Table of contents
So you have a content plan. You know what content you will shoot, and you are ready to go out and dominate the market by distributing it. You might not even think about content distribution because Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms are ripe for posting. But to get the best return on your content creation dollars, you need to execute the following video content distribution tactics.
Understand the Three Media Types: Owned, Earned, Paid
Choose Your Primary Content Distribution Channel
Consider Channels That Already Have Your Audience
Find Channels Where Content Builds an Audience
Don’t Turn All Your Accounts Into Imitations of Each Other
Time Your Content Distribution To Align With Consumption Habits
Optimize Content for the Mode of Consumption (Repurpose)
Have an End Goal for Each Distribution Channel
Have an End Goal for Your Content on That Distribution Channel
Make Content Without the Distribution Channel in Mind
Understand the three media types
The first step you need to take as a content producer is to understand the content distribution landscape. Before the word "content" became the mainstream word for every type of creative expression, media used to be the word of choice.
And at that time, the theory of distribution of media stated that there were three types of media: owned media, paid media, and earned media. A corporation had to know if it owned a media channel (like a corporate magazine), paid for it (newspaper ads), or earned a newspaper placement (by doing something newsworthy).
So why would individuals need to know about an old theory from the school of journalism? Because nowadays, we all own, earn and pay for distribution on social media. Here's how the cookie crumbles:
Your email list is the audience you own. The same applies to any type of customer connection (like their phone numbers) that you have, which no company can take away from you. From Whatsapp messages to Telegram broadcasts, you can use multiple channels to connect with the audience you "own," but you don't own these platforms.
Media you own is basically any platform that is your own that you do not pay to post to. Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, and all social platforms that allow free posting are media you own. However, the platform owns the audience as long as you don't have your followers' email and phone numbers.
The audience you own is a smaller pool than the media you don't (unless you are Mark Zuckerberg). So it is not prudent to confine yourself to connections you have emails of. It is often wiser to get on the paid media bandwagon to expand your audience.
Paid media is media that you do not own but rent when you pay the platform. Almost all social media platforms have parallel paid media platforms. Facebook Ads, TikTok Ads, and even sponsored placements on email blasts are all paid media channels.
In the world of newspapers and publicity stunts, when you get covered for doing something noteworthy, you are said to have earned media coverage. How does that relate to content creators? When your content gets shared on another profile's story, it is earned media.
It is technically impossible to go viral without "earned media". And when one view leads to one earned media placement for up to one thousand views, you can be sure to go viral.
Understanding how media distribution works today can help content creators optimize their content distribution model.
Choose your primary content distribution channel
Your primary content distribution channel will most likely be owned media. This is true unless you are in a field where content scarcity is necessary. In the field of music, for instance, you might need to limit your catalog to build anticipation.
In that case, your primary content channel might be owned by the record label. You might be a professional speaker who sends his content for posting on channels like GoalCast or gets filmed during TED talks.
In that case, the primary channel is out of your control. That's when it becomes wise to use a secondary channel as a primary one. For instance, your favorite musician doesn't limit his public content to the few hits he is supposed to deliver each year. He posts lifestyle and behind-the-scenes content. His primary content, however, should push his primary product, which is his music.
Content creation peaks any time your primary content is also your primary product. The larger the overlap, the more of a content creator you are. Knowing your primary content means being as in touch with its algorithm as possible.
Consider channels that already have your audience
TikTok might not be the best platform for a book author because of the attention span of its audience. In contrast, a podcast might be a very good platform. That is not to say that TikTok is a bad platform. There are plenty of authors on TikTok, including Gary Vee.
But what's worth understanding is that there are platforms where your end goal is met, and there are platforms where you get exposed to more people. Sure, podcasts can introduce you to more people and TikTok can get you attentive listeners, but the reverse happens more often. Your first priority should be to build content for platforms that fit your primary product.
Find channels where content builds an audience
After you have established a primary channel, your next tactic should be to zero in on platforms that help you build a following. These platforms, for now, are TikTok and Instagram, but this might change in the future. No matter the social media landscape, there will always be platforms that give you more exposure than others.
Knowing this means you'll be able to upload content that paints you in the best light on some platforms and content that goes in depth onto other platforms. But wouldn't shooting too much content be hectic? Not if you learn to repurpose your content. More on that later.
Don't turn all your accounts into imitations of each other
The most obvious content distribution strategy is to blast the same content across all your owned media platforms. But that gives your audience no reason to follow you on each platform. To encourage your true fans to migrate across various platforms for your content, you have to chop it up and scatter it across all of them.
Ensure that different platforms have different posts so that when someone follows you on all platforms, he doesn't have to see the same thing over and over.
On the surface, this might seem like a very difficult task because you'd have to shoot different content for each platform. In reality, you can pull this off by producing long-form content and then repurposing it so that each platform gets a unique bit from multiple bite-sized pieces.
Ever since Gary Vee's content repurposing model went viral, way too many professionals have started turning their Zoom Webinars into short clips and posting the same clips on TikTok, Instagram Reels, and Youtube Shorts.
That is a great way of getting in front of people on each of these platforms. But what happens when the same people go to other platforms to follow you? They have to watch the same clips again. Just because you can make 100 TikToks from a single webinar doesn't mean you have to use them as 100 IG reels.
Instead, you can have far better results posting 50 on IG and 50 on TikTok. Wouldn't it be better if your IG bio said, "My TikTok has content not posted on IG," and vice-versa? It really would encourage people to follow you on other platforms.
Adjust your content distribution to align with consumption habits
Don't release all your content at once because people do not binge-watch stuff at first glance. When you start posting content without caring about people's consumption habits in mind, you get tuned out by the algorithm. Not even superstars are big enough to ignore this.
Even the tech companies that own the algorithms follow people's consumption habits. Instagram is pivoting towards video mainly because people love to view short-form videos instead of pictures. People's consumption habits should be the guiding light of your content distribution strategy. And there are the questions you need to ask yourself:
"When do people consume my type of content?" This question will help you publish at a time when more people are engaged.
"What type of content is currently getting exposure benefit from social media companies?" This is perhaps the most important question because the type keeps changing. At some point, it might be VR content.
"What type of content builds likability and loyalty among consumers?" Finally, you have to consider loyalty and likability since these are the only factors that cannot be quantified by statistics. A platform that can help you build a relationship with your audience is a platform that is worth making your primary one. Even if you don't make it your primary channel of distribution, it should be among the ones you actively create for.
Optimize content for the mode of consumption
When you ask yourself the questions above, you will notice that the audience habits are different on different platforms. People who might have a short attention span on tiktok are very engaged long-form content consumers when it comes to podcasts.
So touching the same people but with different content across different platforms is the goal. And to do that, you must be thoughtful when you repurpose content. Let's look at all you need to consider when you're optimizing content for varied distribution:
Audience state of mind
What is the state of mind of your audience? If you know this, you can get your audience to take action. Most companies paying for ads think they are paying for a right to get their viewers to act. But if your ad about a music video interrupts someone's Kindle book reading experience, you're wasting your paid media opportunity.
The same person is pretty bored with free ears when he is scrolling through Instagram stories. If he sees the music ad as an Instagram story ad, he is more likely to take action. Your content, even with unpaid distribution, should consider the audience's state of mind.
Audience's emotional needs
Not only must you consider the state of mind in which your audience is, but also what it is looking for. People get on Instagram to escape reality and on TikTok to have fun. They go on Facebook to have arguments and on Youtube to avoid TV.
With that in mind, your Instagram content should paint a perfect picture, while your TikTok content shouldn't take itself too seriously. Facebook should be for conversation-starting content, and Youtube videos should be compelling enough to replace TV. If you help people get what they want, they will become loyal to you.
Audience's ability to give feedback
Please, avoid distributing experimental content on platforms that do not facilitate audience feedback. The last thing you want is people silently unsubscribing from your podcast or excusing themselves from your blog's RSS feed.
Instagram, Tiktok, and Youtube allow feedback to a fault, but you can use this to your advantage by market testing your ideas. Just be sure to avoid testing too much. Your audience should feel like they can rely on you for consistency.
Audience's ability to take action
Finally, you must consider people's ability to take action. Motivational speakers were some of the first content repurposing masters. Their talks became tapes people played in the car. But the ones who didn't get the memo didn't adjust their scripts. Even today, their audios sound awkward.
In contrast, masters like Jim Rohn can be heard hedging his commands with "If you cannot act, then wait for when you can and follow along, raise your hands, close your eyes." You want to be sure that your call to action doesn't come off tone-deaf as "close your eyes" to a car driver.
Have an end goal for each distribution channel
This tip ensures that you do not create a channel or bet on a platform that doesn't serve your end goals. Knowing what you want from a channel is the best way to create content for it. More importantly, it is the best metric to know whether you should be on the channel in the first place.
Let's suppose you're a documentary producer who is trying to get eyeballs on his documentary. You can post to Instagram and Youtube. But would you post the same thing on both platforms? Of course not. Instagram's goal should be to create curiosity for your documentary.
Pay attention to this. It is very easy to let Instagram change your goal to having more followers on the platform. But the actual goal is to get eyeballs on your documentary. Youtube's goal could be to host the documentary or get people to click the link to buy it. This would depend on whether you're using Google Ads on youtube or youtube's organic algorithm to reach people.
Have an end goal for your content on that distribution channel
Not all your videos should have the same goal. They should follow the same overarching guidelines to produce a cohesive image, but different videos should try to communicate different things. When you force yourself to make more diverse content by obligation, you prevent stagnation.
Otherwise, it becomes very easy to get caught up in chasing likes and doing the same thing over and over. The algorithm loves it and keeps pushing you to new discovery tiers. But your old fans fall off. Avoid that by asking yourself, "what is the end goal of this video?"
And if you do that after each piece of content, you'll catch yourself before you get monotonous. Dave Chapelle is a great example of someone who prevented monotony. Even his comedy specials aren't meant to just make you laugh.
Make content without the distribution channel in mind
And as counterintuitive as this sounds, you shouldn't think of distribution when you create your primary content. This is what helps you make content broad enough to be ripe for repurposing. Content that is shot with its message and meaning in mind instead of its distribution becomes timeless because you can always repurpose it.
But if you create content with just one channel in mind, you might not be able to redistribute it. When Instagram started giving exposure to reels, people turned photos into videos by adding music to them. This shows that human creativity will always present repurposing opportunities. But if the content isn't good, repurposing won't make it better. To learn more about video content repurposing, check out our post on the subject.