Buzzsumo recently analysed over 100m articles published in 2017 (Full PDF) and unearthed some interesting trends.
I’d summarise the findings as:
- Social sharing is down 50% since 2015 (also confirmed by here) with social referral traffic in similarly sharp decline with Google now driving 2x referral traffic to publishers (you can read this as ‘AMP‘.).Aside from external factors, we can largely point the finger at content saturation and the sheer volume of poor, sensationalist-click-bait people are bombarded with, especially via the News Feed – which Facebook are aware and doing something about – and will undoubtedly also see these numbers fall off a cliff.
- Inversely, social engagement is on the rise for publishers of high quality, original and authoritative content.This is most prevalent on LinkedIn where sharing, albeit via a low base, is notably up. I know I’ve noticed this personally and I’d suggest its due to people wanting to be associated with what they’re sharing combined with there being less noise vs twitter.
- Private sharing is rapidly on the up (although I’m sure thats hard to measure) – with the increase in sharing via non-trackable platforms such as Slack, messenger apps and even Email to a degree.Mark Schaefer refers to this as ‘the mega-shift from social media to private media‘. That’s a great read btw.
- Amazingly, or perhaps not-so really, a majority of content has zero backlinks.Publishers simply aren’t promoting their content.
This isn’t something new – many businesses tend to simply broadcast rather than genuinely share with interested parties who can amplify their message for them and boost their SEO.
What you can do about this:
Review your content strategy and ensure you’re focusing on quality over quantity. Fewer high-quality pieces are (IMO always) likely to garner higher ROI. If your strategy is ‘create x articles a week’, then your investment strategy is akin to simply buying more shares.
Manual promotion of content, I.e. ‘outreach’, must form part of your workflow.
Share your content directly (E.g. Email/Twitter) with sites who have an audience who may find it interesting/helpful. This is the best way to get links and will undoubtedly improve your SEO aside from also being a brilliant way to increase brand awareness and advocacy. Avoid asking for links – just make them aware.
And obviously, don’t rely on social. Yes it should form part of your promotion strategy, but ensure you utilise all channels effectively.