Timing is key.  Maybe you want to book a nice 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, check out the findings below.

Types of content that get shared

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

  • How-to posts present a problem, give a solution, and then discuss each step to reach the desired result.
  • Lists  focus on a particular topic, offer a number of points about the topic, and provide a brief conclusion.
  • What-posts provide further information on a specific topic, with plenty of articles surrounding comparisons of one thing to another.
  • Why-posts provide readers with a reason or purpose and provide details that support a focused conclusion.
  • Videos are also self-explanatory, providing viewers with a dynamic visual of the topic discussed within the article.

They 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 riskier formats, showing a high variance of 13.45%. Further analysis of the six-month period revealed:

  • Lists narrowly claimed the most social traction
  • Why-posts earned the next numbers of social traction.
  • Videos drew third place of total shares and performed well in Q4.
  • How-to articles earned 4th place of shares.
  • What-posts had the lowest social traction

What types of content perform best for different industries?

The social metrics of 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 they found were:

  • Technology related social shares increased during the end of the year, when its audience searched online for the latest gadgets to complete their holiday shopping.
  • July is the low performing month for the education vertical, claiming only 10.57% of total shares, as school is closed for the summer and people’s minds are on other matters.
  • How-to articles were the most consistent performers within the automotive audience, corresponding with the highly practical and technical nature of the subject matter.
  • How-to posts also performed best in the food vertical, comprising of 37% of the social shares, most likely because people tend to enjoy posts on recipes.

Although the average number of social shares per vertical did not vary wildly, 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.
  • Business was the only vertical to have a single-digit variance for all content types, emphasizing that its readers have a consistent sharing habit.
  • Automotive, health, and food averaged between 2,000 and 5,000 shares, food being the lowest-performing vertical with fewer than 2,500 social shares a month.
  • News was the only vertical that saw specific content types get 5,000 shares.

Best season for shareable content?

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

  • Why-posts did well in September and November.
  • Videos performed well in Q4.
  • How-to posts took off in August and November.
  • What-posts earned the most shares out of all content types in October.
  • Videos did best in September with more than 24,000 shares.

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:

  • News was the only vertical to see three content types reach more than 2,500 shares each in June.
  • None of the five content types reached 6,000 shares in any vertical during July and August.
  • Business, health, tech, and food don’t have any standout content type that earned more than 2,000 social shares in September.
  • Automotive earned most of its shares in July, specifically with what-posts exceeding 3,000 social shares.
  • Social traction in the business vertical remained consistent for five months, between 8,000 and 9,000 shares, before dropping in November.
  • Lifestyle got high monthly shares in September, with what-posts performing the best on social.
  • Finance also saw its highest monthly shares in September, with list posts providing the highest social traction.

Conclusion:  Timing and relevancy key, especially if you desire of “going viral.”

If you want to know more about types of content that get shared, talk to Team Discovery.