One of the Lean Content best practices we’ve seen several speakers at our meetups recommend is to leverage existing audiences on top of your own to increase the reach and the impact of your content. While your blog may or may not yet have a strong audience, there’s always more people to reach. By placing your content on publishing platforms which offer interesting discovery mechanisms or having blogs that are read in your industry re-publish it, you could in theory multiply your own reach by not doing much more.
Though the idea makes perfect sense, it also comes with questions:
1. Re-publishing on other platforms can be more or less complex: some like LinkedIn publishing platform or Medium are public or in the process of being public; some industry blogs (for example, in our space, Social Media Today or Business 2 Community) recruit contributors based on their own selection criteria.
2. Re-publishing content is creating potentially duplicate content which could hurt SEO and defeat the purpose.
3. Re-publishing content means it’s read on a platform from where we can’t convert our audience: to subscribe to our blog, to sign up for a demo of Scoop.it, etc. As part of our own Content Marketing efforts, conversion is an important metric.
At Scoop.it, we like to put ideas to the test so we did an experiment a few weeks ago to come out with data that would support or reject this. While most of our original content is on our blog, we’ve occasionally contributed to various other media such as Business 2 Community, Fast Company, Business Insider or Social Media Today. In addition, Ally and I have also been publishing on Medium and LinkedIn which now have interesting blogging platforms. But while until now we hadn’t been really consistent at tracking performance on these various platforms, this time we’ve been measuring impact the best we could.
Here’s what we did:
- On June 18, I published a piece called “Social Media Publishing is dead (as we know it)” on our blog.
- From there it had the usual social media promotion we do for all of our content: we share it to our social channels including the Scoop.it channels; we also promote it specifically to Scoop.it users through the message that shows on their dashboards.
- The following day, on June 19, I published it under various names to:
1. LinkedIn: “Is Social Media Publishing dead?”
2. Medium: “R.I.P. Social Media Publishing”
3. Business 2 Community: “The Death of Social Media Publishing (As We Know It)”
- We also submitted the post to Social Media Today but their review process is typically longer and they ended up publishing it on July 9th: “Is Social Media Publishing Dead?”
- We also did social media promotion on these links as for the original piece on our blog.
- On June 23, the blog post was included as part of our email content newsletter that we send out on a weekly basis.
We measured results in 3 ways:
- First, we looked at KPI’s per platform such as pageviews, shares (to social media) and comments.
- Second, we looked at SEO impact: did we win some keywords on which article did?
- Third, we looked at lead generation: though the third-party platforms could not generate leads for us, was there any non-attributed leads that could maybe be correlated to the added traffic?
Note that the post was successful which helped make the data interesting. Apparently the title resonated with many who struggle with getting engagement on social networks and the content generated comments and re-shares. This post ended up being in our Top 10% for Q2.
Unsurprisingly, the blog link performed better: not only was it there that we published first (24 hours earlier) but it had more social media promotion and the Scoop.it promotion and newsletter.
What’s the impact of republishing content on traffic and engagement?
The first learning is about amplification: as the above graphs demonstrate by comparing pageviews and shares with and without it, re-publishing meant our content was seen and re-shared by close to 2x more people.
- LinkedIn came out close to the blog for Views and Shares and did amazingly better on comments.
- Medium added close to a quarter of the blog’s traffic and shares.
Note that we didn’t retain likes on LinkedIn and recommendations on Medium as KPI’s because we’re not too sure what they bring besides augmenting the performance of the content on their respective platforms but there was a very significant number of likes on LinkedIn and recommendations on Medium.
- Business 2 Community was less impacting but given that targeted audience of the site is very relevant for us, it’s still significant. It’s also itself automatically syndicated back to Yahoo.
- Social Media Today came late to the party (close to 3 weeks after the other ones) so I’m not sure we can really measure the impact on the same basis.
What’s the impact of republishing content on SEO?
It’s always hard to judge results from an SEO perspective but the post was able to score some wins with keywords such as “impact of social media publishing” where it gained position #1 with the blog version and #4 with Medium version. Surprisingly, the duplicated post on Yahoo! did better than the original Business2Community version… It was also #1 on Google News through the Business2Community version for the same keywords or for “facebook organic reach decline”.
What’s the impact of republishing content on lead generation?
Finally, we saw overall great performance from a lead generation point of view but none that can really be attributed to the re-publishing activity: as mentioned before, the blog post performed really well and this reflected on the leads we generated from the blog but we didn’t see a spike in non-attributed leads that could be originating from our re-publishing activity.
While re-publishing will help you leverage existing audiences, the big limitation is of course that you won’t have conversion capabilities through that strategy. When you write on your own blog or when you curate third-party content to your own content hub, you have to build your audience but you can convert it (see our own post on how to generate leads through curated content for instance).
In a way, re-publishing is the opposite of content curation: while it definitely brings leverage, it doesn’t help convert like your own content curation hub does.
So is re-publishing content worth it?
Yes, but it depends on your content strategy’s objectives.
Overall we achieved a near 2x amplification that helped us reach new audiences for a minimal effort (beyond writing the blog post itself) and we didn’t see any SEO downside – quite the opposite.
However, if lead generation is the only goal of your content strategy, it’s probably not the best tactic for the reasons explained above.
What are best practices when re-publishing content to other blogs and publishing platforms?
If you’re interested in applying re-publishing, you might want to consider the following good practices:
1. Identify the blogs or platforms that will match your target audience.
2. Understand their rules of engagement: some platforms will want exclusive content, some are happy with re-publishing or syndication.
3. Analyze what drives content performance on the blogs/platforms you’re targeting: for blogs, it might be understanding precisely the editorial line and building relationships with the blogger or editorial team; for LinkedIn and Medium, it’s a mix of social following (your existing network or the one you can build) and featuring opportunities (eg: being featured as part of a Medium collection that has a large audience; Len Kendall was for instance kind enough to feature my story in the awesome collection he created and curates and that is followed by an impressive 11,000 people).
4. Vary the headlines and/or add some specific context as an intro: not only for SEO purposes but also to adapt the post to the blog/publishing platform specific audience.
5. Promote the re-published content: don’t be selfish and expect all the benefits to go one way. Share the re-published content and not just your own original blog post: there are multiple opportunities to spread your sharing across several days anyway so you should be able to do both.
6. Be realistic with your objectives: as explained above, re-publishing won’t help much to generate leads like your own blog or your own content curation hub can. So it’s best to use it specifically for new ideas, opinions or thought leadership pieces.
And as always, we’d love to hear your own thoughts and feedback on how re-publishing has helped you: what are the best practices you would like to add?
(Photo by Willi Heidelbach).