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What Type of Content Gets the Most Social Shares and When?

Is posting content for your small business marketing efforts an art or a science? It’s a bit of both, but a recent study of content sharing in 11 industry verticals offers some insight into the “scientific” aspect of content sharing.

The study examined over 220,000 content items in several formats: how-to articles, lists, “what” posts, “why” posts, and videos—and examined what time of year each was shared the most.

Not surprisingly, list-based content (“Top 10 Tips for Saving on Taxes” was the most-shared type of content overall. Lists performed best for health, travel and food-industry brands. Lists did especially well in the summer months (June, July and August). Perhaps when it’s hot out, people don’t have the brain-power in summer to deal with anything more taxing than a top 10 list.

“Why” posts that explain something are the second-most-shared type of content. Their popularity declines in the summer, however, and peaks in the fall (September, October and November). Why posts got the most social sharing for lifestyle-related brands.

How-to articles are most often shared on August, October and November. If you’re in the food industry, take note that this is the number-one type of shared content for food-related businesses (tied with lists); they generate 37 percent of all shares.

Want to take a risk? Try creating some “what” posts that answer questions (“What Tax Moves Put You at Risk of an Audit?” or “What Your Employees Really Think of You”). This type of content is both the most-shared and least-shared type of content—so your post might either hit it big and go viral, or get ignored.

What about video content? Unless your industry is entertainment or education, where videos garnered about one-third of all social shares, you probably don’t want to devote as much effort to videos—they’re the least likely to be shared for most industries. That may change, however, as the study predicts that Facebook and Twitter’s growing attention to videos could make them more relevant in the future.

A content strategy that mixes a variety of all these types of content is a good way to not only hedge your bets, but also generate a good amount of social sharing while keeping enough diversity in your content to keep prospects interested.

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Author information

Maria Valdez Haubrich

Maria Valdez Haubrich is Chief Liaison Officer of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her company’s blog at