know that they can either do it themselves or outsource it. But they don’t really know what to do with it once they have it. They’ve been too busy running the business to spend time figuring that out.
So let me see if I can make it easier: Once you have a great piece of content, where do you publish it?
Where do you publish your content?
Let me address the obvious first: Why not publish it everywhere? Because Google doesn’t like duplicate content. And, for the foreseeable future, Google calls the shots. They have a very effective carrot-and-stick approach to nudging people into doing things their way: search engine results. Taking their advice can boost your ranking in search engine results. Ignoring that advice — by publishing the same content on multiple platforms — could push your ranking low enough that no one ever even sees it.
However, it’s not quite that cut-and-dried (things can never be simple, can they?). Even ignoring the fact that Google frequently changes their algorithms, those algorithms are based on so many moving parts that it’s almost impossible to predict specific if/then scenarios. Here, however, are some things to think about:
Your blog is always a good option because…well, it’s on your own website. There’s a lot to be said for building on your own real estate. It might be easier to convert readers who are already on your site than those who are reading your content somewhere else. And, if you regularly post high-quality content, it can boost your website’s authority and ranking.
Take a look at these statistics from HubSpot:
- B2B companies with active blogs receive 67% more leads than those without.
- Companies with blogs receive 97% more links to their websites, something that scores big brownie points with Google.
- Blogs have been rated as the fifth most reliable source for online information.
In addition, consumers are increasingly doing extensive research before making first contact with a company. The good news is that most consumers will be further down the sales funnel when they reach out to you, which makes conversion a lot easier. The bad news is that, unless you regularly publish top-notch, informative content, consumers will become more likely to skip right over you in favor of a competitor who does. So it’s essential to put as much information about yourself and your company as possible on your website.
There is a downside, however, to publishing on your own blog (you knew there would be, didn’t you?): Unless your site already has high authority and ranking — and many small businesses don’t — few people may ever see the content. Visitors who discover your content might love it, but the vast majority won’t even know it’s there.
A lot of people see LinkedIn as a networking opportunity, most valuable when you’re hiring or seeking to be hired. And LinkedIn is, indeed, a fantastic resource for that. But you should never underestimate LinkedIn’s potential for lead generation, especially for B2B companies:
- 80% of LinkedIn users say they want to connect with companies.
- LinkedIn sends four times as much traffic to your web site than Facebook or Twitter, possibly because most people on LinkedIn are there for business reasons rather than to watch cute kitten videos, so it’s a target-rich environment.
- 50% are more likely to buy from a company they interact with on LinkedIn.
- 60% of LinkedIn users are interested in industry insights, providing a rich opportunity for businesses to establish thought leadership with high-quality content.
In addition to those numbers (which are pretty impressive), there’s another big benefit to LinkedIn: If you’re a small business, LinkedIn’s authority and ranking are very likely higher than yours, giving you the ability to piggyback onto LinkedIn’s success. So content published on LinkedIn could very well show up higher in search engine results than content published on your own site. The downside? You’re still building on someone else’s real estate.
This is what we used to call trade magazines, but now they’re much more likely to be full-fledged online publications with blogs, archives, access to online issues, etc. The good news is that there’s an industry website for just about any niche you can think of. While you probably won’t be paid for these articles (in fact, some publications will want you to pay them to guarantee publication in the form of a “sponsored post,”) a bylined article on a well-known industry website can go a long way toward boosting your credibility and thought leadership, especially if you offer insight into the latest industry developments or a fresh look at issues the industry has been struggling with.
The downside, as usual, comes from building on someone else’s real estate. And, unless you have the right connections to industry leaders, it can take a lot of work to get your content published.
So what’s a small business to do?
Well, it depends. As the owner of a small business myself, I’d like nothing more than to be able to give you a hard-and-fast answer. The reality is that there are just too many moving parts. But let me lay out a few of the options for you:
- Publish on your blog and post an update on LinkedIn.
Publish your content on your blog. Then, post the link on LinkedIn using the “update” feature. Include the title, either the first paragraph or a short summary, and a sentence or two about why people should read it (the “why it matters” part). If your site is built on WordPress, there’s a plugin that can do it automatically.
- Publish on your blog and on LinkedIn.
Publish on your blog, and use the “Publish” feature to post it on LinkedIn, too. Yes, you do run the risk of duplicate content. However, the general consensus right now is that Google doesn’t worry about that kind of duplicate content very much as long as they don’t identify it as “spammy” — meaning that you shouldn’t post all of your content in both places. The rule of thumb is that it’s OK to do it with every 1 out of 5 posts. The good thing is that you won’t get banned from the internet forever either way , so it’s an option worth experimenting with.
- Publish slightly different versions on your blog and on LinkedIn.
In a nutshell, it’s not duplicate if it’s different. Keep the gist of it the same, but change things up with a different title, different images, and a different introduction and conclusion.
- For bylined articles in industry/trade pubs, know the rules.
Different publications have different rules. Some don’t care if the content has already been published elsewhere. Some will allow you to repost it only after they’ve published it, and then on a timeline they identify. Others won’t let you publish it anywhere else at all. So it’s crucial to find out on the front end what the particular publication you’re targeting allows and doesn’t allow. And, if you’re fortunate enough to have several options, the ability to republish elsewhere could help you make a decision.
The human brain is programmed to prefer certainty. Unfortunately, we can’t always have what we want. That’s definitely true in this case. I’d stay away from anyone who claims they can definitively tell you the best strategy right off the bat. My suggestion is to experiment. Try several of these options, then compare the analytics to determine which one/ones performed the best. You do, of course, have to decide what you mean by “perform the best”: Number of likes? Shares? Comments? Leads? And that’s not always easy. But if you know what to look for, you can use your metrics to decide which which strategy or combination of strategies works best for you. Just remember how quickly things change — watching metrics is an ongoing project.
Personally, I’ve had the best results when publishing on LinkedIn, especially when I post to relevant groups . What have you tried, and what works best for you? Let me know in the comments below, or email me at [email protected].