Learning from Buzzfeed’s Content Strategy

I will openly admit that I am a Buzzfeed addict. Now, as a child who dreamt of being a reporter at the Washington Post, I never thought that I would be so interested in a website that posts “listical” journalistic content, but hey, times change.

What really fascinates me about Buzzfeed is the site’s content strategy. Since it was founded in 2006, Buzzfeed has grown into a global news site with more than 130 million unique visitors a month.

While it may be hard to believe that a website which features articles like “The 30 Most Important Onesies In the History of Fashion” offers valuable content lessons, there is a lot to be learned from Buzzfeed.

Know Your Target Demographic Well

Of course, knowing who you’re speaking to is the first rule of content marketing, and while this philosophy predates Buzzfeed, the website definitely mastered it quickly. The content team understands that large portions of Buzzfeed’s audience are 20-somethings, young professionals, college students, female, etc. They market to these individuals’ wide range of interests, offering articles on everything from political issues and international diplomacy to sports, cute animals and celebrity gossip.

Any business can improve its content strategy by realizing that their target demographic is not one-dimensional. 40-year-old men who like cigars also probably like sports, cooking, vacations, restaurants, television, scotch, beer, etc. Companies can look at those various interests and see which marketing tactic would be the most beneficial. For instance, a cigar company could write blog posts on the “Five Best Scotch and Cigar Pairings” or “Top Tobacco Farms to Visit on Vacation.”

‘Snackability’ is Important

Creating concise and engaging content is important for user retention, which is why Buzzfeed relies so heavily on a list format and a lot of visual stimulation in its posts. A new study put out by Sticky found that websites have 1.7 seconds to engage consumers, which is why it’s important to put time and resources into creating interesting content that will also build brand awareness.

Native Advertising

One of the biggest differentiators that sets Buzzfeed apart from other websites is the heavy use of native advertising. According to Buzzfeed’s research, 75 percent of its audience visits the site looking for something to share on social media. By integrating creative ads into editorial content companies are able to build even more brand awareness. Every day Buzzfeed sees increased interest from many different advertisers because using ad copy or content to advertise places the ad within prime real estate on the page and allows brands to connect directly with certain demographics.

A good example of this is Virgin Media’s article titled “27 cats that just can’t handle it.” Since it was posted, the piece has been shared more than 18,000 times on Facebook and received upwards of 600,000 views on social media. Now, this level of success is not guaranteed with every ad campaign, but Virgin Media found an innovative way to turn ad copy into viral content. If this proves anything, it’s that the effort put into content and creative marketing strategies is a good long term investment.

Content is a Long Term Investment

The biggest lesson companies should learn from Buzzfeed is to focus on building an enduring brand presence through their content as well as other marketing strategies. While short term results are always ideal, it is important to invest time and effort into long term marketing solutions. This can be done through website content, blog posts, press releases ad copy and advertising campaigns.

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