Social Best Practices of Shareable Content, Part 3: Usefulness

Published on Dec 17th, 2015

by Jack Weinstein

Facebook posts are getting more useful. And audiences are responding.

In 2013 and 2014, the most-shared posts prompted people to share if they were proud of their daughter or had the best mother . That changed this year.

In 2015, there was a noticeable increase in content that provided value. Seven of the 20 most-shared posts were video recipes . These posts help illustrate the increasing popularity of content that people can actually use.

According to a study we released Dec. 8 , usefulness was one of four key drivers of shareability on Facebook. The other drivers revealed in the study, “What Makes Brands’ Social Content Shareable on Facebook?” , are social currency , emotions and storytelling .

This is the third part of a four-part series that will provide social best practices of these shareability drivers. We’ve already covered social currency and emotions .

As we reported in our post, Cooking Videos are Recipe for Success on Social , Tip Hero’s baked apple roses video recipe has more than 5.7 million shares, 90% more than the next most-shared post, another recipe video from Tip Hero .

Tip Hero’s most-shared post is also the most engaged post of any kind from any industry this year with nearly 8 million total social actions (likes, comments and shares).

Information vs. Incentives

According to our study, which asked 10,000 participants to identify the shareability of the 2,000 most-shared posts over a yearlong period, useful posts can be divided into two categories: informational and incentive driven.

Consumer Food and Grocery

Like Tip Hero and other video recipe producers, consumer food and grocery brands have discovered the value of providing information by sharing their expertise.

Wilton Cake Decorating created the most-shared post in the category, a video explaining how to make marshmallow flowers to decorate cupcakes. It also generated more than twice as many shares as the next most-shared post, a 3-minute pie-crust video recipe by Duncan Hines .

The Wilton video was so popular that it generated 10 times more engagement than its next most-shared post.

Other consumer food and grocery brands have seen similar success with useful content.

Johnsonville Kitchens , Pillsbury and Velveeta generated a significant number of shares and also drove content back to their websites with photo posts that linked to recipes.

Betty Crocker mimicked successful video recipe producers’ format by optimizing content for Facebook. To take advantage of Facebook’s News Feed autoplay feature, its sugar cookie M&M bars recipe is short, includes brief instructions and doesn’t require sound.

Beauty and Health

Anastasia Beverly Hills has become one of the health and beauty category’s top curators of tutorial videos, with help from its devoted fans. The makeup brand leverages user-generated content in its most-shared posts. Seven of its 10 most-shared posts are tutorials, tips or tricks about how best to use its products.

Weight Watchers also took a cue from video recipe producers. Its mini apple pies recipe video was shared most often among health and beauty brands. According to our study, 75% of participants said they would share health and beauty content if it were useful.

The Weight Watchers video, the brand’s most engaged of the year, generated nearly 68% of its total engagement from shares. And it was shared 419% more often than the Weight Watchers’ next most-shared post.


According to our study, 51% of the participants said usefulness was a factor when they considered sharing content from publishers. Given that the media is intended to provide us with news and information, that’s not much of a surprise.

Media organizations like the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Washington Post produce sharable content whether it’s interesting , educational , or breaking news . Magazines like The Economist provides the same useful content, which includes information that might be more relevant to a Facebook audience, such as the jobs that won't exist in two decades.

Digital publishers like Business Insider can provide similar value. Some of Business Insider’s most shared content is useful and it’s not just lists. Its animated map of the spread of religion across the world was Business Insider’s second-most shared post of the year.

Other shared posts from Business Insider provide useful information through different types of education, ranging from a video about a company trying to solve the waste problem from plastic water bottles to a Starbucks hack .

Food and Beverage

Like informational posts, Incentive-driven content also encourages audiences to share if they think it provides value for others. Food and beverage brands posted content that encouraged 37% of our study participants to share.

One brand that does this well is Starbucks Frappuccino. The brand’s top three posts of the year incentivized its audience to act by posting limited-time promotions, including its post announcing the Halloween-themed Frappula Frappuccino .

Brands also find success with one-time campaigns that encourage audiences to share content to their own networks.

Pepsi announced a limited time to enter for a chance to win Crystal Pepsi , which it produced from 1992-93 before discontinuing the brand.

The post is still generating comments as fans speculate whether Crystal Pepsi will return for good. And it was Pepsi’s most engaged and most shared post of the year.

Doritos used a limited-edition release of its Doritos Rainbows to encourage its audience to support an organization that provides resources for LGBT youths. It was Doritos’ most engaged and most shared post of the year.


According to our study, 35% of participants said they would share useful content from retail brands.

Movie theater Carmike Cinemas seems to only post content that incentivizes its audience to act. And it does so most often without videos or even photos. Just simple posts with promotions get the majority of the brand’s shares, including 17 of its top 20.

To give you an idea of Carmike’s success with content that incentivizes its audience, only 20% of its posts this year included the word “share,” but they generated 76% of its total actions. And those posts also generated 95% of all Carmike’s shares this year.

Another successful example of a one-time campaign took place during the summer. Grocery store chain Winn-Dixie wanted to donate all of its July 4 profits to the Wounded Warrior Project. It created a campaign, #AllForHonor, and asked its audience to share related to posts to spread the word. They did.

This Winn-Dixie video about the Wounded Warrior Project was shared more than 25,000 times, which eclipsed the combined total of its next eight most-shared posts (six were part of the same campaign).

#AllForHonor was used in only 8 percent of Winn-Dixie’s posts this year, but generated 30% of all engagement. The campaign also generated 58% of Winn-Dixie’s shares for the year. And it raised more than $3 million for the Wounded Warrior Project .

The fourth and final installment of our series about shareable content examines how posts that include stories encourage audiences to share. For these insights, go to Part 4: Storytelling .

Or review:

Part 1: Social Currency

Part 2: Emotions

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