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From blog posts and emails to forum posts and native advertising, content distribution can be highly effective as long as you choose the best channels for your business. — Getty Images

Choosing the best channel(s) for content marketing is key in getting people's attention and ultimately creating brand awareness, building trust and driving sales.

Creating blog posts, infographics, videos, case studies and other types of content takes time and effort, so it's important to distribute that content on the right platforms so you can maximize your impact. Here's what small businesses need to know about content distribution platforms.

[Read: A Complete Guide to Content Marketing]

Types of content distribution

Content distribution is broken down into three basic categories: owned, earned and paid.

  • Owned: Owned content is distributed to web properties that you control, such as your company blog, social media sites or email newsletters.
  • Earned: Content distribution is earned when third parties, such as news outlets or blogs, distribute your content. Earned content can also be a social media share, such as a retweet on Twitter or repost on Instagram from another user.
  • Paid: Paid content commonly comes in the form of cost-per-click (CPC) models, where a business pays a certain dollar amount every time someone clicks through the content. Another type of paid content is sponsored or native content, where a brand pays to place an article that emulates the look and feel of the publisher's existing content.

No matter what kind of content you're creating, don’t distribute it blindly.

Content distribution platforms

The content marketing space is full of content distribution platforms, both paid and free. Here's a look at some of the most common tools you can use to publish and promote your content.

Blogs and hosted-content platforms (owned)

If you're looking for a free and immediate way to begin distributing content, look no further than self-publishing. Whether you use your own website's blog or a hosted-content platform like Medium or LinkedIn, it's easy to create, format and publish short- and long-form articles under your brand's name for your audience to read and share.

Social media (owned, earned, paid)

It's obvious to see how owned (posted) and earned (shared) content on social media reaches audiences, but paid or promoted posts one of the biggest opportunities for content distribution.

These popular platforms have collected a lot of data on its users, and marketers can use that to their advantage to target the right audience. Facebook sponsored posts are often touted as being the most effective thanks to its enormous user base. However, other widely used platforms, including Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat and Pinterest, offer sponsored post options and can be a solid choice for your business, depending on your audience and budget.

Email marketing software (owned)

Building an email list is an incredibly effective way to distribute content to your target audience. By including a subscribe button on your website, blogs and social media, or offering an incentive (e.g. a free e-book download or digital coupon in exchange for an email address), you can encourage people to sign up to receive your content straight to their inbox.

Forums and communities (earned)

Sites like Reddit and Quora are highly active forums for internet users seeking information about all kinds of topics. By participating in these forums as a business owner, you can provide valuable, non-promotional answers to common questions among your target audience, which could earn you "upvotes" that establish you as an authority.

[Read: 5 Best Ways to Grow Your Business with Content Marketing]

Content discovery and native advertising platforms (paid)

Plenty of native advertising platforms exist to help branded content reach more viewers. Platforms like Outbrain, Nativo and Taboola display your content to relevant audiences across some the internet’s top websites. Using these platforms let you reach prospects at every stage of their buyer journey to build brand awareness and grow your audience.

No matter what kind of content you're creating, don’t distribute it blindly. All of your content marketing efforts need to be well-planned, well-executed and well-measured to achieve success, so be sure to do your research and choose the content distribution platform that best aligns with your business goals and audience's online consumption habits.

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