Content syndication can create the next big brand

7 minutes read
John - 17.03.2017

The Huffington Post has grown from small media project to global publishing powerhouse in the space of a few short years, managing to hold its own and grow rapidly alongside other content heavyweights such as BuzzFeed and Vice. A strong social media ecosystem played a big part in this.

Done right, a content marketing campaign will provide you regular content to boost organic visibility, capture targeted lead information, analyse that data in unique ways to improve ROI, while entertaining and informing your audience. Read '3 tips every content marketing agency should follow' to learn more.

There’s another key growth factor that has gone under the radar however, which is content syndication. This has helped in growing the platform's reach and discovering new targeted audiences for Huffington Post and its advertisers.

Content syndication has played an essential part in the growth of all these sites. It not only helped sites like the Huffington Post to repurpose content on other sites to grow an audience, but has also been a cornerstone in their organic growth and an essential part of their search strategy.

In addition to this, by creating a comprehensive social media ecosystem, sites like the Huffington Post have managed to create better relationships with other large brands and create a content syndication network that allows them to reach out to new audiences in a targeted, transparent way.

Some would call it good old guest blogging, a common linkbuilding tactic that many businesses and agencies use to boost their natural search positioning. That’s getting a bit technical, though. Content syndication is different in that it’s typically more creative than guest posts, and focuses instead on targeted relationship building and quality content publication enticing audiences instead of just scoring a backlink.

Content syndication is a tale as old as time

Buffer is a great example, having created a content syndication strategy that has led to the company’s posts being featured on sites like Huffington Post, Lifehacker and others thanks to well-honed storytelling skills. This strategy that has seen Buffer’s blog attract thousands of new readers.

Content syndication isn’t something that’s just cropped up over the last few years in the digital marketing age. Content syndication has been around for over a century, with one of the earliest recorded examples in the media happening in 1884, with Samuel Sidney McClure's practices continuing to shape print and digital media today.

These practices have also helped magazines and newspapers to expand internationally and capture new markets. International editions of FHM would benefit from content produced by the title’s writers in other countries, for instance, complemented by local freelance submissions and work from other copy agencies.

In 2011, deputy editor of FHM South Africa Ebrahim Moola pointed out the benefits of syndication. He stated: 

“Syndication is routine for us at FHM SA. The process is mutually beneficial; additional exposure and income for the writer, and access to a quality piece which might otherwise prove prohibitively too expensive to write in-house.”

While FHM ended up six feet under, other magazines and newspapers have used syndication and licensing to complement their content strategies and grow their brands. Vogue publisher Condé Nast announced last year that it was licensing its magazine brands to feature on what it feels are high-end products; think GQ-licensed limited-edition swim shorts.

Content syndication can create the next big brand

They’re big brands though. How do I use my own content to grow?

As well as being big brands, the other thing all of these examples have in common is that they started small, and had to leverage original creative content in unique social ways to build and grow a targeted audience.

Your business can do the same thing as part of a strong inbound growth marketing strategy that not only puts your brand in front of your target market, but also encourages them to explore you further and become long-term customers.

Content creation is an essential part of the online marketing process, and it's a key way to generate targeted traffic that is more likely to tell friends and family that you exist. Creative content isn’t enough though; it needs to be complemented with a social media strategy that gets content in front of the right people at the right time.

Creating fresh content on a regular basis is one of the toughest tasks that brands face when they look to market themselves. Most brands, unless they dedicate the resources in-house or outsource, simply don’t have the time or creative energy to write blogs, construct an infographic, take pictures and share this content on social media.

Sometimes, repurposing just isn’t enough either, as many brands are currently discovering on YouTube. Advertisers who regularly advertise on TV are under fire for repurposing those same ads on the video-sharing platform, and not utilising the site’s interactive elements to better engage with viewers.

Does that mean I shouldn’t be producing one-size-fits-all content?

Not necessarily. The YouTube backlash is aimed mostly at larger brands who can create videos for an international audience on a regular basis, accusing them of repurposing existing content either due to laziness or an unwillingness to be creative with social media platforms.

However, we feel it’s more than worth your time identifying the people you want to reach out to, and building a content strategy specifically designed to entice them and accelerate your company’s growth.

Again, a lot of brands are taking the opportunities of the digital age to syndicate their own content on websites such as Medium, in an effort to reach wider audiences who may not yet know they exist. Brands who manage to syndicate their content across Apple News and Google News can also receive the cultural benefit of being seen as a trusted authority on particular topics.

That can also attract the attention of other publishers and brands who command the attention of the audience you want to attract. By building up this network of sites and influencers, you can effectively complement your existing content marketing and social targeting strategy.

By introducing some budget into paid search and social media platforms to target the right audience, you can also draw in people who are more likely to be interested in what you have to say and willing to enter your sales funnel; a key part of your long-term inbound growth strategy.

Creative content marketing and social outreach is much more than writing a blog and putting it on Facebook. By being creative, keeping your eye on cultural and industry trends and targeting the right audience socially, proper content syndication is possible. Building relationships to create a strong social media ecosystem is one of the best things you can do for inbound digital business growth.

Done right, a content marketing campaign will provide you regular content to boost organic visibility, capture targeted lead information, analyse that data in unique ways to improve ROI, while entertaining and informing your audience. Read '3 tips every content marketing agency should follow' to learn more.


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