How Can Media Companies Use Content Marketing Strategies To Build Their Audience?

    Most of my writing and speaking around content marketing and journalism is kind of one-way and focuses around:

    • How journalists can make the jump to content marketing.
    • How corporate content marketing teams can use journalistic tactics to improve their storytelling.

    But on the flipside, media companies and journalists can actually use content marketing strategies to help themselves continue to build their own audiences.

    Of course, many established media companies already have substantial audiences. But audiences aren’t stagnant and competition for eyeballs is stronger than ever before.

    Two ways media companies can grow and keep their audiences is by:

    • Sharing stories people actually want to consume on the topics and communities they care about.
    • Delivering content on the channel and at the time people can be reached. For example, in the case of TV, it might be a habit for me to turn the TV on to a specific station in the morning when I’m getting ready for work.

    Similarly, these are also two tactics corporate content marketers use (or try to use). But keep in mind that the second tactic is a lot harder for newer programs to implement. Remember, for most established media companies, they’ve been at it for decades and have grown their audience through that consistency. In the case of TV stations, they also had the exclusivity of actually having a local license to broadcast.

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    So what are some content marketing strategies media companies can implement?

    Here are some ideas.

    1. Social media advertising

    I’ve seen quite a change in the effectiveness of social media advertising. Fewer people click nowadays, but a decent amount of people will actually view and engage, depending on the content. So there’s some benefit to targeting people within a media company’s audience on social media – especially on Facebook.

    But this is a strategy best used to reach locally relevant audiences – the audiences that want to consume their content right now. Of course, I sometimes see newspapers do Facebook advertising but it’s usually a real hard sell: pick up today’s paper at the store, for example.

    In a content marketing related strategy, I would recommend advertising stories that are relevant but are not necessarily homeruns on their own. Gently push more readers back to your site, which can then help increase audience size, eventually helping with advertising revenue.

    Related: How there are a few home runs in content marketing

    2. Social media publishing frequency

    In corporate content marketing, one useful strategy is to repeat content on the different social media networks. It works because a lot of the content we produce in corporate America is closer to evergreen content, not newsy content.

    Now, that’s not as often the case for media companies. But media companies do create content that can be shared more than once. The New York Times does this really well. When they have pieces that aren’t just useful in the immediate moment, they continue sharing it on Twitter for a few days.

    The Gazette in Cedar Rapids does something similar by re-tweeting its reporters when they share articles earlier or later. It’s not quite the same as repeating your own tweets but it does get the content out in front of people again without officially having to repeat yourself.

    3. Retargeting

    Retargeting, also called remarketing, is when you serve an ad to somebody who has been to your website. Often you see that after visiting a site and browsing a product page, once you leave the site, it serves you ads on other sites you visit, promoting you to come back and please buy the product.

    For example, I was on the Sheraton hotel site to look for a hotel and didn’t book it, but now Sheraton keeps serving me ads for hotels in that city.

    In content marketing, retargeting works as well, even though it’s often not that much of a hard sell. Once people come to your site, read a popular article and then leave, you can serve them an ad to another interesting and related article. The point is to get them coming back to your site because we know that the more people engage with our content the more likely they are to buy from us.

    That’s in the content marketing world but the same concept can be applied for media companies. So if people come to your site, read and leave, you need to find a way to get them back. That can help you increase your audience and views, and in return advertising revenue. Of course, there is a little bit of math involved to make sure you’re not spending more on retargeting than you’re making on your advertising. ??

    4. Email list growths

    Email marketing works and content marketers use email pushes to their full advantage to stay connected to their audiences. Of course, media companies do the same and many have good-size email lists. One thing to keep in mind is that content marketing strategists often use the latest tools to quickly grow their lists:

    • Facebook retargeting to grow lists
    • Sign up placement testing on the website

    Related: How I grew my list 5% in one day

    5. Targeted advertising

    Targeted advertising does actually work. And it’s not always about spending more money. It’s about spending money more wisely.

    Especially when an organization is going after a relatively broad geographical or targeted topical market, this is a very useful strategy.

    Serve content-related ads to the people that are in your area but that might not be reading you all that often. Have an interesting story? Create an ad and serve it to your target audience as a display campaign. When possible, also tie it into search engine marketing and go after people who are searching for related things in your market.

    What’s a content display ad anyways?

    You can see two different types of display ads that I use. One is a more direct sell, like for my book:

    And then there are content ads that are really just pitching another story to be read:

    How to get started and conclusion

    And while many strategies can run somewhat automated, we always need somebody who plans, updates, measures and oversees the campaign.

    A certain level of editorial planning, integration and of course budget is needed to make it work. But when it’s done well – whether it’s in corporate content marketing or at a media company – these tactics can help us increase and even retain our audiences.

    Contact me here to get help with your planning on your next project.

    Christoph is Rock Content’s Vice President of Content Marketing Strategy.

    He helps businesses and organizations in the Americas develop and implement strategic content marketing plans and practices by combining efficient workflows, content marketers’ skills and useful technologies.

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