The Future Of Social Is In Content Solutions, Syndication

by Jason Falls |
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You don’t get very far in talking about social media for business without running into a discussion about content. Companies need to provide informative, entertaining and engaging content to their audiences to attract visits to company blogs, websites, Facebook pages and more.

The deeper you get into understanding the various benefits of engaging your audiences with great content (enhanced online reputation, conversational market share, search engine ranking improvement and increased lead or sales generation to name a few) you begin to not only produce the content, but distribute and promote it accordingly. Everyone wants more eyeballs.

Because relatively few businesses have crossed the threshold from just blogging to developing content strategies, I see a big opportunity for content providers and promoters in the coming years. The easier brands can provide content (even if they, themselves, don’t create it) and distribute it, driving links, eyeballs and the like, the more successful they’ll be in the social realm.

This opens the door for a couple different types of companies or service providers. First, professional blogging services (I hate calling them ghost blogging services for reasons you can see in this 2009 post about the topic) and free-lance web content providers should see a boon in the need for their services in the next few years. Second, larger scale content distribution companies like wire-services should see a bit of an increase in volume as well.

But then there’s a unique opportunity for a company that combines both content creation and distribution to step in and do something neat.

Social Syndication from NewsUSA

Enter NewsUSA and its newest offering, Social Syndication, which is advertising on Social Media Explorer this month. NewsUSA has been a content provider and distributor in the traditional media world for some time. You hire them to take your press release or company news, turn it into an editorial/advertorial piece and they use a network of copyright-free distribution channels to get that article placed in newspapers, magazines and more. And there are a lot of those publications out there looking to fill their pages with interesting content without having to pay for it.

The copyright-free syndication houses like NewsUSA were doing good corporate blogging before blogging existed. Sell trophies, like Plaquemaker Plus? News USA can craft a useful article likely to get picked up by publications looking for such like, “Tips To Plan A Fun Family Reunion” and insert the suggestion you get trophies for the kids. It’s advertorial, but it’s non-obtrusive and provides value to the audience beyond just “buy our trophies.”

With NewsUSA’s new Social Syndication effort, they’re taking the traditional distribution model and applying it to social channels. And believe me, while Huffington Post and Mashable aren’t the types of websites that would use copyright free, syndicated content, there are TONS of sites out there that will. As more companies get into the “gotta have fresh content” mode, I think you’ll start to see the trend of using copyright free content expand into the brand world.

One recent client project NewsUSA shared with me resulted in 156 social and online placements, 127 inbound links to the syndicated story (placed on CopyrightFreeContent.com) and two inbound links to the client’s website. The story also generated over 100 links and references from Twitter users. Now, none of these numbers are eye-popping, but as the company builds trust and provides value to the social news communities, plus more companies and websites turn to syndication services for useful content, NewsUSA is looking at the tip of a big iceberg. And not one that will sink the ship.

One piece of Social Syndication that I offered NewsUSA feedback on was their activity in posting the content to the social news and bookmarking sites. While there’s great potential to increase the exposure and reach of their client’s work there, I felt like they still had some work to do in order to make that piece work better for them. But make no mistake about it, NewsUSA is on the right path and is a company to watch.

On the flip side of the syndication argument is the fact that inbound links from sites that use syndicated content may not be as valuable as those from the Huffington Posts of the world. I would never say NewsUSA is a single solution to distributing content or driving inbound links. But as their network grows, they will be able to reasonably guarantee a turnkey number of links based on the sites that grow to trust their content.

Debate the merits of advertorial all you want. When companies want content, they want content that is going to help them. And there will always be sites out there hungry enough for content to publish advertorial. When the brands looking for content see they can use a NewsUSA to provide such for their blogs, sites, outposts and more, PLUS distribute it around the web for even more value in exposure, SEO and more, the content creation and syndication companies are going to see customers.

How would you polish the content solution and syndication business? What do companies like NewsUSA have to do to convince your brand or company they are worth the investment? The comments are yours.

NOTE: For those of you who might be new to Social Media Explorer, I do have advertisers like NewsUSA from time-to-time, but because my audience trusts me, I have some very particular requirements to allow them to be brought to your attention. For more on my advertising policy, see this page on Advertising Relevancy.

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About the Author

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).