Is BuzzSumo the key to creating endlessly engaging content? [Review & tutorial]

Is BuzzSumo the key to creating endlessly engaging content? [Review & tutorial]


Content creators publish more than 4.4 million blogs every day and upload over 300 hours of video to YouTube each minute. Across social platforms, users share hundreds of millions of posts daily.

In such a vast sea of content, how is anyone supposed to keep up, let alone get noticed? This is the challenge writers at Brafton face every time we sit down to write an article. Tools like BuzzSumo – and, in my case, about a gallon of coffee – are how we cut through the noise and define actionable strategies.

What is BuzzSumo?

Launched in 2014, BuzzSumo is a research and analysis tool designed with the needs of content marketers in mind. The full BuzzSumo suite offers you a real-time database of trending topics, content ideas and frequently asked questions. It also contains tools to help you analyze web content, benchmark Facebook and YouTube content and identify key influencers across platforms.

If you’re looking for an easy way to track mentions of your brand across the web, BuzzSumo offers a reporting tool where you view backlinks, monitor web activity and share reports with your team via Slack integration. You can set custom alerts to notify you when your brand is trending online so you can take action to capitalize on positive stories or get a better handle on your response to breaking news.

What capabilities does BuzzSumo have?

Over the years, BuzzSumo has added several new features and tools to support its mission of helping content creators stand out from their competitors. For instance, as the value of influencer marketing became better understood by the industry, BuzzSumo added tools to help users identify and connect with influencers on Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.

Not every tool mentioned in this review is available to all BuzzSumo subscribers, however. As you’ll see further on, there are four tiers to choose from, starting with the basic Pro plan up to the fully customizable Enterprise plan. We’re going to cover all of the capabilities BuzzSumo has to offer:

Topic discovery

Catching the next viral trend requires careful vigilance. Monitoring your personal social media feeds won’t help you much because there’s just too many possible topics out there. BuzzSumo helps you get a high-level view of trending stories from around the world.

The trending tool gives you an instant view of the most popular articles and videos from the top social media networks. You can view trends by country or language and create your own filtered lists to narrow in on the industries or subjects that matter most to you.

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The topic discovery tool helps you plan new content when you’re not sure what to write about next. Just type in a keyword and BuzzSumo will generate a word cloud of associated subjects to spark your creative process. You’ll get topic ideas as well as potential questions to answer in your content.

The discover questions tool allows you to listen in to online chatter and discover what people are asking about on popular forums like Quora and Reddit.

Content analysis

Content is king, and it’s important to know how well your competitors are doing if you want your brand to stand out in the marketplace. BuzzSumo launched as a web content analysis tool and continues to provide robust insights in an easy-to-understand dashboard.

The web content tool gives you the power to find and analyze trending articles to help you understand what readers are responding to the most. At a glance, you can see which platforms are popular and get a list of the top sharers for a given URL.

The Facebook analyzer is a special tool that links a Facebook profile to BuzzSumo for more tailored content suggestions. With this tool, you can view trending stories, learn about what types of content get the most engagement and inform your strategy with real user data.

The YouTube content tool is a new addition to BuzzSumo. Type in a keyword and you’ll get a list of the most popular related videos with essential information such as titles, video length and number of views, comments and likes.

The backlink tool makes it easy to see which sites are sending traffic to your brand pages. Because backlinks are an important ranking factor, this tool is useful for nurturing relationships to motivate future links.

Influencer marketing

Social media influencers can serve as vital partners who spread the word about your brand and its offerings. BuzzSumo’s influencer tools allow you to pinpoint influencers based on a topic or keyword. You can see which topics each influencer posts about, which domains they share and how much engagement their content receives. Currently, BuzzSumo can help you find influencers on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

Brand monitoring

As Oscar Wilde once wrote, “There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”

BuzzSumo’s monitoring and alert tools let you know exactly how much your brand is being talked about and who’s doing the talking. You can create custom alerts based on brands, competitors, content, keywords and other filters to help you understand where online chatter is coming from and how you can use it to support your content strategy.

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What are the pros and cons of using BuzzSumo?

Having used BuzzSumo since 2015, I can say that it has evolved steadily over the years, and especially after it was acquired by Brandwatch in 2017. As the product has grown, it has become more complex, which may make newbies feel overwhelmed.

With that in mind, here are what I see as the pros and cons for the average content creator:

Pros:

  • The UI and UX are very friendly on the eyes. New users will be able to easily navigate between the various tools.
  • Tool tips and suggestions make it easy to understand how to use features so you don’t waste any time.
  • Robust filters can help you start with a broad topic and narrow down to a niche interest.
  • Slack integration allows you to share reports with team members without needing to juggle multiple tools.

Cons:

  • Even the basic tier might be cost-prohibitive to small businesses, and you’ll miss out on some of the social tools.
  • The output from the content ideation tools can feel a bit random, almost as if they’ve been pieced together like Mad Libs.
  • The reports from the content analysis tools may seem redundant – and limited – if you already use Google Analytics.
  • Subscriber loyalty isn’t really rewarded as new tools are only available at higher tiers.

How much does BuzzSumo cost?

As of February 2020, BuzzSumo offers four plans, which are billed monthly or yearly. Prices shown below are monthly costs, billed at the yearly rate:

  • Pro ($79/mo): Includes 5 custom alerts of up to 5,000 mentions, 1-5 users, 50 exports per month and access to 10 trending news feeds, content analysis reports and domain reports.
  • Plus ($139/mo): Includes everything from the previous plan as well as more alerts, up to 10 users, 150 exports, 20 news feeds and influencer author reports.
  • Large ($239/mo): Includes everything from the previous plan as well as more alerts, up to 15 users, 200 exports, 50 news feeds and advanced trending filters.
  • Enterprise ($499+/mo): This plan includes everything BuzzSumo has to offer as well as the ability to customize any feature that is limited in the other tiers.

How to use BuzzSumo for your content marketing strategy

Let’s look at an example of how to use BuzzSumo to generate an idea for an article, conduct competitive research and find an influencer on Twitter to promote the content:

1. Generate content ideas

Imagine you’re writing for a tech blog and you want to write an article about using the Python language to process data. It’s a broad topic and there are many ways you could tackle it – but you want to know what’s going to be most interesting to your readers.

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If you use BuzzSumo to search for “python data science” you’ll get a word cloud of associated terms as well as several cards featuring content ideas and related questions.

Clicking on the cards presents a graph of engagement over time. You can filter this graph by network or time frame to get more granular results.

And for even more information, the full analysis report gives you detailed information such as the average engagement by content type and network, which days of the week content gets the most views and recommended word counts.

Using this information, you can choose a topic to write about and you can be sure that readers will be interested in it.

2. Research top-performing articles

Before you write your article, you’ll want to know a little more about what your competitors are doing – after all, you don’t want to just rehash what someone else has written. Let’s say you decided to write about why Python is the most important skill for data scientists. Searching for the topic in the web analysis tool will show you the best articles on the subject, ranked by total engagement.

3. Find influencers on Twitter

There are two potential ways to find Twitter influencers on BuzzSumo. From the previous report, you could find an article similar to the one you want to write and click the “top sharers” icon to see a list of people who share that type of content to their followers. Alternatively, you can use the influencers search to see relevant social media users.

From this report, you can follow users directly, send a tweet or add them to a list in one of your projects.

Once you’ve written and published your article, you can reach out to a few influencers and see if they’re interested in sharing your story.

Final words

If you or your team regularly create web content, a tool like BuzzSumo is highly valuable. Anyone who has played the guessing game with topic ideation knows that gut instinct doesn’t always correlate to user engagement. Sometimes you’re surprised by what the online community likes and shares. The ability to view and analyze real user data ensures you spend your time on tasks that get results.

Has your organization used BuzzSumo to support its content strategy? Let us know about your experience in the comments.





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