6 Things Your Content Strategy Can Learn From BuzzFeed

Posted by Taylor Haney on Mon, Jul 14, 2014

To continue with our theme this month we have another excellent post from our friends at HB! In this blog Molly Delaney, Senior Account Executive at HB Agency gives some awesome tips on how to incorporate BuzzFeed-like strategies into your content.

Molly DelaneyWorking in a variety of markets including medical imaging, clinical trial solutions, CRM, cloud computing, education solutions, and clean technology, Molly helps her clients at HB create thoughtful and strategic stories. In addition to her PR experience, Molly has a background in business-to-consumer sales, marketing and promotion, including an internship with snack company, Pirate Brands. Molly graduated from Bentley University in 2011 with a BS in Marketing. Follow her on Twitter @molly_delaney

There’s no denying the fact that BuzzFeed knows how to create content magic. Whether or not you’ve embraced the GIF-heavy, cat-meme site or not, there’s something you can learn from the BuzzFeed model.

If you’re reading this and thinking, “Nah, I’m more of a New York Times kind of person,” that’s understandable. A 160-year-old publication typically knows what it’s doing. In fact, NYTimes.com receives about 31 million unique monthly visitors. Sounds like a lot, right? It’s not. BuzzFeed is attracting more than 130 million unique visitors a month. So what’s the deal? Are we all turning into listicle-loving robots? Not exactly.

BuzzFeed has figured out what makes its readers connect with content. As a marketer, there’s a lot to take away here.

So in true BuzzFeed fashion, here are 6 things your content strategy can learn from BuzzFeed:

1. Sharing is caring.

tumblr mcj7p0kkbF1qap4zeo1 500

At a conference last year, I had the opportunity to listen to Jonathan Perelman of BuzzFeed discuss and debate the state of journalism and its digital transformation. Perelman stressed the importance of making content shareable, referencing a quote he once heard from a partner:

“I don’t share your brand because I like your brand, I share your brand because I like my friends.”

He explained that people want to share something with their friends in exchange for their attention, affection, or whatever else it may be and it’s true. Approximately 75% of BuzzFeed’s traffic referrals are from social media, the majority of those originating from Facebook.

2Create something your audience wants to share with its social networks. Driving traffic is essential to a successful content strategy and should be kept top of mind in the creative process.

2. Get emotional.


BuzzFeed does an excellent job of tapping into its audience’s emotions. On her Svblte blog, Francine Hardaway highlights BuzzFeed’s success with creating content that resonates:

“To make you share something, you have to identify with it in some emotional way. Nostalgia is social. Breaking news about things like the Jodi Arias trial or a tsunami are social. Humor is inherently social, as are cute animals. BuzzFeed did a promotional campaign with Toyota Prius called ‘25 Hybrid Animals You will Love.’ It got millions of shares and views.” – Jonah Peretti, BuzzFeed Founder/CEO

Maybe fluffy animals aren’t going to work for you, but spend time thinking about what will make your audience emotional. Ask yourself the following:

- How do you want your audience to feel?

- Why should they feel this way?

3. Show personality.


Many businesses make the mistake of focusing on their products and services with their content marketing. In these instances, it’s easy to forget that there are actual people behind these companies.

At HB, we recently created a BuzzFeed Community channel and used the 10th anniversary of “Mean Girls” to illustrate the life of a PR person. It’s aptly named, “The PR Pitch Book.” Does it talk about HB? No, but it gives our clients, prospects, friends, etc. an idea of our personalities (plus, we just really love “Mean Girls” references).

We’ve also used our BuzzFeed channel for recruitment with “18 Reasons Why You Should Work At HB.” I was pleasantly surprised when a PR team candidate referenced the post during an interview.

Keep in mind that not all content needs to be (nor should be) serious. When appropriate, find opportunities to show your personality.

4. Don’t just educate. Engage and interact. 


Educational content is great, but creating content that your audience can interact with will bring your content marketing to another level.

What’s one way BuzzFeed engages its readers? Quizzes.

After analyzing 2013 numbers, BuzzFeed found that one of its most shared pieces was in the form of a quiz. So if you’ve noticed that you’re constantly taking new quizzes on BuzzFeed, now you know why.

Creating content for your audience to interact with will add an element of excitement to your content strategy. If all else fails, throw in something “Game Of Thrones” related, too.


5. It’s not all listicles...


Even though BuzzFeed is known for its listicle ways, that doesn’t mean you should ignore long-form.

What most people don’t realize is that BuzzFeed has an entire channel dedicated to long reads. In fact, one of the best BuzzFeed stories I’ve read this year was not a list. It was a personal story from a writer (think back to point #2) that’s been viewed close to 1 million times to date.

Think about the best form for your content delivery. Is it something simple that can be easily digested? Throw some numbers on that bad boy! Is it something complex that a list can’t do justice? Long-form is by no means dead, so don’t let your content strategy forget about it.

6. These rules apply to B2B, too!


If you’re reading this post and thinking, “This is great, but I’m working on content marketing for a B2B company. This is no good to me,” I’m here to tell you you’re wrong.

Big brands, such as GE Aviation, are flocking to BuzzFeed to get away from a traditional marketing approach. Don’t fool yourself into thinking this strategy will only work if you’re strictly a B2C organization.

The best thing to do, whether you’re in B2B or B2C, is to not pigeonhole yourself into a set strategy because of the type of business you are. The lines between B2B and B2C are blurring, so don’t let it hold you back from creative, shareable content.

Cool, right?


At the end of the day, content marketers are storytellers. We’re all looking for new, exciting ways to tell compelling stories. The BuzzFeed model challenges us to rethink not only about how we can tell a story, but also about what will make it resonate.

If you keep these tips in mind, your content will be like: