BuzzFeed’s Marketing Strategy, Decoded: Rules of the List Maker

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Move over shopaholics, alcoholics and cupcake fanatics. The hottest addiction of 2013 is, without doubt, BuzzFeed. Some believe it is the best pastime ever. Others dismiss it is a trashy content thief. And, if you happen to have never heard of BuzzFeed, you probably don’t spend enough time mindlessly surfing the net. Because, apart from featuring cerebral, life-altering content such as, “10 Things Ryan Gosling Did In 2013 That Are 5 Billion Times More Interesting/Hotter Than Adam Levine’s Entire Life,” you should know that the website registered 130 million unique visitors in November this year. The social news biggie, which features trending viral content across a smorgasbord of subjects, is growing wildly and has already edged past the New York Times. In fact, a ranking of the “most social” media publishers on the web put BuzzFeed on the top, alongside the BBC. With almost 16 million Facebook interactions on content published in August, it has been crowned the “most social” publisher on Facebook. What’s more, its traffic in US is way larger than bigwigs AOL and Craigslist.

BuzzFeed BuzzFeed in a Nutshell.

What’s the buzz?

Co-founded in 2006 by Jonah Peretti, BuzzFeed is home to the hottest, most social content on the web. It has a technology that detects viral content and sends it through an edit process before it is posted. You could say it is like the lovechild of Reddit and Huffington Post. Here’s the real clincher though: the site makes 100 percent of its money through social content marketing!
The community itself is dominated by cat maniacs and pug lovers, who vehemently identify as introverted, socially-awkward millenials and all uniformly have a crush on Tom Hiddleston. And, much of this traffic is from Facebook. From August to October this year, traffic to the BuzzFeed Network from the News Feed increased by 69%.
However, this might change. Chris Cox, who is in charge of News Feed at Facebook, wants his product to showcase more ‘high-quality’ stories, rather than viral junk.  And, of course, there has always been criticism stating that the site is nothing but a recycler and re-packager of content that is already online.
All that notwithstanding, there is no denying that BuzzFeed\’s marketing strategy is bang on.

Top Top Facebook Publishers

How can you groom your site to be become like the Herculean online content presence that is BuzzFeed? Let’s take a look:

Headlines hog the limelight

It’s a cheap trick, but a powerful headline is the difference between an extremely popular average story and an extremely amazing unpopular story. Experiment with different headlines. In fact, spend as much time on thinking of a clever headline as you do on the entire piece.

‘List’y thoughts

Lists work, and how! Readers like to consume content with as less effort as possible. Highlight key points and make the piece seem less intimidating.

Fun with formats

The kind of content available on BuzzFeed is diverse- think GIFs, videos, pictures, infographics, etc. So, experimenting with different formats is important, especially visual content. Audio or podcasts work too.

Quantity Matters

If you’ve seen BuzzFeed, you know that under every trending topic, there are at least five to 10 pieces of content. Give the reader different views on one topic… variety is the flavor of the season.

Definitely Go Mobile

Remember, Google mobile search penalizes sites that are not optimized. So, get into the nitty-gritty of responsive design and discuss the possibilities with your web team.

Smart Advertising

No one likes ads. It’s a universal thing. BuzzFeed’s business model is such that even the ads featured have super entertaining takeaways. An ad that informs as well as makes the reader laugh… what’s not to love? It’ll take some measure of creativity, but it can be done!

News Value

Sure, BuzzFeed is all about the fun lists that everyone shares on Facebook, but, fact is, it also takes its new reporting pretty seriously. So, you can find an equal amount of information on both Miley Cyrus’s diseased tongue (they said so) and Obama Care.

Know Your Community, Unite It!

People like connecting with others who share similar interests. BuzzFeed, for example, thrives on pop culture. Find the connecting points of your community- figure out the sore points. Your Google Analytics account and your social profiles will help you figure this out. Once done, work your content around your findings.

Fodder for Cocktail Conversation

Your reader should leave the site equipped with some information that he/she can use in conversation and seem uber intelligent. So, focus on injecting a little (contextual) trivia wherever possible.

Post Everyday

BuzzFeed can afford to post a hundred articles every day because it has the staff strength. Even if this is not very realistic for you, post at least one piece every day. Be consistent. It’ll help without you even noticing it.

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