Buzzfeed is still often ridiculed for his questionable journalistic quality. However, what is often overlooked is that the media portal has achieved groundbreaking success with its concept of shallow entertainment.
Since this is not a mere coincidence, conscientious marketers should ask themselves the question of what lessons can be learned from this for their content strategy.
From a quarrel with Nike to reverse Vokuhilas
The story of Buzzfeed started off in a similarly unconventional and curious way as the platform itself. Founder Jonah Peretti was bored of working on his master’s thesis in 2001, wondering which designs Nike’s newly released generator would allow for personal shoe design.
The system allowed the imprint “Sweatshop” (German: Exploitation operation), a short time later, Nike rejected the order but by e-mail. Peretti fought back, and there was a buzz of e-mail that, once published online, generated so much attention that Peretti found himself on a talk show with Nike’s PR boss.
Fascinated by the fact that an insignificant student could generate so much reach with so little effort, Peretti then founded Buzzfeed in 2005. The fixed idea has since grown into one of the most well-known Internet media portals, which in 2016 had a theoretical market value of 1.5 billion US dollars, 200 million monthly visitors and five billion video views.
The very bold, colorful and non-stringent content of his website describes Peretti idiosyncratically “Vokuhila, only the other way round”: While the motto of the 80s hairstyle is “business in the front, the party in the back,” Buzzfeed is in chaos in the foreground.
Only those who search for it, find the corresponding seriousness hidden in the background. What sounds like a rather eccentric comparison, holds important insights for online marketers in general and successful content marketing in particular.
10 BuzzFeed principles that help your content marketing succeed
Follow a clear strategy
At the same time, the most comprehensive and the most general point is the most important one: Behind the colorful, chaotic appearance of Buzzfeed hides a very clear strategy. How it looks in detail will be explained below.
However, it should be noted that nothing is published without thought. Media format, platform, paid or organic promotion – all that is well defined.
Even a well-thought-out SEO concept is essential. Including keywords, sharing options for social networks and a lot of links: Buzzfeed takes this to heart in his articles.
Ultimately, this includes the measurability of interactions with the published content. For example, Buzzfeed uses tools such as Pound or The Hive to accurately understand how many times a post has been mislaid, shared, or tagged.
Address the right usage environment with the right content
If you want to optimize content successfully, you must first know when and for what purpose it will be consumed. This is pretty clear at Buzzfeed. Above all, the so-called Bored at Work and Bored in Line target groups are addressed here.
These users are not looking specifically for specific information, but merely trying to kill time inconspicuously over a short period – typically in the office or a queue.
This has far-reaching consequences for content targeting. If you want to fight your boredom within a short time effectively, you want to see easy-to-understand, easy-to-digest and above all emotional content. Whether emotion, humor or drama – the main thing, it appeals to the emotional level.
Content to the specific standards of use of the Internet vote
The world of the Internet has its own rules that everyone should follow if they want to succeed here. In keeping with point two, most of the articles should not be too long, so they can be read easily in a short time.
The average Buzzfeed contribution, for example, a mere 155 words long. From an SEO perspective, however, longer texts should be published at regular intervals, covering around 2,000 words.
Especially the principles of the used social media platform should be exploited to generate as many interactions as possible. For example, this includes using prominent hashtags. At the same time, the content should be so emotionally appealing that consumers feel a need to share it.
As the use of smartphones takes on ever-increasing importance, the corresponding websites must also be optimized for mobile presentation.
Based on the “Distributed Content Model” by Buzzfeed
This approach relies on scattering different content across different platforms and doing so
- a) not necessarily to insist that ultimately all traffic is directed to the own website and
- b) not to distribute all contents compulsorily over all channels.
In this way, the content can be perfectly tailored to the specific conditions of the respective network (see point three), while at the same time reaching as many people as possible.
Pay attention to easy readability
A study has shown that Buzzfeed articles are written on average at the reading level of fourth graders. For comparison: The content of the American news channel CNN is tailored to the level of the seventh graders.
This does not mean that content should be stupid. Instead, it is also about the ability to consume content as quickly and easily as possible and to exclude as few people. General is advisable …
- mainly to use sentences with less than 20 words,
- shorter words with not too many syllables (ideally around 3-4) to use and
- often to rely on conjunctions that clarify relationships.
Deliver regularly and a lot of content
In terms of release frequency, Buzzfeed makes so fast no one before. Sometimes the media portal publishes several posts per hour. Assuming four posts per hour, two of which flop, two posts per 60 minutes are still successful. So mass creates attention and interactions.
This is, of course, an extreme example. But for other companies, a stable frequency of social media posts or blog articles is crucial. Because only a certain regularity ensures that they stay in the memory and deliver a constant added value.
Branded content instead of ads
In times of adblockers, hardly a user gets to see more advertising. Accordingly, this form of advertising for potential advertisers has become unattractive.
That’s why Buzzfeed relies on so-called “branded content”instead. Articles like “11 Things You Did not Know About PlayStation” are authors of the Sony Entertainment Network, so they’re sponsored.
Both in terms of content and appearance, these articles are as good as indistinguishable from unpaid articles. From a journalistic perspective, this is questionable, especially since it is not explicitly stated that the contribution is sponsored.
However if the separation of neutral journalistic and branded content is carried out appropriately and transparently, this offers an optimal opportunity to involve advertisers without annoying advertisements.
Put everything on the nostalgia card
As already mentioned, an emotional bond makes content particularly attractive and invites users to interact. In particular, an emotional emotion has proven to be successful: nostalgia, the wistful yearning for old, supposedly better times, runs like a red thread through most of the content of Buzzfeed.
Numerous contributions to the theme “Only 90s kids remember” are reminiscent of sweets, TV shows or clothing, which have made up the childhood of Generation Y.
And that’s pretty clever because the painfully beautiful feeling reduces stress and creates a sense of familiarity such as connectedness – so articles are predestined to end up with a “Do you remember that?” Comment in the sandbox friends’ newsfeeds.
Use the correct headings
“A mother brings her child to school. What happens then brings tears to your eyes! “- for headlines of this kind Buzzfeed is famous as well as infamous and also reaps plenty of ridicule.
But what is ignored: They work. Also, when click baiting has become nonsense, headlines make curious and attract readers to their website.
Companies are well advised to approach the whole thing a bit more subtle. But make sure that users not only scroll past the teaser in their newsfeed but also click on it, should marketers.
Various authors have their say
Buzzfeed employs 200 editors who create content. So many do not have to be for their blog certainly to use multiple authors but makes sense in any case.
Because in this way different styles of writing and opinions are depicted. This creates a variety that in turn leads to different target groups being addressed.