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Content Marketing

Published October 11th 2021

The Top 100 Content Marketers To Follow Right Now

Who are the most influential voices in content marketing right now?

What does it take to be a content marketer?

That’s the million dollar question.

Content marketing isn’t a one ingredient recipe. 

It takes one part creation, two parts social media distribution, a sprinkling of PR, a vat of SEO, and whatever else makes the dish that bit more appetising.

So, if content marketing is the all-you-can-eat banquet of the digital world, then content marketing influencers are its Michelin star chefs. 

Food analogies aside (sorry – it’s nearly lunch), following the top content marketers will not only give you awesome knowledge to make your job easier, it will allow you access to a supportive community, and offer you tons of inspiration.

The top 100 content marketing influencers to follow right now

Methodology 

Our list of the top 100 content marketing influencers is taken from BuzzSumo’s Twitter Influencer tool.

To create it, we looked into:

  • The topics listed in the bio of the influencer
  • The topics shared on their Twitter feeds

This gave us a list of the top influencers sorted by “Relevance” 

Aside from what’s in the search, “Relevancy” is determined by a number of different components, including:

  • Average retweets
  • Reply ratio
  • Verified status
  • The number of times an influencer appears in a Twitter list relevant to the topic

While relevancy is an effective way to organize the dataset, we wanted to give even greater weighting to the metrics that are most critical to engagement.

So, we exported our list, and took the following steps:

  • We omitted companies
  • We removed non-English language profiles
  • We removed accounts that hadn’t been active this year
  • And finally we did a three-way-sort of the most relevant influencers, by:

- Average retweets

- Reply ratio

- Follower count

Why these metrics, you ask?

Average retweets are how often an influencer’s posts are retweeted by their audience on average.

It means their audience cares enough to share their wisdom with their own community.

Reply ratio is the percentage of the influencer's Tweets that are replies to their audience. 

This shows that the influencer is not just posting into the void, but actively engaging with their community.

Follower count is probably the least indicative of engagement out of all three metrics. 

After all, you could have tens of thousands of followers, but have an average retweet count of zilch 👎

But we’ve decided to include it, because it’s still a vote of confidence for an influencer, and gives us an idea of their overall reach.

What does the typical content marketing influencer look like?

We put the top 100 content marketing influencers under the microscope.

So if you’re in looking to build your profile on Twitter, consider these some of your KPIs 🤓

The typical content marketing influencer...

  • Earns 0.5 retweets for every post
  • Dedicates 37% of their tweets to replies
  • Has nearly 4x more followers (14K) than “followees” (3.7K). 
  • Has a domain authority of 39 (based on the link in their bio)
  • Is verified 36% of the time

It’s all in the conversation

Half a retweet isn’t a significant amount of engagement.

In fact, when you consider that the top 100 PR influencers earned one full retweet per post, it seems comparatively low.

But if you’re looking to muscle in on the top 100 and your retweets are low, don’t panic. 

There's something else you can do to boost your profile. 

Over a third of all content marketers’ tweets are replies. 

They reply 27% more than they retweet, and 5% more than they share URLs on Twitter.

What that means is they dedicate their time on Twitter to active discussion and engagement.

And the content marketer is in fact 7% more likely to reply than the PR influencer (37% vs 30%).

What do the top 10 content marketing influencers look like?

  1. Brian Dean
  2. Rand Fishkin
  3. Ross Simmonds
  4. Ann Handley
  5. Kaleigh Moore
  6. Tim Soulo
  7. Andy Crestodina
  8. Brian Clark
  9. Ross Hudgens
  10. Melanie Delziel

When you hone in on the top 10 content marketing influencers, engagement ramps up big time.

It’s undeniable that these content marketers know how to captivate their audience.

Let’s look at the figures.

The “pro” content marketing influencers...

  • Earn 5.3 retweets for every post
  • Dedicate 59% of their tweets to replies
  • Have nearly 40x more followers (35K) than “followees” (873)
  • Have a domain authority of 60 (based on the link in their bio)
  • Are verified 70% of the time

It’s “social” media for a reason

The difference between the top 10, and the top 100 is vast.

They are 10x more likely to get a retweet than a standard content marketing influencer!

This means they distribute high value, resonant content that their audience is compelled to share.

But the thing we found most astonishing was that these influencers dedicated more than half of their activity to interacting with their audience on Twitter.

More than half! Let that sink in.

The learning here? If you want to become a content marketing thought leader on social media, you have to put the time and effort into being… social 🤯

Answer questions, start discussions – even have a chat beyond the realms of content! (it is allowed)

These “pro” influencers have all built engaged communities rather than passive audiences.

They give back more than they take, and respond to others far more than a non-influencer would.

A zero tolerance policy for content spam

Another thing to note here is that these influencers spend even less time than the top 100 sharing URLs (7% less) and retweeting content (3% less).

That may seem a bit odd.

Surely if they share less, they’d see less engagement?

Well, not quite. 

What this really means is that the top 10 have zero tolerance for content spam

Unlike many on Twitter, they won’t clog up your newsfeed with links to their own content. 

You’ll never see them distributing automated RSS feed blogs, complete with aesthetically displeasing stock images, and no real information to entice you to click.

What they’ll do instead is craft considered and insight-driven posts that resonate with their audience.

Whether it’s through advice, actionable tips, or content marketing observations, these posts will either inspire or empower their audience.

The most interactive content marketers are... 👀

The two top content marketers who interact the most with their audience, and link-share the least, are Ross Simmonds (position #3) and Kaleigh Moore (position #5) 👏

Ross Simmonds’ pinned tweet is actually all about his Twitter philosophy, and Kaleigh Moore has written a whole guide on her strategy.

It’s a one horse race 

As we saw, there is a pretty big discrepancy between the top 10 and the top 100. 

It seems engagement and influence in content marketing is dominated by a few key voices.

Or maybe… just the one.

Diving into the data, the #1 content marketer, Brian Dean, has an average retweet count of 64!

That is 128x the average content marketing influencer, and 5x higher than influencer #2!

He's also nearly twice as likely to reply if you @ him – which is all the more impressive when you consider that he has 8x more followers than the top 100.

What the top 10 influencers do to dominate

Want to know what you can do to build your social media presence?

Hear from the experts...

Brian Dean

Founder of Backlinko and co-founder of Exploding Topics

"The #1 thing that's helped grow my social media following has been cross-pollinating my audience.

Whenever someone signs up for my email list, they get a friendly CTA to follow me on Twitter.

I also share my YouTube videos on Twitter and via email to help build my following there as well."

Rand Fishkin

Founder of SparkToro

“I have three general rules for posting on social media:

  1. Make 75% of posts things that aren't just interesting to me, but are likely of great interest to many folks that follow me
  2. Use native content (videos, images, etc) to build engagement, then draw traffic every 5th to 10th post back to SparkToro.com
  3. Signal to Noise ratio matters more than quantity.”

Ross Simmonds

Founder of Foundation.Inc

"My Twitter strategy is pretty simple: I tweet about the things that are interesting to me (marketing, entrepreneurship, growth, 90s culture, software, sports, parenting and tech) and format everything I post in a way that is easy on the eyes and likely to resonate.

Oh. And I talk to people. It's called "social" media for a reason.

I strive to respond to almost every person who I engage with on social media and while it's not easy -- I think that helps a ton.

I think a lot of people grow their account with the sole purpose of building a following. My goal is to build relationships & connect with likeminded people all over the globe. If I do that, I'm winning."

Kaleigh Moore

Freelancer and co-founder of Lumen Ventures

"My tweeting has led to some cool opportunities: It’s helped me get a foot in the door with new writing gigs.

It’s linked me up with editors at publications I want to write for.

It’s helped me meet fellow writers who have become my internet (and real-life!) friends.

My best advice for getting the most out of Twitter

  1. Be selective about your Twitter follows
  2. Be deliberate about participation and interaction
  3. Use your time wisely
  4. Don’t spam or stalk people
  5. Be consistent
  6. Ditch the scheduled content
  7. Remember: It’s a cocktail party, not a private conversation"

Tim Soulo

CMO at Ahrefs

"I think the key to getting traction on Twitter lies in understanding what people have followed you for and giving them more of that.

I perfectly understand that I'm not a celebrity and my followers couldn't care less about my personal life or my opinions on random stuff (movies, news, politics, etc).

People follow me to get actionable marketing advice - and that is the main focus of my tweets."

Andy Crestodina

Co-Founder and CMO, Orbit Media

"Twitter is a networking tool. It's not just for promoting content.

Yes, I'm there to share, but also to listen, learn and show gratitude.

And when I do want to drive traffic, I go all out.

On Twitter, 10x the effort will get you 100x the results.

The anatomy of a perfect social media post includes:

  1. Headline best practices (number, benefit, emotion)
  2. Secondary headline
  3. Power trigram
  4. Special characters / emojis
  5. Line breaks
  6. Quotes
  7. Hashtags
  8. Mentions
  9. Visuals"

Ross Hudgens 

Founder of Siege Media

"My goal is to provide focused value around content marketing.

Nothing about food, politics, or sports.

Ideally, every tweet brings something that hasn't been said before, or if it has, is presented with more production value (video) that makes it worth watching."

Melanie Deziel

Chief Content Officer at StoryFuel and Author of The Content Fuel Framework 

"I’ve always seen Twitter as a place for ideas, so I try to share my own ideas, engage with others’ ideas, and share content that inspires new ideas."

Influence is a fickle creature, but it can bring you big opportunities if you master it.

And having an insight into what creates engagement can be a big help. 

If you want to understand influence or create your own influencer list, BuzzSumo is here for you – try our 30-day free trial.

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