This article explores the pros (and implicit cons) of publishing on each of your three main publishing channels.
Once you’ve determined the issues your firm must own and developed a clear, compelling POV around those issues, you have to determine where you’ll publish. Your website lead will probably want to publish everything on your firm’s website. Your social media lead will want to publish everything on LinkedIn (or maybe produce a podcast or YouTube channel). And your PR firm will tell you only to publish in 3rd party business and trade journals. So, who should you trust?
The truth is, they’re all right. In a perfect world, you’d publish anywhere and everywhere your clients passively learn or actively seek new insights on the central business issues they face. And, of course, they do that in all three of those ways and more. They actively leverage Google to search for answers to problems they face. They read business and trade journals to understand what’s going on in their industry. And they passively consume LinkedIn (and other social) feeds to keep abreast of what’s happening within their personal networks.
The real question you should probably be asking yourself is, how much energy and resources should I devote to each of these publishing venues? To answer that question, let’s start by sharing the 3 most overt benefits of publishing in each of these individual channels.
The 3 Benefits of Self-Publishing
- Gain Search Visibility — The most important reason to publish your content on your own site is to build visibility for your firm in the areas for which you hope to be known. Google functions like an “automated editor-in-chief” by elevating the most useful content on an issue. In so doing, it behaves like an arbiter of trust. Clients assume you to be an expert in a given domain when your content appears near the top of a search query.
- Build Audience — Publishing content on your own site enables you to build a direct relationship with potential clients who are interested in what you have to say. Essentially, it gives you the best chance to earn their permission to market to them on an ongoing basis.
- Enable Sales — Most consulting firms sell custom solutions to complex problems. There is no other place in your marketing mix where you can make a more direct connection between the issues you solve and the ways you solve them. You can literally lead clients from learning about how to solve a problem to seeing how you solve it and who you’ve solved it for.
To learn more about the benefits of self-publishing, read this article.
The 3 Benefits of Publishing in Social
- Expand Reach — The first, and most obvious, reason to publish on LinkedIn or platforms like it is to easily share your thinking with the expanded personal networks of your subject matter experts. Hopefully people within those networks will engage with, like, and share that thinking further opening you up to a broader group of potential readers and contributors within their networks.
- Grow Followers — If someone does discover your article via a share in their feed from a connection or by following a topical hashtag, it’s easy for them to quickly follow your firm and its subject matter experts. And it’s a bit less intrusive for them to follow you on LinkedIn than it is for them to sign up for your email marketing newsletter. This makes it easier to scale an audience more quickly.
- Exponentially Grow Followers? — Of course, the biggest potential benefit is also a bit of a mirage. It’s the possibility of what could happen if LinkedIn editors choose to feature your content through their feed, the Daily Rundown or some other means. Essentially, it’s the hope that one of your subject matter experts can build a very large and loyal following of readers and become a social influencer.
To learn more about the benefits of publishing in social, read this article.
The 3 Benefits of Publishing Externally
- Amplify Reach — Well respected business publications, like HBR, and trade publications frequently have large subscriber bases and followers. An article published in one of their publications can often extend the reach of your thinking to hundreds of thousands of readers and millions of social followers that can find value in your thinking.
- Impose Rigor — Often, when firms publish on their own site or on social platforms they don’t hold themselves accountable to very rigorous editorial standards. This, of course, is not the case for high quality publications with professional editorial staff. Working with their editorial teams will raise the quality of your thinking while forcing you to sharpen your unique point of view and prove its merit.
- Gain Credibility — This is probably the biggest, and most important, benefit of publishing your thinking externally. In a world drowning with fake news, smart senior client executives do still consider arbiters of quality in determining which advice they choose to provide credence. An article placement in HBR, Fortune, Fast Company, or any other well respected business or trade publication sends an important signal to the clients you hope to do business with that your expertise and thinking has merit and should be trusted.
To learn more about the benefits of publishing externally, read this article.
Balancing Your Resources Appropriately
While every firm and every situation is different, I generally recommend that firms publish the bulk of their content into the content channel they most control — their own website. Your self-published channels are effectively the R&D zone of your thought leadership. It’s where nascent ideas become emerging ones. And, where those emerging ideas are honed with added rigor. Importantly, it’s the one space where you have complete control over what you publish, when you publish, and how you publish it. Essentially, it’s the place where you can most shape the conversation.
External publishing channels tend to be the area where you have the least amount of control. While it’s largely up to the editorial room to determine what topics to cover, it’s up to you to find gaps within the news cycle. Hence, while it’s your largest area of impact it tends to be the place where you will likely publish the least amount of content.
Generally, we recommend placing the least amount of emphasis on social publishing. When publishing on LinkedIn or other social platforms you give up the benefit of search authority while also sacrificing the authority you gain from other external channels — after all, anyone can publish anything they want anytime. Usually we suggest publishing derivative content that extends thinking that’s published elsewhere or content that brings the personalities of your subject matter experts to life.
I know what you’re thinking…what about paid? In short, while we regularly use paid media as part of our clients’ lead generation programs, we don’t advise them to invest in paid article placements (i.e., paid editorials). In our experience they’re very expensive, and your time and resources are far better spent in one of the three other channels described here.