Brands

‘No Great Speeches to Empty Rooms’: Inside An Elite Content Distribution Strategy

When Upworthy co-founder Eli Pariser first started building a site that would quickly come out of nowhere to reach 90 million people each month, he was determined to put just as much capital into distribution as editorial.

“Newspapers used to have most of their people employed in their circulation department,” he explained in a TEDxPoynterInstitute speech. “There were trucks, there were printing presses, and they would spend thousands of dollars for placement in a certain part of the newsstand. All that has somehow been replaced by a single social media intern. How does that make sense?”

But positivity farms like Upworthy aren’t the only publishers weaving distribution strategies into their DNA. Content marketers are, too.

SAP: The Blogfather of enterprise tech

When your brand’s sponsored post tops the charts of Forbes’ Most Popular list, you know you’re doing something right.

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That distinction belongs to enterprise software company SAP, led by Tim Clark, its Head of Brand Journalism and a man known as “The Blogfather” around SAP’s offices. In 2013, SAP published 300 posts on Forbes BrandVoice and drew 2.5 million page views and over 1.6 million unique visitors. As of late February 2014, SAP had already published 34 posts that reached 200,000 unique visitors on the platform.

Wondering how they build that audience from the ground floor? SAP may distribute content through publications like Forbes and Business Insider, but their approach starts on their own platform, the SAP Community Network, which first shows all content to active members of their community. Additionally, each of SAP’s thousands of employees have the ability to publish a post on the site. If the article resonates with Clark and the SAP editorial team, they repurpose a version for one of their collaborators and hyperlink back to their owned media property. Clark explains that the key is to “create connective tissue between Forbes and the SAP Community Network.”

With outposts like Forbes’ BrandVoice, their main metric is pageviews. In a B2B context, Clark aims for at least a couple thousand views for each post. Although SAP specializes in enterprise software, it powers so many different fields that their solutions are the mediums for great stories. One particular piece about the battle for social media buzz between the PS4 vs. Xbox One got over 94,000 pageviews; best of all, the analysis was powered by SAP software.

Despite the impressive stats, “This isn’t a marketing play,” Clark insists. “This isn’t lead gen per se. This is putting forth the best content we have with the company.” He believes the most crucial part of thought leadership is adding to the goodwill of potential customers by using content to educate their purchasing decisions. Unfortunately, this can be difficult to quantify.

But rather than only looking at metrics to determine what content to share, Clark and SAP also take a more intuitive editorial approach when selecting which content deserves the most distribution. Their judgment seems to be paying off.

As Pariser said in his talk, “No great speeches to empty rooms.” Brands have begun to understand how to tell great stories. Now it’s time for them to fill up those rooms.

Want your business to tell great stories like this one? Contently gives brands the tools and talent to tell stories that people love. Learn more.

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