3 Spring Marketing Ideas to Help Your Business

Reading Time: 2 minutesThe first day of spring is just around the corner, and now is the perfect time to start planning a spring marketing campaign. People will […]


Essential 5 Step BuzzSumo Process For Social Media Agencies

When it comes to finding and consuming marketing data effectively, a great tool is just half of the picture. That tool needs to be fully integrated into a system or process in order to provide maximum value to its user.

We wanted to help our clients quickly and fully integrate BuzzSumo into a process that scales to meet the needs of agencies handling content marketing for multiple clients and brands. To do this, we worked with Neal Schaffer, social media strategist, consultant and author. Neal is an instructor at Rutgers University in New Jersey and at the Irish Management Institute. He is also the founder of his own social media agency, PDCA Social.

Neal, a self-avowed BuzzSumo power user, outlined a 5 step process that we think will not only help social media agencies, but brands and PR firms to get up to speed quickly with BuzzSumo.

The steps are described in more detail below, but here is a quick overview and an infographic to get you started.

Five Step Process

  1. Compare to Role Models: Look to those in the industry who are doing what your clients want to do.
  2. Create Content: Look to audience preferences (shares and links) for ideas.
  3. Curate Content: Look beyond sharing your clients’ content and give the audience what they want.
  4. Connect with Influencers: Look to others who drive engagement, and don’t underestimate the value of a growing influencer database.
  5. Contribute financially: Look to make wise investments in paid social to grow client audiences.

Step 1: Compare to Role Models.

Look to those in the industry who are doing what your clients want to do.

For any given social network, it’s important to find role models who are already accomplishing what you would like to accomplish. This is even more critical if you are beginning a campaign that targets a network where you have little or no experience.

In addition to providing you with ideas for how to structure your content for maximum impact, these industry role models provide a way to benchmark your success.

To get started, enter the URL of an industry leading website or successful competitor into the Most Shared section of BuzzSumo. (When we onboard clients, we save these searches for easy reference in the future.)

Skim the headlines on the first page or two to see if you notice any trends or content ideas that you would like to develop for your client.

For example, if you were using BuzzSumo as one of your role model sites, you would quickly see that our audience likes to share content about Facebook and research or data, as well as headlines and what it takes to go viral.

BuzzSumo audience preference data

Then take a deeper look at what’s working for your role models using the Content Analysis search feature. Content analysis categorizes the content in the most shared database, making it easy to see patterns.

For each of the domains you compare to, notice their average shares, as well as the network where they get most of their shares. You may discover that a role model’s content performs well on a network you didn’t expect or plan to target. Adjust your strategy accordingly.

Hubspot content report
preferred length for hubspot content

You can use the metrics provided in a BuzzSumo content analysis report as Key Performance Indicators for client success, Neal suggests. The charts can be exported for ease of reporting.

These analysis reports, which also indicate preferred content length, can help you to budget time or money for content creation. For example, if a role model site has great success with in-depth content of 3000–10000 words, you may want to plan for more time or budget to create pieces of similar length. If they get numerous shares for infographics, you may need to add the cost of graphic design to what you bill the client. If video is a hit with the audience, you may need someone on the team with expertise in video.


  • Compare to role models using Most Shared to identify popular headlines or content ideas.
  • Compare to role models using Content Analysis to identify preferred network, length and format, as well as establish performance benchmarks for social shares.

Bonus: If you would like to build links to your clients’ content, you can also use the Backlinks feature to find their role models’ most linked content. The backlinks tab will list the most recent, most shared inbound links for any URL. Add these to your link outreach plan.

Step 2: Create Content.

Look to audience preferences (shares and links) for ideas.

Social media represents the convergence of information and communication, Neal says. This gives companies and brands a chance to participate by providing content.

Consider the difference between a person on social media, who can chat with friends or ask about their days. Companies can’t do that. So, to join the conversation, a company needs to provide content as a conversation piece.

BuzzSumo can help with content ideation by identifying the content that has gotten the most shares and links for keywords or topics.

To get started, simply enter your topic into the Most Shared section of the site. BuzzSumo will list articles on that topic beginning with those that were most heavily shared. You can also analyze content by topic with the Content Analyzer, to quickly determine what content types and lengths perform best.

The idea, Neal says, is not to copy or repeat what has already been written, but to build on the success of others by leveraging the best ideas to “leapfrog” over your competitors.

Leapfrog over your competitors

Latecomers to the market have an advantage that early adopters don’t, Neal points out. Namely, they can learn from what others have already accomplished and use it to surpass the competition.

“Newsjacking” or tying your products and services to current events or news stories is also easier with BuzzSumo. The Trending section of the site shows you content based on how quickly it’s being shared. You can use this section of BuzzSumo to find viral articles from across the web or to identify trends in your industry.

Newsjacking examples

Roundup list posts, with multiple authors contributing, are a popular content type, and they can be created more effectively using BuzzSumo. Begin by entering the domain of any industry site with multiple authors, such as socialmediatoday.com or contentmarketinginstitute.com. Then use the Top Authors search in Content Analysis to find the guest contributors who get the most shares.

Top authors

Now, you have a list of authors who drive shares even when they publish away from their own domain. You can add these engagement drivers to your outreach list for your roundup post.


  • Look for content ideas by searching Most Shared for content by topic or keyword.
  • Use Trending for posts that tie your product or service to viral content or news.
  • Use Top Author reports to identify experts who drive shares for roundup posts.

Bonus: Learn more about roundup posts in this great article from Heidi Cohen

Step 3: Curate Content.

Look beyond sharing only from clients’ sites, and give the audience what they want.

Just as creating content gives brands and companies a way to participate in online conversations, curating content keeps companies from boring their audiences with endless references to their brand.

To engage with an audience on social, you need to think beyond what you want to say to them, and ask yourself what they are interested in hearing. This line of thinking will direct you toward topics and content that you can share from other sites.

Sharing relevant, interesting content from other sources is an important tool for establishing your client as the go-to source for the best information about their industry. This not only develops their reputation as a thought leader. It keeps their audience tuned in to messages from the brand.

Neal recommends this 9–1–1 rule for social posts.

  • 9x post the content of others
  • 1x post something that adds value from your site
  • 1x post something promotional

To get extra mileage, focus your posts from others on content written by influencers and brand advocates, partners and fans.

BuzzSumo makes it easy to find content that has already performed well on the social networks that are most relevant for your clients. To find these types of posts, look for the most shared content using keywords. Then, filter to see which articles were most shared on your network of choice.

You can keep your curated content timely by adjusting the BuzzSumo time filter to show only the most shared pieces published during the last 24 hours or the last week.

You can also use the Influencers tab in BuzzSumo to identify influencer-vetted content. Search for relevant influencers by topic, then select “View Links Shared.” BuzzSumo will show you all of the content that the influencer has shared. You can chose from the most recent articles to post for your clients.

Links shared by Lee Odden

If you notice that influencers often share from the same domain or set of domains, consider adding those sites to an influencer outreach list. You can also set a content alert for new posts at important domains. BuzzSumo will let you know any time there is a new post at the site.

Set an alert for content from a website

If you curate content on a daily basis, trending can help you to identify posts that are likely to go viral BEFORE they reach the peak of their popularity. RSS exports from trending make this content easy to pull into curation tools like Buffer or Hootsuite.

If you curate content on a weekly basis, you can use the most shared section of the site, and filter to the past week.

Another option is to set up highly targeted keyword alerts in the Monitoring section of BuzzSumo. These alerts can be edited so that they are very relevant to your topic, or location. You can decide how much social proof you would like before you are notified about new content that matches your terms. RSS exports are available, which makes these highly filtered search results easy to share from a scheduling tool.

For email newsletter content, Neal suggests using the Most Shared section of the site, filtered to the past week’s content, and sorted to identify the most successful posts on LinkedIn. He uses this approach when writing his own newsletters.


  • Follow Neal’s 9–1–1 rule for social posting.
  • Use Most Shared to find high performing content to share on a weekly or monthly basis.
  • Use Trending to find high performing content to share on a daily basis.
  • Use Influencers to find content that industry leaders share.
  • Use Monitoring and alerts to track content from important industry sites.
  • Use Monitoring and Trending RSS exports to schedule content via tools like Hootsuite or Buffer

Bonus: One way to increase your visibility in Pinterest search is to share from quality sites with relevant content. You’ll want to look for a high number of incoming links and shares — especially shares (pins) to Pinterest, according to Pinterest Pro Alisa Meredith

Step 4: Connect with Influencers.

Look to others who drive engagement, and don’t underestimate the value of a growing influencer database.

Leveraging influencers to promote your content or brand is an important piece of the marketing puzzle, and a key tool for agencies to use on behalf of their clients.

BuzzSumo can help you to identify influencers who have an interest in your clients’ topic areas and an engaged audience. Our engagement metric is based on the average number of retweets a twitter user gets every time they tweet. As a rule of thumb, we consider anyone with 2.0 or higher average retweets an influencer. However, in some industries you may need to raise or lower that number.

If an influencer is creating or publishing a post for you, pay attention to the domain authority of their site, as higher domain authorities indicate that their pages are likely to rank higher in search engines.

Influencer metrics

The backlinks section of BuzzSumo also helps to determine the influence of a particular domain. Using it, you can see if a site you are considering has many backlinks, and how much traffic the links drive.

Backlinks tool

As you identify influencers who are a good fit for your clients, you can add them to influencer outreach lists, which are stored for you in BuzzSumo. Those lists can be organized by client, by topic, or by team member.

Exports are available for influencer lists, as Neal says, “handing the information all to you on a silver platter.”

Encouraging brand advocacy is another valuable way to leverage others on behalf of your clients. With BuzzSumo’s Audience Builder, you can quickly identify the people who are already tweeting your clients’ content. You can add these fans to outreach lists and continue to nurture those relationships.

Finding brand advocates


  • Identify influencers by topic, filtering the list based on engagement, domain and page authority, and their sites ability to draw links.
  • Add influencers to Outreach Lists
  • Identify brand advocates using the Audience Builder

Bonus: Use the Audience Builder to find your competitors’ brand advocates, and add them to outreach lists, so that you can help them to learn about your clients’ products and services.

Step 5: Contribute financially.

Look to make wise investments in paid social to grow client audiences.

“If social is the amplifier, paid social is the accelerator,” Neal says.

Use the BuzzSumo Audience Builder to identify people who have shared content from a website or group of websites, then export those audiences and add them to a tailored advertising audience on Twitter. Using tailored audience lists makes your advertising spend more effective.

You can also stretch Facebook advertising dollars by creating content based on audience preference, to help maximize your organic reach before boosting posts with paid promotions.


  • Use the Audience Builder to identify and export lists of usernames for tailored advertising on Twitter.
  • Use Content Analysis and Most Shared to identify the types of post your Facebook Audience prefers. This will increase organic reach, which you can add to with paid promotion.

Bonus: With the Facebook Analyzer, identify the Facebook pages who consistently get high engagement for their posts about your topic. Then, use free (or paid) audience targeting, choosing those who like the page with high engagement as interest.

The post Essential 5 Step BuzzSumo Process For Social Media Agencies appeared first on BuzzSumo.

The Content That Gains Shares and Links on Medium: BuzzSumo Research

Medium has become a popular online publishing platform. It is a new breed of social journalism site, effectively a blog host featuring a hybrid collection of amateur and professional authors, publications and exclusive blogs. Medium is not without its problems, as its CEO, Ev Williams discussed in a blog post but it is estimated that it now has over 60 million monthly visitors. We decided to take a look at content on Medium and specifically the content that gains shares and links last year to see what we could learn.

Summary of Content Shares and Links

We looked at a total of 132,000 Medium posts. This was made up of the 11,000 most shared posts published each month in 2016, broadly the top 25% most shared posts. The average total shares for these 132,00 posts was 379. Total shares include Twitter shares, Pinterest shares, Google Plus shares, LinkedIn shares and all Facebook interactions including shares, likes and comments. Almost 90% of these shares came from Facebook. There was also a skewed distribution of shares, with a small number of highly shared posts. The median total shares was 43 i.e. 50% of posts received 43 shares or fewer.


The average number of links to these Medium posts from unique domains (linking domains) was 2.4. However, the median was zero i.e. 50% of posts in our sample of the 132,000 most shared articles on Medium received no links. The upper quartile was just one i.e 75% of posts received one link or no links. There was also no correlation of shares and links.

Political Articles Dominated the Most Shared Posts

49 of the 100 most shared posts on Medium last year were about the US election or related politics. There were over 5,000 posts about Trump alone and these tended to get higher shares, with the top posts typically gathering tens of thousands of shares. The average shares of Trump posts was 1,241 compared to 379 for our sample as a whole.

We know people are motivated to share content to support causes they care about, to show they are members of a tribe and to get the words out about specific issues. Thus when it comes to political posts people are not necessarily sharing because a post is interesting or thought provoking.

Medium in many ways is a news site and headlines don’t follow the viral formats of marketing posts. However, headlines still matter. If we examine some of the top headlines it is clear they contain value promises, are controversial or are intriguing. Below are the top 6 most shared posts last year. The headlines are reasonably typical of well shared posts on the site, with the exception of the list post. The top 100 posts contain very few viral headlines and only 3 list posts.

Medium has its own share or recommendations button and we have shown the number of Medium recommendations next to the number of social network shares. We could find no significant correlation of the number of Medium shares/recommendations and shares on social networks.


Links below:

History tells us what may happen next with Brexit & Trump

Stop Making Everything Perfect For Your Kid

13 Things You Should Give Up If You Want To Be Successful

Why I’m voting for Trump and you should too

Dear Democrats, Read This If You Do Not Understand Why Trump Won

The “Other Side” Is Not Dumb

Characteristics of the Content that Gained Links

We analysed the top posts by number of linking domains and found very little overlap with the most shared posts.

The posts that gained the most links were less political but were some of the most original, thought provoking posts in my view. The headlines of these posts did not follow typical viral formats.

Here are four examples from the top ten (number of linking domains in brackets).

(This last post was also one of the top ten most shared)

The positive I take away is that original, well written stories and articles are recognised and referenced by other authors in the form of links.

Some linked posts also gained shares, for example ‘The other side is not dumb’ received over 600,000 shares, partly because of the interest in politics and echo chambers last year. However, ‘Conversational commerce’ received twice as many links but received just 3,000 shares. This may be because it contained important and interesting ideas about the future of commerce.

The takeaway for me personally was to create a feed of the most linked articles as these appear to be consistently interesting and thought provoking.

Content Length

We took the top 10,000 most shared posts and analysed these by word length. Our findings confirm what we have found in previous studies. Namely that most content is less than 1,000 words and that on average, longer form content, particularly over 2,000 words, gains more shares and significantly more links.


However, we should not get too distracted by long form content or recommend everyone starts writing long form content, as 6,817 of the top 10,000 most shared posts on Medium (68%) were less than 1,000 words. However, longer form content, particularly over 2,000 words, does appear to consistently gain more shares and links on average.

Popular Topics

The most popular topic last year was not surprisingly the US election and politics. Political posts included gender and generational politics. In the top 100 most shared posts there were a fair number of gender related posts such as Why Women Smile at Men Who Sexually Harass Us and Men Dump Their Anger into Women.

We also identified a number of popular topics outside the political arena. For example:

There were over 5,000 posts published on Medium on children and parenting. These received 183 shares on average and the median was 8. There were a number of parenting posts in the in top 100 most shared posts including the second most shared post Stop Making Everything Perfect For Your Kid

There were nearly 4,000 posts published on Medium last year about artificial intelligence or machine learning. On average the shares were 98 and the median was 9. The top post was Deep Learning Is Going to Teach Us All the Lesson of Our Lives: Jobs Are for Machines.

A wide range of sports and news stories were well shared. Whilst there were many life tips and productivity tips, few of these broke into the higher most shared stories. One exception was “13 Things You Should Give Up If You Want To Be Successful” which received over 800,000 shares. This was also a rare exception of a classic viral headline doing well.

List Posts

Only 3 posts in top 100 most shared posts were list posts. However, previous research has suggested that list posts do better on average so we wanted to look at this in more depth. We took 199 posts in our data set with headlines that started “10 things” or “10 tips”. These posts had average shares of 545 compared to 379 for our data set. They also had median shares of 50 compared to 43 for the data set. Thus there is some very limited evidence that list posts do better on average when it comes to shares in our sample of 132,000 posts.

Interestingly when we looked at linking domains, the average for list posts was 1.15 compared to 2.4 for all 132,000 posts in our sample.

My Takeways

The nature of Medium as a blog host with a mix of professional and amateur writers and exclusive blogs means that there is a very wide range of content. However, we can observe:

  • The most popular and well shared content is political, encompassing a wide range of political issues not just the US election.
  • The most shared posts have headlines that are unique and don’t follow viral formats. This is partly due to the dominance of political and news stories.
  • Most shares take place on Facebook, with virtually no shares on networks such as Google Plus or Pinterest.
  • Original and thought provoking content gains links, although overall numbers of links are relatively low with over 50% of content gaining no links at all.
  • Longer form content, particularly over 2,000 words appears to gain more shares and significantly more links. However, 68% of the 10,000 most shared posts were under 1,000 words, so quality short form content also works.
  • There is no correlation of shares and links which is in line with what we have found with other sites.

Analysis of shares

There was a very skewed distribution of shares, which is typical of share distributions. The distribution of shares can be seen below, relatively few posts gained more than 1,000 shares. The median shares were 43, i.e. 50% of the 130,000 posts in our sample had less than 43 shares. This can be seen from the histogram below.


This skewed distribution means that very high performing outlier posts (a few posts had over 1m shares) can skew the average.

Most shares or interactions came from Facebook, particularly when it came to high performing posts. The average numbers were:

  • Facebook interactions 330
  • Twitter shares 28
  • LinkedIn shares 19
  • Google plus 1
  • Pinterest 1

It is probably worth noting that the Medium site only has share buttons for Facebook and Twitter. The site also has its own like/share button and system of recommendations, including editor recommendations.

Analysis of Links

The median for linking domains was zero i.e. 50% of posts received no links and the upper quartile was 1 i.e 75% of posts received 1 link or no links. The average number of linking domains i.e. unique domains that linked to a post, was 2.4. This was due to some exceptional outlier posts, for example, one post gained 1,500 linking domains.

The histogram for those posts that gained at least 1 link is shown below. The graph is cut off at 10 links as very few posts gained more than ten links.


The post The Content That Gains Shares and Links on Medium: BuzzSumo Research appeared first on BuzzSumo.