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Published February 8th 2017

How Social Media Agencies Can Create A Buzzsumo Process In 5 Steps

When it comes to finding and consuming marketing data effectively, a great tool is just half of the picture. That tool needs to be fully integrated into a system or process in order to provide maximum value to its user.

We wanted to help our clients quickly and fully integrate BuzzSumo into a process that scales to meet the needs of agencies handling content marketing for multiple clients and brands. To do this, we worked with Neal Schaffer, social media strategist, consultant and author. Neal is an instructor at Rutgers University in New Jersey and at the Irish Management Institute. He is also the founder of his own social media agency, PDCA Social.

Neal, a self-avowed BuzzSumo power user, outlined a 5 step process that we think will not only help social media agencies, but brands and PR influencers / firms to get up to speed quickly with BuzzSumo.

The steps are described in more detail below, but here is a quick overview and an infographic to get you started.

Five Step Process

  1. Compare to Role Models: Look to those in the industry who are doing what your clients want to do.
  2. Create Content: Look to audience preferences (shares and links) for ideas.
  3. Curate Content: Look beyond sharing your clients’ content and give the audience what they want.
  4. Connect with Influencers: Look to others who drive engagement, and don’t underestimate the value of a growing influencer database.
  5. Contribute financially: Look to make wise investments in paid social to grow client audiences.

Step 1: Compare to Role Models.

Look to those in the industry who are doing what your clients want to do.

For any given social network, it’s important to find role models who are already accomplishing what you would like to accomplish. This is even more critical if you are beginning a campaign that targets a network where you have little or no experience.

In addition to providing you with ideas for how to structure your content for maximum impact, these industry role models provide a way to benchmark your success.

To get started, enter the URL of an industry leading website or successful competitor into the Most Shared section of BuzzSumo. (When we onboard clients, we save these searches for easy reference in the future.)

Try It!

Skim the headlines on the first page or two to see if you notice any trends or content ideas that you would like to develop for your client.

For example, if you were using BuzzSumo as one of your role model sites, you would quickly see that our audience likes to share content about Facebook and research or data, as well as headlines and what it takes to go viral.

Then take a deeper look at what’s working for your role models using the Content Analysis search feature. Content analysis categorizes the content in the most shared database, making it easy to see patterns.

For each of the domains you compare to, notice their average shares, as well as the network where they get most of their shares. You may discover that a role model’s content performs well on a network you didn’t expect or plan to target. Adjust your strategy accordingly.

You can use the metrics provided in a BuzzSumo content analysis report as Key Performance Indicators for client success, Neal suggests. The charts can be exported for ease of reporting.

These analysis reports, which also indicate preferred content length, can help you to budget time or money for content creation. For example, if a role model site has great success with in-depth content of 3000-10000 words, you may want to plan for more time or budget to create pieces of similar length. If they get numerous shares for infographics, you may need to add the cost of graphic design to what you bill the client. If video is a hit with the audience, you may need someone on the team with expertise in video.


  • Compare to role models using Most Shared to identify popular headlines or content ideas.
  • Compare to role models using Content Analysis to identify preferred network, length and format, as well as establish performance benchmarks for social shares.

Bonus: If you would like to build links to your clients’ content, you can also use the Backlinks feature to find their role models’ most linked content. The backlinks tab will list the most recent, most shared inbound links for any URL. Add these to your link outreach plan.

Step 2: Create Content.

Look to audience preferences (shares and links) for ideas.

Social media represents the convergence of information and communication, Neal says. This gives companies and brands a chance to participate by providing content.

Consider the difference between a person on social media, who can chat with friends or ask about their days. Companies can’t do that. So, to join the conversation, a company needs to provide content as a conversation piece.

BuzzSumo can help with content ideation by identifying the content that has gotten the most shares and links for keywords or topics.

To get started, simply enter your topic into the Most Shared section of the site. BuzzSumo will list articles on that topic beginning with those that were most heavily shared. You can also analyze content by topic with the Content Analyzer, to quickly determine what content types and lengths perform best.

The idea, Neal says, is not to copy or repeat what has already been written, but to build on the success of others by leveraging the best ideas to “leapfrog” over your competitors.

Latecomers to the market have an advantage that early adopters don’t, Neal points out. Namely, they can learn from what others have already accomplished and use it to surpass the competition.

Newsjacking” or tying your products and services to current events or news stories is also easier with BuzzSumo. The Trending section of the site shows you content based on how quickly it’s being shared. You can use this section of BuzzSumo to find viral articles from across the web or to identify trends in your industry.

Roundup list posts, with multiple authors contributing, are a popular content type, and they can be created more effectively using BuzzSumo. Begin by entering the domain of any industry site with multiple authors, such as or Then use the Top Authors search in Content Analysis to find the guest contributors who get the most shares.

Now, you have a list of authors who drive shares even when they publish away from their own domain. You can add these engagement drivers to your outreach list for your roundup post.


  • Look for content ideas by searching Most Shared for content by topic or keyword.
  • Use Trending for posts that tie your product or service to viral content or news.
  • Use Top Author reports to identify experts who drive shares for roundup posts.

Bonus: Learn more about roundup posts in this great article from Heidi Cohen

Step 3: Curate Content.

Look beyond sharing only from clients’ sites, and give the audience what they want.

Just as creating content gives brands and companies a way to participate in online conversations, curating content keeps companies from boring their audiences with endless references to their brand.

To engage with an audience on social, you need to think beyond what you want to say to them, and ask yourself what they are interested in hearing. This line of thinking will direct you toward topics and content that you can share from other sites.

Sharing relevant, interesting content from other sources is an important tool for establishing your client as the go-to source for the best information about their industry. This not only develops their reputation as a thought leader. It keeps their audience tuned in to messages from the brand.

Neal recommends this 9-1-1 rule for social posts.

  • 9x post the content of others
  • 1x post something that adds value from your site 
  • 1x post something promotional 

To get extra mileage, focus your posts from others on content written by influencers and brand advocates, partners and fans.

BuzzSumo makes it easy to find content that has already performed well on the social networks that are most relevant for your clients. To find these types of posts, look for the most shared content using keywords. Then, filter to see which articles were most shared on your network of choice.

You can keep your curated content timely by adjusting the BuzzSumo time filter to show only the most shared pieces published during the last 24 hours or the last week.

You can also use the Influencers tab in BuzzSumo to identify influencer-vetted content. Search for relevant influencers by topic, then select “View Links Shared.” BuzzSumo will show you all of the content that the influencer has shared. You can chose from the most recent articles to post for your clients.

If you notice that influencers often share from the same domain or set of domains, consider adding those sites to an influencer outreach list. You can also set a content alert for new posts at important domains. BuzzSumo will let you know any time there is a new post at the site.

If you curate content on a daily basis, trending can help you to identify posts that are likely to go viral BEFORE they reach the peak of their popularity. RSS exports from trending make this content easy to pull into curation tools like Buffer or Hootsuite.

If you curate content on a weekly basis, you can use the most shared section of the site, and filter to the past week.

Another option is to set up highly targeted keyword alerts in the Monitoring section of BuzzSumo. These alerts can be edited so that they are very relevant to your topic, or location. You can decide how much social proof you would like before you are notified about new content that matches your terms. RSS exports are available, which makes these highly filtered search results easy to share from a scheduling tool.

For email newsletter content, Neal suggests using the Most Shared section of the site, filtered to the past week’s content, and sorted to identify the most successful posts on LinkedIn. He uses this approach when writing his own newsletters.


  • Follow Neal’s 9-1-1 rule for social posting.
  • Use Most Shared to find high performing content to share on a weekly or monthly basis.
  • Use Trending to find high performing content to share on a daily basis.
  • Use Influencers to find content that industry leaders share.
  • Use Monitoring and alerts to track content from important industry sites.
  • Use Monitoring and Trending RSS exports to schedule content via tools like Hootsuite or Buffer

Bonus: One way to increase your visibility in Pinterest search is to share from quality sites with relevant content. You’ll want to look for a high number of incoming links and shares – especially shares (pins) to Pinterest, according to Pinterest Pro Alisa Meredith

Step 4: Connect with Influencers.

Look to others who drive engagement, and don’t underestimate the value of a growing influencer database.

Leveraging influencers to promote your content or brand is an important piece of the marketing puzzle, and a key tool for agencies to use on behalf of their clients.

BuzzSumo can help you to identify influencers who have an interest in your clients’ topic areas and an engaged audience. Our engagement metric is based on the average number of retweets a twitter user gets every time they tweet. As a rule of thumb, we consider anyone with 2.0 or higher average retweets an influencer. However, in some industries you may need to raise or lower that number.

If an influencer is creating or publishing a post for you, pay attention to the domain authority of their site, as higher domain authorities indicate that their pages are likely to rank higher in search engines.

The backlinks section of BuzzSumo also helps to determine the influence of a particular domain. Using it, you can see if a site you are considering has many backlinks, and how much traffic the links drive.

As you identify influencers who are a good fit for your clients, you can add them to influencer outreach lists, which are stored for you in BuzzSumo. Those lists can be organized by client, by topic, or by team member.

Exports are available for influencer lists, as Neal says, “handing the information all to you on a silver platter.”

Encouraging brand advocacy is another valuable way to leverage others on behalf of your clients. With BuzzSumo’s Audience Builder, you can quickly identify the people who are already tweeting your clients’ content. You can add these fans to outreach lists and continue to nurture those relationships.


  • Identify influencers by topic, filtering the list based on engagement, domain and page authority, and their sites ability to draw links.
  • Add influencers to Outreach Lists
  • Identify brand advocates using the Audience Builder

Bonus: Use the Audience Builder to find your competitors’ brand advocates, and add them to outreach lists, so that you can help them to learn about your clients’ products and services.

Step 5: Contribute financially.

Look to make wise investments in paid social to grow client audiences.

“If social is the amplifier, paid social is the accelerator,” Neal says.

Use the BuzzSumo Audience Builder to identify people who have shared content from a website or group of websites, then export those audiences and add them to a tailored advertising audience on Twitter. Using tailored audience lists makes your advertising spend more effective.

You can also stretch Facebook advertising dollars by creating content based on audience preference, to help maximize your organic reach before boosting posts with paid promotions.


  • Use the Audience Builder to identify and export lists of usernames for tailored advertising on Twitter.
  • Use Content Analysis and Most Shared to identify the types of post your Facebook Audience prefers. This will increase organic reach, which you can add to with paid promotion.

Bonus: With the Facebook Analyzer, identify the Facebook pages who consistently get high engagement for their posts about your topic. Then, use free (or paid) audience targeting, choosing those who like the page with high engagement as interest.


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