3 (Surprisingly Simple) Content Marketing Mistakes – an Interview With Buzzsumo’s Steve Rayson

Written by Intern - 24 Jun 2016

Ryan, Mark and I, members of the Inbound Marketing team at Fresh Egg recently had the pleasure of interviewing Steve Rayson, one of the owners of content performance analysis tool Buzzsumo, on our Digital Breakfast podcast. Steve analyses vast amounts of content performance data and has found some incredibly interesting insights, some of which he shared with us.

For example, Steve told us how he analysed over 1 million pieces of content from across multiple B2C industries and found that the median number of social shares for any given piece of B2C content is just 8 – far lower than we would have expected.

He repeated this research in the B2B sector and found that the median is not much greater, averaging around 20 shares per piece of content.

"The median number of social shares for any B2C content is just 8."

As Steve talked to us about the current state of content marketing, it soon became clear why these sharing stats aren’t as surprising as we initially thought. Steve also talked us through some of the mistakes he observes and what he thinks marketers need to be doing differently in 2016 (affectionately referred to as the R.A.M technique).

Here are three key points made by Steve.

3 common mistakes content marketers make

1. No research

Steve believes it is critical that, as a content marketer, you research the audience groups you are attempting to target before you create content. It is also important that you understand the stage of the audience’s buying journey which you are targeting the content to, and that you understand what it is your audience needs so that you address this in your content.

Without doing this, marketers are running a huge (and all-too-common) risk of creating content for the sake of it, rather than providing value for their audiences.

Equally, there are some content marketers who believe they know everything there is to know about their audience, so they don’t need to do any further research.

The fact is, by looking a little harder, content marketers are likely to spot more opportunities and gain inspiration. This helps them to create more engaging content in a variety of formats that are more resonant with their audiences, rather than posting up another ’top 10‘ article and hoping for the best.

2. No amplification strategy

There does appear to be a sense of ‘If I build (write) it, they will come’ among content marketers.

Some people believe they can write anything that pops into their head or appears on their content schedule and that droves of people will like it, retweet it, etc. Largely speaking, this results in content which makes people switch off. So, content marketers need to consider some key things to help combat uninspiring, been-there-before, recycled content:

  • Who will want to share your content?
  • Why will people want to shout about and share it?
  • How will you secure influencer advocacy of the content before it is created?


3. Lack of monitoring

Steve made a fantastic remark during our interview:

‘We have a responsibility as content marketers to know what our competitors’ and our industry’s most shared content is.’

The reason is that none of us has ’a personal monopoly on good ideas’. In order to stay up-to-date and to keep inspiration flowing, we must be looking at our direct and indirect competitors, and also across related industries, to draw inspiration from content that engages people.

Hints, tips and advice for content marketers

Steve is confident that there has never been a better time to be a content marketer. There are almost endless opportunities out there to create exciting and engaging content which is relevant and useful. He went on to give some very valuable content marketing hints, tips and advice, some of which we’ve listed below.

For the full list, you’ll need to listen to the interview (just click the 'play' button below).

  • Repurpose existing content in a different format – for example, turn a video into a transcript, or put your event or seminar presentation slides onto a slide sharing website like SlideShare
  •  Short-form content is proven to work extremely well if you put the time in – examples of popular short-form content creation platforms include Vine and Instagram, and two good examples of great short-form content publishers are IFLScience.com and Zach King

IFLScience - Pyramid of Giza fact

  • Be the best answer – if you are creating content which answers a question, be confident that you are going to create the best answer, otherwise it’s unlikely to have much success
  • Test your headlines – after your content is published, A/B test different variations of your headline when promoting it to get more readers to your content. BuzzFeed uses this methodology and writes many variations of its titles, and Larry Kim has also written about the importance of headline testing in the age of Google’s RankBrain algorithm.
  • Use colleagues to amplify your content – admittedly, this one seems obvious but it is shocking how many content marketers fail to use the simple technique of asking their colleagues to promote content. It’s a quick way to get an initial push for your content and, believe me on this one, it never hurts to incentivise your colleagues’ involvement in promotional activities with a box of doughnuts

Check out BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo is a tool that I use on a pretty much daily basis, so I can confidently shout about how useful it is.

It’s a freemium tool, so you can go and try it yourself. Use it to research the top performing content on any website (e.g. BuzzFeed.com), by topic (e.g. marketing), or a combination of the two (e.g. BuzFeed.com + marketing).

Buzzsumo's content research tool

You’ll also be able to check out who the influencers are that share any piece of content and start building your own contacting hit list. Bear in mind that to do this, you’ll have to become a paid user.

If you’re looking to find out more about BuzzSumo and content marketing, check out some of the blog posts that Steve has written over at Buzzsumo.com.

My personal favourite right now is Steve’s post on how to be the best answer.

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the Digital Breakfast podcast series, or if you want to get in touch with me and the team at Fresh Egg , ping an email to info@freshegg.com.