Many marketers out there will tell you that content marketing is the way to go. Content creation is becoming more of a priority for B2B companies, but it quickly becomes obvious that simply creating content isn’t enough. You also have to know where to share it.
Content sharing sites allow you to post material that can be made public to both individuals and search engines. They allow you to reach readers who might be interested in a specific topic, to share your expertise and to promote recent publications.
In this blog post, I’ll walk you through the six standards I discovered as I evaluated various content sharing sites. There are several out there, and it’s hard to know which ones are a better fit for your content. With my six standards, I sought criteria that would be important to B2B companies looking to share their content:
- Popularity. It’s no good posting to a content sharing site that isn’t getting shared itself. I looked for the websites that were getting mentioned as some of the top content-sharing venues online.
- Easy start up. It should be quick and painless to sign up to share content.
- Unique features. Some content sharing sites excel at presenting certain types of content. YouTube specializes in video, Flickr and Instagram are known predominantly as photo-sharing sites.
- Categories of content. You don’t just want a site that publishes content. You want a community with a variety of interests. The broader the selection of content categories, the wider the audience the site will bring in.
- Accommodates a variety of content. When possible, it’s best to choose a site that allows you to post a variety of content: articles, videos, photos, etc.
- Do-Follow vs. No-Follow Links. It’s good practice to know what kind of link you’re getting when you post on a particular site.
I began my research by first gathering article that discussed top content-sharing sites. This made it easy to identify some of the clear favorites out of the crowd. From there, I tried to determine what elements made each of these sites more desirable than others. I’ll elaborate on those desirable elements later, but you can find a quick summary of my research in this chart:
As you can see, Slideshare won out, followed by Squidoo and Scribd. The bedrock names in social media made a strong showing as well (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn YouTube and Google+).
By taking the top picks, I was able to go onto each site and try to determine why they were so appealing for content sharing. This helped me flesh out my other standards, particularly the importance of an easy startup process.
#2) Easy Startup Process
Before you can share your content, you have to join the website community. You have to sign up. But for some of these content-sharing sites, it was like applying for a loan. You don’t want to waste time filling out an onerous sign-up sheet, and no one likes handing over too much personal information. The easier and less intrusive it is to sign on, the better.
This was born out by the top-rated sites in my survey. Each one required only the basics:
- Email. They have to be able to reach you somehow.
- Username. This becomes your byline on the website.
- Password. To keep your account safe.
These are the bare bones. Any less than this would hamper your account on the website, any more and they’re asking too much. Every one of the top three allowed you to speed through the startup process by logging in via your social media account.
Here’s a look at Squidoo’s sign-up page:
#3) Unique Features
Not all content is the same, so not every content sharing site has the same features. Each one tries to separate itself from the others with unique offerings. When scoping out a website where you can post your content, get used to identifying these specialties. A few examples of the unique features I encountered during my research were:
- The ability to showcase your own photography
- A section for helping writers find a publisher for their book
- Power Point showcasing rather than straight content
- Easy uploading and sharing videos, not just pictures
The problem with specialization is that it doesn’t allow for a lot of diversity. If tend toward one style of content, like videos or photographs, then a niche content sharing site is what you want.
Here you can see Slideshare touting their unique offering: presentations.
However, for my purposes, I wanted a site that provided venues for several different kinds of content: text, video, photos, and more. I also wanted the freedom to post on several different topics. This led me to look into how many content categories the site provided.
#4) Categories of Content
Some sites are more varied than others when it comes to content categories. It’s best to see if they have a category suiting the topic(s) you want to handle with your content. This can also be a good indicator of what kind of traffic you can expect from the content sharing site.
For example, if you’re writing about smartphones and the site in questions happens to have a whole category devoted to smartphones, along with hundreds or even thousands of articles on the topic, you know you’ve hit the jackpot. If there’s nothing on smartphones, odds are not many people are going to be frequenting the site looking for the kind of updates you would like to provide.
Many of the top sites had categories in common, like:
- Science & History
- Real Estate
For an example, here’s Scribd’s homepage where it calls itself “The world’s digital library.” And as a library, they give you access to documents of every kind, from sci-fi to engineering.
Along with a range of content categories, you also want to look for functionality on a website, whether it is versatile enough to allow you to upload different kinds of content.
#5) Accommodates a Variety of Content
One of the beneficial features I saw in some of the sites I encountered was the ability to upload and share a variety of content and file types. Varying the kinds of content allows you to appeal to a broader audience. On the top sites I listed, I found the ability to post:
- Business documents
- PowerPoint presentations
- PDF files
- Word documents
- Amazon or eBay highlights
- Link lists
With a much wider scope of content-sharing abilities, marketers aren’t limited to just what they want to say. They can show it, too, through pictures, graphics, charts, videos, etc.
The final step was determining whether the site provided you with do-follow or no-follow links.
#6). DoFollow vs. NoFollow
Basically, any link is by default a DoFollow link, but many websites, including Facebook, Wikipedia and Twitter, add an HTML code (rel=”nofollow”) to indicate that Google’s spiders shouldn’t crawl the link and count it toward page rank.
There are several reasons a content sharing site might use DoFollow or NoFollow links. Depending on whether you want to add link strength via your content strategy, this can be a crucial question. But how do you know what kind of a link you’re looking at?
Here’s an easy tool you can use. There are many others, but for this one, I used a tool that works with Mozilla Firefox. Here’s how you find it:
- Go to the SearchStatus page. SearchStatus is a toolbar extension for Firefox and SeaMonkey. What grabbed my attention about this is that it also displays Google PageRank, Alexa Rank, keyword/NoFollow highlighting, as well as backward/related links and more.
- Download the tool. It should then appear on a browser at the bottom of your screen.
- The tool enables the highlighting of Nofollow links. A regular DoFollow show up without highlights.
The Value of Content-Sharing Sites
Finding the right site where you can share your content can prove challenging, but it’s always wise to find a way to capitalize on more than one. Circumstances online can change quickly, and like any stock broker will tell you, it’s always a good idea to diversify your portfolio. This can be time-consuming. However, a content sharing site creates an avenue not only for content marketing, but also for discussions on the topics that matter to your company. These kinds of discussions are what will set you apart from the competition and make your company expertise accessible to prospective clients.