As brands move more quickly to adopt a robust content marketing strategy, it’s becoming clear how distributing branded content across many relevant sites can be such a powerful tactic. To execute this tactic well, it pays to understand your partners on the publishing side.
In years past, when link building with spammy content on spammy blogs was a thing, brands could afford to treat publishers like commodities. But that was only because those kinds of sites weren’t for readers, just links. And those weren’t really guest posts brands were publishing– just article placements. All that’s changed now– thankfully most of those sites are gone.
To move up the food chain and publish on the kinds of sites your target audience actually reads, as a brand, you have to recognize your role in the content ecosystem.
Branded Content is a Dime a Dozen
While I sincerely hope that your content is created with readers in mind, it’s important to realize that there are many more brands attempting to market with branded content (guest posts and sponsored posts) than there are popular blogs to host it. That means no blog really needs your content. Your job is to deliver a content experience that is as good as (or better) than the level of quality your target blog’s readers have come to expect.
Guest posts must offer real insight and value. And sponsored posts must do the same. It doesn’t matter if you’ll pay for the placement. Just because a publisher takes your money, doesn’t mean his or her readers will enjoy a purely promotional piece. If the next brand in line understands that, your promotional piece isn’t going anywhere.
Good Blogs are Built on Loyal Readership
Buying ads on a popular site is one thing. As I said above, attempting to insert your own message into the content box is quite another. Publishers build readership by carefully cultivating their content product. Few of them are willing to jeopardize reader experience to gain a buck.
An engaged audience is an incredibly valuable asset, and publishers know that. As a content marketer, your job is to help that publisher keep the audience engaged, not disrupt their experience. Taking that approach isn’t just good for helping the publisher to remain a useful channel for your brand. Make your content an attraction, not a distraction. After all, publishing branded content readers really want is what content marketing is all about!
Publishers Value Relationships (and You Should, Too)
It’s still common for SEOs to want to gain link juice from as many sites as possible, while also wanting each of those sites to be reputable with strong readership. This presents a math problem: If every SEO wants just one guest post on a reputable site that doesn’t only publish one-off posts, how can those sites continue to maintain their audience and reputation? They can’t. The desire for SEOs each to be the exception to the rule is based on flawed reasoning.
The goal of any brand marketer or SEO should be to deliver content so good, the publisher wants you back. That isn’t a hurdle to overcome, it’s a competitive advantage!
Don’t you want a captive audience? Don’t you want the blessing of the publisher who knows exactly what her (and now your) audience wants? Don’t you want the social proof that comes with being an influencer on an authoritative site? You may have started the relationship by paying for your placement, but you may very well earn a guest post on the merits of your content and participation.
Bloggers have Businesses to Run
You would never dream of plunking down lame content on your site that reflects badly on your brand, would you? While you might argue that an ad-supported publishing model can easily weather a weird ad from time to time, no publisher should ever compromise his content. Publishers make money on pageviews. Whatever you offer them in terms of content should support their pageview efforts, not sell them out.
If you want do-follow links for SEO, don’t try promoting your brand in your guest posts. And if you’re paying for a sponsored post placement, recognize that the publisher still has a job to do and her own brand to protect.
By approaching blog publishers as business partners, and not advertising or link building opportunities to exploit, your content marketing efforts are going to yield dramatically better results.