KVR Webtech in Conversation with Director of BuzzSumo- Steve Rayson

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Hello web readers!! We are back again with one more interesting interview of the director of BuzzSumo, “Steve Rayson“.

BuzzSumo is a renowned content marketing tool that shares the trending topics and help content marketers to create better content.

Also, Steve Rayson is a columnist for BuzzSumo blogSocial Media Today and Anders Pink.

Read out this amazing interview to know more about him:

Interview with BuzzSumo director- Steve Rayson


Varun: Who is Steve Rayson? What are your major roles as far as BuzzSumo is considered?

Steve: I grew up in the UK and worked mainly in London for companies such as KPMG and Ernst & Young. In the late 90s, this thing called the internet came along and I left my safe job to work with a small startup. We sold that company and in 2005 I set up an e-learning company, Kineo, which we sold in 2012.I am involved in two companies currently. I am a co-founder of Anders Pink, which is a new app (in public beta) to keep you updated every day and to leverage your knowledge as a team. I am also the main investor in BuzzSumo. My role is varied from reviewing and discussing new product ideas to how we can better support our users.I also love data so I spend a lot of time analyzing well-shared content to see if I can find insights for our users. I publish these as longer form blog posts on our site, for example, http://buzzsumo.com/blog/go-viral-lessons-shared-content-2015/

Varun: What was the initial thought behind creating this tool? Could you please share the initial story with our audience and what were the major challenges?
Steve: The original idea was developed by James and Henley. People want to know what content is resonating with their audiences, the content they love. BuzzSumo allows you to see the most shared content for any topic or domain. You can see the most shared content for the last week or last year. You can also see the content that is trending right now and how it is being amplified. In retrospect, I am surprised that no one developed this type of tool before. It is really useful to see, for example, the most shared content this week on a topic and as importantly who shared it and linked to it ie who amplified it.
Varun: Do ‘how we type the queries in BuzzSumo’ also affect the search results? What type of queries should be used to have a good generated search results using Buzzsumo?

Steve: This is a really good question. You can put 1,000 characters into our search box so you can build some very powerful queries and save them. Just using a combination of quotes to get exact matches combined with OR, for example, can improve searches significantly.

This is an example saved search that I use to find the most shared answer posts about content marketing http://buff.ly/2aS2uQ6  It shows me the most shared ‘how to’ posts, guides, ‘need to know’ posts etc., related to content marketing.

I also like to see the content resonating on a topic on a particular site and to see how that domain is covering the issue. This can be useful to see new research from respected authority sites. To do this I type the domain name eg hbr.org (Harvard Business Review) followed by my topic say leadership and that returns the most shared content on leadership from Harvard.

Varun: How would you define modern content marketing? What are the biggest differences you have observed in traditional and modern content marketing?

Steve: I think the CMI definition sums it up ie “distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

It is fundamentally about building an audience. However, this takes time, in my view at least a year, often much longer, to build an audience that trusts your content.

Conceptually content marketing is very easy, however, it is hard work. You have to be relentless and continually provide value to your users to build your authority.

Even a few short years ago there was less content and it was easier for you to get noticed. Now it is harder. I think it is more important than ever that you research the content your audience likes and consider how you can be the best answer to the questions they are asking. There is less space for posts that are similar to others or posts that are the 5th best on a topic.

As important as the content is your amplification strategy. Who is going to link to your content or share it and why? I also think the growing importance of Facebook means considering a paid promotion strategy on that platform.

Varun: Which new skills are most important for the marketers to learn in the next 6 to 12 months?

Steve: A key issue for all of us is how we stay updated. Things change all the time. We all wake up dumber than we went to bed because we haven’t yet read the new articles or research reports, or we don’t yet know about the new product features launched last night. You need to start your day with a daily briefing, just like the President of the US.

We built the Anders Pink app to address this need for a daily briefing even when we don’t have a West Wing full of staff. You can specify the topics you are interested in, such as say customer service trends or latest Snapchat tips. We crawl the web to bring back the latest content, updated every few hours. You can also enter Twitter handles to see what gurus are sharing eg this is what SEO gurus have been sharing in the last few days. Or even just enter the domains of your competitors to see what they are publishing.

Staying updated is critical as we can all become obsolete. A key question for all marketers is to ask yourself is are your skills and knowledge more valuable now than they were 6 months ago?

Varun: In our recent interview with Neil Patel,we asked him the role of “Content marketing” in digital marketing and SEO. And according to him “Content Marketing and SEO are so intertwined that they are almost one and the same.” What are your thoughts on it?

Steve: I would agree with that. Google is so clever these days that technical SEO is becoming less important. If you focus on high-quality content that meets the needs of your audience it will be recognized by Google. Thus I would start with the needs of your audience. What questions are they asking, how can you be the best answer to those questions? If you can achieve that objective then you will do well in terms of SEO and content marketing.

Varun: These days, everyone focuses on content marketing but very few of them are successful.
a) What factors you think they are lacking behind?
b) According to you “What makes a great content that can attract more readers?

Steve: You have to build an audience and this takes time. I think some people are after quick results. In reality, you have to consistently develop high-quality content that is relevant and helpful to your audience. As I said earlier you have to be relentless but focus on being the best answer.

All content needs an amplification strategy. It is not enough to publish even the best article in the world and to hope people will find it. You have to make people aware of your content. To me, this comes back to an amplification strategy. Before you even start writing you need to consider who will share and link to your article and why? You need to find people who have shared and engaged with similar content and build relationships with them. You need to actively seek out links from relevant sites, link building is far from dead. You also need to consider a paid amplification strategy.

Varun: How can a content marketer measure the ROI of a content marketing campaign? What are the various tools you would like to suggest and the steps involved in the process?

Steve: For me, everything starts with being clear on your objectives. You need different content for different stages of the sales funnel. A viral quiz maybe be designed to raise brand awareness, a research report may be gated and designed to generate leads, a case study may be designed to help persuade and convert potential customers later in the sales funnel. Each piece of content needs a clear objective within your content plan.

Once you are clear on your objectives you can review the ROI by assessing the costs of the content development and promotion and the benefits it achieved. In many cases, these will be sales but in others, it may be the cost per lead generated.

Varun: Which is your favorite Social Media channel with respect to content marketing and why?

Steve: For B2B marketing LinkedIn is hard to beat but fundamentally Facebook is so dominant we all have to work with Facebook. I would not say it is my favorite but it is the one we all need to work with.

I increasingly use our BuzzSumo Facebook analyzer to see the sort of posts that get engagement whether they are videos, images or questions. I am very conscious of the importance of performing well on Facebook these days even as a B2B company.

Varun: At the ending note, can you please share some tips with our readers on “What are the best practices to use for both Social Media & Content Marketing Together?

Steve: I think the key is to use social media to engage as well as distribute content. This can be very hard but there are many benefits from engaging with people. It helps you build relationships which you simply don’t get if you just broadcast content on social media.

I think one thing people forget to leverage is their existing employees. They can help get content shared initially and to gain traction on social media.


We really thank Steve Rayson for sparing some time from his busy schedule for this interview session.

We hope you all liked this interview and the tips shared by Steve Rayson will surely help you to grow your business successfully.

Please share your thoughts about this interview in the comment section.

Stay tuned with us for more informative interviews.

You can also read the interesting interviews of other influencers of the digital marketing world here.

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