Traditionally, publishers have viewed websites as content destinations, challenging marketers to drive traffic to specific websites in order to engage consumers with relevant content.
Today, the model has changed. Increasingly, publishers are uncoupling online content from its host site; marketers are learning to syndicate this content online or encouraging others to do so virally. Jupiter Research has defined this trend as “website deconstruction”.
Moreover, emerging and established content platforms, including news aggregators, video sharing and social bookmarking sites, enable content to exist on its own in the online world and allow users to have greater control over its distribution.
Today, a two-step process has emerged for marketers to facilitate content distribution:
Active distribution: Publishers need to first distribute content to multiple users via RSS feeds to readers, widgets, personalized home pages, news aggregators and even mobile devices. A broad list of readers and aggregators can be found here.
Publishers can also syndicate content to users by seeding bloggers or by distributing assets to third-party websites through platforms such as Blogburst, Voxant and Magnify. Each one has a different distribution mechanism. Blogburst facilitates distribution of blog content through 200 established news channels such as Reuters and FoxNews, for example.
Marketing Green Blog Posting on FoxBusiness.com via BlogBurst
Voxant, in contrast, syndicates news from mainstream sources to third-party websites; Magnify distributes video. Magnify provides a widget that can be easily customized (based on content preferences) and downloaded onto third-party sites. Publishers can make their content available for distribution simply by creating a channel on Magnify to do so. Currently, Magnify offers 119 channels of content relating to “Nature and Environment”.
Passive or viral distribution: In addition to actively pushing content out to a variety of sources, marketers need to ensure they position their content to be further distributed by consumers. Today, users increasingly share and recommend content to their peers. By doing so, individuals not only share content with other users, but they empower these users to make recommendations to friends and contacts in their networks. For marketers, such a network effect can have an exponential impact in driving reach; it also costs marketers virtually nothing to achieve.
Examples of users facilitating passive content distribution include sending viral emails, posting video content on YouTube and veoh, bookmarking an article on Digg and del.cio.us or linking to personal pages within MySpace.
While all general interest sites host content related to the environment, there are many websites that focus exclusively on the green space. Examples include video sharing sites ecolive.tv, emPivot, Green.tv, GreenEnergyTV, RiverWired and URTH.tv; bookmarking sites ecoblogs, Hugg and hunuh; and a multitude of social networking sites including Care2 and Zaadz. (See also Marketing Green’s “Green Marketing on Social Networks” and “Sharing Green Videos Online” postings).
In a conversation with Marketing Green earlier this week, Shmuel Benhamou, a founder of the recently launched ecolive.tv, makes the case for green vertical sites: “Videos are one of the most efficient and interesting ways to spread the ‘green’ message throughout the world. Yet, today, it is very hard to find good green videos on YouTube and others user generated content sites. Ecolive.tv wants to promote green videos to a targeted audience.”
Notably, syndication blurs the lines between publisher and user, as everyone has the chance to distribute content. Moreover, it also blurs the distinction between content, either professionally or user-generated, and advertising. Increasingly, content serves as advertising and advertising is enjoyed as content.
One great example of advertising distributed as content in the green space is a commercial for a European wind energy company, Epuron, syndicated on YouTube.
Marketers: Think differently about your digital strategy. Uncouple content from specific websites and distribute directly to users or through intermediary sites. Encourage consumers to share content with their peers and across social networks. If done right, syndication can act as a digital channel accelerator by driving reach and generating impact far beyond the cost required to facilitate it. It is a must for most marketers today. You scarcely can afford not to.