With 150 million monthly users, Buzzfeed has launched into viral hemispheres that were previously uncharted. Valued at three times more than the Washington Post, it seems as though Buzzfeed has solved the mysterious love affair between audience and content by finding what makes them connect.
With articles about necklaces that hold a full slice of pizza in a pouch around your neck to dozens of others littered with kitten memes, you might be thinking that sites like the New York Times are more credible. After all, The Times drives around 57 million monthly unique visitors!
You might not be aware that in addition to all the pizza and cat stories, Buzzfeed also reports on serious issues like Syria and the coming Presidential Election. Also, Buzzfeed currently sees one billion monthly users. In just four years, Buzzfeed has transformed into one of the fastest growing social media business with over 300 staff, including a Pulitzer prize winner.
So what can we learn from this social media giant? Plenty. Chocked full of magic and memes, and in true Buzzfeed list-like form, here are 7 takeaways from Buzzfeed to get your social media on fleek.
1) Add an enticing title and end with a call to action.
The web provides people with millions of different stories, articles, and sites to browse. This is why it’s imperative to instantly draw them in with a title that grabs their full attention. Then, interact with them and encourage a response.
Notice that towards the end of many BuzzFeed articles, you’ll read something along the lines of, “What do you think of this article? Share your input in the comments below!” Buzzfeed even sets up polls at the end of their articles from time to time to further encourage feedback.
Here’s a perfect example:
2) A little creativity and humor never hurt anybody.
The world of content creation and social media sharing is intensely competitive. If your content isn’t 100% unique, it will get overlooked. Buzzfeed’s penchant for creative twists contribute to its charm.
Anyone who’s ever glanced through Buzzfeed’s articles knows they are beasts when it comes to developing creative content, especially in their list articles. Try coming up with a few of your own! And don’t shy away from the power of humorous marketing.
Imagine you own a bakery. Consider an article like “5 Home Baking Fails Inspired by Pinterest.” Add in a few funny images or videos. Incorporating a dash of humor shows your company’s personality and entertains readers while simultaneously allowing them to see the value in your services.
3) Multiple forms of media go a long way.
We are visual creatures. There is a multitude of scientific research that backs this up,including research done by John Berger, media theorist, and Dr. Lynell Burmark. Berger wrote that “seeing comes before words. Children look and recognize before they can speak.” Further, Dr. Burmark adds that
“…unless our words, concepts, ideas are hooked onto an image, they will go in one ear, sail through the brain, and go out the other ear. Words are processed by our short-term memory…images, on the other hand, go directly into long-term memory where they are indelibly etched.”
This is why it’s easier to show or draw a picture of a circle than describe it. Combining our visual nature with our fast-paced culture, it’s understandable that an audience doesn’t like looking at huge blocks of text. Instead, take a cue from Buzzfeed and break up information with images, gif’s, videos, and vines.
*BONUS! Having images also makes your content more shareable on social media.
4) Balance and diversity are key.
Diversity of content is essential. No brand should post only about its own products and promotions. Post with variety and depth and don’t be afraid to publish content outside of your perceived niche. The key is to balance the diversity with solid information about your services.
When people think of Buzzfeed, what tends to come to mind are silly quizzes and funny listicles. In fact, about half of Buzzfeed’s reporting revolves around serious journalism. Buzzfeed CEO Jonah Peretti capitalizes on this point by saying
“BuzzFeed is unique in that we are equally obsessed with 1) entertaining content 2) substantive content and 3) social advertising. The teams that focus on each of these areas are equally important, which is a key part of our success. Some companies only care about journalism and as a result the people focusing on lighter editorial fare or advertising are second class citizens.”
5) Be personal and be shareable.
One question you should ask yourself when posting content is, “Will this stimulate social conversation?” The easiest way to inspire conversation is through engagement. Buzzfeed takes the time to think about what will be engaging to its audience while simultaneously understanding what its audience is likely to share with others. Buzzfeed gives us the feeling that they want to know us, and even that they already do. Through all their quizzes and generationally relevant posts, we might get the vibe that BuzzFeed is trying to reach us personally, if we’re willing to analyze it. Usually, their posts are so relatable and entertaining, people share them without thinking about branding or advertising.
When posting, consider sharing popular content rather than just focusing on making your content popular. There is a difference in content that everyone likes and content that everyone wants to share. By reaching your audience on a personal level, sharability will inevitably increase, input will be encouraged, and exposure gained.
6) People are bored even though they’re busy.
BuzzFeed provides a nice (and often brief) distraction and keeps us entertained during downtime.
7) People are busy even though they’re bored.
Make content scannable and catchy. Your audiences choses to invest their leisure time into visiting your site, so make it worth it, make it shareable, and make them want to come back.
When it comes down to it, we’re all storytellers and each of us are looking for unique ways to tell our stories. There is no formula that will guarantee success, but taking a few notes from Buzzfeed leads us to rethink our narratives and what exactly will make them resonate. Namely, their creative, original content not only sets them apart from other news and content sites, but draws in the users like nothing else! They push the limits of social media and show that we can continually make our content more dynamic.