“Data-driven storytelling is poised to be the next big trend in content marketing.Harvard Business Review, October 2015.

“Data-enhanced storytelling is rapidly reshaping both content and advertising.” Adweek, January, 2016.

There is a growing interest in data driven stories. A new breed of journalists are uncovering and telling data-driven stories facilitated by access to large datasets and easy to use data analysis tools. Content marketers and SEO teams are also drawn to data-driven stories by evidence that research and data based articles attract more links.

In this post below we explore the five core narratives for telling stories with data, namely:

  1. Trends. For example, how smartphone ownership is increasing or decreasing.
  2. Rank order or league tables. For example, the politicians getting the most social media coverage or which areas have the highest crime rates.
  3. Comparisons. For example, how one company is performing relative to another.
  4. Surprising

We have recently been pleased to support our friends at Technology for Marketing on their new report: The Science of Content. The report explores the content that resonates in ten different industries. Luke Bilton, will be presenting the report at the TFM event on Thursday 29th September 2016, at Olympia in London, which includes speakers such as Joe Pulizzi from CMI. You can get your free ticket to the event here.

Content is an investment in building an audience

Once you look at content as an investment in building an audience you understand the importance of understanding your audience and audience centered content.

As part of this process you also need to understand the content that resonates with your audiences from content topics and issues to content formats and headlines. You also need to understand the influencers they respect, the networks where they hang out and where content gets …

Which of these sums up your view on content production?

“Content is about quality, not quantity. We should be producing high value, authoritative content regularly, not publishing lots of short posts. Less is more.” 

“Winning in digital media now boils down to a simple equation: figure out a way to produce the most content at as low a cost as possible.” (Digiday 2013)

Do you agree with first statement? Me too, until recently. But now I think we could be wrong.

The Washington Post now publishes around 1,200 posts a day. That is an incredible amount of content. My initial reaction when I read the statistic was ‘surely that is too much, the quality will suffer, why produce so much content?’ The answer seems to be that it works. The Post’s web visitors have grown 28% over the last year and they passed the New York Times …

“Remember somewhere the sun is shining” sang Chet Baker. It was certainly shining in Chicago last Thursday for Content Jam. The event, organised by our friends at Orbit Media and sponsored by our friends at SEMrush, was attended by over 300 enthusiastic content marketers. We were privileged to listen to a great set of speakers including Robert Rose, Ardath Albee, Brian Fanzo, Ian Lurie, Andy Crestodina and others, who provided ideas and inspiration in equal measure.

chicago view

View from the Gleacher Center venue

I originally intended to write a short review of the event but I found myself making so many pages and pages of notes that I decided to list the key points and ideas.  Here is my take from the event.

  1. Content shock is real. For those that don’t believe in content shock, consider this. If you search for “How to drive more

Facebook announced on Wednesday last week that it planned to make a series of changes to its news feed algorithm so that it will more favorably promote content posted by friends and family rather than publishers. The company said that content posted by publishers will show up less prominently in news feeds, resulting in ‘significantly less traffic’ to these publishers. This will be a concern for publishers and content marketers.

We decided to have a look at the Facebook share data and trends over the last year. This will establish a baseline to review future numbers and trends following the upcoming changes. We reviewed 25m Facebook posts published by the top 10,000 publishers over the last year. Note: all charts below are based on this data.

What we found might surprise you and make you rethink your strategy. 

Average Total Shares

Over the last year there has been small increase

The importance of backlinks

To paraphrase Guy Kawasaki there are two types of website managers: those that want more backlinks and those that are liars.

Backlinks matter, a lot, but gaining backlinks is difficult. A good backlink requires someone to write a relevant article mentioning you and to link to your site. This is far harder than getting someone to share your content.

The single best opportunity to gain new backlinks is to find articles that mention you but that do not link to you, and to request a link.

We have to thank Syed Balkhi of WP Beginner for this simple but powerful insight on how he used BuzzSumo to gain over 100 new organic backlinks each month. We tried it and gained over 200 new organic backlinks in the first month. We liked it so much we have built a new feature so you can quickly apply his

Content that answers questions is one of the most effective forms of content marketing. In preparation for our upcoming webinar with Lee Odden on ‘How To Be The Best Answer’ we analysed over 600,000 answer posts. We set out below our findings including:

  • the benefits of being the best answer, including authority, longevity and links
  • the 10 key elements of a ‘best answer’ post

If you’re curious about questions your customer are asking, check out the BuzzSumo Question Analyzer. 

The Benefits of being the Best Answer

a) Achieving links

When people find a good answer they like to share it but more importantly they like to bookmark or link to it for reference later. Take as an example the question “what is content marketing?”

The Content Marketing Institute have written a comprehensive answer to this question on their site.


This CMI post has been shared less than 5,000 times, which …