“You need to build thought leadership” is easy advice to give a marketer looking to build their online presence. Grow your perceived expertise in your field, and you will gain credibility in the eyes of your audience, who will begin to lean your way when the buying decision inevitably arises.
But just how do you go about building thought leadership? Content marketing is a major force, as methods like blogging and webinars (even webinar series) give businesses large and small an outlet to establish their expertise. Traditionally, most content marketing occurs on your own website. But increasingly, social networks are beginning to enter the conversation, establishing the new frontier in thought leadership: native publishing.
What is Native Publishing?
First things first: don’t go looking for definitions of native publishing, because they simply don’t yet exist. Instead, think of it along the lines of native advertising: hampered by years of audiences focusing their attention away from sidebar and banner ads, advertisers have embraced the option to focus on promotional messages that appear within the general content area. We’re talking about newsfeed ads in Facebook, search ads atop the organic results, etc.
Native publishing is not all that different from native ads in that the content appears within the medium a user spends their time in to begin with. ‘Traditional’ content advertising requires promotion of the content (which is hosted on your website) via a link, requiring users to exit Facebook, Twitter, or wherever else they may spend their time. Native publishing, on the other hand, allows users to read the entirety of the content without ever leaving their social network of choice.
The Options in Native Publishing
The advantages of native publishing from a social network’s perspective are obvious: just like you, they don’t want their users to leave their site and read content elsewhere. Put simply, the longer an individual session, the more advertising dollars the network can earn. Users who click a link often don’t return to their social network of choice, incentivizing these networks to offer native options instead.
LinkedIn was the first to do so, when it broadened its Pulse publishing platform to the entirety of its user base last year. Now, the network offers daily featured articles customized to each user’s individual interests and preferences that appear right in its newsfeed.
Facebook has long offered a native publishing option with its Notes feature, but saw its use diminish to almost nothing over the past few years. So the network reacted this September, when it updated the feature to offer more incentivesto publish long-form posts right on the network. Some (including us) have speculated that Twitter’s rumored removal of character limits will not apply to all Tweets, but signify a new, long-form publishing option on the network. In short, native publishing options are growing rapidly.
Native Publishing Advantages
Of course, the mere presence of a new marketing option doesn’t automatically guarantee success of justify spending valuable time and resources. Social networks know that as well as we do, which is why they’re sure to advertise the plethora of advantages that can come out of publishing thought leadership content natively rather than on a blog. And as it turns out, the advantages are undeniable.
Think about the process probably use currently to publish and promote your content. You write a blog post, which will live on your website and hopefully gather page views from your subscribers and its search engine optimization. But in addition, you likely want to promote it on social media, ensuring that it reaches a wide audience of people who may not yet know about your brand. As a result, you need a two-step process: publish your content, then promote it separately on social media.
Native publishing ostensibly removes one of these steps by taking care of the promotion for you. LinkedIn’s Pulse offers publishers the opportunity to ‘tag’ their posts, which in turn boosts viewership to users who may have never heard about your brand before but are simply interested in the subject. Gather enough views, and your post will become ‘featured,’ which means it’s sent out in a daily digest to users around the world. In short, LinkedIn takes care of the post promotion for you.
Integrating Native Publishing Into Your Content Marketing
If you’re ready to abandon your current content marketing strategy and jump fully into the native publishing realm at this point, we don’t blame you. But don’t be hasty: instead of merely switching all of your efforts to this new frontier, it pays to carefully integrate native publishing into your strategy as a new, additional tool instead of the new normal.
For starters, a major advantage of content marketing is that it increases your site visitors, via SEO and other inbound-focused methods. Building thought leadership can only be successful if you offer users a natural ‘next step’ to take, and that’s done far more easily if the content lives right on your website. In other words, website-based content continues to be a valuable marketing tool.
Native publishing on the other hand, is particularly helpful if you’re looking to build awareness and thought leadership among new audiences. Someone who has never heard of your brand before will be much more likely to read your content if it requires minimum effort, such as not having to leave their current medium. At the same time, content that’s curated on a platform like LinkedIn’s pulse will allow you to reach users who may not (yet) be actively searching out your services.
Here is our recommendation for integrating native publishing into your content marketing and thought leadership efforts: use it for top-of-the-funnel messages that are industry focused and not promotional, simply offering a way for audiences that haven’t yet heard about you to learn more about their industry. Meanwhile, you can continue to use more involved methods like webinars and ebooks on your website to draw users in who already know about you as a valuable resource in their industry, ultimately enabling them to take the next step toward becoming customers.
Building thought leadership and establishing credibility is crucial in today’s digital age. And while there are a multitude of methods available to do just that once users already trust you enough to hand over their information, marketers have lacked options to convince audience who have never heard of them about their expertise. Enter native publishing, the next frontier in thought leadership building and one that, done correctly, could transform your content marketing efforts.