social mediaA survey conducted by Hubspot aimed to determine what the best performing types of content are getting the most engagement on social media networks. The results determined that content formats work on an industry basis and are seasonal rather than one-size fits all.

For example, list articles performed well in the travel industry, but poorly in the education sector. The conclusions to draw from the data is that online businesses need to determine what content formats perform well in their field.
To give you an edge, this article will outline the types of different content options posted to social media networks and attempt to explain how to best utilise the type of content.


Lists focus on a specific topic and go through a number of options. We can see why this will work well in industries such as travel, electronics, marketing and business, but lists do not work for everyone.

The pros of lists are they are easy to knock together and are intriguing to readers. The survey showed that lists received 22.45% of engagement on social media.

The problems with lists are they typically regurgitate the same ideas because they are written by writers who have used the internet for inspiration. Especially in travel. Sooner or later readers will not trust them.

Furthermore, since search engine algorithms have switched to semantic text, they can read and understand content on the page, thus better determine whether the post is fresh and original, or a rehash of somebody else’s ideas.

Therefore, if you are going to publish lists, make sure they are original and have different recommendations to those other have already provided.

How-to articles

How-to articles relate to every industry across the spectrum. Essentially, web users want information and how-to articles typically answer the questions they have. It is hardly surprising then that how-to articles were the most consistent performers.

These types of articles performed best in food circles, but also do well in financial, business and exercise sports so are ideal for gyms and yoga classes. The types of articles should introduce a problem and provide a solution by taking the reader through each step of the process.


What-posts, like this one, highlight specific information on a particular topic. Although they typically get the lowest number of shares on social media, they are useful for specific industries where professionals need specific information on particular topics.

What-posts are best utilised peer-to-peer groups attempting to generate traffic and a following of readers who come to your site to read the advice you offer. These type of posts are designed to build your reputation as an expert rather than sell your services.


Why post ask a question then proceed to explain the reason or purpose to support a focused conclusion. They perform pretty well, receiving a total of 22.32% of the shares in the survey.

The trick with why-posts is to raise a thought-provoking question and answer it with a compelling argument. If the topic you are discussing is controversial or enlightening you have more chance of generating engagement.


News shares are the most effective because the content is the most topical. They are also quick and easy to write so do not take up too much time and resources. You can also post news articles every day to keep your content clocking over and raise brand awareness.

Social media marketing requires publishing content, and to be successful, you need a strategy. Mix your content up by all means, but target specific audiences with relevant content and you increase your chances of provoking more engagement.