The internet is in a twitter about BuzzFeed and its recent $US50m round of VC funding.
There’s quite a few international snarky stories floating around but BuzzFeed actually is a great example of how to:
- Build a brilliant engaged audience
- Build an exchange of fantastic content
- Drive a social media marketing message
- Building an innovative revenue model all without publishing one advertisement.
I have added a list because BuzzFeed loves lists. BuzzFeed also loves quizzes and it has perfected the format of both the list and the quiz online.
Let’s look at what BuzzFeed does well and how it can apply to any business and media outlet that wants to get smart online.
Engaging content in context builds audience
BuzzFeed has a simple mantra, “let our stories, videos, lists and quizzes reach everyone who will love them and no one else”.
With a 150 million readership, they are doing a good job of great content for an upwardly mobile audience, largely of a younger demographic. With 50% of their audience between the ages of 18-34, they have capitulated to an audience who are bored of Facebook and either never joined Twitter, or are absent users of Twitter.
This audience is becoming better informed about global events through BuzzFeed than the older generation still reliant on traditional news brands. The weaving of social engaging content and solid news journalism that appears on BuzzFeed builds a trusted source of journalism to this mainly cynical younger generation. It is the holy grail of a content strategy because it engages it audience in a way that traditional media doesn’t and can’t.
Making money by selling what you are good at
With 75% of BuzzFeed’s traffic coming from social media sources, its revenue model is striking. It sells what it is good at, not ads. Here is another list. This is how BuzzFeed makes its money:
1. Custom social posts
Many agencies and brands just do not get social right. BuzzFeed helps brand to design content that is humorous, inspirational in various formats from infographics to those quizzes again! It works, BuzzFeed claim an average lift of 88% in purchase intent from their custom content.
2. Custom story units
Seamlessly within the site, they enable brands to post their stories and publish customised content.
BuzzFeed have a track record in great video, they will produce your social video for you.
4. “Social Discovery”
A tool that helps content distribute and become discovered through social media and also creating native ads that are published on social networks, to drive traffic to BuzzFeed custom units. (But not native ads on BuzzFeed itself)
BuzzFeed make great content and they know how to distribute it through social networks, because that’s what they do for their own business.
There is a lot to learn from BuzzFeed for media outlets, brands and SMEs. It is a format that is working for 150 million people. It is a business model that is a useful template for any business. It is disrupting the traditional media channels and consequently I think that’s why there is some snarking.
But in reality, it is best to learn and better the disruptor, than moan about them.
Fi Bendall is the managing director of Bendalls Group, a team of highly trained digital specialists, i-media subject matter experts and developers.