Why Your Awesome Content Might Be Underperforming

If you’ve spent some time researching digital marketing strategies, you’ve probably come across the phrase: “Content is king.” If you create quality content for your website, then visitors will come, right? That reminds me of something from Field of Dreams…

If you build it, they will come.

As lovely as that sentiment is, it doesn’t always turn out to be true. It’s not a hard and fast rule, but sometimes awesome content pieces like a compelling blog post, a stunning image, or an impressive video just don’t get the visits and engagement that seem commensurate with its quality.

Other than having your text and tags optimized for search engines, what’s a content producer to do? Rub a rabbit’s foot? Hang a horseshoe on the doorway? Search for a four-leaf clover?

With all of the stars that need to align for something to take off, is content really still king?

To paraphrase Jonathan Perelman from BuzzFeed: Content may be king, but solid distribution is queen, and she wears the pants. As silly as it may seem to imagine content and distribution as man and woman ruling over a dominion of web space, it’s not a terrible analogy. Sometimes the best content can languish in solitude for a number of different reasons. It’s only with the partnership of strategic distribution that a piece of quality content can truly reach its potential.

content is king, but distribution is queen

Why is quality content not enough?

The answer isn’t rocket science. It’s just a matter of not getting in front of the right people.

Think about how we as humans decide on something like “quality.” We examine something, and if an aspect of that experience resonates with us, we tend to share it with others. It’s through sharing that we come to assign value to content.

When you experience a new piece of content, and choose to share it through email, social media channels, at the watercooler, etc., you are vouching for its quality. You are subtly saying: “This was worth my time and energy, I’m willing to associate myself with sharing it, and I believe that it might be worth your time and energy as well.”

Quality is assigned to content by your response to it.

Ignoring content is condemning it to a death where no one else can find it, and that’s why top-notch content needs a top-notch distribution strategy to match. The fewer people that consume your content, the greater the chance that it will be dead on arrival. After all, what sound did the tree make when it fell in the empty forest?

Don’t count on luck.

Sometimes, content soars because it gets shared by an outlier with outsized clout and influence. Did you know that the Double Rainbow video was largely ignored for half a year before Jimmy Kimmel tweeted about it in July of 2010 ? As of today, it has close to 40 million views and has forever changed the life of the video’s creator, Paul “YosemiteBear” Vasquez. Certainly results like this are not the norm, so don’t bank on your content going viral in this way.

So how can you make sure that your content and distribution are happy in their marriage?

Be consistent.

Just like a spouse tends to become frustrated and hurt by inconsistent appreciation and affection, a scattershot publishing schedule will also undermine the performance of superb content. Be regular, and do your best to maintain the same level of quality. As you build an audience, they will come to expect great content from you in the future, even if they don’t consume everything that you produce.

Be interesting.

To be interesting to others, be interested in them. To know what your audience is interested in, you need to listen to them. If your audience isn’t talking to you, maybe you need to ask better questions. People usually don’t mind sharing their opinions and knowledge, provided the right opportunity to do so presents itself. After all, the people we find most interesting are often the ones who want to know more about us.

Be sharable.

If you can master the first two, this will follow along quite naturally. Consistently published content that responds to your audience’s interests is content that is more likely to be shared. As you share it on your social media outlets, others will pick it up and share it further. Make it easy to share by providing the means to do so right on your blog – links to Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, and other media on your page with your content.

Be measurable.

All blog posts are not created equally, and they should not be measured in a homogenous way either. We could write an entire post about how to develop and define the right metrics for the different blog goals that you might have (and we will), but just don’t ignore measurement. If traffic is your only valuable metric, then you are in good shape. But hopefully, you expect more from your site than that.

In the end, great content languishes without the right strategy to distribute it far and wide, and all the social media in the world won’t help if your content isn’t worthy. It makes no sense to focus on one at the expense of the other, and if you can give both the attention they deserve, you can maximize the mileage your content receives. Keep producing awesome content, but be sure to develop an awesome distribution strategy to match it.