When I got started with content marketing ~4-5 years ago, it was a total pain in the ass (heck, still is). This was basically my life story for a while:
I’d spend hours, weeks even, writing that awesome new blog post.
Got half my team to polish it to perfection.
Pushed it to WordPress, optimized it for SEO, and started waiting for that sweet sweet traffic to roll in…
And I kept waiting.
And nothing happened.
See, if you’re just starting out, you probably have like an audience of a grand total of like 3 people (your mom, cat, and co-founder).
You’re not Neil Patel who has like an emailing list of a gazillion people. All HE has to do is launch a new email and sip a mojito on a beach somewhere while drowning in traffic.
You, on the other hand, have to be a LOT more creative to get traction.
So for those of you who haven’t seen my posts, I run a digital marketing agency with my bud and our #1 lead generation channel is content marketing.
We don’t want to be THOSE guys who spam strangers on the internet & trying to get sales calls (although there’s nothing really wrong with that either).
We rely on creating epic content & promoting the hell out of it, and if someone is interested in marketing services, they’ll know where to find us.
Now, obviously, we’re not going to be Those Guys and say that every single thing we publish gets us results like that. Nah, the average number is actually around ~1,000 traffic per post. But sometimes, you manage to write something really swell that the internet REALLY likes and rewards you with insane results (as seen above).
The key here is to create good content & promote it consistently, and someone, you’ll see some really sweet results.
Oh, and we DON’T have any real following. We launched our website sometime in January (even though we’ve been in business for a while longer).
We don’t have a mailing list of 10k people (it’s actually less than 300)
We have like ~100 likes on Facebook
And like, ~20 on LinkedIn or something
So, let’s get to the point – what’s our secret sauce?
In this post, we’re going to teach you our EXACT process for content promotion from start to finish. We have a variation of this post published on our blog if you want to check that out, it comes with images, better formatting, and all that jazz.
But anywho, let’s get this started. Grab a coffee, beer, or whatever it is you like to drink while reading long-ass articles, and let’s get to it.
How to Make Content Promotion Work – Channel Run-Down
For every post we publish, we come up with a promotion strategy that looks something like this.
For around 90% of the posts, that includes:
Post in Facebook groups. We have a gigantic list of Facebook groups for SEOs, marketers, startups, etc. we use to promote relevant content. Want it? Here you go! Yeah, we’re nice like that, not even an email capture.
Post on Reddit. Usually, that’s this sub, r/entrepreneur, and r/startups. Obv. if you’re in a diff. niche, you’d use a different sub.
Submit on niche communities. That’s Hacker News, Growth Hackers, Indie Hackers, etc. Depending on your niche, you might have more or less # of communities you can work with.
Ping sources. If you mentioned any article as a source, you can reach out to them and ask for a share, link, or just to establish a relationship.
Reach out to anyone that wrote on a similar topic. Same as #4.
Reach out to anyone that Tweeted on a similar topic. You can use BuzzSumo to find people who shared content similar to yours and hit them up.
Reach out to influencers. If you wrote something REALLY awesome, you can get influencers to share it.
Post on social media, newsletter, usual stuff.
Now, we’re going to teach you HOW exactly we promote on each of these channels, and at the end of the post, we’re also going to give you our top 3 tips on content promotion (that most businesses fail).
1. How to post in Facebook groups
Facebook groups have a bad rep, for:
Being extremely inactive
Jam-packed with spammers posting garbage content
Buuut that’s not always the case.
If you really put some effort into it, you’re bound to find groups that are packed with awesome people, interesting content, and the potential to promote YOUR articles/guides/videos.
With our SEO case study, for example, we managed to get hundreds of likes and comments in the SEO Signals Lab.
Here’s how you can get similar results.
Step #1 is to find all the top groups in your niche. To do this, look up basic keywords on Facebook and look for “groups.” You can also do some Googling for “best facebook groups in [niche]”
Put all of the groups in a sheet for future reference, and join all of them.
Once you’re in, you want to filter out the garbage groups that are either jam-packed with spam or just have 0 engagement.
That should be like, 50% of the groups you found.
Finally, you want to check which of the groups you gathered allows you to post your content.
Usually, you can see the group’s content policy on the “About” page.
If you’re not sure if the group is cool with you posting your content, just ask the admin!
Now, let’s talk about how to do your post.
You might be tempted to cruise through all the groups, post your link, and #pray they’re going to like the content and click your link.
Don’t. You’re just going to get a ton of hate for being a spammer (and rightfully so).
Instead, you want to focus on first giving VALUE to the group, and THEN posting your link.
For example, here’s our exact post for the SEO Signals Lab.
See what we did right? We took the top lessons from the article and posted it in text form.
This is awesome for 3 reasons:
You’re NOT an indiscriminate spammer
You go in value-first, so the mods are a lot more likely to approve of you promoting your content
You hook your readers by giving them value up-front, making them a lot more likely to check out the full article
Now, other than the summary method (posting 3-4 main points from the article + link) we mentioned before, there are 2 other tactics for promoting your content on Facebook groups.
First is a “teaser” – instead of posting a summary, you post what your article is about and hype it up.
This is useful if the article is something you CANNOT summarize (e.g. step by step guide to something).
And the second is the “comment X and I’ll give you Y” method.
The idea here is, you hype up whatever you’re offering, and ask the Facebook-ers to comment in order to get whatever you’re promoting.
A friend of ours did this with insane results: 200+ likes, and 1,300+ comments.
As you can guess, the reason for “comment X to get Y” is that the more comments your post get, the more people will see it.
The Facebook algorithm prioritizes posts with engagement (comments + likes) and sends notifications to other active members of the group to check out the post, who also leave a like + comment, netting you amazing results.
Keep in mind, though, that a lot of Facebook group admins won’t be too happy with you gaming their group (as w/ our campaign in the ClickFunnels group), so proceed with caution.
Since you’re reading this, you should probably have a good idea of how Reddit works, so we won’t go too much into detail.
Here’s a tl;dr:
Don’t post garbage self-promotional content
Go in value-first. Don’t just post a link, create an actual post that gives value to the reader. Include a link to your OG blog post if anyone cares
Want to know what top content on any given sub looks like? Just look at their top-rated posts of all time.
3. Niche Communities
Every industry has a bunch of online, niche communities you can take advantage of.
For example, in digital marketing, you have GrowthHackers and IndieHackers. Or, in tech, you have ProductHunt and HackerNews.
And that’s just the popular stuff – there are a ton of online communities & forums you can use to promote your work.
Usually, the promotional part here is very straightforward. You sign up, submit the post, and hope they like it enough to upvote it.
Depending on your niche, here are some potential communities you can promote your content on:
Hacker News (tech + entrepreneurship + marketing)
Product Hunt (tech products + content on entrepreneurship, marketing)
Growth Hackers (anything marketing-related)
Quuu Promote. Basically you boost your post and it’s automatically shared by social media accounts in your niche. We’ve had pretty mediocre results with it, but hey, might work for your niche.
Mix (ex-StumbleUpon). Relevant for most niches
Zest (mainly for marketing and entrepreneurship)
Pinterest (for visual B2C content)
If you happen to know any other communities for any niche, drop a comment and we’ll add em’ to the list.
4. Use a Bunch of Sources (and Ping Them!)
When writing your content, try to include a reasonable # of outbound links/sources.
See, if the person you’re linking to does (or understands) SEO, they’re going to be pretty grateful for a free backlink.
If you reach out to them, they might return the favor by linking back to you, or sharing your content!
As for the “how” of outreach, you can either drop them an email or DM them on Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn, depending on your preference!
If possible, we reco. using more niche websites as sources. If you link to someone huge like Backlinko, they won’t even notice you (or care). But if you link to a smaller website with just as good content, they’re a LOT more likely to engage with you.
Keep in mind, though, that this channel is usually “meh” in terms of netting you traffic. You usually just use this for getting backlinks. IF your content is like, really, really, really good, though, you MIGHT make this work.
Think, if you get 50 semi-influencers to share your post, might snowball into virality.
5. Reach Out to Anyone That Wrote on a Similar Topic
This one’s pretty straightforward:
Find people who wrote content similar to yours
Reach out and ask for a share
Let’s say, for example, you write about how to learn digital marketing.
The topics surrounding that would be:
Why is digital marketing important
Benefits of digital marketing
How to improve your digital marketing skills
Why you should learn digital marketing
Top digital marketing skills
…And basically anything that’s related to learning digital marketing, but is NOT on that exact topic.
Why? Well, see, you can’t just reach out to someone and be like:
“Hey, I saw you wrote about learning digital marketing. I also wrote about learning digital marketing, but y’know, my post is better than yours. So like, can I get a share?”
This is how you don’t get the share.
What you need to do here is, Google each of the topics we mentioned above and Extract all the contact info for each of the writers, and email them something like…
Just saw that you wrote about [topic].
Really enjoyed the read. [comment on what you liked about the piece].
I actually just published something on a similar topic – [your topic].
The piece covers…[topics your article covers]
Thought you might enjoy giving it a read 🙂
If you do like it, we’d be super thankful if you could share it with your audience.
Now, the key here is to write something that is NOT generic.
Don’t just write a “Hey, I read your article, pls share” email and spam half the planet.
Actually put some effort into personalizing each email for each lead you’re reaching out to.
6. Reach Out to Anyone That Tweeted on a Similar Topic
You can use a tool like BuzzSumo to find influencers who tweeted about your article, reach out to them, and ask for a share!
The process is pretty simple and straightforward:
First, define the topics. E.g. if you wrote about SaaS marketing, you’d want people who shared content around:
…And the like.
Then, all you need to do is outreach. This time around, you’ll be doing the outreach on Twitter instead of email.
As for the text, you can go for something like…
Saw that you shared something on [topic].
I just published an article on a similar topic ([topic]), and thought you’d enjoy giving it a read:
The article covers…[main selling points of the article. Why should they even read it?]
Let me know what you think & if you have any feedback.
7. Reach Out to Influencers
A SINGLE Tweet from an influencer can make or break your promotion campaign.
This content promotion technique is very similar to the last one (find relevant contacts, reach out to them), but around 3x harder.
See, influencers get dozens of outreach emails/texts/DMs/phone calls every single day.
How does YOURS stand out?
As with the last tactic we covered, you can use Buzzsumo to find influencers in your niche, or do some manual searching.
Then, you create a sheet with the contacts of anyone you want to reach out to, and voila.
Step #1, done.
Now, here comes the hard part: how do you get on the influencer’s radar (and get them to share your content)?
Sadly, there’s no answer to this.
Here are, however, some tips you can follow…
Make your outreach email as concise and readable as possible. No influencer is going to read your essay.
That said, try to sell whatever you’re promoting. Don’t just say – “hey, here’s an article about marketing.” Really drive the point home. You can instead say: “Here’s an article on marketing. It covers X and Y. It’s awesome because we did Z.”
Really do your research on each entrepreneur and pick an angle that would work for them, specifically. You can…
Find content they’ve shared in the past, and explain how your content is like that, but even better
Find content they’ve written about, and explain how your content is about a similar topic
…And that’s about it with the content promotional channels. Now, let’s cover our top tips on how to do your promo campaign right:
Content Promotion Tip #1 – Not All Content Is Created Equal
Not every piece of content you publish should be promoted. We just can’t stress this hard enough.
90%+ of the content you see on the web just isn’t all that interesting – and that’s OK!
We recommend promoting ONLY the content that’s really novel and unique, something you spent a lot of time crafting.
DO: promote your amazing, 5k-word comprehensive guide on how to write a resume
DON’T: promote your 500 word article on the definition of a resume
The first example? It’s something SUPER valuable and a ton of people are going to enjoy it.
The second? Sure, it can rank on Google, but the world doesn’t have to know about it.
Content Promotion Tip #2 – Create Something That Deserves Virality
Now, while we’re on the topic, let’s talk about good content.
One of the main reasons most content promotion campaigns fail is because the content they’re promoting is, well, for the lack of a better word…
So, what is good content that DESERVES to go viral?
Here are 4 traits we believe a viral content piece possesses…
It deals with a major pain point. It has to be a REAL problem that your target audience has (i.e: the moment they see your content, they want to share it with EVERYONE they know).
It’s something unusual. The topic is NOT something that’s been covered by every single expert on the planet.
It’s experience-backed. You PERSONALLY have something to add to the topic.
It’s easy to consume. It’s well-formatted, jam-packed with awesome visuals and images.
Content Promotion Tip #3 – Create Content With Promotion in Mind
Here’s the usual content promotion strategy:
Come up with content ideas
Write and publish content
Create a promotion strategy for a content piece
Promote your content
Now, what if we told you, you can get 3x better results if you completely switch that up?
Instead, you do…
Find content that performed well on a specific channel
Create something similar but with a different twist/extra value
Promote it to that very same channel
The simplest way to find top content on any given topic is by using BuzzSumo. All you have to do is input your topic, and it’s going to show you content on that topic that’s going viral on social media.
Or, you can also find top content ideas on the best posts page on Hacker News here.
Or, you can even use Reddit! Head over to a subreddit that’s relevant for your niche, and check the top-rated posts of all time.
And we’re done. Phew.
Hope you guys found this guide useful!
If you used any content promo channels that we didn’t mention in this post, let us know down in the comments and we’ll try it out + include it in the post if it works swell!