In recent years, social media has changed how companies interact with their target audiences. One of the most impactful ways that today's marketers use social media is to leverage its power as a content distribution channel. And it's not suprising that a whopping 88% of brands are using social media for their marketing efforts. When brands post links to their content anywhere outside of their website, if done well, the impact is huge. Smart social content distribution helps with increasing awareness, acquiring new audience members and driving relevant web traffic.

Typically, companies promote their content in three different ways: via hosted publications ("owned"), press coverage that voluntarily promotes their message ("earned") and sponsored placements ("paid"). Regardless of your product, if you're publishing relevant, engaging and valuable content, there are many ways to successfully utilize your social media presences for content distribution.

Today, there are thousands of powerful tools available to help your business maximize the effectiveness of a shrewd content distribution strategy. Here are three especially great ones that are worth checking out.

1. Start a Fire: Get Clicks While Sharing Others' Content

Start a Fire is a great way to keep your readers engaged and direct them to your site. The powerful platform allows you to add your own "suggestions" to any link that you promote - even if you're sharing content published by someone else. With Start a Fire, it's also easy to track the direct impact of your "content curation" activity, so that you can identify which items were appealing to your readers and which weren't.

Let's say you work for a productivity software company, and you're looking to promote your latest release. You might tweet out a link to an especially insightful article on Inc. about maximizing team output by minimizing meetings.

If Start a Fire isn't in the picture, then when your Twitter followers click on the link, there's a good chance they won't immediately return to your brand's timeline to see what else you're sharing. But if you use a Start a Fire-powered URL in that tweet, then they'll see a branded badge on the page, with links to more content that you recommend. Curation pitfall averted.

Start a Fire also integrates with social media scheduling platforms such as Buffer, Hootsuite, HubSpot and Oktopost, making it simple to automatically add badges to all the content you share.

2. Quora: Join in on the Customer Conversation

Although content distribution is essential, it's a useless effort if you aren't doing it in a way that is helpful. In fact, you can easily lose customers if you're not actively speaking with them and offering your assistance. Quora is a social network that's based nearly entirely on questions and answers, which is what makes it so powerful for content distribution.

Essentially, Quora is a space for community members to ask questions and niche experts to publicly respond. If you have published content that speaks to any of the questions here, you can easily chime in with a brief answer and include a link that audience members can click on for more information. This is a great way for brands to seamlessly interact with curious prospects while driving traffic that's pre-qualified for relevance.

There are two tactics that work especially well on Quora. The first is to follow relevant topics and respond to new questions with links to your website or blog that contain beneficial information. The second is to comment on questions that are already receiving high traffic, ensuring that a substantial number of users will view your answer.

Interactions here are highly effective for increasing brand awareness and actively engaging with your customers and prospects. You can also easily track your engagement and ROI from your Quora posts using a combination of the platform's own analytics tools and Google Analytics.

One of my favorite things to do on Quora is take relevant blog posts and search for questions that my blog post answers on Quora. A majority of the time all it takes is a few copy and pastes from my article to my answer and I've developed a fantastic way to build authority for my brand.

3. Quuu: Promote for Sponsoring High-Value Posts 

Choosing relevant, high-quality curated content can be a time-consuming task. But sharing content that's meaningful and helpful to your audience serves to instill brand loyalty, which will increase your overall engagement and conversions. That's why so many social media marketers use Quuu, a platform that pushes community-curated content to your social feeds via Buffer's social media scheduling platform. Quuu's back end tools include dozens of niche content topics, and the posts are all created and vetted by actual humans, so the marketers who depend on the platform know that their automated posts will be high in quality.

The other side of Quuu, which helps to feed so much demand among marketers for automated posts, is Quuu Promote. This paid promotion platform offers major value to advertisers seeking to boost their social content distribution efforts.

Whereas most marketplaces and ad networks bill sponsors on a pay-per-click or per-post basis, you pay Quuu Promote per month. Depending on the topic categories through which you want to distribute your content, you'll spend from $5 to $25 per month, entering your article into the rotation for automated posts. Soon enough, thousands of influencers on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google Plus will be distributing your content on your behalf.

Conclusion

Ensuring that the right people on social media have the opportunity to click through to your brand's content is tough. Social distribution is exhausting, and if you don't tackle it in a methodical manner, if can be extremely overwhelming.

These powerful platforms can help you maximize impact, monitor your tactics and track success. By using the right tools, you'll be able to optimize your social distribution efforts, drive more relevant traffic and convert more sales.

What are your favorite social media content distribution tools? Tell us in the comments!

Published on: Jul 15, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.