Where Should I Create My Business Content: Blog, Website, Or Social Media? A Technical Guide To Distribution
A quick rule for where to post your content on the internet
When it comes to content marketing, many businesses are looking for actionable guidance on where to content market and how to content market. It’s a question I get asked all the time. But particularly — oddly — the first of those.
The second (the what to create) is a bigger question to explore that includes a lot of constituent elements to be able to answer. Elements like:
- SEO strategies (do you have one? what keywords are you targeting? who are your competitors and what are they doing?)
- Creating ‘content’ that’s fundamentally useful to its intended audience. Do you know what you have to say? Do you know what information your audience(s) might appreciate?
- Marketing strategy. The bigger picture thinking that incorporates aspects of your overall approach to marketing such as tone of voice. Do you have one? What is it? If yes, we should aim to have this initiative fit within it.
Because what you should be posting on different channels requires looking at a few different aspects of a business, many business owners feel tempted to just jump straight to distribution.
On face value that approach (“we’ll figure out what to say in a second — but where should we start?”) sounds like poor strategic thinking.
Logic seems to dictate that you should figure out what you have to say before you figure out where to say it. But oddly enough, there are a couple of general points about distribution that can be advanced for a lot of clients.
Disclaimer: this guidance reflects my general approach and other marketers may disagree with it. If you want a fuller version of this post complete with the technical SEO detail (about canonical tags etc) then jump to this:
Always Start With Owned Assets And Distribute Outwards To Social Networks
Here’s the Golden Rule — or at least the one I advocate to my clients.
And before you point out the hypocrisy, yes, I’m writing this while creating content on a non-owned channel (Medium). What can I say? I take backups and do tend to create SEO assets and landing pages on my site. Blogging I tend to do here. So do as I say not as I do. You’ve heard it before.
If you have the patience to do so, I recommend investing the small amount of time required in setting up your own infrastructure and always starting from there.
By infrastructure I simply mean:
- Your URL (domain name). Ideally you’ll want to choose this carefully because: building up domain authority is a long process and you won’t want to invest a lot of work into that only to see your efforts greatly diminished after a flash rebrand.
- Your hosting: You’ll want to host your website somewhere that you can easily take home with you (digitally). Infrastructure is a bit of a misnomer here because the vast majority of businesses these days (especially SMBs) are hosting on shared or virtualized infrastructure — so you’re really just plonking some files on somebody else’s infrastructure. Unless you want to actually buy or least a dedicated server. And even then you’ll probably be hosting it offsite. So ultimately the only question is how much control are you willing to surrender to other providers.
For the latter, it might sound I’m getting you lost in the technical weeds already but I’m pointing out all this for a reason.
Vendor lock is almost always a bad thing. This is why I would never advise a client to build a blog on Wix and will try to steer clients away from this idea while hopefully not sounding like I have an axe to grind (other than my opinions, I really don’t).
At the time of writing, Wix doesn’t allow you to take a backup of your own site. Attempting to build your digital castle on a vendor that doesn’t even let you back up your own data is a terrible idea.
With everything to do with content marketing, your focus and mindset needs to be on the long term.
A “we make it really easy” platform like Wix might make it a lot easier to build a flashy website here and now and get it up and running for that trade show next month. But again, with content marketing you want to be placing your focus instead on long term stability and scalability. One aspect of that is portability. By owning your codebase (yes, even a blog is ultimately code) you can move around between different providers if and when you require.
Put in the effort up front to save yourself headaches and spiraling SaaS budgets in the long run.
Don’t Create Content On Social Networks. Instead, Share Content To Social Networks.
So here’s the actionable takeaway from the above.
Social networks are once again other people’s castles — at least digitally speaking.
Whenever you sign up to a social network you’re agreeing to abide by their terms of service.
You’re the guest in their castle. And they can kick you off the grounds if you fail to abide by that TOS. The TOS can change. So can the features they’re prepared to offer you for free. Or for a certain payment per month (perhaps beyond what you can afford).
Want to “growth hack” your way to (short term) gains by manipulating social algorithms?
Have you considered the fact that all the above can change at any given moment? That the rug can be pulled out from under your strategy if your strategy is predicated on what you think you know about another provider’s algorithm. Do you have any say over the evolution of that algorithm? Do you have any means of validating what you think you know about it?
So again, we need to keep our long term focus in mind. If we start a blog on LinkedIn Pulse, we’re allowing LinkedIn to choose the SEO tags that will accompany our post and play a large role in determining its organic discoverability. If we start the blog on our own site we can forget about those issues. One less problem to worry about even if our go to market might be delayed by a few days (or weeks).
Here’s How I Categorize Marketing Channels
I like to divide up marketing channels for distributing content according to the following schema:
- Are they onsite or offsite resources? Onsite resources are those that you provision such as your blog. That’s your URL that you’re “building up” every time you publish a new post which gets added to a sitemap which then gets indexed by search engines. An offsite resource is somebody else’s URL. Like the one you’re reading this post on.
- Are they owned or non owned? I mean this from an editorial perspective and not whether you actually own them or not. Clearly, I don’t own Medium.com. But I do retain total control over what I publish on this account. If I write for Medium publications, on the other hand, I’m publishing to the same domain. But I no longer have editorial control over the channel because there’s typically an editor who has to approve my post and can change what I write.
And here are chart versions showing how each common publishing initiative falls under this framework:
And Now, Here’s What I Would Recommend
So let’s jump to my boilerplate actionable tips:
- Invest the small amount of time and capital in setting up your own infrastructure to host your own content — from day one. Doing this for text is easy. For audio and video, it’s still doable — it’s just harder and the files are larger which can mean that the cheaper and less technically challenging options aren’t options for you. You can absolutely host and serve embedded video and audio from a server that you own or rent and later distribute the podcasts and upload the videos to YouTube.
- Share your content across social media channels. There’s nothing wrong with sharing short form insights from your content on social media channels even if — to get pedantic — that means we’re creating some content there (or rather derivative versions of our primary content). We’re trying to get this right rather than perfect. Build and curate the best social networks for your brand and engage with others on them to build an audience and widen your reach. But don’t create directly on these.
Or even shorter: build your blog (or audio and video hosting server). Publish there first. Then syndicate that content to social networks and anywhere else you think it could go that might refer traffic back to your castle.
Put up whatever billboards on other people’s castles you can. Just realize that they could demolish them and evict you at any moment.
But hopefully you’ll already have gathered a tribe that leads to your castle by then. That might sound Machiavellian. But remember that social networks are utilizing your data and that by engaging there you’re helping make them attractive venues to advertise on and hence monetize. It’s a form of symbiosis. Ergo, you’ve nothing to feel bad about.
Doing the above is what I believe to be the best way to commit to content marketing and inbound for the long haul. But I also believe that that’s the only way to go about doing it.
The Ultimate Long Game, Content Marketing Demands Its Own Mindset Too
When transitioning from outbound to inbound-led marketing, attitudes need to change as well
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I specialize in helping technology companies, entrepreneurs and brands to develop, refine and execute thought leadership and content marketing strategies. RosehillMarcom.com.