What Types of Content Perform Best on Social Media? | by Prithiviraj | Sep, 2021

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In many aspects of life, timing is key. If you’ve got to schedule a very important meeting, and all of the attendees aren’t morning people, scheduling an 8 a.m. start time probably won’t result in a productive meeting. Or maybe you want to book a cheap vacation — you probably want to avoid scheduling one during the holidays.

The same is true with content creation and social media. If you want your content to do well on social media, you’ve got to be strategic about what you publish and when you publish it.

To figure out how and when to publish content to have a big social media splash, Fractl recently partnered with BuzzStream to analyze 220,000 articles from 11 verticals published from June 2014 to November 2014. Check out our findings below.

Great ideas lead to great content, and our research proves that how you choose to execute that content will affect its social traction. We divided the content of articles into five types: how-tos, lists, what-posts, why-posts, and videos. Here’s how we defined each post type:

  • How-to posts introduce a problem, offer a solution, and then discuss each step to reach the desired result.

Across the six-month period of this analysis, we found that some post types did perform better than others. Lists and why-posts proved to have the most reliable social traction, averaging around 21,000 shares per month with a variance of less than 2.5%. What-posts were the riskiest format, showing a high variance of 13.45%. Further analysis of the six-month period revealed:

  • Lists narrowly claimed the most social traction at 22.45%

The social metrics of the content type also varied by vertical, proving that each audience has different preferences and behaviors.

For example, lists proved the best content type for the travel vertical, claiming 32% of shares. The list format corresponded with what people do when planning for a trip: Write down where they want to go, what they need to pack, and other details.

But lists didn’t do as well in the education vertical, where this post type claimed only 10% of shares. Other interesting insights we found were:

  • Technology social shares increased during the end of the year when its audience searched online for the latest gadgets to complete their holiday shopping.

We also decided to dive deeper into the 11 verticals and identify the top 20 websites in each. Filtering these results by content type and date, we saw that although the average number of social shares per vertical did not vary wildly — usually less than 10% each month — some verticals performed better than others. The news vertical saw the most social traction, averaging more than 28,000 shares each month. Its high performance is likely because it has the broadest topic range of the different verticals. The second highest-performing vertical, entertainment, averaged more than 17,000 shares a month, while travel rounded out the top three with an average of more than 10,000 shares. Other findings included:

  • Lifestyle, tech, finance, business, and education averaged between 5,000 and 9,000 shares — nearly three times less than the news vertical.

With more than 128,000 shares, October emerged as the month with the highest social traction for each of the different content types. Further analysis found:

  • Why-posts did well in September and November.

But that doesn’t mean you should saturate publishing come fall. A closer look at the data determined that different verticals perform better at different times throughout the year:

  • The news was the only vertical to see three content types reach more than 2,500 shares each in June.

The biggest takeaway from our research? Timing and relevancy are key, especially if you want to hit that ever-desired mark of “going viral.”

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