Expert roundup blog posts have become a staple of influencer marketing and content marketing programs. Any why not? They’re relatively easy to write, influencers (often) are happy to contribute, and readers gobble them up. They often perform well in terms of both SEO and social media sharing.
After all, what’s a more appealing blog post title? “Randy Schmuck Shares His Top SEO Predictions for 2018” or 48 Experts Share Their Top SEO Predictions for 2018? The wisdom of the crowd, and multiple perspectives, are more appealing.
The range of the number of experts quoted in such posts is very broad, from less than 10 (e.g., Expert Advice on Building an Effective Content Marketing Campaign) to more than 100 (such as 104 Digital Pros Share Their Top Christmas Marketing Tips).
But while much has been written about how expert roundup posts support a highly productive content strategy or best practices for writing expert roundup posts, it’s hard to find guidance on the best number of experts to include. Is a large number better (wider sharing, more comprehensive) or a smaller group (experts feel more valued, viewers more likely to actually read the whole post)?
To find out, the logical approach seemed to be…ask a number of marketing experts. So—what’s the best number of experts to include in an expert roundup post?
Short answer: responses ranged from one to 100, with an average of 17, a mean of seven, and five being the single common answer. More than half of the experts said five to 10 was an ideal range.
Long answer: see the responses and explanations below from more than two dozen top marketing and PR experts.
But first, a few brief side notes:
- Three of the individuals on my original outreach list were contacted specifically because they write expert roundup posts on a regular basis. Only one responded. Hmm…expert posts for me but not for thee?
- I asked bloggers who wrote expert roundup posts at least occasionally what a typical response rate is for expert roundup outreach. The consensus: 25%, though with a range of 10% to 40% depending on the industry and quality of the outreach list.
- A handful of people responded to my question for this post simply with a number, no explanation. I didn’t include those responses below, but the range of the “ideal” number of experts to include was three to seven (except for one outlier at 20), with five—again—being the most frequently cited number.
I believe there is no definitive answer here — comparing the question to Facebook ads, it would be similar to asking, “How many different ads shall we deploy?” YOUR ideal number of expert opinions depends entirely on industry, audience, content type, topic, targeted devices / channels and length of responses…
The key? Test, test, and test some more!
Experimentation is the only way to discover what works for YOUR blog. Begin today! TIP: Also specifically test even and odd numbers. Psychology matters.
The magic number of influencers to ask/include in a roundup post? I suppose that depends on the topic. The thing about roundup posts is that most who participate understand the only real reason you’re asking is to get the benefit of their influence and their audience to whatever it is you’re writing about and to give you some added credibility in the process.
Sound skeptical? I know, but really, it’s true. For me, when someone I feel it’s a much more legitimate request when someone reaches out to me as a small group of influencers rather than one of ten or fifteen. When they take time to really write about a topic, THEN include my insights/thoughts AND include a bio that is more than something pulled from my Twitter profile, I feel as though it’s more legit than an obvious ploy to get attention. And as a result, I am much more likely to participate.
When it comes to expert roundups, I believe in the old saying ‘the more the merrier!’ It’s more work, but once you have responses from a variety of experts, you can summarize the tips or points in common and create the most tweetable quotes. It also provides for the largest possible social momentum.
You’re going to hate this answer, but it depends. It depends on your content strategy, your round-up topic, your current influencer relationships, and where you think you can get the most bang for the buck.
I’ve seen expert round-ups that become 100+ page eBooks with close to the same number of influencers included. And then there are round-ups that have only three experts, but their responses are detailed, thorough, and actionable.
If you don’t know where to start, create a list of topic ideas. Then list out the influencers who can help you with each idea. If you have more than 10 for one idea, start there. Not all 10 will respond, but you should ask all of them and aim for half.
Now I’m curious how many experts Tom asked for this blog post! 🙂
One. I prefer more in depth exploration, rather than the quoteable/tweetable snacks.
4 max. Otherwise it becomes too much to follow and read up on. After articles I tend to research those included since I value their input.
Believe it or not, it depends. What are the goals of the post? Here’s the thing – if you’re looking to maximize the promotion of the article by leveraging the experts’ audiences then a ridiculous number like 100 would work well. A number that big also makes your title fairly “click-batey.”
However, 100 influencers featured in one blog post sort of makes it tough to consume as a reader. Is it likely that someone will actually read the entire post? No, it’s not. If you want the post read in its entirety then 10 to 12 are good numbers.
While it may seem trendy to round up as many “expert opinions” as possible participating in an “expert roundup,” you will only need less than five. Why? While there are no rules in the numbers of opinions, there are just unwritten rules on the purpose of your post. If you are looking to outrank your competitors in the search engines, then justifiably go for the win. Though, if your goal is to provide value to your reader, then respect their time, and keep your request to a few respected experts. Less is more.
It’s preferable to have as many experts as possible in your expert roundup post. But even if that’s not possible, it would be best to have at least 10 experts in the post. This gives a lot of credibility to your post. It also adds a lot more value because there will be more views, insights, and tips that readers can make use of.
There will also be some variation in the insights they provide. If people see more experts willing to participate in your post, there will be an increased desire to read the post because they know it’s credible and valuable.
I don’t think there is any sort of magic number at all. It’s all about finding balance. Not too many that the post is overwhelming, but not too few that the post won’t attract enough eyeballs.
It’s also worth noting that with more participants, you’ll have to spend a lot more time managing, editing, formatting and promoting the finished post.
The ideal number of participants to include ultimately depends on what you’re trying to achieve and what your readers prefer. It may require some experimentation to see how long the process takes and how your readers respond.
From there, you’ll be able to work out what the ideal number of participants is for you and your website. If anything, it’s going to be slightly different for everyone.
First of all, I recommend asking each expert more than one question. If they’re really experts, they have a lot to share. And if they’re taking time to contribute, why not make it a mini interview? So a format like “7 Questions for 7 [category] Experts” makes sense.
Second, with fewer experts and more questions, it starts to feel like a conversation. Dissenting views emerge. Subsequent questions are follow ups to earlier questions. It’s like a panel of experts.
Third, mega-roundups offer less value because they don’t go deep. It’s a big pile of sound bites. There’s not analysis. And the curators rarely add value with their own analysis.
Fourth, if you’re hoping that your 143 experts will all share it on social …don’t hold your breath. Each expert is buried in your pile of general tips. They invested very little in the piece, so they’re unlikely to invest much in promoting it.
Fifth, odd numbers are always good.
Counterpoint: If you get 100+ experts to answer a simple question, you can produce a statistic, such as “52% of experts agree that roundups are low value” 🙂
I’d say the ideal length of a round-up post depends on the topic. If you have question that lends itself to extremely diverse answers, include them all. Then, categorize them by theme so readers can make sense of them all and find ones that best relate to their interests. This could include 30-40 responses if they are brief.
If your question is tight and answers are detailed, I’d keep it shorter and around 15 responses. We need to have empathy for our readers and recognize that while we can rally a round-up post that can deliver all they would ever need to know on a subject, the reality is that they won’t need to know everything. Don’t shy away from creating a series of round-ups if that’s a better way to deliver content that’s valuable, but may get lost in a post that’s too long.
My first thought is 5, but then I think it depends on the type of blog you are writing. If you are writing an ‘ultimate guide/list’ type of blog, you may even want to add up to 20 experts.
No right answer here, but I’d probably go with something in the 3-5 range. Anything more seems like too much work for a single post. Anything less seems like not enough substance.
From a personal perspective, I like to see 10 premiere thought leaders with valuable opinions. That way, others can fully digest what they are saying yet you’ll have enough diversity to offer readers.
From an SEO and influencer standpoint, more expert opinions, however, can help improve your social standing especially if 35, or whatever number of experts you use, actively promote the post. It depends on your objective. If you want a post to go viral, more experts can help. However, if you have 10 “wow” thought leaders, and those 10 actively promote it, that too can more than do the trick.
It depends on the subject. When it is a multidisciplinary subject you need experts of all sectors. Favorably it would be experts that come from a diversity of backgrounds with controversial opinions. (pro and anti for each discipline), then again the total amount of experts should be a workable team. Not too large.
If I had to pick one number, it would be 5. It’s certainly possible that less or more can be better in certain circumstances but here are 5 reasons I say “5 is the right number”:
1) Too many voices can either cause clutter, confusion, or overkill.
2) If all the quoted experts agree then it’s overkill.
3) If there’s a healthy debate of contrary viewpoints, then it may be more interesting to keep it to a few representative voices and have them elaborate beyond bumper sticker or tweet-length responses.
4) With too many more than 5, you end up with a committee and who needs that?
5) With 5 or less agreeable or disagreeable viewpoints, there is still plenty of room for you to add your own voice to the discussion.
A minimum of 5 -10 I believe is ideal because it gives an opportunity for a balanced mix of opinions and diversity.
In my opinion, the more the merrier. From what I can see, Social influencers write these posts to share the love amongst their friends and to gain RTs and reposts from their influencer friends. Hence the more contributors, the greater the spread.
Influencer posts seem to have gone from 30, to 50, to 100 now. That’s a lot. I know, because I’m a W, and when listed alpha I’m always at the end … even back in the days of only 30. I still find it an honour to be asked, and am always glad to contribute. It’s an easy way to build your professional brand in the company of acknowledged thought leaders.
It depends on the particular question at hand, but an audience of five to ten experts can provide a diversity of opinion where each idea can be actionable, the reader can effectively evaluate them individually, but collectively they don’t overwhelm the audience. I’ve seen huge lists of up to 100 different ideas, and I don’t believe the reader can effectively evaluate and prioritize that many thoughts.
I think the ideal is seven people to participate in a roundup post because you’ll have enough different opinions to make a helpful and memorable post.
Additionally, scientists have studied how people process information and they found that the most random objects someone can instantly recognize and remember are seven. Beyond, that people need to find other ways to group data. This can be applied to writing as well.
I know it’s popular to cram as many experts as possible into a round-up, to shoot for being seen as the most comprehensive post in Google. But I personally like 3-5 experts so you can have a diverse set of opinions, and start to see some areas of overlap. I can’t recall the last time I got through more than 10 answers in a mega round-up.
I think it truly depends on the question your trying to answer or the topic you are discussing. I’ve seen Expert Roundups with as few as (3) experts sitting on the panel to answer a question all the way up to (15 or 20) depending if a certain topic was being discussed.
I also think the number is dependent on if you are only looking at experts to talk in specifics or if you’re looking for many different ways to view a certain topic. I myself prefer to usually be involved with an expert panel when there is a group of (5 to 10) people who are trying to look at a topic from many different angles. I think having that number of people on a panel usually gives you a good multifaceted view of a topic.
Also I’ve learned that I usually walk away from the roundup learning more then I feel that I contributed to the roundup, but I think that is probably the avid learner in me always wanting to take something away from the experiences I have in life.
5-7 But I think the real answer is (as with many things) “it depends”. If you’re looking to really boost a post by getting influencers to publicize it, you may want to include more; if you want to make it easy for readers to get through the whole article and to respect the influencers by really highlighting them, you may want to include fewer.
Also, you could ask influencers to write just a short, three sentence answer instead of longer paragraphs. Then you could potentially add more influencers and still have it be both readable and respectful of the influencers.
But if you ask too many influencers to participate in writing longer pieces, then the article becomes unwieldy, the influencers are insulted (and their time is wasted) and no one will read through to the end.
After writing many an expert roundup over the years, I’ve concluded that the ideal number of authoritative opinions for a given blog post topic is somewhere between 5 and 7. Why? (Besides being an odd believer in odd numbers for expert roundups? =) Because I’m fairly sure even the most loyal of readers will likely scan the featured experts for the few individuals they’re familiar with, or in the alternative scenario, they will only read a few opinions before, feeling satisfied with the information they’ve read, they click back to their email or onto another site.
Of course, one hopes they’re sharing the roundup before leaving your site—and that’s why it’s especially important they can easily share straight from your post and the appropriate schema cards are built in to display the featured image and SEO meta description.
5, because there aren’t that many experts on anything, and it’s difficult to remember more than 5.
I think there’s two main things to consider:
1) Broadness of the topic – speculative topics such as a round up of digital marketing tips lends itself to a larger number of contributors due to the many different aspects that could be considered, whereas a niche question such as “how best to analyse server log files” might suit a more specific and detailed set of answers.
2) Roundup functionality – it might be more suitable to include a larger number of contributors if you’re able to categorise them and their feedback in a digestible and navigable way. Allowing the user to click to a category they are interested in, or apply filters to narrow down what they’re looking might allow you to include more contributors than you otherwise would without overloading the user with information.