Content marketing is an essential technique for business leaders to raise brand awareness, generate sales leads, and boost their own profiles as thought leaders.

Still, that's easier said than done: Follow the advice to start blogging and sharing your content on social media, and you may still see your efforts fall flat. Now you've just invested precious hours into developing content, but your Google Analytics numbers are still flat-lining.

Have you just wasted an otherwise productive day?

Actually, no. It's a myth that if you write it, they will come.

Most popular blogs take years to generate steady traffic, and others must settle for scraps until they start to build a loyal following (if they ever do).

If you're in that discouraging wasteland, here are some other myths you shouldn't buy into:

1. If your content's not going viral, it's a flop.

Are you trying to build the next BuzzFeed, or grow a small business? If you're after BuzzFeed's audience, good luck with your venture pitch--but for most of us, there's far more value in developing a small, highly targeted audience base than going after a viral hit.

Even if your numbers are low to begin with, use Google Analytics to see what you can learn about who is coming to your site: If you own a dental practice, and 80 percent of your site visitors are coming from within 50 miles of your office, that's far more valuable to you than 10x the traffic dispersed around the globe.

2. You should never republish your content on other sites.

Still feel like your blog post isn't getting the attention it deserves? Then give it a bigger audience. It takes time to grow a large site, and if that's not your main priority, you can expand your audience by republishing your post to a larger platform.

Start with LinkedIn: The B2B social networking community is an ideal place to share your content with your own network and see it expand to a wide audience within your niche. (Disclaimer: LinkedIn is a client of my marketing agency.)

Other large platforms that allow syndication include Huffington Post and Business2Community.

Make the most of the opportunity by including internal links to other blog posts on your site in the post, encouraging visitors to click through for more. (We call this the "breadcrumb" strategy.)

While in some cases, your original post may take a slight hit in Google search rankings after syndication, the benefits of tapping into a larger audience tend to outweigh that drawback.

3. Social media will provide you with a huge audience for free.

Organic social media can be a successful way to share your own content--if you're constantly engaging across a variety of platforms, building your audience, and helping other people share their own content. Most of us don't have the time for that.

If you've written a killer article, shared it with your social networks, and still aren't seeing much traction, it might be time to grab your credit card. Promoting your post through paid amplification can expose your content to a larger, heavily targeted audience, spending as little as $10 for a Facebook boost.

If your content's as good as you think it is, it should pick up momentum from there, as your paid audience members begin to independently like and share the post.

Before spending money on promotion, though, make sure your post has a clear call-to-action--while it may be worth the money alone just to boost your brand's visibility, it can be even more beneficial if you can encourage those visitors to sign up for your newsletter or get a product demo.

Finally, before you publish another piece, make sure that you have a solid content strategy behind it--there's nothing more important than providing genuine value to your target audience, so you need to understand what makes them tick.

If you're not doing that, your efforts will always fall flat.

Published on: May 31, 2016