Anyone who spends some time on any leading social media network will come across the name of BuzzFeed. There are numerous friends on your social contact list who share and post content bearing the name of BuzzFeed. Its omnipresence on social networks is so powerful that it is quite a matter of envy how they manage to generate that kind of social media clout.
Trailing the footprints of this social media phenomenon, I found several similarities with their method of working with other social media campaigns, along with many differences. The most obvious of these is how they articulate the regular social media lessons into their work. They don’t do anything different, most of the time! Rather they do the usual tricks in the right way.
For example, we have all known and learnt all along that the content you put out should vary according to the social network you’re promoting it on. But there are a precious few who do that! Most are lazy enough to syndicate their content across the channels in a desperate hit or miss attempt to grab attention. On the other hand, if you follow the footprints of BuzzFeed, you will find some regular patterns.
Social Media Lessons learnt from Buzzfeed
Here are some lessons to learn from how BuzzFeed handles the different social media channels:
For Facebook, they create videos that are embedded in square boxes. This ensures that these videos are easy to view, no matter what kind of device you’re viewing it on. There are no aspect ratio issues to write home about. Additionally, these videos almost never have any sound on them. You don’t need headphones to watch them. Without the sound as well, these videos can be viewed and understood.
For Twitter, BuzzFeed comes up with content having listed title-names. Like, Top 10 Ways to Do Something, or, 5 Things to do Today. These titles clearly tell the viewer that it won’t take much time to go through the content. Because they are written in bullet points, the takeaway is so much more for a casual reader. These are ideal headlines for content posted on Twitter.
Instagram posts with little link-back to BuzzFeed pages are a master-stroke of an idea. These appear like the pages of Reddit. The content is viewer-friendly. As there are no link-backs to BuzzFeed pages, it doesn’t appear to be link-plugs for the unsuspecting viewer. It adds a lot of credibility, and click-ability, to the post. There is the BuzzFeed brand name on the posts anyway. With shares going up higher, more people see content having the byline of BuzzFeed. That is more than enough and certainly better than link-backs but little click-through rate.
For SnapChat, BuzzFeed encourages users to document their own stories in their own way. This creates user-generated content with a very high acceptability among other users. You may have someone documenting the experience of watching an El Classico match while another trying out Japanese food for the first time! All of them come exclusively through BuzzFeed channels.
The cardinal difference in how BuzzFeed approach social media as opposed to the others is that they are more interested in using them for branding. They are seldom trying to use the networks as conversion channels where they want to direct users to their home or services page. It is rarely about BuzzFeed. It is about the network they are working on. As a result, they are better suited to utilize the network in promoting their brand name.
There is another difference in approach that you should notice. BuzzFeed is not devising social media strategies to suit their content. They are working it backwards. They are creating content suited for social media. They realize that the social network is quite variable and sometimes, volatile. You cannot tame or control how thousands of users behave socially. What you can do is attune your content to suit their behaviour and traits. It is quite a significant and smart departure from the conventional social media thinking.
The crux of these lessons is that you have to use social media for branding rather than for generating traffic to your website. Let your brand name soar. The result will ride piggyback!