Content amplification is using social media, influencers, email marketing and paid promotion to increase the reach and readership of your website content. Content amplification can mean sharing content to high ranking websites or simply sharing it with your social followers or email list. It may also include combining paid promotion with high quality content marketing.
Can content amplification be done on small business budgets?
Small business tends to shy away from content amplification campaigns because budgets can only stretch so far. Why pay for clicks to content when you can pay for clicks to a proven, high conversion landing page, right? Most amplification projects are done by big guns. You’ve probably seen some of the content marketing campaigns that have spread virally. This example by Old Spice cost a bomb to make but has now had over 54 million views (on the official upload alone, millions of views exist on other uploads, parodies and discussions of the ad) – not bad for a product that was facing major branding problems for being “old and unhip”.
So you don’t have MILLIONS to spend on viral campaigns? Content amplification is scalable, downwards. Provided you’ve got something to say, you can design campaigns to fit your budget.
Creating content that works for small business
Content that will be shared or attracts clicks is hard work. Media Heroes can help with copywriting services but if you’re looking for some blogging ideas that will get more traction, you can try tools like BuzzSumo that allow you to see “what’s going viral in your industry”. You can then recreate that content but with an original spin that is highly targeted to your customers.
Ad based amplification campaigns
Content ad serving is now a thing. Just when you thought you couldn’t spend another penny on digital advertising along comes businesses like Outbrain that share ‘content with viral potential” on large sites for a fraction of the cost of an Adwords campaign. What more, Outbrain (and similar companies) use complex user data to target ads – they know what your ideal customer likes to do online and they make sure you’re there, front and centre with highly clickable content. It works. Outbrain boasts very promising click through rates because it’s all about luring new customers in using click bait style articles. Targeting however can be an issue, especially for local small businesses. There’s LITERALLY no point having US men follow your AU women’s website! Of course there’s always tried and true digital ad sources like remarketing campaigns and social media ads too.
Content sharing sites
If you’ve never been to Buzzfeed, you’re probably not on the internet much! Buzzfeed shares irresistible content that your potential audience can’t stop themselves from clicking. Buzzfeed may be the leader but there are dozens of sites just like it that offer specialised niche content. For business sites like BizSugar or Inbound allow you to get your content in front of your industry and get them to “rate it” – top rated content gets displayed top of the feed and earns more reads and click through. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Reddit… all the popular social networks are content sharing sites – however you may need to pay to play these days!
Who is telling your customers what to do in a friendly and likable way? There’s a blogger, out there right now, telling your audience what to buy and to buy it now. You just need to find him/her and get them excited about your product. If you’ve not got much to say though, they’ll see your approaches like a drunk guy in a nightclub – annoying, tacky and a reason to call in the bouncer (mark you as spammy with Google). So what’s a poor small business owner to do?
The (unviral) elephant in the room with content marketing
It doesn’t always sell. It’s often chalked up to “branding spend” rather than demonstrating immediate ROI. While it’s vital to NOT underestimate the power of digital branding (the internet is a busy place, getting your name out there is vital and has tons of SEO benefits). Keep an eye on your attribution modelling in Google Analytics, you may be surprised how much good branding is worth!
The challenge is balancing content that people want to engage with, with content that gets you sales! If you’re keen to do a straight up product sales promotion, you’ll not have much luck on most of the big amplification sites. That’s not what they’re for. Don’t despair, there are ways to do it!
Blogger and social influencer campaigns
Reaching out to bloggers offering them product in exchange for PR is high risk. If they like the product they might use it but never credit you. Even if they do credit you, you’ve got no concrete way to track the reach, engagement and clicks they received on their promotion. You might just be helping them grow with no ROI – you’ll never know. So it’s “pay to play”. If you have a small business budget, you’ll be looking at social influencers and bloggers with moderately sized audiences – that’s OK, as long as they’re highly influential and adored by that little audience, it’s going to provide good solid branding and sales ROI.
An example – a Brisbane book blogger has fewer than 1000 social media followers so she doesn’t charge much for sponsored activity, however her campaigns consistently produce excellent ROI because she’s so respected and trusted. Two years on, her clients still get frequent referral traffic and sales based on her informed and thoughtful opinions. She’s a perfect partner for small business book and educational product sellers… and she charges less than $200 a campaign.
Blogger Campaigns Vs Social Influencer Campaigns
Social influencer campaigns are where an influential social media celebrity shares your product with their fans. They’re HUGE on Instagram… but Instagram doesn’t even allow them to link to your site. It’s strictly “show and tell” content amplification and then the ball is in their follower’s court to hunt you down and make a purchase. Do they work? Yes. If you find the EXACT influencer you need, you can get dozens, hundreds or thousands of customers to your site. Social influencers like Nikki Parkinson of Styling You have repeatedly made brands out of start-ups.
One off campaigns are the equivalent to a radio Call To Action campaign – they exposure is short and sharp and ideal for the launch of a new product. To get the best long term results, it’s about using the same influencer consistently to grow your brand awareness amongst their followers. This is called “Influencer Ambassadorship”. Social influencer campaigns start at about $100 for a small but influential personality and can be booked directly with the influencer or via outreach booking sites like BuzzSocial in Brisbane.
Blogger campaigns take more planning and cost more but offer a whole range of digital marketing results. When you book a blogger campaign you can do promotions and giveaways hosted on their blog. This means that you get a whole package of digital marketing benefits:
- Links (followed or nofollowed depending on the blogger)
- Email sign ups (competitions are run via apps that collect entrant data)
- Social followers (visiting your social page is part of the entry conditions)
- Branding value (you gain exposure to their audience and readers)
- Brand mentions (a well done campaign results in brand mentions on social media via entrants who loved your product)
- Reporting and result tracking (you can provide tagged URLs and get screenshots of results to evaluate the success of the campaign)
The challenge is finding the RIGHT bloggers. It’s not about numbers. It’s not just about influence. It’s about professionalism and the blogger knowing how to sell you without writing a great big ad – how to draw their audience into a story that makes them want your product. That’s not so easy to assess. The best way to find bloggers to partner with is to start reading the blogs that your customers read. When you find the right one, ask for a media kit and rate card to see if you can afford your top picks.
Blogger agencies have changed big time. It used to be that blogger agencies only represented the big guns, the bloggers that charge $10K+ per sponsored blog post. That’s why it’s only health insurance and multinational retailers you see doing big campaigns! Smaller blogger agencies like Brand Meets Blog in Brisbane now represent midweight bloggers so that smaller businesses can afford to work on content amplification projects without breaking the bank.
The only essential element of content amplification campaigns
All content amplification strategies are different because all brands, industries and customers are different – but as always one thing stays the same! Like all digital marketing activity, content amplification campaigns need to be tracked for value. It’s vital to have some ROI expectations going in and then to assess that ROI on completion. If you are finding that your clicks from Outbrain are resulting in mega sales – then Outbrain is the right content amplification tool for you and it’s time to start split testing content.
If you estimate each email sign up is worth $9 to your business and you can attribute referrals from the blogger to stellar sales results – then you may wish to enter into an ambassadorship agreement with your blogger of choice. Tracking content amplification results will help you build long term campaigns that make you more money. If it’s all too hard, talk to a small business hero about how to get the most from your spend!