Content Research & Planning

in Getting Started

BuzzSumo provides powerful insights to improve content research and planning.

Your Content Strategy

In developing your content strategy you will run through a content research and planning process along these lines:

  • Clarify your goals – target personas, traffic, brand awareness, leads, engagement
  • Create a content plan  –  review and plan content
    • decide the forms of content that will engage your target audience.
    • decide on the balance of original and curated content
    • identify content themes – what’s happening in your sector that you should be analysing, commenting on or challenging
    • review content types – how to, why, interview, trends, survey, quiz
    • content formats – article, slides, ebook, video, audio,
  • Decide on distribution platforms – blog, guest posts, youtube, facebook, linkedin
  • Plan and produce a content calendar – which will set out the frequency, themes, and schedule of content
  • Identify influencers – who are well placed to share and promote your content
  • Agree metrics to monitor performance – downloads, shares, views, leads, comments. Social shares is in our view a key metric.

BuzzSumo can help with this process including generating content topics and ideas, identifying the best formats to consider, best distribution platforms, influencer outreach and performance benchmarking – even the best time to post. All to maximise social sharing of your content.

Developing the content plan

What should we talk about?

Every content marketing plan starts with this question. We’re all looking for that angle that will help set our brands apart. Where can you draw inspiration from? Here’s how we can help.

See what’s being shared: Search Top Content by Topic

BuzzSumo helps you get beyond the blank page. Start by discovering content that is resonating in your industry and identify the content that’s most shared. Use the top content search to find the most shared content for a topic. Let’s say Entrepreneurship. BuzzSumo will return a list of the most shared content.

Say you’re specifically targeting LinkedIn. The content can be re-sorted to see the most shared on any platform, say LinkedIn. This often brings up differences in the type of content that is gaining traction on the different networks. On LinkedIn we might see that articles focused more on personal development and advice do well.

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You can refine your search, for example add words or exclude words. In my example I can search for entrepreneurship UK to find relevant articles about entrepreneurship in the UK.

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Advanced search operators can be very powerful for refining your search, so that you can be clear what is resonating in your area.

So maybe I’ll write a list post about the best places to be an entrepreneur in the UK. But has anyone else covered that, or come up with a better idea? We can help there too:

Search Popular Sites and Competitor Sites: domain search

You can also search for the most shared articles on entrepreneurship on popular or authoritative sites such as Forbes or the Financial Times. Just search for the domain followed by the term.

Searching for the most shared content on an authoritative industry site such as a professional association can also be a useful way to see what content is resonating in an industry.

For example, below is a search the industry baking magazine site American Banker to see what articles are resonating currently. You can also set up a single search to find the most popular content across a number of industry sites using the OR operator.

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You probably have a specific competitior set who you want to track, so you’re on top of what they’re saying. You can also set up a search for competitor sites such as ‘ OR’ to see how what is working for competitors.

BuzzSumo also allows you get “Big Brother-esque” with your competition by tracking the effectiveness of their content and running very handy comparisons. Who in the C-Suite doesn’t love benchmarking?

Uberflip –

Find Recent Trending Content: date ranges

You can also refine by date range. Thus you can see what articles on trending in the last week. For example, when looking at content on “house prices” I could see that whilst the most shared articles over the last year were about price increases:

Date range

However, articles in the last week were all about concerns about price falls.

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Thus you can see what type of content is resonating currently by searching for content over the last month, week or 24 hours. By checking like this, you can ensure your latest blog idea isn’t already a bygone – and also tweak some of your older content to come back on trend. You can also set up a content alert to be notified of new content in any topic area or by domain as soon as it is published.

You can also do a specific date range search to see what content was popular this time last year in the lead up to annual events such as Halloween – useful if you run campaigns to tie into seasonal events.

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You can also export all your search results. The export contains extra data such as the data the article was published.

Step back to see what’s working: Content analysis reports

You can also use a BuzzSumo content analysis report to get an overview of what is working for a particular topic or site. For example:

  • what content formats – do listicles do 10x better than videos in your area?
  • what content lengths – long form outperforming the 500 word blog?
  • days content is published – missing a crowd because of when you publish?

You can also see which domains are being most shared for a particular topic, which may be target sites for you to get your posts published.

Fill that whiteboard…content ideas from results

So how does all this help the content marketer in need of ideas? Lots of ways:

  • Reviewing the headlines that are working
  • Taking something that is popular and applying your own perspective
  • Identifying a popular topic and creating an alternative or contrary viewpoint.
  • Finding a popular topic and creating a different format such as an infographic
  • Interviewing the writers of the 5 most popular posts for an interview post
  • identifying opportunities for long form posts, if longer word counts
  • Searching for related topics to see what is resonating that might transfer to your area
  • Seeing what your competitors are saying and taking a contrary position
  • Seeing where content gaps may reside, something that is not being covered
  • Search for a keyword you are trying to rank for to see content what is working
  • See how content topics change over time, explore why  – write about the changing trends in a topic
  • Make sure you’re not covering the same ground: The top content searches are useful to check if a popular piece of content already exists based on your concept or idea.

“Ideas jumped out at me. A blog post on what was wrong with the air conditioning unit could be a successful idea. The other idea could be a blog all on its own: air repair nightmares.”

Case study

Who’s going to share your story? Influencer outreach and site outreach

In addition to engaging with your content you want people to share it. Not all content is shared equally, because not all sharers are equal. Outreach strategies warrant a separate discussion but BuzzSumo makes it easy to identify and find relevant people to reach out to – the ones who are already sharing similar content, have authority, and large numbers of followers. .

You can find influencers in a number of ways.

While you’re looking at content:

View who shared popular content – The ‘view sharers’ button will show you who shared content and helped amplify it. You can resort this list by authority, reach or engagement. You can follow them, add the influencers to a Twitter list and export the list to Excel.

content sharers

Search for influencers by topic – Just go to the influencers top tab and search for a topic. You can filter this list by location.

Create outreach lists and add the influencers you find to these lists and engage with them – you can add them to a list or tweet them with one click. See more about influencer outreach (link).

You can use a content analysis report to see the most shared domains for a topic and identify sites to reach out to that might take yourblog post. Alternatively these might be sites to engage with through comments and discussions.

Stay on top: Curate content

One way of generating traffic and engagement is to be a hub for content in your sector.

If you want to curate content as part of your strategy then a Buzzsumo top content search is a great way to discover content and make sure you don’t miss anything. You can also use a Buzzsumo content alert to be notified of new trending content. For example, you can set up a keyword alert for a topic and set a minimum number of shares such as 100 shares. You will then be notified every time a piece of content on your topic passes 100 shares, giving you filtered content.

Save Time

You can also save off your searches to use again. For example, you might want saved searches for:

  • competitors –  ‘ OR’
  • industry sites – ‘’ OR ‘’

These insights will help you develop your own content plan and strategy.

Using BuzzSumo can make the whole process more efficient. One agency has said BuzzSumo has reduced their content planning and research by 50%.

Set Benchmarks for your content

You can take the average shares for a competitor site or a topic average to set a benchmark for performance. With an export you can do more detailed analysis for example, check how many shares does it take to be in the top 50 most shared articles. Use these to set KPIs, then run reports to see how your content is performing – are you hitting your share target? on the platforms you’ve targeted? Shared by the influencers you wanted to reach? You can use reports as a dashboard to track your content performance in real time.