Creating influential content – Susan Moeller, BuzzSumo – Nottingham Digital Summit

Posted on 03/07/2019 by Team Hallam

The third talk of the afternoon on the Playhouse stage at the Nottingham Digital Summit was Susan Moeller of BuzzSumo. She discussed how to navigate current trends and move your audience from passivity to partnership.

Susan Moeller, Nottingham Digital Summit

Passivity to partnership is becoming harder

This is for a number of reasons:

  • Distrust of social networks: Because they’ve preyed on our data, people no longer trust them.
  • Adblockers: 22% of people in the UK use adblocker technologies – and these statistics are higher in the US and Europe – less people are seeing ads.
  • Increased control: Because of these, the audience is in control of the messages they receive, which means there are a lot less people who can actually view our content.

WordPress publishing content

There’s a huge amount of content being published – more than ever before.

The consumer decision journey has four key battlegrounds, according to the McKinsey Loyalty Loop:

  • Initial consideration set: The consumer considers an initial set of brands
  • Active evaluation: Brands enter and exit the consideration set at any point up to purchase
  • Moment of purchase: Ultimately, the consumer selects a brand
  • Loyalty loop: Consumer repurchases current brand without shopping for others

Our customers are always shopping around – even ones who like our product.

McKinsey recommends you make your brand very easy to find, and increase spending on brand awareness. Make sure that when people come to your site, you have a great way to capture them, so they’ll consider you when they make a purchase decision.

It’s difficult creating content that gets good results. 50% of today’s content gets less than four shares, and zero backlinks. This content is influencing absolutely no one.

The social shares that occur are for power posts – 1.3% of content shared gets 75% of total engagement.

While the landscape has changed, our goals haven’t. We still need to move their audience from passivity to partnership. To do this, we need to understand and create influential content, by understanding the following:

  • Our industry
  • Our audience
  • Promotion and distribution
  • Collaboration
  • Our results

Understand our industry

Industry and topic content evaluation to determine competition and content saturation levels. Different saturation require different strategies, and savvy marketers recognise the goldmine an unsaturated topic – high interest and low competition.

Savvy marketers also know how to drive action in saturated topic areas, by discovering a niche, working with influencers for distribution, and gaining a high production value.

So, how do you discover if a topic area is saturated or unsaturated?

Saturated topic areas

In this example, we can see that articles about “influencer marketing” have 47% less competition than articles for “content marketing”, and 43% more engagements. Therefore, influencer content is a lot less saturated.

Scale your content creation so you can saturate a topic area – but you can only do that with an area that’s currently unsaturated, and you have to act fast.

What do you do with an unsaturated content landscape?

  • Find your niche area: There are subject areas related to the topic, and specific sub-topics. For example, content marketing covers content strategy, content writing and Google Analytics. You can break these down into further sub-topics.
  • High production value content: Look to content such as an ebook, online course or professional video, as there will be less competition on those types of content, as opposed to a blog article.
  • Teamwork: Collaborating with influencers or contributors can help you to create more and better content.

Understand our audience

Data helps us to understand our audiences, so we can give them what they want.

“I call content marketing ‘data-driven’ empathy.” – Andy Crestodina.

By using tools like BuzzSumo and Google Analytics, you can get closer to your audience to find out what they love, so you can create content that solves their informational needs.

Great content aligns with what your audience wants. You need to know what they find engaging and what they want to know, so you can help them.

Essentially, there are three ways you can do this:

  • Talk to customers and prospects: Customer success team, surveys, real-life events
  • Cultivate industry knowledge: Competitors, thought leaders, conferences, trends
  • Observe behaviour: Traffic, social media engagement

Social shares are a good proxy for interest, and can save time in creating content at scale. Start with what works overall in the digital landscape.

Average shares vs words graph social

Some useful stats from a collaboration between BuzzSumo and Backlinko:

  • Question headlines (i.e. ones with a “?”), get an above-average amount of social shares
  • List posts and “why” posts get a high level of shares, whereas infographics and “how-tos” don’t
  • The ideal content length for maximising social media shares is 1,000-2,000 words

The other thing to remember? Don’t be afraid to write really long headlines!

average engagement by content type

What are people searching for when they find your site?

You can identify which keywords people are using to find you, and which pages are driving the most traffic with Search Console and Analytics.

How to build a sustainable content research workflow


  • Keep up with industry trends
  • Adjust strategy for upcoming month
  • Connect with and curate content from industry influencers


  • Deploy content
  • Measure success of content as it’s published
  • Keep an eye on competitors
  • Adjust content profile
  • Review best performing content for topic areas to find trends
  • Collaborate with someone


  • Take a look at the most successful content for your topic area, your competitors and your site
  • Develop list of topics, formats and influencers
  • Decide on social promotion networks
  • Plan content


  • Review any research about effective content from the digital landscape
  • Note formats to try
  • Create content profile
  • Find and plan for evergreen content
  • Look at agendas of industry conferences for emerging themes

Understand promotion and distribution

People discover things online through search, social and word of mouth. For search, you need to optimise your content for SEO. For social, they are likely bored, so are looking to be entertained.

You can’t just fix and forget our content – you must continue to distribute, update and re-release. You need to ensure your content is relevant enough, and the tone must be appropriate for the channel that you’re going to optimise it for (social media, SEO etc).

You have to master the art of getting content in front of human eyes by working with bots that serve that content up in the form of SEO.

When it comes to social media promotion, consistency is key, to keep your content in front of your audience. How you do this will depend on the number of people in your team, and the time you have. The most effective way is to create a content promotion strategy, and stick to it.

Understand collaboration

factors for content success


  • Content quality
  • Engaged audience
  • Expert opinions

Understand our results

It’s important you measure content of each type with the correct KPI. Set these KPIs within your team and help them to expect the right outcome.

Create content that supports your goals, and measure the right things for each piece of content. Know your results – there is some level of experimentation or iteration in producing great content. With tools like Google Analytics, every piece of content creates its own feedback loop.

Creating influential content, Susan Moeller, Nottingham Digital Summit

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Creating influential content – Susan Moeller, BuzzSumo – Nottingham Digital Summit

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