10 distribution blunders that kill your content

You’ve devoted time, effort—and quite a lot of absolute brilliance, if you do say so yourself—but that blog post or infographic just keels over due to lack of interest. Here’s how to fix that.


It takes a ton of work to create good content, and it’s frustrating when it doesn’t make the desired impact.

You may think that has to do solely with its quality, but it’s more likely that your distribution plan missed the mark. To get people’s attention, you have to do more than hit publish and cross your fingers.

If your content hasn’t been working or has become less effective, ask whether you’re practicing these bad habits:

1. Creating a plan after content is finished.

This happens a lot. A content team sends a fresh piece to the promo team and expects them to get it seen, placed, covered and shared immediately. When things don’t go well, everyone ends up frustrated.

The fix: Include your PR team from the beginning so they can offer feedback, connect with their contacts, arrange exclusives and prepare a launch plan. Consider partnering with a publication to create tailored content.

2. Targeting the wrong channels.

Particular content types fare better on different channels, so have those conversations from the start. (For example, Instagram is a more visual platform than Twitter.)

Focusing on the wrong channels, or not optimizing content for a given channel, will only make it harder to connect with people.

The fix: Identify your target audiences, and choose the best channels to reach them. Work with your team in advance to optimize content for each channel. Instead of trying to hit every social media platform, focus on those that serve your needs.

3. Tracking the wrong metrics.

You can’t determine your success if you can’t measure it. That’s why metrics are crucial. Unfortunately, some companies don’t track any metrics, which gives them no insight. Some try to track them all and get overwhelmed. Many track the wrong ones, making it difficult to understand what is and isn’t working.

The fix: Focus only on metrics that provide essential insights.

4. Not optimizing for SEO.

This is common and frustrating. SEO traffic plays a huge role in getting eyes on your content, but many communicators don’t properly optimize their owned properties or content for SEO.

The fix: Make sure your website, blog and content are optimized for keywords, as well as for online sharing.

5. Trying to reach everyone.

Speak to the specific audience for your product or service. If your content is vague or your distribution strategy is too broad, it won’t make the proper impact.

The fix: Identify well-rounded marketing personas representing whom you’re trying to reach, what they care about and how they consume information. This will help you vet content ideas and identify ideal distribution channels. Here’s how to create personas in four steps.

6. Making it hard to access your content.

Yes, you want better keyword rankings and more traffic, but forcing people to your site to view content that could be published on social media can hurt your brand.

The fix: Make it easy for people to access and share content. Upload video directly to Facebook (instead of forcing them to your site), and add social media buttons to your newsletter (to make it easier to follow you).

7. Promoting your content once.

You want your new content to make an initial splash, but don’t take a one-and-done approach. It takes work to create content, so it’s a waste if you promote it only once.

The fix: Look for ways to refresh, repurpose and re-promote your content. Turn an e-book into an infographic, or use a divisible content strategy to generate microcontent from a larger piece. Create comprehensive guides, tips or FAQs about evergreen topics to ensure you get the most mileage and long-term value from your content.

8. Not building strong relationships.

Cultivate a working relationship with influencers and journalists before you spring content on them. Even if you have a solid relationship, one bad pitch can land you on the back burner.

The fix: Find out how to develop these relationships, write stellar pitches and keep current on what publishers want. Also look for opportunities to cross-promote and guest-post.

9. Not testing your tools.

A lot of brands do a huge launch only to find out that their tracking links were broken or social media buttons weren’t working.

The fix: Make sure everything is in working order, and double-check everything before you launch.

10. Wasting money on an ineffective paid campaign.

Paid content distribution can increase your content’s reach, but only if it works well. Too many organizations shell out for paid campaigns without testing first.

The fix: Run a small test, then refine. This helps you increase efficacy.

Katy French is managing editor at Column Five Media. A version of this post first appeared on the Column Five Media blog.

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2 Responses to “10 distribution blunders that kill your content”

    Lauren Gross says:

    Katy, this is great content that more people need to see. I completely agree that marketing teams need to choose the right channels for their target audience. I have seen many marketing campaigns that target the wrong channels and are therefore unsuccessful. The target audience is not being reached, which sets up the campaign to fail. Thank you for this informative blog; it is appreciated.

    Shea Britton says:

    Katy! I really loved the tips that you gave on how to make your content good and to fix it. I agree that marketing teams for companies need to find the right channels to connect with through their audiences. I really like your comments on how to promote your content as well. Without promoting your content, you won’y get the views that you need. Thanks for all of your helpful tips!

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