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5 Types of Content Formats That Gets the Most Social Media Shares And How to Create Them

Content marketing is not that hard if you know the proven content formats.

Through the years, marketers have perfected the way of writing content that engages their audience and this involves a handful of content formats designed to get traffic and shares.

This may have been the result of the lack of content engagement from 2015. According to TrackMaven’s Content Marketing Strategy Report, engagement decreases as content production increases. They found that content production has increased by 35 percent per channel in 2015, but content engagement decreased by 17 percent.

Fortunately, there are some content formats that survived. Here are the types of content that gets the most shares according to two studies: OkDork’s Content Marketing Study and Fractl-BuzzStream Article Study.

According to the Fractl-BuzzStream study, how-to articles earned 18.42% of shares. They are effective for news, entertainment and business verticals.

Another factor that makes this guide so effective is its length.

According to OKDork, length is proportional to the number of shares an article gets.

This means that the longer it is, the better.

As a rule, OKDork recommends that articles should have at least 2000 words.

How to Create an In-Depth Guide

Fortunately, there are plenty of space in an in-depth guide to reach 2000 words. Here is how I do it.

It is useless to create a guide on a topic that no one is interested in reading. Fortunately, there are some tools that you can use to quickly find some topics.

For this purpose, I use BuzzSumo and Google.


For BuzzSumo, I simply search for [main topic] guide and look at the results.

I take note of the ones that gets the most shares.


I also do the same in Google. I search for [main topic]+”guide” and I look at the results in the first 4 pages.

This gives me tons of ideas on the topics that people are already interested in and it also gives me ideas on how to write my headline.

Once I got a topic, I will go ahead and break it down into 6 to 10 steps. Why 6 to 10? Well, 5 is simply too few and anything over 10 is too many. It is an in-depth guide after all but I don’t want to bore my readers to death with an overwhelming number of steps.

Once you have the steps down, it is time to add the meaty details. You can only do that once you have finished doing your research. As a rule, I try to look for at least 3 resources for each step. This way, I have plenty of articles for my research.

I also append the resources at the end of each step as I can use it for outreach later.

With the steps finished, it is time to polish everything with an introduction and a conclusion.

For the introduction, I simply tell the reader about what they will learn. It has to be straight to the point.

The same is true with the conclusion. I just summarize everything that I have said and invite the reader to a certain call to action – to click a link, to buy something, to share or to comment.

According to the Fractl-BuzzStream study, lists proved to have the most reliable social traction, averaging around 21,000 shares per month with a variance of less than 2.5%. This means that lists is the top content format when it comes to consistently getting shares.

If you will combine this with the length factor from OKDork, you can create a long giant list to get more shares.

How to Create a Giant List

A giant list can be a huge collection of links that has little explanation for each. It is popular because it gives people a database that they can go back to from time to time.

With that said, let’s proceed to how to create a giant list, shall we?

Again, the process begins with researching topics. But this time, you need to look for databases that people are interested in.

Unfortunately, I cannot give you a search query for this as this can vary from niche to niche. Instead, it is best to immerse yourself in your niche and look at the types of lists that they like.

If you need general ideas, you can look at complete lists on Google.

For example, I created a Twitter Applications list in 2008. I did this because I saw that a lot of people on Twitter are confused on all the new apps that are coming out. I was really active in Twitter back then and we were like a small community. So I created this list to help them.

Did I know that the term ‘twitter applications’ will be a big deal? No! I just created the term out of thin air relating it with that of iPhone apps.

Once you have a topic that a certain number of people are interested in, it is time to gather some links.

For a giant list, quantity is more important than quality – the more, the merrier.

For my Twitter Applications list, I gathered as much as 526 Twitter apps. I have also seen bloggers aim to create a complete list of applications for their Giant Lists.

This is the tricky part.

It is not enough that you have gathered over 500 links. You have to categorize them.

If you don’t, then you are not really providing enough value. Instead, you are just presenting a mishmash of links – similar to what is already out there.

So learn to categorize. Here’s an example:

In here, the author categorize the list based on the needs of the user.

The magic number for shorter detailed lists is ‘10’. According to OKDork, 10 item lists on average received the most social shares – 10,621 social shares. In fact, they had 4 times as many social shares on average than the 2nd most popular list number: 23. The runner-ups were 23, 16, and 24.

This can be made better by including some highly detailed step-by-step information for each item. I suggest some 300-word explanations for each.

How to Create a Shorter Detailed List

Again, research must be done before you write anything. Similar to the giant list, I cannot recommend search queries for this. Instead, it is better to simply observe the blogs in your niche.

To do this, list all of your favorite niche blogs.

NOTE: I do this by adding their social profiles as well so that I can keep track of what they are posting.

Then, gather their feeds and put it on feedly.

Scan their posts and look at the small lists that your niche players are creating. You can also use tools like BuzzSumo.

Once you have an interesting topic, it is time to create 10 items. To do this, simply break down the topic into 10 steps or ideas.

NOTE: You can also list the benefits of each item in its subheadline. It makes it more powerful that way. Take a look at my post about the different blogger outreach strategies to see how I did this.

From here, all that is left is to add some information below each item. It does not need to be that long. Take a look at my article about the ‘10 Reasons Why No One Reads Your Content’ to see how I did this.

Earning 18.94% of social shares, videos are also a great type of content to get more social shares. It is more effective in the entertainment and education vertical.

How to Create Videos

I’ll be honest. Videos are not my strength. I don’t have the technical ability to record and edit videos but I am slowly learning.

Here is the simple process I follow.

First, I look for topics that I can cover. This can vary depending on your niche. It would help to search for your niche or topic on Youtube to see what type of videos are getting views. Look at the view count. This will give you on idea on what works and what doesn’t.

This can be steps or ideas. Since we are hoping to create a tutorial, I have put the word ‘steps’ in here. Why 6-10? That is the number that will let you create a decent video.

Like the in-depth guide, it is very important to add details and resources into your steps. This will help you keep track of where you got your information as well as help you create a spiel for your video.

The best shared content type out of the list is the infographic. In the study by OKDork, infographics get as much as 14k shares. This is the highest out of the bunch.

How to Create Infographics

For infographics, I simply choose the topic, list around 10 statistics and hire someone to do it.

Again, the topic is very important. Use BuzzSumo and Google to find these. For infographics, I also love to go on Pinterest as it contains a lot of infographic inspiration.

Where do I find statistics? I simply go to these lists.

The key is to find as least 10 good statistics and sort them according to what is relevant to your topic.

Then, outsource your infographic. If you’re like me, then you probably have no graphic talent. With that, I have to outsource everything graphic-related and that includes my infographic.

A good infographic creator that I found is MilkWhale.

Time to Start Creating!

Now that you know the types of content that gets the most shares, it is time to hustle. Choose one from the types of content above and start creating!

Download the printable worksheet below.