In recent years, content has become an increasingly integral piece of the demand gen model. As such, we B2B marketers are more hungry for quality content than ever. But what we’ve found is that this hunger never abates and regularly feeding it is far from easy.
And even for those who can keep up with the demand for content, bringing diversity to that content can also be a challenge.
Enter content syndication.
Feeding the Content Beast with Syndication
Content syndication is an age-old practice that has recently seen a reboot in the marketing space. The basic idea behind content syndication is that you pay a licensing fee to re-publish a piece of content on your site that was originally published elsewhere. For example, if you read an article by the Associated Press in your local newspaper, that’s a piece of syndicated content. Or if you watch a rerun of a TV show on a different channel from which it originally aired, that’s a piece of syndicated content.
When content syndication first came about, the idea was that it would help media outlets push out more content and deliver higher quality content than they could obtain on their own. Today, the same principles hold true.
But is content syndication really worth the price? It depends.
Content Syndication is a Two-Way Street
In order to answer the question of whether or not content syndication works, we first need to explore what exactly this syndication looks like in today’s B2B marketing world.
The most important thing you need to know is that content syndication is a two-way street:
- Your brand publishes content syndicated from others
- Your brand syndicates its own original content to others
Whether or not content syndication really works depends on which of these two approaches you’re considering. In the first case, you’re typically better off steering clear of syndication (with a few exceptions). In the second case, having others syndicate your content can deliver numerous benefits.
Need New Content? Syndication Isn’t Always All It’s Cracked Up to Be
In most cases today, paying to syndicate content from others just isn’t worth it. Yes, syndicating content from others can help you keep up with demands for new content and bring new, highly credible voices to the mix, but the benefits aren’t always all they’re cracked up to be.
Here are some of the biggest reasons why this is the case:
- You don’t create a unique experience: We’re in the middle of a content crush, and the key to standing out in this crush is to create a unique experience. Far from helping you stand out from the crowd and differentiate your brand from that of competitors, syndicated content can actually make it look like you’re taking a cookie cutter approach (especially in cases where a piece of content is widely syndicated).
- The content isn’t created for your audience: Building on the point above, the goal of using content in marketing campaigns is to educate your target audience, build their trust in your brand, foster stronger relationships and add value based on their needs at any point in time. When content isn’t created specifically for your audience, it’s difficult to achieve these goals.
- There are other ways to keep up with the content stream: Syndicating content isn’t the only way to keep up with the content stream and make your content diverse. In fact, contrary to popular belief, you don’t even need a ton of content to do things like run nurture campaigns. Instead of syndicating content, you should consider curating content and running user-generated content campaigns. Both of these methods can help you continue to push new content and maintain variety. You can even take content curation one step further by publishing a short statement with your opinion on why that content is so valuable along with a link to it.
- You should emphasize quality over quantity: Finally, a big piece of the syndication equation assumes that having a lot of content is the most critical component of success today. However, that’s not the case. Having a few pieces of original, high quality content that reflect your brand’s personality and value and speak directly to your target audience is far more valuable than having a regular stream of content that only partially satisfies these objectives.
That said, this is not a blanket rule, as there are some cases where syndicating content from others does make sense. For example, if you have a new partner or customer and want to lend credibility to that party and/or extend the reach of their content, syndication might make sense.
Publishing New Content? Syndication Can Help Extend Your Reach
On the flip side, if you publish a new piece of content and someone approaches you about syndicating it, the results can be well worth it.
First, having your own content syndicated by others can help extend your reach by putting it in front of new audiences. Second, it can help build trust for your brand, as those who syndicate your content are lending credibility to you and your message.
That said, if you do have third parties that want to syndicate your original content, it’s important to have guidelines in place for how they cite that content. These guidelines are important because clear and proper citation is critical to receiving the benefits described here and because it’s important for SEO, as search engines don’t look favorably upon duplicate content.
It’s Time to Think Beyond Syndication
While content syndication does have its benefits, in most cases, it’s simply not worth it. If your goal is to build a strong demand gen engine that provides value for customers and nurtures those relationships, then you’re much better off creating original content that speaks directly to them — be it in the form of branded content, user-generated content or even curated content with a few comments of your own — versus simply re-publishing content created by another party for another target audience.