BuzzSumo, a content and social media research tool, identifies popular content shared on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Examining which articles are shared the most often may help marketers generate popular content of their own.
This is learning by example. Want to know what sorts of posts will pop on Pinterest? Look at popular pins. You can do this manually or you can use a tool, in this case, BuzzSumo.
In fact, if your content marketing campaign goal is to generate popular, often-shared content, there are at least a few ways you could use BuzzSumo to spark ideas for your articles, videos, or podcasts.
Find the Most Shared Content
Not surprisingly, BuzzSumo’s “Most Shared” feature will show you the most frequently shared content for a specific query in a specific time frame. The tool looks for your query or keywords, if you will, in article headlines.
If you had an online craft supply store, you might start with a search like “spring crafts.” A BuzzSumo search for this phrase on March 15, 2017, returned more than 1,200 results, including those pictured below.
The hope is that popular posts like “6 Adorable Spring DIY Crafts” or “20 Trendy Spring Outfit Ideas” with rev up your creativity and inspire a post or two for your craft supply blog. What’s more, without any further research, you can see that Pinterest seems to be a popular social network for this sort of content, so you’ll want to be certain to include lots of pictures.
As with any sort of topic or keyword phrase research, the better you refine your search terms the better results you’ll tend to get. With this in mind, it can be a good idea to do some basic keyword research in a tool like the Google AdWords Keyword Planner even before you try those phrases in BuzzSumo. Just remember that there is a difference between what works well in a search engine or for a pay-per-click ad and what will inspire someone to share content.
BuzzSumo’s “Most Shared” feature may also be used to target a particular domain.
Let’s imagine you have a small online t-shirt business. Your shirts designs are “quirky” and “hip,” and your target customer is a worldly, 40-year-old fellow.
You want to have an interesting and entertaining blog that doesn’t really talk about t-shirts, but rather the lifestyle your customer lives. You’ve learned that Best Life, a men’s magazine, is one of your likely customer’s favorite reads. So you use BuzzSumo to find the most shared Best Life content for the past six months.
In the results, you notice a pattern. Some of Best Life’s most popular posts — in the sense of social media shares — are lists aimed specifically at men in their forties.
- “The 40 Unhealthiest Foods if You’re 40+”
- “The 40 Best Things About Being in Your 40s”
- “40 Things to Let Go of in Your 40s”
- “Video: 10 Foods for Abs After 40”
Almost without effort, Best Life’s pattern can be used to create several content marketing ideas.
- “The 5 Best Competitive Sports if You’re 40+”
- “10 Great Retirement Tricks to Boost Your Savings in Your 40s”
- “15 Things You Need in Your Closet in Your 40s”
- “5 Books You Must Read After 40”
Analyze Shared Content
BuzzSumo’s “Most Shared” content is probably where you will create the most ideas for making your company’s own shareable posts. But you may find that analyzing the content shared will also help.
Let’s carry the Best Life magazine example forward and look at some content characteristics BuzzSumo has identified.
We learn that for six months — from September 16, 2017 to March 15, 2017 — BuzzSumo found 104 articles on the Best Life site. That is about four articles per week. Also, we notice that the average Best Life article gets about 250 shares. This might be a sort of high-end benchmark for your own content.
BuzzSumo also shows us that for Best Life, articles between 2,000 words and 3,000 words tended to earn more shares than either longer or shorter content. This is an imperfect metric since other factors might be impacting the results. But it might have you thinking about how long your blog posts should be.
Let’s trade examples and see what BuzzSumo’s “Content Analysis” tool will tell us about spring crafts, the first example from above.
We learn that how-to articles, which for BuzzSumo are articles with a title that begin with “how,” are the most shared on Facebook while lists seemed to be more popular on Pinterest.
Next, we discover that YouTube is the most often shared domain for spring crafts. This implies that video content may be relatively more successful than articles.
These insights might not lead us to a particular spring crafts title, but they will help us create content that is likely to be shared.
Discover What’s Trending
BuzzSumo will also allow you to create trending feeds or look at what’s trending in one of several topics like business, science, or health.
In this section, BuzzSumo is trying to show you articles that are gaining traction right now. Each of the trending items will have a trending score. The higher the score, the more rapidly the content is being shared.
For content marketers, trends could be an opportunity to write an article about a current topic or look for seasonal topics that can be planned for next year.
BuzzSumo As a Content Research Tool
BuzzSumo is an example of a content research tool that could be part of your content marketing stack. One of its most popular uses is discovering content marketing ideas as described here.
At the time of writing, BuzzSumo was $99 per month or $948 for an annual subscription. The company offers a 14-day trial.
While it could be argued that BuzzSumo doesn’t have an exact, identical, feature-for-feature alternative or competitor, there are many platforms that can help you identify content ideas, including EpicBeat, Social Mention, Social Animal, and Almighty Press, to name some.