By Jim James,
Founder EASTWEST PR and Host of the SPEAK|pr Podcast
Sometimes, posting too much content on social media can do more harm than good. In public relations, there is the earned media or what people think of as traditional public relations where you ring up the journalist and pitch your story. If they like it, they may ask to do an interview, they may take the press release, or they may take a case study. The second kind of PR is owned media where you own the channel, so it’s one’s own social media accounts, and you can put whatever you like on it. The third is shared media, which are the social media two-way streets where someone amplifies someone else’s content. You could even look at things like TripAdvisor or Trustpilot, where people share reviews of their customer experiences. The fourth group of media is paid media. In the past, paid media was considered “above the line advertising” as opposed to “below the line” or what then became “through the line.” It used to be below the line with direct marketing, and through the line becamepaid-for insertions into publications. Paid media now, with the way that companies like Outbrain and Taboola are defining it, is what they call native discovery.
When you look at the bottom of a website, you’re going to see articles that aren’t really articles by the journalists themselves, but they look like proper articles. They don’t have a PR headline or an advertising headline. What they have is a headline that could just be an article. It could be long-form content provided by a publisher or by a company that paid to send out long-form articles as opposed to adverts, or it could be a video, and it’s the equivalent of advertorial supplements. So, paid content is now distribution and exposure that was paid for, and it can include search, social media campaigns, display ads, and so on.
In the recent years, content marketing has exploded with 89% of B2B marketers currently using content marketing, according to a Nielsen research. That’s because editorial, informational, and entertaining content works best for viewers now as they look at screens and control what’s on the screen, surfing and moving on if they don’t like it. It means that advertising and the old banner ad networks from the late 1990s-early 2000s are largely gone, because people like Safari and Google put ad blockers. The days of little banners or a sidebar on the browser are gone, because browser owners realised that that was their revenue, and they weren’t going to give that away to ad networks.
What exactly is native discovery?
The way to get in front of people is by giving them great articles they can run and sharing content through content syndication platforms like Outbrain. The people at Outbrain call it native discovery, because content goes into content that is being already read or watched by the viewer. In the same way that advertising has become targeted according to search or what consumers have already seen, through native discovery, it’s basically saying that if someone’s reading about mortgages or about pensions and so on, they can be sent long-form content relevant to what interests them. However, it can carry some search engine optimization or SEO risks, because if you have repetitive content going across lots and lots of channels, you can get penalised by Google. On the other hand, fresh content syndicated across multiple platforms is good for SEO. So, you can use the same content two or three times over a period o ftime, and there will be no risk whatsoever.
There are platforms like Medium, where you can post your own content, and these really are basically shared content. It’s like a group blog where everybody is participating, and it becomes like a self-publishing platform. There’s another one called Scoop.it, which collates content from around the web and compiles it, although some may not consider these content syndication by the definition of taking content from one place and sending it across multiple platforms, like what can be done with Repurpose, which takes videos and creates audiograms from Buzzsprout that are automatically sent through to social media accounts.
There’s also SlideShare, which was founded in 2006 and is free to use, and it’s really useful, especially for B2B. To give you an idea of the potential of SlideShare, there’s a recent report by Ogilvy on Social Media Trends in 2020, and it has over 620,000 views, so to have half a million people look at a PowerPoint presentation normally reserved for clients and staff is pretty amazing, by any advertising standards. Eighty million people use SlideShare every year to learn about topics from subject matter experts. SlideShare was acquired in 2012 by LinkedIn, and today, there are 18 million uploads in 40 content categories, and it’s one of the top 100 most visited websites in the world. So, for any B2B clients, it’s worth recommending to upload product brochures and any marketing materials to SlideShare. SlideShare enables you to embed those slides into WordPress or into any other website. You can even embed them and link them onto your LinkedIn.
Outbrain vs. Taboola
Outbrain is another website where content can be shared, and it gives you the option to choose on a cost-per-thousand basis. They main difference with Outbrain compared to having an article on a website published with just editorial is that if someone clicks to read the article, it’s taken back to the host website. In other words, one can buy traffic and readers by geography, by publication type, by price, by duration, and by budget. You can bid basically to be on the front page. If you’ve got a big budget, you can even be on CNN or the BBC or AsiaOne, or any of these major news outlets.
Outbrain helps over a billion people discover content every year, and it’s eclipsed by Taboola, which is the other game in town. Taboola, though, has a paid management system. They have account managers that manage the content distribution, much like an ad management team. They have 1.4 billion users per month, which is presumably an aggregate of the 10,000 publishers around the world that use Taboola to provide additional content. They claim to have 50 times more data than the New York Public Library, so that gives you a measure of the scale of digital data just on one of these platforms. One thing to note is that you do need to have a bigger budget for Taboola, although hey don’t have prices listed on their website.
Don’t post too much content, instead, do content syndication
Be careful not to oversaturate your social media channels with content, and so consider content syndication. Sometimes, it requires a budget, but sometimes, it doesn’t cost anything when you post to websites like Medium or SlideShare. What can be called content syndication and what Outbrain calls native discovery is when content is placed through one portal or platform and is distributed on your behalf to multiple platforms. That distribution transportation creates huge opportunities, but it does have some cost. If you’ve got good long-form articles and content, have a look at Outbrain, because it has scalable cost, it’s very targeted, and it brings traffic back to your website.
As mentioned before, digital marketing and public relations is 20% content development and 80% marketing. Content syndication is part of the Amplification part of SPEAK|pr, which is EASTWEST PR’s five-stage methodology that includes Storify, Personalise, Engage, Amplify, and to Know. Content syndication is a valuable way to leverage your current content using platforms that are out there so that people can find, read, hear, or watch what you’ve got to say about how you add value to the marketplace without having to really do any extra work, but just leveraging the technology. It’s there to serve small- and medium-sized business owners like you to get your word out.
This article is based on a transcript from my Podcast SPEAK|pr, you can listen here.