When publishers post content on Facebook, the goal is to grab as much positive attention as possible while engaging with your audience. But figuring out how to do that isn't always easy. Luckily, some recently released research can teach you a lot about viral content creation, particularly when it comes to how you use video.

The minds at BuzzSumo analyzed two billion articles and posts that were published on Facebook in 2017, releasing their findings to the masses. Here's an overview of the top content over the year, and some insights that can help you improve your Facebook post game.

A Look at the Most Shared Content on Facebook in 2017

Image source: BuzzSumo

Examining the most shared content on Facebook list shows that users are often quick to spread material that is entertaining, heartwarming, or inspiring, even if it the article or video doesn't originate on the platform.

While most posters can only dream of engaging with an audience at the level of a music video, the data also shows that content with a strong tribal element can be incredibly powerful.

Additionally, a lot of people use Facebook to keep up with the news, but the results can be somewhat hit and miss, as multiple organizations generally cover the same story. However, exclusive or breaking content can reach unicorn levels of engagement, particularly if it connects with a large audience.

Quizzes have been popular since they began popping up on social media, including those that examine personality types and knowledge levels in particular subjects, but they aren't reaching the level of engagement they once did, possibly due to the degree of saturation. They also rarely result in backlinks, even though they are widely shared, perhaps because these posts are seen as fun, but not necessarily evergreen.

Travel and adventure pieces, such as those discuss hot vacation destinations, can also reach epic heights, often because the content is inspiring in nature and augmented by the fact that these articles tend to use striking visual images that could serve as a mental escape from the day-to-day.

Heartwarming stories can gain a lot of traction, as most people enjoy seeing the good in the world, especially in the wake of a tragedy. Further, content that is supportive in nature, acknowledging a group's hardships and offering reassurance, may also get a lot of attention.

The results of research studies or articles about scientific findings are another category that can do well on Facebook, particularly if there is an attention-grabbing headline.

On the other side, opinion posts can be big on social media, especially if they speak to something at the forefront of everyone's minds.

2017's Most Viral Facebook Posts

Image source: BuzzSumo

The graphic on the most viral Facebook posts genuinely highlights the power of videos on social media, with 17 of the top 20 posts featuring that format.

Again, music videos are featured heavily, as well as heartwarming and inspiring content, including multiple cute animal videos.

Practical hacks and food-related videos are also frequent entries on the list.

One point some may find surprising is that four of the top 20 posts were published in Spanish and one was in French, showing that those who may not speak English, either fluently or at all, are a powerful force online.

What This Research Can Teach You

One of the most important points made in the research is that these posts are outliers, and many of the pages that shared the content has massive audiences. The more followers a page has, the easier it is to get the content in front of users' eyes, increasing the potential for a huge number of shares.

However, having engaging content is the key to potential social media success, as that is what attracts people to your page, leads to followers and likes, and results in shares.

As the research showed, on Facebook, video is huge, making up the vast majority of the top posts. That means, you need to start posting videos, if you aren't already, particularly because engagement levels with images and link posts have been declining rapidly.

Additionally, Facebook is favoring video content, including those produced on Facebook Live, increasing the odds of it appearing in news feeds. Since the battle against Facebook algorithms, which seem always to be changing, is on-going, shifting to a preferred format helps you get ahead.

Having a video-based strategy means your organic reach may increase and your Facebook ads could gain more traction (which is incredibly helpful if your organic ready has been dying), helping you make the most of your advertising dollars and connect with the widest possible audience. As your audience grows, it will be easier to get your content shared, especially if your focus on high-quality clips and engaging content.

The videos don't have to be lengthy to be successful, as clips as short as 90 seconds can do the trick. However, it must have a high production value, including striking images and high-quality sound, or your message isn't likely to be heard, let alone shared.

If you are looking for an angle for the video, focus on being entertaining, inspiring, or heartwarming, as these may be the easiest to incorporate. However, if practical hacks match up to your product offerings, don't ignore that route as a possibility.