Love them or hate them, BuzzFeed’s online media empire has mastered the art of social sharing. Over the past twelve years, BuzzFeed has managed to corner the market in quirky listicles, offbeat personality quizzes and viral videos. Where else can you find out your spirit hamster or which Anne Hathaway character you are? Each and every day they release 600 pieces of new content (INSANE, RIGHT?) While many write off their online contributions as the lowest common denominator, their 200 million+ unique monthly visitors and an average of 9 billion monthly content views, make it undeniable that they’re doing something very right.
1. Clickbait ‘Em
BuzzFeed headlines are notoriously ridiculous. It’s kind of their thing.
While the subject matters vary, there is a running theme. They all evoke emotion and leave you guessing. What is a thing that looks like a hedgehog? Was there something wrong with Tony’s face? What could this possibly mean? There’s some intentional obfuscation to create intrigue on the reader’s end.
Headlines are the first thing that people see when it comes to your writing. They will either grab the attention of readers and site visitors or totally work against you and permit your audience to keep on scrolling. On average, 8 out of 10 people who scroll past your headline will take the time to read the title that you’ve crafted, but only 2 out of 10 will click to read what you actually have to say.
That’s why it’s so important to make your headline count! Be a little ridiculous. Be engaging. Give the internet a reason to click!
2. Make Them Laugh
With so much negativity and darkness in the world, we love a good, light-hearted, easy-breezy read/watch. One of the things that makes BuzzFeed as popular as it is, is the humor and “weird” that they’ve chosen to embrace. The language that they use is informal and playful in tone. They want you to feel as though when you’re reading their article or watching their video, you’re just chatting with your lifelong best friend. There is absolutely a time and place for tact and polish on the Internet, but BuzzFeed also knows that they exist to entertain. They play to their strengths. They hire funny, relatable humans and do their best to make the world a more amusing place.
When you’re putting out content online, embrace your quirks. Have a sense of humor! Be personable.
3. Try To Understand
While normally all Chrissy Tiegen GIFs and rainbows, they adjust to fit the cultural climate. After the tragedy that was the Sandy Hook shooting back in 2012, BuzzFeed noticed a spike in popularity of content deemed “comforting.” In response, they pushed out content that would help to heal and inspire those who felt helpless, hurt or confused by what was happening in the world.
Here’s what you can do to help immigrant children separated from their family https://t.co/YaME0jEoI2
— BuzzFeed (@BuzzFeed) June 20, 2018
They also try to latch on to the things that make people feel special or different.
“Early on at BuzzFeed, we would make lists, like, ‘Signs you were raised by Asian immigrant parents.’ A single-digit percentage of the [U.S.] population is Asian. This is a niche group—that’s how the mass media would think about it. But [the post] would get 6 or 8 million views and be a huge hit. Then we would look at the data and see that half of the people consuming it weren’t Asian. [Readers] were also sharing it with people who have different experiences to say, ‘This is how I grew up.'”
-Jonah Peretti, BuzzFeed, Founder and CEO
It’s fun to be acknowledged. I’m from Kentucky. Anytime I see an article about my state, I’ll click to see if their experience and understanding lines up with mine. By singling out very specific people groups, they make individuals feel understood and validated.
When you’re managing social media accounts, blogging, creating YouTube content, or just being yourself online, take a page out of BuzzFeed’s playbook-make it fun, get inside your audience’s head and ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS take a second to come up with that killer headline.