What BuzzSumo Learnt About Content from 1 Million Articles #smlondon

This is the first in a series of ten articles from our recent #smlondon LIVE! 2015 event. To see the rest of the series, click here.

Last week, we took over Bounce Ping Pong in Holborn for another year of #smlondon LIVE! With a dozen of the top social media minds ready to share their secrets and learnings, it was going to be a fantastic day.

Steve Rayson of BuzzSumo was first up to talk about shareable content.


In general, there is no correlation between shares and links – some articles are being shared lots, but not being linked to (and vice versa) – the only sites which get both are research sites, quality journalism and opiniated journalism.

On average, 43% of professional blogs are receiving 10 interactions or less:

This is a remarkably low number.

There is a hard truth to this all: the majority of content doesn’t get shared (hopefully you’ll share this!) – and that is due to a number of reasons:


On average, over half of the content gets 8 shares or less and 0 referring links (this was taken from a sample of 100,000 posts by Buzzsumo):

The average total shares for an article is 257 with a median of 8.

On the social media side, most content gets 2 Facebook likes, with not even the company’s employees (or creators) sharing it:

Steve pitched a good question – if your own employees aren’t sharing the content, why would anyone else share it? If your company is not interested in producing quality content and then sharing it, why would your readers want to do it?

In terms of content production:

  • Output is up 78%.
  • Shares are down 60%.

Why? It could be due to a number of factors:

It’s either:

  • Lack of research
  • Poor amplification
  • Not monitoring trends

Before creating a strategy, it’s crucial to look at where content is being found and how to write content that will get engagement.


When it comes to discovering interesting content, social media has overtaken search:

Facebook is now responsible for as much as a quarter of all online traffic (followed by Pinterest in second place and Twitter in third):

Sites such as Copyblogger, Moz and Buffer are being hit by low share numbers. It’s harder than ever to get your content seen – people are not browsing the sites they go to:

The fact is: there is too much content – and it’s going the way of Facebook:


So, how do you improve the amount of engagement on the content you’re producing?

You need to concentrate on three things to help improve likes and shares for your content:

  1. research
  2. amplification
  3. monitoring

1) Research:

The first thing to do is: research. There’s a number of questions you need to answer:

  • What questions are being asked?
  • Which content is resonating well with our audience?
  • What are the current content trends?
  • Which is the best format for this content?
  • What are the most popular authors?
  • Who are our competitors?
  • Where are the content opportunities?

Basically, you should be producing content for your audience, not yourselves:

Additionally, when it came to the subject of the content, Steve says that if you can’t be better than the best two, don’t bother:

2) Amplification:

You’ve done your research, and found the perfect piece of content. So what do you always need when creating content? An amplification strategy:

However, don’t think about the amplification after the content has been created – it’s more important than the content itself:

For this, there’s another set of questions to answer:

  • Where will it be linked? Where will we share it? Will any of it be paid?
  • Who is going to amplify this content?
  • Who are the influencers and outreach opportunities?
  • What is the role of Facebook?

3) Monitoring:

For this, you need to look at trending content, any current issues and content benchmarks.

Also – make use of alerts to track any possible subject holes or content opportunities.


Alongside an amplification strategy and research, your content needs to be long. Steve shared a chart that showed the breakdown – the more words, the more shares basically:

And what is most popular? Lists:

Put a number in your title and make it informative:


Finally, want your content to go viral?

You need 5 shares, apparently:

There you have it. You can see Steve’s deck below:

…or listen to him on the #SMKnowHow podcast with Jorgen below: