Content amplification sounds a little bit like broadcasting your message, doesn’t it? Well, that’s exactly what it is. Amplification entails all the things you do to promote and distribute your product, brand, or service.
What is content amplification?
Content amplification is the process of digitally promoting and distributing your brand’s message, products, or services across various channels, including your owned platforms (e.g., your website or blog), social media platforms, or other publishers’ sites, either yourself or via earned media (e.g., public relations) or paid advertising.
A Bit of Background
Back in the days before the Internet, if you wanted to promote content you had to work with a public relations (PR) or advertising agency. Sure, you could do it on your own, but to get the best results you usually had to work with media professionals to establish processes for a fee.
In addition to paying agency fees, there were fees to run ads. You could pay for print ads, billboard ads, television commercials, radio ads, direct mail — you get the idea. Most of it was all paid for. Getting free publicity (aka “earned media”) usually entailed background work schmoozing an editor, a news producer, or someone else in power who could make your content visible to a large audience.
The Internet changed all that — and it started with blogs. Suddenly, anyone could become a publisher by writing a blog post. The internet “democratized” content creation. Anyone could post content online.
The Dawn of Blogging
Blog posts started sort of like online diaries or journals. But they quickly evolved into forums where any writer could share their expertise on any given topic. An interesting blog post could get attention. Soon, bloggers were creating content about everything from food to travel to raising chickens in your backyard.
People caught on quickly that they could solicit “paid ads” to run alongside their blog posts. Why? Because they were developing audiences who were interested in products related to the topics they were blogging about.
Soon, “how-to” content creation took off. And it wasn’t just in the consumer space — businesses got into the act, too, as companies wanted to share their industry expertise. Headlines shouted things like, “How To Sell Like a Pro,” or “5 Ways to Prepare Your Furnace for Winter.”
The purpose of the content became not only to help readers by giving them valuable content — a practice known as content marketing — but also to draw an audience for the blogger’s (or the blogging company’s) products and services.
Content amplification in the digital world, then, actually started back with blog posts providing information on relevant content. Professionally marketed blog posts made a lot of people successful back then — and they still do.
The Infancy of Google Search
How then, did bloggers draw readers to their blogs? Mostly through search engines — Google search, mostly. Google would scan all the content on the web, and using algorithms, rank content when readers searched for given terms, presenting the “quality content” up higher on the search engine results pages.
Things have evolved quite a bit since those early days of Google search and today encompass “paid search” as well — meaning you can pay to amplify your content on Google.
Social Media Explodes
Content amplification success really took off when the use of social media began to proliferate. Now, anyone could — for free — promote their content on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube simply by talking about it and pointing the reader back to their blog or website to learn more.
And let’s not forget LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest. LinkedIn has been a boon to business-to-business (B2B) marketers who can self-publish articles for free, promote their company and people to potential employees, and share their content with their followers.
Content amplification in the fields of beauty, fashion, food, and travel — to name a few — further proliferated with the advent of Instagram and Pinterest. Think of all the recipes you can find on Pinterest. Or the nature photographers you follow on Instagram. Most all link back to someone who is trying to amplify related content.
Like LinkedIn, Twitter has become more of a content amplification tool for businesses than business-to-consumer (B2C) marketers. In some ways, Twitter is like a modern-day outlet for press releases to amplify your content — only you’re more in control. Tweet out a message about your new product or service or latest blog post and link it back to your website.
And who could forget YouTube? YouTube represented the birth of video marketing, AKA content amplification via video. What started as goofy folks making funny videos evolved into a bonafide site where millions and millions of videos are hosted on every topic under the sun.
Since then, social media channels, similar to blog posts, have evolved. We now live in the era of podcasting and voice-based social (e.g., Clubhouse, Discord), which both represent even more content amplification opportunities.
Furthermore, we also now have “paid social” — paid ads on social media, such as Facebook ads, LinkedIn ads, and more. Most any social media platform you can think of takes paid ads, and if it doesn’t yet, it probably will soon.
Content Itself Is Just Content: Enter Content Marketing
The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) defines content marketing as the strategic marketing approach of creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.
In other words, you give people relevant content that helps them in their daily lives so that when they have a business need, they think of you or your company’s products, services, and solutions. You are building an audience and relationships — and, eventually, you want to earn their business and loyalty.
The keyword in CMI’s definition is “strategic.” You can create all the content in the world, but without a strategy for promoting and distributing it (i.e., a content amplification plan), who will know it exists?
The types of content that creators and corporate marketing departments are creating these days go far beyond the good old blog post and videos of the early days of the internet and social media. Today we also have the following content formats:
- White papers
- Case studies
- Webinars/virtual events
- In-person events
- Long-form stories
- Research reports
- Print and digital magazines
- Online courses
- Print books
- Digital art
Creating all this content takes a lot of resources — both in terms of time and money. No company wants to create content that no one will see. A content marketing strategy lays out the editorial plan — the topics, type of content format, where the content will be distributed and when, and how success will be measured.
Okay, so you have all this great content. How do you amplify it?
Let’s talk about the four main content amplification strategies: owned media, earned media, shared media, and paid media.
Owned media simply means assets that you own — your website, blog, and email list are examples. The goal for most of the content you promote on the internet is to bring the reader back to your blog or website. In other words, you want to drive organic traffic to your site. Your site is the place where the reader learns more about your company, products, and services.
The best thing about owned media is that it is yours. You can do whatever you want with it. You don’t rent it — it can’t be taken out from under your feet. You are in control.
Earned media is just that — media coverage that you earn either from public relations, word-of-mouth, press releases, or via influencers. These mentions then lead to organic traffic to your website. Influencer marketing is a discipline of its own these days, the same as content marketing is.
To amplify your content via influence marketing requires a strategic approach to reaching out to influencers. It often involves building a list of names of journalists, bloggers, community influencers, and media professionals (e.g., news producers) in your space, beginning the outreach, scheduling contacts, following up, and tracking results (in a spreadsheet, for example).
Using organic (free) social media presents opportunities for you to be where engaged audiences who are passionate about your topic gather. Sometimes these audiences form into groups called online communities.
Organic social media has a lot of benefits and helps you drive organic traffic back to your owned assets, but keep in mind that their rules and algorithms can change at any given time.
According to CMI’s 2021 B2B annual content marketing research, 28% of content marketers don’t use paid media at all. This is because they do all their content amplification using “organic” (free) methods — their owned media assets, influencer outreach, and organic social media.
However, for the 72% who do use paid methods, here is where they’re spending their money, 83% are paying for social media ads:
- Social media advertising/promoted posts 83%
- Paid search/PPC ads 65%
- Sponsorships (e.g., events, booths) 60%
- Banner ads 48%
- Native ads 35%
- Partner emails 33%
- Other 3%
The top paid channels they use are LinkedIn ads (80%), Facebook ads (67%), Twitter ads (27%), and Instagram ads (26%).
While paid social media consideration should certainly be given, keep in mind that like any other advertising, it is fleeting. According to Forbes, digital marketing experts estimate that most Americans are exposed to around 4,000 to 10,000 ads each day.
That said, paid amplification should be part of an integrated digital marketing strategy — yet it probably shouldn’t take up a huge portion of the overall marketing budget. Then again, it will depend on your campaign goals and your purchasing process.
Narrowing Your Options
There are so many delivery channels for distributing your content, that it’s crucial to be deliberate with your distribution strategy. Yes, you need separate strategies for content creation and distribution — and furthermore, for organic distribution and paid channels.
If, for example, you’re working on your social media distribution strategy, pick one to three platforms on which to focus. Anything more and you could be spreading your efforts too thin.
When identifying which delivery channels to focus on, consider your existing and desired audiences. What existing channels are they most active on? What does their customer’s journey look like?
Also, consider the types of content you want to promote along with your overall goals — are you aiming to build brand awareness or striving for lead generation?
For example, if you’ve decided you mostly want to create and promote videos, YouTube and Instagram Reels might be the two best places to focus your efforts. Again, though, make sure these are platforms on which your audience is active.
Go After the Right Audience
Speaking of audiences, how well do you know yours? Any good content amplification strategy defines the target audience:
- Who do you want to go after?
- What do they like, want, and need in both their professional and business lives?
- Are they buyers or do you want to employ an influencer marketing strategy to focus more on those who influence buyers’ purchasing decisions?
If you/your company hasn’t developed personas yet, now is the perfect time to start. You may have heard these referred to as “buyer” personas, “customer” personas, and/or “audience” personas.
No matter what they’re called, these personas define your existing customers as well as the customers you’d like to attract — and they don’t have to be complicated. Most importantly, they must be based on solid research on your target audience.
About Online Communities
What is an online community? These niche communities are groups of people with a common interest for which you’re providing an online forum for discussion, networking, sharing of ideas, and good old-fashioned camaraderie.
Maybe you’ve developed a niche community you create content for. Perhaps you’re the host. Or maybe you participate in several. The key is to be helpful and build relationships and trust within these forums. That way, when you do have great content to share, your fellow community members will be excited about sharing it — voila, content amplification!
Be cautious about appearing self-serving, though. Great online communities are made up of people who genuinely care about each other.
For tips on how to develop an online community or how to be a valued participant, check this article.
Make People Want to Share Your Content
All successful content amplification begins with great content. Once you have that content, there are a few things you can do to get people to want to share it with their social networks and others.
Think about the purpose of your content. Is it to give a solution? Is it to provide utility (i.e., provide tools, research, steps)? Targeted at the right people, you might be surprised how often they will share it over social media — or even by email or text.
You can also build in devices that “tease” your audience or make them want to come back for — or watch for — more related content. For example, you can build in a “preview element” into your content (e.g., come back next week to learn more about how XYZ).
Content amplification can also get a boost due to the topical nature of your content. For example, if everyone is talking about a certain topic, you can take the opposite stance on the same topic. That can catch attention when done in a thoughtful, positive way.
Other ideas include:
- Go back to your influencer marketing digital PR strategy and craft content that would appeal to targeted influencers who might begin sharing it with their followers.
- Identify any highly successful originally published content you had success with and re-run it. You can run it as is or reformat it into different types of related content.
Whatever you do, make sure your content contains a call-to-action — the next steps for the reader. Do you want them to read more, sign-up to receive your newsletter, register for your upcoming course or event? Be sure to make it easy for them to move through the sales funnel.
Social Media Content Amplification Tools
As mentioned above, it’s best to focus your efforts on one to three social platforms to amplify content. There are hundreds to choose from and there is no way to be all things to everyone, everywhere. Those who are most successful with amplifying content know they need to stay focused.
In addition to choosing your actual platforms (maybe you settle on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube) there are many content amplification tools out there to help you promote your content over any social network.
Some of these tools help you with social media scheduling, let you study analytics to determine what’s working and what isn’t, and enable you to identify the best opportunities to purchase paid ads on various social media platforms.
Other tools, such as an email marketing tool, will help you automate functions so you can stay in touch regularly with your existing audience. Email marketing is an ideal way to ensure that you or your company regularly amplifies content.
Paid advertising on social media can be a successful part of your content amplification efforts. Coupled with your organic efforts, paid ads can be extremely targeted and very successful. And the rates have come down in recent years, so you can start small by experimenting on your audience’s preferred social channel.
Fine-tune Your Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Content that gets found in Google’s organic search results is intended to be of high quality; Google’s algorithms, which change on a fairly regular basis, are designed to ensure that. In the early days of the web, organic search results were largely based on keywords. Today, Google gives points for user-friendly web design and navigation as well.
What does this have to do with content amplification? Well, if your content cannot be found easily on the internet when people are doing searches (i.e., it is not SEO-optimized), it stands less chance of being shared. In this case, more of the work is put upon you, especially in terms of making sure your social content strategy is solid.
More and more these days, the results that are appearing at the top of Google searches are paid. Marketers call this social engine marketing (SEM), paid search, or pay-per-click. If you can’t rank well for organic search, it’s certainly worth the effort to look into SEM. In the meantime, it’s always good practice to focus first on creating targeted quality content while also being mindful of your keywords.
Branded Content & Native Advertisements
Branded content and native advertising are terms you may have heard of. But what do they really mean? And how can they help you amplify your content?
Let’s start with branded content. Think about the last trade show you attended. Did the people at the booths give out swag? You know, t-shirts or pens with their name on them? That’s branded content. It helps create brand awareness.
Branded content can also be paid for. For example, maybe you got a gift bag when you registered for the event at the entrance. Inside that gift bag were goodies and brochures from various companies. Odds are they paid the event sponsor to put those items in the bags. When you look at those items you’ll think about the company — maybe you’ll even share the items with friends or coworkers — that’s content amplification.
Native advertising is more strategic with its placement than branded content and it is always paid content. For example, say you’re reading a Wall Street Journal article online. At the bottom of the article, you see links to other articles, but you notice a “sponsored content” item on the top of the article.
These are similar to small display ads or “advertorials” that used to (and still do) appear in print magazines. However, when someone clicks on one, they’re taken back to your website. This creates traffic to your site and presents another opportunity to — you guessed it — have someone share your content. That’s content amplification.
Get Ready for the New Kids: Gen Z
How will the new generation of consumers react to your content? What’s going to resonate with them? What’s going to make them want to share it with their friends, followers, coworkers?
Time will tell, although there is a lot of research going on about this topic as we speak. In fact, one of the presentations at the 2021 Content Marketing World event this year will focus specifically on this topic.
One of the things we’re all certain of is the amount of time that Gen Z spends online. Any content amplification strategy will need to be heavy on social media, branching into voice-based platforms like Discord, Clubhouse, and Twitch.
Gen Z loves to socialize online, especially in gaming forums, and they’re heaving into Instagram, too. Again, research into your audience personas will be an important key here to understanding how to reach this younger generation at every point in their customer’s journey.
Measuring Your Results
No content amplification strategy would be complete without including a plan for measuring success. You can’t do all this work and not measure your results. Without analytics, how will you know what’s working and what’s not — what is successful and what you need to change?
Most marketers rely mostly on website traffic to measure success. But you should also consider where the traffic is coming from (is it organic traffic or coming from paid ads?) and spend more time promoting your content there. You should also consider how much time people are spending on your website once they get there.
For example, what do your bounce rates look like (meaning do people click on various pages throughout your website to more fully explore what you’re all about)? This will give you a clue as to how “engaged” people are with your brand and your content.
Google Analytics is a handy tool for studying traffic patterns, your brand’s reach, and conversion rates. There are also “social listening” tools available that will give you deeper insights into what people are saying online about your brand and how they are engaging with your content over social media.
In addition to giving you deeper insight into your overall strategy and efforts, metrics will help you uncover the best places to spend your time and money. For instance, perhaps you’ll find that paid social ads are a big hit with your audience — if the return on investment is good, perhaps you’ll invest more money on those ads.
Content is a huge investment, so be sure you’re using metrics to help you plan where to spend future budget to get the most bang for your buck. Get the word out — get your content amplified!
Frequently Asked Questions
Amplification in advertising means that you are paying to get your message in front of an audience. This can take many forms. For example, maybe you pay to run a digital banner ad about your company on someone else’s website. Or you pay to run a display ad in a print magazine (this is more along the lines of traditional print advertising).
As highlighted in this article, there are many ways you can “trigger” people to share your content over social media. This all begins with a content amplification strategy.
Identify the best platforms on which to focus your efforts. Make sure the content you want to amplify is of high quality — it should be either educational, informational, or serve some other want or need for your audience. There are also software tools available for free — or that you can purchase — to help you automate your social media distribution.
A written content strategy is the most important tool you can use in your content promotion and distribution efforts. Nothing should happen without first having a strategy. The strategy may have you using a public relations firm, an advertising agency, a digital marketing agency, a content marketing agency, or a writing service to provide content amplification services. Or you may go it alone or work in tandem.
In any case, again, there are software tools available for free — or that you can purchase — that will help you with your distribution efforts. A Google search of automated content distribution tools will help.
Without a content amplification strategy, all your hard work creating content will have gone to waste. What’s the point of creating great content if no one will see it? Getting people to share your content and talk about your brand is the key to building an audience, growing your business, and selling more products and services.