One story per day gets 80% of audience engagement

by ttucker23 on March 11, 2011

Traditional digital publishing wisdom has it that content frequency and volume are the keys to success online. A recently leaked content strategy document from AOL is based on this strategy, which is principally aimed at capitalising on search engine traffic by flooding Google’s index with keyword-rich content.

But a study by Yuri Lifshit for Yahoo Labs (see video below) shows that the opposite is true if you want to engage an audience. By analysing Facebook ‘likes’ on stories across 45 top content sites, Yuri has shown that it is the top stories that attract the majority of user activity.

According to this data the Guardian, NPR and Yahoo News can get half of their total engagement (as measured by Facebook likes) by publishing just one story per day. Data across all the publishers shows that one big story can capture 70-80% of your audience reactions in various ways. That’s a remarkable statistic.

This would suggest that successful social media optimization is about producing fewer stories, but spending longer on those stories to ensure that they are genuinely engaging.

According to the study, the majority of articles that create the highest engagement are opinion-based pieces.

This is in contrast with search engine optimization which is about producing as much content as possible in ever shorter time frames.

Are these two strategies mutually exclusive, or is there a way of combining the best of both approaches?

Read more analysis here from Nieman Journalism Lab’s lessons of the Like Log.

See the video below for an overview of the study.

The Like Log Study from Yury Lifshits on Vimeo.

How about you? Do you find that a few stories on your blog get the highest engagement? Leave your comments below.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Lucy Allen March 11, 2011 at 1:18 pm

Hi Tim,
Think that the SEO industry have a lot to learn from this. The recent Google Farmer update was a direct attack at the content farms and a signal that the better crafted and more original your content the better it will be ranked. We shouldn’t be talking about writing for search any more, rather just writing great stuff that people want to read.

ttucker23 March 11, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Thanks for the comment Lucy. I totally agree that we should be focused on high quality, engaging content, but it’s also important not to throw the baby out with the bath water as search engines are such an important driver of traffic. It’s about optimising with the end user in mind.

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