At BuzzSumo we have always been of the view that the best content answers customer questions. This is why our starting point for any content research is to understand the questions customers are asking. BuzzSumo’s new Question Analyzer is a fast and efficient way to search all the questions being asked about any topic across hundreds of thousands of forums and sites.

In this post we set out how you can use questions to:

  1. Improve your content marketing
  2. Improve your ecommerce site
  3. Undertake product research
  4. Build your authority as an expert
  5. Track and manage questions about your brand
  6. Undertake keyword research

BuzzSumo’s Question Analyzer

The Question Analyzer crawls hundreds of thousands of forums, as well as sites such as Quora, Reddit and Amazon. We parse out and group all the questions being asked on any topic or product from across all these sites and provide you with a link to …

The average number of engagements with Facebook posts created by brands and publishers has fallen by over 20% since January 2017.

We analyzed over 880 million Facebook posts published by brands and publishers over the last year. In this sample the average number of engagements fell from 340 to 264 over the first six months of the year, as shown in the chart below.FB-engagements

The biggest fall in engagement was with image posts and link posts. According to the data video posts had the smallest fall in engagement and videos now gain twice the level of engagement of other post formats on average. The chart below shows average engagements by post type in June 2017.

average-engagements-post-type

For more on video engagement read our recent research post analysing 100 million Facebook videos.

The detailed data on all 880 million posts is set out at the end of this post.

Why Is

What a difference a year makes. Last summer we wrote a post on why video is key to Facebook marketing. This summer our research data shows just how overwhelmingly dominant video, including Facebook Live video, has become. We analyzed 100 million Facebook videos published in the last year and using this data we can reveal:

Video Is The Most Engaging Facebook Format

Videos are the Facebook format most likely to reach and engage audiences according to Locowise. The average video post in April 2017 reached 12.05% of the total page audience, just ahead of photos at 11.63%,

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

We got lucky last week. One of our research posts went viral. Ok, it wasn’t anything like a Buzzfeed post, but it is now the most shared post on content marketing in the last 6 months.

In the first week our post analyzing 100 million headlines was shared over 10,000 times, had over 100,000 views and gained links from over 100 unique domains including Fast Company, Forbes, Inc, Boing Boing and Slate.

Here is our detailed behind the scenes look at why the post went viral including:

Cornerstone content

There is so much content

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. In this post we 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 …

When we looked at 100m Facebook posts we found, not surprisingly, that posts with images got the twice the number of interactions as posts without. So yes, images work but you knew that already. We have also found that list posts gain more shares on average. Again you knew that already. But did you know that one of the most shared forms of content was the picture list post?

The picture list post contains the promise of a list post, the value of curation and the speed of images.

It is like rolling three of your favorite superheros into one. They’re the ultimate in efficient, emotionally engaging content –  snackable content, enriched with curation and structure.

In this post we take an updated look at why they work and how you can make them work for you.

What is a picture list post?

A picture list post is

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