Most shared content of 2016

Social media has changed the way journalism works, whether it’s how PRs pitch their stories or the speed at which a story can spread online. Generally, more shares means more readers and so publishers want their writers to be able to create shareable content… but what kind of content actually gets shared?

We’ve used Buzzsumo to find the most shared (UK) content in 2016, looking at five key sectors we work within; travel, retail, automotive, finance and business.

Most shared travel content:

Surprisingly, the most shared travel/holiday story in the UK wasn’t from a travel brand at all. It was ILoveGin, a drinks company who managed to secure 225.1k social shares with their “dream job” ad. “Dream job” adds pop up a lot online, however the company cleverly jumped on two popular hobbies, travel and gin (we can call gin a hobby right?) to make this a really shareable campaign.

Coming in second was Airbnb with a creative PR stunt during storm Jonas – a campaign we previously featured in our “campaigns of the week” blog post series. Social media means that reactive campaigns can be a great way to get a brand in the centre of current conversations and Airbnb timed this one perfectly.

In a year of tough headlines, unusual and inspirational travel stories like these have been a welcome break and is only set to continue into 2017.

  Article Total shares
1 Drinks company is looking for a gin taster who will get paid £20,000 a year and travel Europe 225.1k
2 New Yorker builds igloo and lists it on Airbnb during Storm Jonas 146.1k
3 Western tourists complain that death of Thai king has spoilt their holidays 107.2k
4 London is voted the best city in the world for quality of life 106.1k
5 26 reasons why New Zealand is the world’s best country 82.4k

Most shared retail content:

When looking at retail/shopping related articles, the petition to close retail stores on Boxing Day came out on top. The petition struck a chord with thousands of retail workers, making it something they not only wanted to sign, but share, in order to get as many people involved as possible. The page also included clear share buttons making it easy for the user to get involved in spreading the news. The same can to be done for brand campaigns, making your asset or campaign page shareable can sometimes be as simple as making sure users can share it themselves with as little effort as possible.

The Telegraph’s Toys R Us article was the most shared piece to feature a specific brand. With a UK first and heart-warming story, this just goes to show the impact emotive campaigns can have. There’s a real feel of authenticity to this story, a real reason for the brand to have done this and clearly the public feel that too.

  Article Total shares
1 Close all retail on boxing day, retail isn’t needed on boxing day! 277.4k
2 Toys R Us to offer quiet shopping hour for children with autism 139.8k
3 Boxing Day shops petition: Retail workers deserve a Christmas too 56k
4 Founder of Zara fashion chain overtakes Bill Gates to become world’s richest man 54.7k
5 Giant duck rolls across streets near Braehead shopping centre as bad weather hits Glasgow 54.2k

Most shared automotive content:

The Independent’s article “Norway to ‘completely ban petrol powered cars by 2025’” was the most shared article related to cars and driving in 2016. Showing that green motoring stories are something Brits are particularly interested in.

Also, worth mentioning is this article from Adventures of Adam. Though the piece didn’t come close to the level of Facebook shares of other articles in this list, it’s actually Pinterest which has shown the highest level of engagement. This secured the blog post 3rd place on our most shared automotive content list, despite not really being about driving at all. There is a huge online audience for parenting content and this just goes to show how influential this group can be.

  Article Total shares
1 Norway to ‘completely ban petrol powered cars by 2025′ 169.5k
2 Heartbreaking Video Reveals Tragic Cost Of Using Phone While Driving 162.9k
3 Learning Shapes With Toy Cars – Adventures Of Adam 87.7k
4 ‘Pastafarian’ wins right to wear colander in driving licence photo – BBC News 53.7k
5 Tri-Coaching – Approved Driving Instructor Training 52.3k

Most shared finance content:

When analysing content around finance and the economy, unsurprisingly the most shared stories are the negative or controversial ones. Brexit dominated UK headlines this year and so it’s only fitting that three of the five most shared finance/economy articles are about this topic.

The only non-political story came from a real case study showing an unconventional way to fund university. Real stories are becoming increasingly popular, especially across national newspapers and this one in particular has a real “shock factor”, which could be why it has so many shares.

  Article Total shares
1 Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak named Asia’s worst finance minister 2016 83.4k
2 UK economy booms following Brexit referendum vote | UK | News 52.2k
3 Villanova University law graduate used SUGAR DADDIES to finance her education 46.3k
4 Brexit causes dramatic drop in UK economy, data suggests – BBC News 33.9k
5 IMF admit they got it wrong with Brexit warnings over speed of economy will grow fth 30.5k

Most shared business content:

For business/workplace articles, this Stylist piece on Danish work life balance gained over 227k shares. The Danish way of living, known as hygge is a massive trend right now and this article a perfect for stylist’s audience; intelligent, career driven women who want to stay ahead of the trends both in and out of the workplace. This shows how aligning your story, audience and targeted publication is crucial to getting your content shared.

The Independent features twice in the list of most shared business content, showing they have a really engaged audience. So, if your brand’s target audience also has a business interest, then pursuing coverage on the site could be a smart move.

  Article Total shares
1 Why the Danes finish work on time, every single day 227k
2 Poland abortion strike: Thousands of women in over 60 cities refuse to work in protest over restrictive laws 128.8k
3 Make it illegal for a company to require women to wear high heels at work 99.9k
4 Man accidentally ‘deletes his entire company’ with one line of bad code 82k
5 Three-day working week ‘optimal for over-40s’ – BBC News 68.9k

So, what have we learned from this…

  • Be relatable – social media profiles are personal to each individual so you need to think about why someone would share it. Can they relate to the story? Would they read it and think to themselves “this is so me”?
  • Be surprising – having a controversial or shocking story can be enough to get your content shared. It creates a strong reaction in readers who want their followers to validate their opinion, as if to say “can you believe this?”. The same can be said for surprisingly positive content too.
  • Be funny – how often do you see a funny video or story online and tag a friend? If you’re like me then I’m guessing pretty often. Amongst so many serious news stories, a comical piece can really stand out.

These “most shared” articles show that 2016 was a huge year for controversy, real life stories, creativity and timing. You can read more about the top trends we’ve found in digital PR in this blog post by Sophie Jackson.


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