4 Lessons Buzzfeed Has Taught Us About Content Marketing

Buzzfeed is arguably the most influential content provider on the Internet. Over the past few years, it’s proven how you can draw readers in with good marketing and social media strategies, even if the content itself isn’t high-end.

Here’s what businesses should take away from the success of Buzzfeed:

Use the appropriate type of content

Purely taking content quality into consideration, it’s amazing how far Buzzfeed has come. One reason it’s been so successful is because it never tried imitating the New York Times or Wall Street Journal. It set out to do its own thing.

The lesson here is that content isn’t appropriate or inappropriate on its own. To make that claim, you need to know the conditions it was released in. Would a Buzzfeed article work well in an academic setting? Absolutely not. But it’s clearly effective on other platforms, such as social media.

To apply this to your marketing campaign, you have to understand what makes content appropriate in your industry. For example, a recent Forbes article explains how SaaS businesses have to be more aggressive with their content marketing campaigns than the average company:

“Because of the high customer lifetime value, you have bigger competitors in almost every SaaS vertical that are willing to spend massive amounts of money on channels like AdWords to not only gain new customers but to also suppress their smaller competitors. So you have to be crafty with your content marketing and avoid going guns to guns with your larger competitors.”

Because customer loyalty is everything in relation to SaaS companies, they have to be aggressive with their marketing efforts. What counts as appropriate content in this context might not carry over to the financial industry, however.

Headlines matter

More than anything, Buzzfeed is known for its straightforward headlines. Some of its current most popular articles, for example, include “30 of the Gayest Pictures of LGBT People as Kids” and “22 Time Celebrities Fangirled Over Other Celebs on Twitter.”

The headline tells the reader exactly what he’s in for. He knows from the start that he’ll be able to scroll right through as opposed to get stuck reading a 15 minute article.

All in all, headlines are arguably the most important factor in attracting readers. For an extra bump, consider using Buzzfeed’s list format.

Tailor your message to a specific audience group

Most of Buzzfeed’s articles have a clear target audience, namely Millennials with socially liberal principles. Other audiences wouldn’t even bother to click Buzzfeed headlines.

The same is true for your company’s content marketing strategy. If you want to generate relevant leads, then you need to write for a specific audience. To help you achieve that, you can create reader personas. This Huffington Post article explains the strategy:

“This is a critical step in every content marketing strategy, and most often, it is the first step. Take time to build rich reader personas. Craft a compelling reader persona keeping in mind the kind of readers that will read your content and also those who will want to share it.”

The idea is to define a few personas who largely represent your target audience. You can always refer to them to check if your content is appropriate.

Make sure the tone and style match your message

Buzzfeed’s aesthetic perfectly matches the message it’s trying to send. If the headlines initially attract the readers, the site’s format and style are what keeps them coming back.

It’s always obvious when a business tries using a style that doesn’t fit its brand. This just screams inauthenticity to consumers. To know if your tone is right, consider your content’s message, your industry, and your target audience.

Should businesses copy Buzzfeed’s style and create similar content to draw new readers? No, but they should learn from the company’s success. At the end of the day, Buzzfeed is covering the same marketing principles that have been around for years.

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