Content without the right amplification strategy behind it is content that hasn’t truly lived. For it to work at its best, marketers must turbocharge it across channels through strategic content amplification, taking it and targeting it to wherever their audience hangs out the most.
“Nine out of 10 times, when I talk to content creators and marketers, I find they’re ignoring a massive, crucial aspect of content marketing – amplification strategy,” says Rand Fishkin, CEO and Co-founder of SEOmoz. “We all generally agree that it’s fairly useless to produce content unless that content will be shared, talked about, reach people, rank in search engines, and generally, attract the visitors you’re hoping to reach. Yet, I find that a huge number of content marketers follow the practice of creating something, sharing it across their social networks, and then hoping for the best. This is folly.”
In the digital world, publishing is no longer the end of the process. In many ways, it’s just the beginning. What you do with content after it’s gone live – how you see audiences engaging with it, how you can optimise it, and how you can get in front of the people it resonates with most – matters more than ever.
If you want your content to connect with your audience, you have to reach out to them. This means investing in amplification.
What is content amplification?
Content amplification is the marketing practice of giving a boost to content to ensure it reaches the right people, on the right channels, at the right time. This can mean engaging influencers to promote your content to their followers, investing in paid promotion of your content in social media or using a native advertising strategy with a publisher that aligns with your brand identity. Essentially, it’s a way to get your content in front of the right audience.
Why you have to amplify your content
Unfortunately, your audience doesn’t live on your website. (It’s a nice thought, we know.) Instead, when they’re not looking up politicians, athletes and other miscellaneous queries on Google, they’re hanging out on social media – tweeting about avocados, scrolling through Facebook feeds, and trying to get fit through Instagram stories. In fact, according to a GlobalWebIndex report, one in three minutes of users’ time on the internet is spent on social media and messaging. But while they may be talking about your brand in these spaces, 96% aren’t following your brand’s owned profile.
The argument and opportunity for amplification here are strong. Rather than expecting your audience to make the journey unprompted to your site, you have to go to them. Effective amplification therefore requires ongoing research into your target audience’s habits and habitats. If your audience enjoys reading articles on the New York Times, perhaps you could consider a native advertising strategy with the publisher. If you can see swathes of desired customers interacting with your competitors or industry equivalents on Facebook, take your content there and target to your demographic.
The situation: paid amplification or no dice
Earlier this year, a queasy shiver rippled through the social media marketing community. The cause? Fresh signs that Facebook’s organic reach was plunging even further towards zero. Share an organic post now, and you might reach more people by shouting from a rooftop.
Thierry Campet, global head of marketing communications at UBS Wealth Management, came to the same realisation.
“Everybody believes the content they produce is going to change the world of everyone,” she said, speaking at Mobile Marketing Summit in July. “The truth is, we believed it as well, but if you don’t push your content in the good old fashioned way – and that’s not TV anymore but paid social media marketing – if you don’t push it they won’t see it. That was a huge learning for us – we really thought the content would sell on its own and it didn’t.”
Add this on top of the storm of content competing for users’ attention, and the idea of reaching anyone without putting money behind what you produce is becoming untenable. Rather than give way to anguish, the new status quo requires a reevaluation of the life cycle of content. Instead of sinking every dollar into production costs, companies are muscling up and spreading their budgets so as to see a return. Our personal view? As a general ballpark figure, we’d say if you have 40% of what you spend on content going into amplification, then you’re looking at a well-functioning content amplification plan.
Strategy #1: Targeting amplification for each piece of content
Most content will have been tailored to a certain audience segment. It makes sense, then, that you’re going to target your amplification strategies to reach that distinctive slice. For instance, when we published this piece on health and fitness content marketing, we figured it’d probably resonate more with our health and fitness marketing segment, rather than those hailing from the insurance sector. It was promoted and targeted accordingly.
There’ll also be some content that you’ve sweated over more than most, and you know that there’s nothing like it in its field. Or perhaps you have promoted a piece of content and you’re seeing it take off across social media, turning into a phenomenon you didn’t dare dream. There’s no better time than to give it a boost.
Take this article published in February this year on HBF’S Direct Advice for Dads content hub (full disclosure: HBF is a Mahlab client). Written by a recovering alcoholic, it opened up a powerful conversation on what it means to struggle with addiction in the context of new fatherhood. The piece gained significant traction among parents Australia-wide, attracting comments of support and gratitude across social media, and shared on Facebook almost 2000 times. To accelerate the article’s spread, and ensure its message reached the fullest share of its intended audience, targeted amplification became a crucial part of the marketing team’s content strategy.
Strategy #2: Atomising for smarter amplification
Hero content. Big rock content. Champion content. Big beautiful meaty content. Call it what you will – this is the big one. Amplifying it all in one go across channels would be, however, like throwing a buffet table at someone. It’s far better to serve them up a series of tasty morsels – infographics, statistics, snippets, cinemagraphs, made-for-social videos or blog articles – that can be quickly consumed on the native platform, and whet their appetites to entice them back to the main content course.
This practice is called ‘atomisation’. Slicing and dicing up something and scattering it strategically and over time is, when you think about it, genius. It means that you can extend the promotional campaign creatively, with audiences sampling various parts rather than being dished up the same thing consecutively.
Strategy #3: Using reamplification when the time is right
There’s nothing to stop publishers breathing new life into existing content if the timing’s right. If you’ve put the work into making a piece high-quality and ‘evergreen’, it deserves more than one chance to perform on an elevated stage.
Other times, something will occur in the world outside your control, which elevates and aligns your content with your audience’s need again. You may need to spruce it up a little and brush off any collected dust, but if it answers to a timely need, marketers should work it for all it’s worth.
As Contently’s Editor in Chief said recently: “You can’t succeed at content marketing without marketing your content. But if you get it right, you can leave your competitors in the dust.”