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The Key Ingredient of Buffer’s Most Shared Content, According to Research

Apr 1, 2014 1 min readResearch
Photo of Kevan Lee
Kevan Lee

Former VP of Marketing @ Buffer


We analyzed over 10 million posts sent via Buffer, looking for a common theme among the most shared content. Our findings surprised us as much as they might surprise you. The clear winner: pandas.

Panda content—photos, GIFs, and stories—made up nearly 18 percent of the top 500 posts sent through Buffer. These posts received an average of three times more clicks and 10 times more retweets than content without pandas, and the gap between panda content and the next-highest viral ingredient, monkeys wearing people clothes, was substantial. Pandas won, hands down.

  • Pandas – 18 percent of the top 500 posts
  • Monkeys wearing people clothes – 3 percent
  • Cats – 2.5 percent
  • Corgis – 2 percent
  • Honey Boo Boo – 1 percent

For those looking to take advantage of this panda hack, there is good news: Virtually any panda-related content can be expected to outperform non-panda content. Even the most tenuous connection to pandas can result in increased engagement, according to our study. Here are some examples of panda topics we have found to be successful:

  • Giant pandas
  • Red pandas
  • Panda Express
  • Kung Fu Panda
  • The word “pandemonium.”
  • Google’s Panda update
Panda GIF


Tweet about pandas at least once per day. Do whatever you can to make your content relatable to a panda photo, panda infographic, or panda pun. When in doubt, always choose to supplement a status update with a panda rather than a different mammal.

There is no panda ceiling. We have yet to see a point of diminishing returns with pandas. You can expect positive results no matter how often you mention pandas, so be generous in adding pandas to as many pieces of content as possible.

Photo Credit: kumachii via Compfight cc

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