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The BuzzFeed Phenomenon

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It’s no secret that BuzzFeed is just about everyone’s favourite distraction (and now also a viable news source). With a monthly audience of well over 150 million visitors and an astonishing one billion video views in a single month earlier this year, this content production powerhouse has achieved unparalleled levels of success in less than a decade.

The BuzzFeed phenomenon is fascinating and important – it can provide useful insight for content producers looking to increase social shares and drive traffic back to their websites. However, it’s important to note that there are a number of factors driving BuzzFeed’s success that are not feasible for every type of business – e.g. massive production and content that is neither relevant nor appropriate for many business’ channels.

What makes BuzzFeed so successful?

Journalists and analysts have come up with an extensive list reasons to explain why we love BuzzFeed and how the site has managed to achieve such staggering success.

It can be broken it down into four simple categories:

  • They use content that is already performing well
    It is fairly well-known that BuzzFeed monitors popular content from sites like Reddit and Imgur, pulling this content onto their platform with little to no modification. The company’s following is so large that entertaining pieces will easily gain traction through BuzzFeed long before other sources, thus the content is often perceived as original.Take note: If you’re considering anything even similar to this practise, you should proceed with caution. This is a very touchy area and is not without risk or backlash, even for BuzzFeed.This is not to say they don’t generate original work.The BuzzFeed staff creates plenty of unique articles, listicles, videos, etc. The team evaluates what is performing well and creates more of that – ever notice how quizzes suddenly started appearing everywhere? They performed well, so now they’re everywhere.

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  • Clickbait
    These people are clickbait wizards. BuzzFeed writers and editors understand the power of a headline and they use it to their advantage. Through lists, quizzes, emotionally driven headlines and humour, they have mastered the art of drawing in users and getting that click.
  • Enormous output
    This is another factor that many businesses simply cannot achieve. BuzzFeed is designed to produce content – a lot of it. They have teams of people pushing content onto their site 24 hours a day from offices around the world.This level of content production has two main effects:
  1. It allows the site to perform extremely well in search results, as it’s constantly being updated, ranking for a large number of keywords, and driving traffic through social networks and other valuable links.
  2. You can check this site every couple of hours and you’re guaranteed to find something new. Considering the sheer volume of content produced by BuzzFeed, it is almost statistically impossible for the site not to get attention.When you’re publishing at the rate of an organisation like this, you’re bound to produce something people want to share. When you begin to analyse those formulas for future content and grow your audience, those numbers increase exponentially.
  • People are naturally self-centred
    This may sound harsh, but it’s true, and this facet of human nature has been exacerbated by social media. People love to share articles, videos, quiz results and pictures they can connect with and believe expresses something about who they are or who they want to be.BuzzFeed delivers content users can identify with closely. I feel confident I’m not the only one who has first-hand experience with at least five of the 23 Pictures That Are Way, Way Too Real For People Who Work In Offices. Preach, BuzzFeed.Creating easy-to-read, entertaining content that specifically targets certain groups of people results in highly shareable articles, which explains why BuzzFeed’s social traffic is five times that of their organic search traffic. Social sharing delivers more traffic back to the site, which often leads readers to new content within the site, therefore driving more shares and more traffic.

Achieving content success

It’s important to remember that what constitutes “success” is different for every business. BuzzFeed’s numbers are virtually unattainable for most businesses producing content, especially if that’s not the sole focus. Determine which metrics are the most important to your company and focus your efforts around how to improve in that arena, set realistic goals for your channels and consistently evaluate and realign processes and priorities to meet those goals.

If you feel like you’ve set everything up properly but you’re still not seeing results, consider blogger outreach and other easy ways to revive your content. If you’d rather leave it to the experts, just give us a call.