Monday, August 4, 2014
1) Tap into emotion and identity
2) Take a lesson from your students, and create opportunities
3) Hire a strong team
4) Don’t skimp on your platform
5) Leverage clarity and resolution
1) Go social with gusto. It appears that Buzzfeed’s staff has mastered the art of the Facebook post (3x their traffic comes from social media than any other source), and that in part, has to do with what we mentioned previously: IDENTITY. With extensive data analysis, they have an understanding of how people behave on Facebook and therefore post content that is likely to be shared by a person on the social site—namely something that they can associate with their identity in a public sphere. The lesson? Understand and embrace the nuances of the social environment you live in.
2) Keep the inside jokes, well, on the inside. Another secret of Buzzfeed’s virality is that the content they repackage tends to be seeded with inside jokes and memes. They take it and strip it down to appeal to a more general audience. The point? Even if you are a BtoB publisher focused on a very specific industry, you should only go so far inside with your content—because there are always people who are wanting to learn more about your industry and speaking a language they can easily understand opens up the door to them.
3) Experiment! Measure! Test! When Buzzfeed was in its infant stages, founder Jonah Peretti and his comedienne sister, Chelsea, experimented with the idea of making stories go viral by creating The New York Rejection Line (a brutally witty way to deal with people who won't leave you alone) and Black People Love Us! (a website about a fictional white couple and their painfully awkward attempts to relate to black people). That laid the groundwork for perpetual experimentation with content and also fed a commitment to measuring and testing content consistently. Testing includes looking at all content on multiple devices before ever making it go live, to ensure a seamless reader experience across devices.
4) Be Authentic and Transparent. Authenticity is what drives Buzzfeed’s content, across formats. The staff strives to create an environment where readers can connect personally and again, identify with what they are experiencing. For videos, that also translates to “maniacal” labeling of sponsored/native ads. Peretti is adamant that readers know where the content is coming from and confident that its quality will engage them regardless.
5) Focus more on the experience than the numbers. As we mentioned earlier, Buzzfeed’s numbers are nothing to scoff at, but the philosophy behind the content, video or otherwise, is about delivering a quality experience to the right people. This is particularly apparent in the company’s approach to news stories, that may not get much attention, but reach those who are interested, nonetheless.
6) Use puppies and kittens, no kidding. Peretti’s idea behind this is that animals are a way of telling the human story, and again, Buzzfeed is about the authentic human experience. The takeaway? Emotional connection should never be under-rated.