The current content writing algorithms, produced by firms such as Narrative Science, are primarily Natural Language Generation tools that write content based on data inputs. They are not perfect but work well if you want to write content about movements in share prices. The algorithms are improving each week but the good news for content writers is that machines are not generating mainstream content that engages audiences. At least not yet.

For an algorithm to write engaging content, it would need to understand the DNA of successful content and the complex interaction of different content elements. This is something we explore in our latest research report with LinkedIn.

Understanding Content Elements

In our report we look at a number of content elements, and their relative importance in the success of content across different industries. For example:

  1. Topic. At the most basic level, choosing the right topic can influence your 

“If you use a poor headline, it does not matter how hard you labor over your copy because your copy will not be read.” John Caples

A good headline is one that resonates with your audience not one that resonates with someone else’s audience. This is why copying a viral headline format that worked on BuzzFeed or Facebook is a bad idea, particularly if you write for a B2B audience.

Our latest research reveals the headlines that resonate with B2B audiences including:

The research is based on an analysis of 10 million articles shared on LinkedIn. See our methodology note at the end of this post.

The

It is difficult to overstate the importance of headlines. A good headline can entice and engage your audience to click, to read, and to share your content. In many cases headlines are the thing that is shared rather than the article. So you knew that. But do you know what makes an engaging headline?

To help answer this question we analyzed 100 million article headlines. We have set out below our findings from the research including the:

While there is no magic formula for creating a viral or popular headline, there are many lessons we can learn to improve …

In the last three years at BuzzSumo we have crawled and analyzed over 2m ‘how to’ posts. The top posts were shared over a million times. These posts ranged from ‘how to hide your house from Google maps’ and ‘how to fix your sleep problems with science’ to ‘how to be a great lover’. Popular business content included ‘how to look good in Skype interviews’.

The best ‘how to’ posts frequently outperformed other content formats in terms of views, shares, links and conversions. So we decided to take a look in more detail and set out three steps to create the perfect ‘how to’ post namely:

  1. researching the right questions and topics
  2. identifying where you can be the best answer
  3. using a winning structure for your post

Why “How To” Posts?

Our research reveals that ‘how to’ posts are an opportunity to establish lasting trust and authority with your audience. …

In January 2016 I looked back at the first 16 months of growing BuzzSumo. I thought now, 16 months later, it was probably time to provide a further update on our progress and my reflections on running a bootstrapped SaaS business.

I want to use this opportunity to challenge what I call the Unicorn orthodoxy. I have seen far too many people damaged by the stresses and strains of trying to be a unicorn. I want to set out the case for being a bootstrapped donkey and examine the pros and cons.

Unicorns and donkeys

When you launch a SaaS business, if you are a sad person like me, you will devour articles on growing a SaaS business from pricing to marketing to strategy.  Such reading can be helpful as it helps you reflect on your own business. However, in my experience much of the advice is based on

Forget Paris, I love San Diego in the springtime. I particularly love the Social Media Marketing World event.

It is a great chance to catch up with friends in the sunshine and to learn from the best experts in the field of social media marketing.

I was furiously scribbling notes throughout the event and here are some of my top takeaways.

1. Facebook is the most important marketing platform

Mike Stelzner revealed the results of Social Media Examiner’s latest survey of 5,000 marketers. Two thirds of marketers say Facebook is their most important platform although they acknowledge reach has declined.

facebook-marketing

2. LinkedIn is still key for B2B marketers

The second most important platform in the SME study was LinkedIn. There are also signs that people are spending more time in their LinkedIn feed and sharing a lot more on LinkedIn.  There are now 450m members on LinkedIn but importantly it …

Are you producing quality content every week?

Heidi Cohen started a blog in 2010 and set herself a goal of becoming one of Social Media Examiner’s top ten blogs. She produced quality posts consistently every week, often three times a week.

By 2012 her blog was number 7 in the SME list of top ten blogs. This year Heidi was a judge reviewing the top ten marketing blogs.

I was privileged to listen to Heidi share her secrets at Social Media Marketing World this week. Think you can’t produce quality posts every week? Yes, you can.

Here are the nine insights that I took away from Heidi’s session.

1. Be Consistent and Relentless

You have to be consistent as a blogger and you must not give up too early. Content marketing and blogging is a long term game. Heidi shared a chart from Moz showing why bloggers should have grit …

Do you ever wonder why certain content and ideas become very popular while others fail to gain traction? Derek Thompson’s new book ‘Hit Makers: How Things Become Popular‘ takes an in-depth look at what makes a viral or popular product. The book doesn’t provide a secret formula for virality, however, Thompson provides a lot of detailed research on the key factors that cause content and products to become popular. Here is my take on the content marketing lessons from the book.

Popular Products are MAYA — Most Advanced, Yet Acceptable

Thompson argues that the products that become popular are a balance of familiarity and newness. He quotes Raymond Loewy, the industrial designer, whose approach was summed up in his acronym MAYA — the “most advanced, yet acceptable” idea.

The theory goes that people are simultaneously Neophobic (afraid of the new) and Neophilic (attracted to the new). Thus new …