Does your content receive eight shares or less?
If so, your content is “failing,” according to a recent industry study.
I discussed BuzzSumo’s study during last week’s SEO Copywriting Certification training call. The author of the study, Steve Rayson, analyzed over one million posts and noticed a surprising trend. Popular, branded sites such as HubSpot saw a sharp decline in social shares. In fact, 50% of the content saw fewer than eight social shares.
The reason? “Content shock” — the demand for content has gone flat while the amount of content has exploded. The result? Less engagement.
(As a side note, some believe content shock is a myth. Whatever you believe, I think we can all agree that we’re bombarded by new content every. single. day.)
Many writers and marketers (maybe even you) panicked when they read the study. “EIGHT SHARES” they screamed. “Our company is lucky if a post gets retweeted a couple times.”
Sure, some of your content may enjoy a sharing explosion. But I’m guessing some of your content may not. Maybe even the majority of your content.
Does that mean that your content is “failing?”
Maybe. But let’s look a little deeper.
Social sharing is one measurement of content effectiveness. Things that are important (some would say more important,) are:
— Is the content driving conversions or otherwise making you money?
— Are people reading your content? Or are they immediately bouncing off the page?
— Did you match the content to where the customer is in the sales cycle? For instance, do you have high-quality content that helps prospects when they’re in the “research” phase?
— Do you hear, “Hey, I really like your content” from people in your target audience? For instance, I have a client who receives very few social shares (he’s in an industry that doesn’t share content much,) but he receives many “I faithfully read your content every week,” messages. That’s more important to him than a retweet any day.
— Does the content position? You may have written a fantastic guide that gets some social love initially, but then fades into the background. If it’s still positioning in Google — and prospects are finding you through the content — do you care that you’re not receiving more social shares?
(As a side note, I find it funny that BuzzSumo’s initial Facebook post about the study has only received one share. Would that mean their content was “failing?”)
The reality is: Not all of your content is going to go viral. If you want 100% viral, all the time, specialize in cute cat videos.
However, being the Steve Rayson fangirl I am, I think he still makes some excellent points. Although I may disagree with the “failing” moniker, I would agree with his other tips:
– Content research is crucial. Research time is a non-negotiable in today’s brave new Google world. If you’re an end client, know that your writer may need to spend several hours researching your blog post topic. She isn’t padding her time. And yes, this is necessary (and billable.) You can give your writer a great head start by providing her trusted sources, white papers and anything else that will help her write the page.
– Post promotion is almost as important (some would say more so) as post creation (I talked about this in last week’s SEO Copywriting Buzz newsletter) Targeting influencers in a nice, non-pushy way is still important. Just know that influencers are being hit by 100 other bloggers asking them to promote their content, so approach them with care.
– It’s smart to leverage trends and be nimble. If you’re writing about a hot topic that happened two weeks ago, you’ve probably already lost the viral battle.
I would add my own tip to this, which is…
– You still need to optimize posts. “Write naturally” is a myth. If your posts aren’t positioning, there is a big disconnect you need to fix.
So, is the issue truly “content shock?” Or are people naturally tuning out content that’s poorly-written, poorly-researched and poorly-timed?
What’s the takeaway?
Whatever you believe around the “content shock” idea, consider this study a wake-up call. No, your content may not be “failing” if it receives eight shares or less. But that doesn’t mean that it’s working, either. If your content isn’t making you money somehow, it’s time for an overhaul.