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Content marketing is the most effective way for small business owners to demonstrate their expertise, deliver valuable information to current and potential customers and reinforce a company’s position as a go-to resource in their field. Useful to both B2B and B2C businesses, content marketing can be in the form of articles, white papers, videos, infographics and more.  Creating this content generally requires a significant investment of time and energy, so you want to make sure you’re getting a real reward.

You can use these strategies to maximize the impact of your content marketing:

Create a Content Calendar Based On Your Customers’ Current Needs

People search for content based on concerns or questions they’re having right that moment. These concerns can vary by the season: in the summer, for example, your customer may be searching for the best beach apparel, while in the winter they want the definitive guide to buying stylish snow boots. Because creating content takes time, you’ll want to be working on items two weeks to a month ahead of when you’ll need them. A great best practice is to create a content calendar outlining all the topics you would like to address: this will help you stay timely and organized.

Identify All Possible Distribution Channels For Your Content

Sharing your content on your website and social media is an essential first step. Make sure you’re leveraging every platform appropriately; Instagram needs beautiful imagery while you’ll get much better traction on LinkedIn by identifying and posting to relevant groups.

Identify influencers in your industry, and make sure they’re aware of your content – a share or retweet from a prominent figure can exponentially expand the reach of your content. Look for bloggers who regularly do link round ups as part of their content mix, and forward your content to them as appropriate. Look for content-specific distribution websites: visual.ly is great for sharing infographics you’ve made; sites like Vimeo and Twitch allow you to share video in addition to YouTube.

Advertise Your Content

The organic reach of business content on social media, particularly Facebook, is subject to algorithmic controls which limit the number of people who experience your message ‘naturally’. Encouraging your followers and fans to share your content will impact how the algorithms view your content and may result in increased reach; for a more certain larger audience, invest in advertising that drives customers to the content you want them to see.

Obviously, it is important to be strategic with this method. If you’re spending money for someone to see your article, that article should deliver real value.  François-Xavier Préaut of Outbrain continually emphasizes the importance of content being informative, entertaining or otherwise worthy of the time spent consuming it. “…the most important thing is … ensuring that the internet user will not be disappointed once he has clicked. Internet users are not stupid. If one pushes uninteresting things to them, they will stop clicking.”

Encourage Smart Sharing

Hubspot reports that lists, why-posts (these explain why something works), videos and how-to content are the most popular types of content. Infographics and humorous images also enjoy great traction. Two good best practices to keep in mind are to encourage sharing of the content in the language of your posting and to brand all of your content with your business name and logo. That way everyone who encounters it will know where it came from.

Quality content gives businesses a way to load their digital marketing pipeline and appeal to multiple audiences through multiple channels.