Distributing content through traditional social channels has moved beyond the recommendation phase—it’s now a must. But what about promoting your brand’s content using alternative methods?
A number of content sharing communities and other distribution channels have recently cropped up, enabling new audiences, beyond those on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, to discover your content. Even though each of these platforms and websites exhibit social aspects, such as posting comments, connecting with followers, and taking part in discussions, none really fit the definition of a “proper” social network.
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The majority of these content-discovery tools are free (though some have paid-for options) and can serve as an effective means of generating traffic to your website, granted that you’re sharing the right content.
Here are a few examples of community-driven curating sites and other tools to help you spread the word about your content and expedite audience growth, a bit differently than the traditional ways you’re used to.
StumbleUpon lets you explore content that is collected for you based on interest categories you select and who you follow.
By liking or disliking the web pages you “stumble” upon, the tool amasses your personal feedback—as well as that of Stumblers with similar preferences—to recommend relevant and engaging articles.
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Sharing your content on StumbleUpon can be very effective, but the platform shouldn’t be used solely for this purpose. By curating other high-quality content of interest for your followers, you can prevent the risk of having your sharing activity restricted and also contribute interesting articles that will raise your credibility among other Stumblers.
There are several ways to use StumbleUpon to promote your content, but here are the major ones:
Add a Page: You can recommend a page by going directly to “Add a Page,” which is located in the drop-down menu right beneath your user account photo. Make sure to create tags for each page you submit to make it easier for other users to find your content faster. As a best practice, don’t over-promote your company’s content—contribute a mix of pages from your domain and also add engaging curated content that will interest your target audience.
Browser Add-On: To promote and curate content faster, it’s a good idea to download the StumbleUpon plug-in which you can use to share any content that hasn’t been discovered yet. Once you add the Firefox or Chrome extension, click on the thumbs up icon to add the page you’re visiting. If the thumbs up icon is green, that means the page has already been shared on the platform, otherwise, you will be redirected to a submission form.
Badge: By adding a StumbleUpon badge to your website, you enable visitors to quickly and easily share your content with relevant members in the community. It goes without saying that letting other Stumblers submit and share your content is a much more organic way to promote your brand, increase website traffic, and increase virality.
Paid Discovery: Apart from the free options, StumbleUpon also offers paid-for discovery that can help boost your content. Basically, the online content you promote is your ad, and all you have to do is submit the URL. You can select relevant targeting options based on age, geography, precise interests and engagement levels, and your content will appear as part of a stream of sites, which are grouped by interests. StumbleUpon’s plans start from $0.10+ per unique visitor for its standard service. This method can be effective, but bear in the mind that Paid Discovery means your content will appear with a “Sponsored” icon at the top.
The concept behind ShareBloc is similar to StumbleUpon, with the main difference being that it’s aimed towards professionals. The link-sharing community is used to distribute, curate and discuss business content, with an emphasis on sales and marketing-related topics and questions.
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ShareBloc, who launched their post-beta version at the end of 2013, lets users share content to different categories, called “blocs,” and then promote (or demote) it by voting each one either up or down. The platform is still relatively new, and currently offers a limited number of blocs, but it’s slowly gaining popularity, and thousands of people have already signed up.
Post a link: On ShareBloc, you can post as a company, but as previously mentioned, avoid repeatedly submitting brand-promotional content. The “Post a link” button appears on the right in every ShareBloc page, and lets you share content in a few clicks. Make an effort to postarticles that offer best practices and tips, or provide insight or knowledge on industry trends or hot topics. Since there aren’t that many blocs yet (Real Estate and Technology are recent additions), and the site is still mostly marketing and sales oriented, check the list first for your industry before sharing. When posting a link,make sure to write an engaging description, and choose a main and sub-tag, and if necessary, a company tag.
Ask a question: In addition to sharing content, Sharebloc gives you the ability to ask and answer questions. Although this isn’t necessarily a direct way to promote content, it still provides the opportunity to establish your brand’s credibility and reputation among the community. The more questions you answer (and quality content you post), the higher the likelihood that users will become Followers, and you can grow your list of Connections. Likewise, make it a habit to ask questions that can drive engagement among users.
Vote Up: Once you’ve posted your content, boost its visibility by sharing the links, and asking your team members and peers, who also use ShareBloc, to upvote it. The more votes your content receives, the higher up it appears in the feed of users who subscribe to the bloc.
Hacker News primarily targets techies and entrepreneurs (it’s excellent for startup companies!) and is a social news website that’s been around since 2007, run by Y Combinator, an investment fund and startup incubator. Unlike the above tools, HackerNews is not a platform; it’s a website designed to foster a community around particular subjects, in this case programming, computer science, and business. Reaching the number one spot on the news feed can equal thousands (if not tens of thousands) of visitors in one day.
Fun Fact: If you find yourself spending too much time on the site, in your profile, select “Yes” next to “noprocrast”, and set a max time per visit and for which you can be blocked from visiting.
Submit Content: To submit your content, just click on the “submit” hyperlink at the top of the page and fill out the title and URL of your content (tip: to submit a discussion question, just leave the URL field blank). Each time your content, question or comment is upvoted—you’ll receive “karma” points, which help boost the position of your item in the news feed.
Bookmarklet: The Hacker News bookmarklet makes it even easier to upload your content on the site. Just drag the link to your tool bar, and share your content directly using this feature, without having to fist log into the website.
Another niche-specific sharing website is Inbound.org, which functions much like Hacker News, only it caters to the inbound marketing community at large.
Inbound was founded in 2012, has been funded by HubSpot Labs since 2013, and serves as a social news website dedicated to topics such as SEO, social media, content marketing, blogging, and more. Inbound.org requires that you use a Twitter account to register, submit content, and comment.
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The website aims to help marketers, as a community, share and discover industry news and decide which articles matter most using a voting system. One thing that’s unique to Inbound.org is that in addition to submitting an article or discussion topic, you can also submit a SlideShare URL. Uploading links to presentations that contain best practices, analysis of trends and data-driven research.
The platform is run by moderators who manually check submissions, and can flag you for spamming, so post carefully.
Submit Article/Presentation: To share your marketing articles, click the “Submit” button on the left side of the screen, and add multiple tags to make it easy for relevant users to find. When you submit an article, abide by the tried-and-true technique of promoting your content and curating other valuable content. Inbound.org recommends a 1:10 submission ratio for promotional versus curated content. As a best practice, if you post your own content, write your own title in the form, and leave a comment at the bottom that encourages debate and discussion. Tip: Before sharing, monitor what others are discussing, and what the hottest articles section.
Share Button: The best way to promote your content is having others share it for you; put the Inbound.org Share Button on your blog or website and let visitors share and upvote it. Also, don’t forget to share the link to your content with team members to vote it up.
Ask Me Anything: Based on a trend that began on Reddit, Ask Me Anything threads are places where thought-leaders can field questions on any topic. Inbound requires you to be nominated by another member of Inbound.org in order to be featured for Ask Me Anything.
Increase Points: Fill out as many details as possible about yourself and your company in the profile (note: to edit it, you have to register for a free HubSpot Labs account). Your profile, along with a number of other factors, plays a role in the points you accrue from each upvote.
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