Year after year, hundreds of marketers report increased efforts and spending on content marketing — or the intention to do so.

But great content is wasted if your audience doesn’t know it exists.

Content distribution is integral to your content strategy, if not the most essential part.

This guide will equip you with the tools you need to distribute the content you create. By the end, you’ll be able to build a content distribution strategy that gets your content in front of — and consumed by — your audience.

Today, social media plays a huge role in content distribution — let’s take a moment to review what this entails.

No matter which type of content distribution you focus on, the distribution process will happen after you create your content.

Take a look at these content distribution statistics:

While I won’t agree or disagree with this theory, I will outline everything you need to know to distribute your marketing content successfully.

Various content distribution channels through which you can share your content include:

Content distribution channels are the channels through which you share and promote the content you create. The channels you use to distribute your content will vary based on your audience and resources.

Three overarching content distribution channels cover several more specific distribution channels: owned, earned, and paid.

The following diagram illustrates how these three content distribution channels overlap and how you can combine them to enhance their impact and reach.

Earned channels (also known as “shared” channels) are when third parties promote or share your content. These third parties could include customers, journalists, bloggers, and anyone who shares your content for free — hence the name “earned.”

Sponsored content is most effective when it includes a person or brand that already targets your audience and buyer personas and already aligns well with your brand.

As a result, sponsored content feels natural rather than invasive or disruptive. You can use sponsored content in various ways, including images, videos, podcasts, social media, and any influencer content.

Next, let’s review what a content distribution strategy is and why it’s so important.

A content distribution strategy is important for a few reasons:

Here’s how to build a content distribution strategy for yourself.

Content distribution is about getting your content in front of your audience — not just any audience. You can’t do this properly if you don’t know where they are and what they like to read. Before you build your strategy any further, research your target audience to know precisely who will consume your content.

Next, collect feedback directly from your customers, email subscribers, and social media followers. Ask them about their pain points and needs, as well as how they feel about your current content and distribution efforts.

You may already have some published content, such as blog posts, videos, social media content, and more. While your new content distribution strategy doesn’t involve removing that content, you should audit it to understand if it’s helping or hurting your distribution efforts.

Auditing your current content will also remind you which topics you’ve already written about and which ones you can expand on.

A thorough content audit is comprised of three main parts:

Regardless of your content distribution channels, ensure they align with your audience’s preferences and behaviors.

Also, optimize your owned distribution channels — your blog, email newsletter, and social media profiles — as these are relatively inexpensive and in your control. Even if research shows that your audience prefers forums to social media or news sites to company blogs, never neglect your owned properties, as these reflect on your brand and product.

After determining your distribution channels, consider what types of content you’d like (and have the resources) to create.

Goals help us recognize where we’re going and what success might look like when we get there. Your content distribution strategy should involve setting goals for your content key performance indicators (KPIs) and their subsequent metrics:

These metrics may vary based on your distribution channel (i.e., you can’t track comments on your email newsletter or top exists on your social media ads), so be sure to choose the metrics that correspond best to each channel. Establishing a baseline for each channel might take a few months, especially if you haven’t used it before.

Your editorial calendar, like your content distribution strategy, helps your team stay aligned and work towards common goals. It also gives your writers and editors a roadmap for what they’ll be working on in the coming weeks and months.

Here’s what your editorial calendar may look like (using this post as an example):

Your editorial calendar is the perfect place to include your content distribution plans and goals. Here’s what that may look like on your editorial calendar:

See how the right-hand columns now include categories like “Publish Destinations” and “Repurposing Plans”? Your editorial calendar shouldbes your hub for all content creation and distribution plans.

After you research your audience, audit your content, decide on your distribution channels and content types, and build your editorial calendar … it’s time to create your content.

As you work on your new content, check out these tools:

You’ve created your content … now it’s time to put it out in the world. Following your editorial calendar and chosen distribution channels, publish and market your new content. As for any marketing channel, follow rules to optimize your posts on each channel.

After you’ve published your content, look at Google Analytics, your social media analytics dashboards, and your blog performance — depending on where and how you distributed the content. Make sure you set a routine time to measure and analyze (weekly, monthly, or quarterly) to establish a baseline and know which numbers you can beat the following week or month.

Whew! So, that’s what it takes to build a content distribution strategy. Be sure to iterate on this process; these guidelines may change as you expand your content efforts and scale your team.

These tools help you publish your content on additional networks and forums to reach broader audiences.

You can monitor, schedule, and post content to your social networks. You can also access information from your email marketing campaigns so you have the big picture of your readers and customers.

Price: Free and paid

Medium is a content platform that individuals and businesses alike use to publish content. You can use Medium in addition to or in lieu of your traditional blog. (We recommend this  in addition to your blog as this will give your content the broadest reach.)

Medium is where thousands of readers consume content. It’s a one-stop-shop platform for all kinds of content … kind of like Amazon is for products. For that reason, consider publishing to Medium to increase the number of people who see your content.

Price: Free and paid

PR Newswire is a press release distribution network. The platform helps you target and contact journalists and outlets by specific industries, geographic areas, and topics. It offers packages for state and local, regional, and national press.

Price: Paid

HARO stands for Help a Reporter Out, an online platform connecting journalists and sources. In this case, you’d be the source.

When you sign up for HARO, you’re sent daily emails with journalist queries. Respond to these queries to be potentially featured in an article. This is a reactive content distribution tool that helps get press mentions and backlinks.

Price: Free and paid

ClickToTweet is a tool that equips your readers to share soundbites of your content on Twitter with a single click. You create your content soundbites, and ClickToTweet provides a link. When readers click that link, the tool opens their Twitter with the content soundbite already ready to post.

It also links to your Twitter account and content — allowing your readers to distribute your content for you.

Price: Free

GaggleAMP is a social amplification tool that allows you to aggregate your employee’s social networks and post company content directly to them.

Employees can review and improve content before its posted or allow it to go through automatically. This is a great alternative to constantly bugging your staff to post about your business.

You can also use this tool to link to social networks from partners, customers, brand advocates, and more.

Price: Free and paid

AddThis is an on-page social sharing tool. It allows your readers to share your content without bouncing from your page (and potentially getting distracted). You can also integrate AddThis share buttons into your email newsletter and other assets.

Price: Free

These tools help you measure and analyze the impact of your social posts and other distribution efforts.

Mention is a social media monitoring tool that provides social media listening, publishing, crisis management, and more. You can use Mention to monitor any mentions of your brand name, content, or social networks and respond accordingly.

This is an excellent tool for measuring the impact of and engagement around your content and seeing who is promoting it for you.

Price: Free and paid

SharedCount is a tool that helps you measure the engagement of your social media posts. Simply input a URL, and SharedCount will report its likes, shares, comments, and other engagement measures.

While it can’t help you distribute your content, it can alert you to which pieces are performing well and which components may need to be updated or scrapped.

Price: Free and paid

Outbrain is a paid amplification tool aggregates your content at the bottom of other articles. You can set up content campaigns with an RSS feed or specific URL(s), and Outbrain will place them under related content, encouraging readers to click and read yours.

Price: Pay-per-click

Price: Paid

Amazing content is a waste if no one is consuming it. Content distribution is a critical piece of the content marketing puzzle. It’s is also the key to boosting your brand awareness, collecting loyal followers, and encouraging your readers to click, act, and become customers.

Put these content distribution tips and tools to get your content in front of your audience.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in July 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.