Using BuzzSumo share statistics as your source of inspiration, is as dangerous as counting on internet points to pay for your salary.
Remember this tweet?
A million guys walk into a Silicon Valley bar. No one buys anything.
Bar declared massive success.
— Paul Stamatiou (@Stammy) May 2, 2014
Eric Rise in “The Lean Startup” popularized the concept of vanity metrics. Since then, the idea has caught fire.
To put it plain and simple:
When an indicator doesn’t make real sense for a business but it is fairly easy to grow, it is called a “vanity metric”.
Each part of a business is prone to vanity metrics. For instance:
- For coding: How many lines of code were deleted
- For product dev: How many features were killed
- For biz dev: How many cold emails were sent
If you’re working in a startup, avoid falling for this trap.
It is better to define only one crystal clear indicator, a magic number, as a goal for the whole business.
Then, align every process and department in order to reach that sole “magic number”, e.g: number of returning customers, number of new installs, number of API requests per month, etc…
Each time you are going to add something new to your business, ask yourself: “How is this going to improve our magic number?”
Vanity metrics in the world of content marketing
In the world of content marketing, vanity metrics are also all over the place.
Have you ever wondered why there is so much content out there that talks exactly about the same things?
Their authors are surely using tools like BuzzSumo share statistics.
This is why the most common vanity metrics in content marketing are “shares”, “comments” and in a close third “pageviews”.
Complete case studies, blog posts, even ebooks have been written using BuzzSumo share statistics as the main indicator of “content marketing success.”
They forget that “awareness” is least effective content marketing metric.
There are a few others like sales, subscriptions, downloads … that are instantly actionable and can be translated into your “magic number”.
The more you boost your magic number, the more opportunity there is to grow your company and brand. Therefore, more $$$
Writing your article with the main goal of going viral will most likely hurt you (especially your conversion rates).
It is better to write content with a “conversion goal” in mind, and then make the article shareable. Than to make the article “hyper-shareable” and adding the business related call to action afterwards.
That will just set up your content to fail.
Think about it!
You’re asking your reader to execute two different tasks: your CTA and to share your article.
It comes down to which one you prefer her to do.
Remember, you need to synchronize EVERYTHING in your business to boost your magic number. The rest is just bells and whistles.
Leave your visitors alone with the definitive task that really matters: buying your product!
If you need help boosting your content, count on trendy services to do the work, so you can concentrate on creating CTA driven content.
Where else can we find inspiration if BuzzSumo share statistics are vanity metrics?
First things first, remember to set a goal with each article you publish.
Stop using BuzzSumo share statistics as your ‘what to write’ guide, source of inspiration or anything related to that.
Every article’s goal should be easily translated into your “magic number” and the content inside it should revolve around it. And I bet shares won’t be it.
Now, the insider secret to find ‘what to write’ inspiration is: Gather as much (internal and external) feedback as possible from your target audience.
This means, comments, reviews, opinions, other articles, especially the ones that complain or that clearly state a gap of information that your product can fill.
If you already have a series of articles in your blog, start with these questions:
- How did they perform?
- If you had comments, did they ask for more info about something specific?
- How did your target audience react in the places where you shared the content?
- Was there any kind of feedback adding to what you said?
- Which kind of call to actions were better, the “hidden” or the obvious ones?
- Which step of the funnel were they directed to?
Once you have the honest answers to these questions, start planning how you can replicate past successes.
What if you’re starting from scratch (or everything in the past has miserably failed)?
As a content marketer, you should be reading a lot, right?
Well, do you remember the last time your read an article so great, you were compelled enough to want to buy what it was selling?
You can start by peeling that article, every layer, every subsection, image, anything that can give you clues on why it was brilliant.
- Why the headline attracted you to click?
- Which parts of the text you found the most useful? why?
- What made you take action? (bonus question: what action did you take first?)
- Why did you or did you not buy the product at the end?
- How can you use the same techniques with your content?
- How can you start testing right away?
The simple fact that you answer these questions with your product in mind will help you create a short story. That story can be your next article.
No ideas yet on what to write? Do this…
Search for ideas on Amazon
Finding ideas to write about is all about finding what your target audience is missing.
Often, the best way to find out is through critical comments they post themselves.
Amazon is one the richest websites on the internet in terms of product feedback.
For instance, you can use product questions, books reviews, complaints … Anything that gives you information about a gap of information.
Here’s an example: let’s say you have an app that helps you control your personal finances, and that your target audience is mainly university students.
A search for “personal finance books” on amazon will return the most popular books.
Browse their reviews, specifically the ones with 2-3 stars. Read them ALL!!!
The idea is to find patterns, stuff that people mention and that you can cover in an article.
In this example, there was even one reader that gave the kind of headlines he would click on.
If your app allows your users to do exactly that, you got yourself a new “high conversion” article.
Bonus pro tip: Repeat the same process with Quora. It will help you confirm the hypothesis found during your research on amazon.
These techniques might sound like a lot more effort than simply searching for keywords and finding out which headline had the more shares!
But remember, it is not always the “cool kids” with the higher BuzzSumo share statistics that get rich at the end.
It is the ones that work hard optimizing for sales, not for popularity!