Distributed content

Guest Post by Jim Dougherty

What is distributed content and why should you know about it?

A huge challenge to integrated communications is to maintain a consistent message across multiple platforms. Yet with social media platforms, oftentimes messaging is controlled by the user.

But I’m probably not telling you anything that you don’t already know.

Perhaps you’re familiar with the term “distributed content” (content that is published to third-party platforms rather than to an owned website). Distributed content is an effective way to have more control over your social messaging. For example, what’s most likely to get click-through on Facebook: a link or an organic article?

While this may have been an unthinkable strategy for a small-to-medium-sized business a few months ago, Facebook and Apple recently opened their platforms to all publishers. Which means that a (potentially) larger audience is available who will receive your message closer to the way you intend.

It’s kind of like the social media version of the “telephone” game: the recipient gets a clearer message fewer iterations from the sender.

In this post I’m going to focus on four social platforms where any publisher can leverage distributed content to better control their social messaging: Facebook, Apple News, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

The point I’ll demonstrate is that these are tools that are now available to any communications professional. It is important that marketing and communications professionals understand the control that they can now assert on platform-specific content.

Facebook Instant Articles

No offense to other social sites, but Facebook is the big deal in social platforms. Facebook Instant Articles lets publishers distribute articles to the Facebook mobile app that load and display faster than the mobile web.

More importantly Facebook now allows all publishers to use Instant Articles (previously the feature was only available to selected “partners,” a generous euphemism).

There are three steps to publishing on the platform:

  1. Sign up – use the Instant Articles sign-up page to link to your Facebook Page and gain access to the toolkit.
  2. Develop and submit sample articles – use the technical support page to guide you through the set-up.
  3. Begin publishing.

Facebook also allows you to submit RSS feeds from your organic site that will parse and publish these to the Facebook platform. There is also an official Instant Article WordPress plugin as well as many third-party plug-ins that help you to easily publish to IA.

A key feature of Facebook Instant Articles are their monetization options. Not only are you allowed to monetize with your own ads or using Facebook’s ecosystem, but you are able to publish sponsored content to IA.

This means that another communications or marketing tool that you can use is sponsored content through a third-party publisher.

Apple News

40 percent of mobile devices in the U.S. run Apple’s iOS, and Apple has made some pretty shrewd decisions to leverage the operating system to advance their Music Store and App Store. Now they are doing the same with their News app. I thought this was a pretty silly idea until I realized how often I get news from my iPhone (a lot as it turns out).

Like Facebook, Apple allows anyone to publish to its platform. You can publish using your RSS feed or the more involved “News Publisher” format. Like IA, there are WordPress and Drupal plugins that can help to convert your web content to News Publisher format as well.

Like Facebook, Apple has monetization options for publishers as well, including publication of sponsored content.

Twitter Cards

Twitter’s “Moments” creates pseudo-distributed content because the actual content is buried so deep in the Tweet, but there is also one above-the-fold way to have your content consumed entirely on the Twitter platform: video.

The Twitter Player Card allows a fully embedded video to be played entirely within the Twitter platform. Which means that if you use video content as a part of your integrated communications, you can amplify the distribution by enabling the Player Card for your Tweets.

Validating a Player Card (or any Twitter Card) is a uniform process, but requires some additional information for approval.

LinkedIn Long-Form Articles

You may have read recently that LinkedIn is now a Microsoft joint. As they integrate services, LinkedIn long-form posts may be an increasingly valuable way to publish content to a platform.

LinkedIn long-posts are blog-style posts using a very similar interface to WordPress or most blogging platforms. These posts are published to the LinkedIn platform and are eligible for promotion to the LinkedIn Pulse section of the site.

While the opportunities for monetization are comparatively less (and it’s not clear what their policy towards sponsored content is), LinkedIn generally has a different audience profile than many social platforms, albeit a less interactive population.


Communications tools that most professionals couldn’t access a year ago are now at your disposal. By leveraging distributed content, you can publish your content and messaging directly to the platforms where your targets are most likely to consume content.

Despite the loss of control (at least from the perspective of SEO traffic or rudimentary metrics), publishing to platforms is easy to do and has a lot of distribution benefits that self-publishing does not.

Hopefully there’s a tool or two in here that’s useful for you to grow and expand your audience.

And if not, at least perhaps we can all agree that it is pretty cool that these platforms allow you to publish content like this… even if you choose not to. :)

Image: geralt via Pixabay, CC0 1.0