LinkedIn’s formula for successful B2B social media content

Your quick guide to LinkedIn analysis of 400,000 posts

A report from LinkedIn that popped up in my feed promised to reveal ‘The DNA Behind the World’s Most Successful Content’.

It was full of good stuff and it was only subsequently that I realised it was initially released in July 2017. This is a great illustration of why it’s worth giving the content you create a second airing if it’s still relevant.

You can find the full report here, but if you don’t have time to read all 24 pages and want the takeaways for B2B marketers, then read on. You may have missed it the first time around!

Shares are important

The report accepts that while shares of posts is not an end in itself, it is an important metric. This is especially true for B2B marketers where it’s harder to start the ball of organic shares rolling.

To put it simply, if high value influencers are sharing your content then the value of those shares is high. Shares do not equal ROI but they do show awareness and engagement.


The research showed that there is no direct link between those stories that are shared widely and those that are linked to from external sites.

Such backlinks establish authority and also give the content a longer-term reach.

The lesson? Plan a mix of content to provide both the immediate buzz of shares and the longevity of backlinks. And don’t dismiss content with low shares as unsuccessful until you’ve checked who has been linking to it.

Success kinda looks like 127 shares

The report’s analysis of the top 400,000 marketing posts of 2017 showed that the median number of shares was 127.

The average (mean) was 377, but this will be skewed by a few mega-performing posts – making the median, or mid-way number more meaningful.

The secret to getting more shares was to make the content practical: how to xxx, tips, guides and top 10s all had an average of more than 1,000 shares. Research-focused posts were the most shared, showing that people want quality insight.

Name drop

Work someone famous into your title and the chances of being shared increase.

That was the finding looking at the financial services sector where linking stories to personalities such as Donald Trump, Elon Musk or George Soros adds an enticing element.

In the tech sector it was analysis of trends and predictions that got the most traction, though once again posts with big names (from brands such as Microsoft and Uber) in the title did best.

More is more

The longer the post, the more it will be shared.

The research showed a significant step up in shares in articles 1,000 to 2,000 words long, compared with those under 1,000.

Shares increased again when articles were longer than 2,000 words. The likely explanation is that longer articles are better researched and written by more expert authors, creating more valuable, considered content. It seems that snackable content may be slipping down the menu.

Be current and lead from the front

The three-word headline phrase that drove the most shares was ‘is the new’ with ‘the year of’ coming in second.

When people share they are showing that they have their finger on the pulse and so cutting-edge topics are understandably popular. The report also looked at individual words that correlate with B2B shares and found that ‘leader’ and ‘success’ took the top spots.

The report was written by Steve Rayson of BuzzSumo and Jason Miller at LinkedIn.

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