Posted: March 16, 2015, 10:45 a.m.
by Katie Lansford.
Buzzfeed. It’s a combination of social media, viral content, quizzes, videos and serious news stories. It’s addictive and entertaining. But most importantly, it’s changing the way we consume content online.
Buzzfeed is forward thinking in that it understands what makes millennials tick. In an age where much of the content is mobile, the website provides content that is easily and quickly read. According to Quantcast.com, Buzzfeed received over 9 million unique mobile visitors on Nov. 24, 2014, all before noon, at that.
Buzzfeed was one the first to actively use lists and GIFs to present information. Most posts on the website, if not all, include some type of media beyond pictures. And while journalism has already shifted toward multimedia presentation, Buzzfeed has capitalized on that.
The interesting thing about Buzzfeed is that one minute you could be reading a news story about a major political scandal and the next taking a quiz titled, “Which Year of the 90’s are You?” Think about your daily interactions on social media. How often do you either see someone share a Buzzfeed post, or, how often do you catch yourself reading a Buzzfeed article or taking a quiz?
“Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another: What! You too?’”— C.S. Lewis
Another reason Buzzfeed’s posts consistently go viral is its ability to specifically cater to its audience. The Internet is a place where individuals can find that others have the same thoughts and feelings as their own, as obscure or unique as they may be. For example, “11 End-of-the World moments for anxious people” or “19 Thoughts Every CVS Addict Has While Shopping At CVS” are specific to certain traits or feelings you may have. These are two very common types of posts Buzzfeed creates.
In addition to creating viral content, Buzzfeed understands advertising in the digital age and employs the use of native advertising. Its website states that it “is redefining online advertising with its social, content-driven publishing technology.” Buzzfeed often couples its popular posts with subliminal mentions of companies like Virgin Mobile or Pepsi.
A 2013 article in New York Magazine states that “Buzzfeed’s ad revenues could be as much as $40 million this year.” And that “would be about a fifth of last year’s digital revenues for the entire New York Times Company.”
While a criticism of Buzzfeed might be that it unfairly takes its content from posts found on websites like Reddit, it still knows how to create original viral content.
A recent article in Digiday explained that Buzzfeed has “engineered itself almost entirely for social sharing” and has begun to create what are called “social URLs.” There is no specific way to write these, but they are created to boost shareability on social media, instead of focusing on SEO.
Overall, Buzzfeed’s success stems from its ability to engineer content that is shared over and over again. Some may call it luck, but it is the direct result of hard work and knowing what makes your audience take action. It remains to be seen whether or not Buzzfeed can retain its popularity and growth, but while we’re waiting, we’ll probably take another quiz or read a post about cats.