If content is king, then distribution is queen.

Nothing says buzzkill like creating killer content that nobody is going to see. To help your content avoid that fate, we’re going to show you how to leverage the 3 most important ways of content distribution using social media to promote your content and reach your target audience.

Owned Media

Owned media refers to the audience you have captured thanks to your previous content marketing efforts. Every time you gain a new follower you are expanding the size of your owned media. Every marketer dreams of having a vast audience of qualified prospects eager to read and to share every new piece of content they create.

However, growing your owned media audience is a slow and gradual process that requires patience, hustle and most importantly good content.It is often said that failing to plan is planning to fail. This is certainly true when it comes to content distribution. It is simply not good enough to spend precious time creating great content only to forget all about it once you hit Publish, and expect that somehow your audience will find it.

Having a clear sense for how you intend to leverage your blog traffic, email list, social media, etc, to maximize the reach of our content is a crucial part of content planning. How many times will I share this post on social media? Will I highlight it on my next newsletter? How can I incentivize my audience to share it? Is this evergreen content? These are some of few key questions that you should be asking yourself before you move onto creating your next great post.


Contrary to owned media, earned media is not something we can put in your pocket. Earned media is what happens when our content is picked up and shared by traditional media, by other blogs, or by anyone who enjoys our content and decides to share it with their audience. This is the gold standard of content distribution because it represents a limitless opportunity to reach our target market and it validates that our writing is, in fact, resonating with our audience.

Unfortunately, we cannot directly control how much earned media attention we receive, but we can improve our chances by creating thoughtful content and diligently leveraging our audience. However, there is more to earned media than being retweeted and hopefully going viral. Invaluable as these forms of distribution can be, they are only momentary. Earned distribution can also take more lasting forms. Being quoted, referenced and linked-to by other authors allows your posts to benefit from the promotion and distribution efforts of other writers and tells Google that they value your content. There is one factor that best predicts your ability to gain earned media – your willingness to hustle. From research and relationship building to pitching and outreach, there is no substitute for putting in the time to create great content, and going the extra mile to reach (directly if necessary) those influencers who could give your content that extra push.


Paid media combines the best of owned and earned media. Most forms of advertising fall under this category, particularly when the offer being advertised is a piece of content intended for lead generation purposes. Paid media allows marketers to access an audience much larger than their own with increasingly more precise and creative ways of targeting.

However, paid media is not without its limitations. The paid nature of this form of content distribution means that as marketers we have a greater pressure to demonstrate a positive return on investment directly attached to each campaign. Paid media is, therefore, best used as a catalyst for earned media, as a form of research, and as lead generation once the rest of your marketing funnel is a well-oiled machine.

Paid media is generally used to achieve two different strategic goals: a) give some initial momentum to your content to improve its chances of gaining earned media; and b) as a lead generation tactic whereby relatively expensive content is given for free in exchange for the readers email address, and therefore used as loss leader intended to initiate a conversation with new prospects with as little friction as possible. The former takes place in short bursts meant to assist organic distribution, while the latter is normally formalized into an ongoing program that is optimized over time with improved content, new landing pages, and better targeting.

Case Study


Coca-Cola – Earned Media

If there’s one thing that Coca-Cola strongly believes in, its that earned media drives tangible and meaningful results. During the London Olympic Games, Coca-Cola premiered a documentary featuring the creation process of the London Olympic Games anthem, which was shared as various webisodes for bite-size sharing. They also introduced A Beat Maker app, which let audience members experiment with beats to create their own ringtones and upload and share via social. This campaign leveraged user-generated content to drive earned media in 110 countries.

Take Away

Even Coca-Cola cant afford to leave content static. Experiment with innovative and creative ways to spark virality and audience engagement.

Even though owned, earned, and paid content all have their individual advantages when it comes to driving exposure, the most effective content distribution strategy will incorporate all three. It’s all about where you want to see engagement. By experimenting with different forms of content and which avenues for distribution work for your brand, you’ll be able to develop the perfect strategy to reach your target audience.

Here at HeyOrca, optimizing content planning is our jam

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