The Science of Spreading Content on the Social Web

Posted by John H. Heinrichs

Mar 27

We Buzzfeedall love Buzzfeed for their quizzes and their “30 Reasons Why…” posts.  If you aren’t familiar with Buzzfeed, you probably don’t use social media.  Buzzfeed is a very popular social news and entertainment website.  The company has grown very quickly and transitioned into a global media and tech company.  They have definitely found the key to making their posts go viral.  So when I heard they had a webinar devoted to the science of spreading content to the social web, I knew I had to attend.  The presentation did not disappoint.  

Social is the new starting point.  Back in the day, when people wanted to know something, they would search for it.  Today, social networks are becoming the “new homepage.”  You can find things out on Twitter that even the news channel doesn’t know.  If you want to get your message out, social media is essential.

One interesting thing discussed in the webinar was that there has been a huge shift to mobile.  Currently, 75% of all Twitter users are mobile.  48% of Facebook users are mobile only, while 78% of total users visit Facebook on a mobile device.  These numbers suggest that you must approach future projects with a “mobile first” mentality if you want to maximize your impact on Facebook’s newsfeed (and you most definitely do) because Facebook drives a lot of traffic.  When posting, you should post content that inspires users to share with their friends and initiate conversation through call-to-actions. 

Here are some specific data separated by social network:

  Pinterest social icon     Twitter social icon     LinkedIn social icon  


  • 2013 was a BIG year
  • Pinterest had a huge spike in users towards the holiday season (October-December)
  • 1/3 of all women in the United States are on Pinterest
  • 75% access Pinterest via the mobile app
  • Mobile usage peaks in the evening and on the weekends
  • Collage style posts are repined in high numbers


  • Twitter drove the most traffic to users during the Boston marathon and also during the Miley’s infamous performance during the MTV awards
  • It is the place to get news straight from the source
  • The Twitter space can get crowded; brands can repost content more than once
  • Prompt and human feedback are rewarded
  • Vines are good to share here, thus Twitter now offers this mobile video sharing service


  • Valuable publishing platform
  • Create content for professionals and share content relevant to the workplace
  • Post in Linkedin’s sub groups
  • Post during business hours to get the most exposure

One last thing we learned about in the webinar is a term called “dark social.”  Dark social is direct traffic from messaging apps, emails, chats and texts.  Direct traffic to post has doubled over the course of 2013.  It is crucial to make all content easy to share.  You can do this by introduce copy links, using a URL shortener and also by integrating messaging apps. 

(All credit and accolades for this tremendous blog post are for Sari Gordon who is the author and content creator.)

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