7 Tips for Content Creation from BuzzFeed’s Publisher

By Amanda Lewan on April 3rd, 2015 / Comments

While at SXSW 2015 earlier this month we had the opportunity to hear a great talk featuring Dao Nguyen, BuzzFeed’s Publisher. BuzzFeed has taken over the market when it comes to creating sharable content. Now, companies on their own are producing blogs, videos, and managing social media. How can we learn from BuzzFeed’s success?

A big part of Nguyen’s talk was how important the content is, and how you can leverage the science of technology to get the most from your brand’s messaging. This is something that any brand, especially a startup or small business, can learn how to do. Below are seven tips we learned from BuzzFeed’s publisher.

Content is Identity. In today’s world we want to share content that we can identify with. Nguyen emphasized it is better to create content for a niche audience than a general audience. It’s much more relatable and therefore people will want to share it. Under 10% of the US population is Asian but one Asian BuzzFeed post she said was viewed by over 2.2 million times. “It was written to be appreciated by a slice of the population. That’s very important for making social content,” said Nguyen.

Technology can help increase sharing. You might already know how to create relatable content, after all you are talking to people everyday about your business. Now, what about the science? How do we use technology to increase sharing? BuzzFeed incorporates a whole series and approach that starts with tools and insights, user acquisition, and focuses on retention for traffic with the ultimate goal of sharing. BuzzFeed has their own content management system they’ve built to help measure and preview posts.

Social tip: test and preview. Preview your post in social media before you hit publish. Is there a great image? What about the title? Does it make you want to share it? BuzzFeed’s Nguyen said they know on Pinterest a small images work better. They make handles so you can tag celebrities and influencers before tweeting something out. You should also always try to A/B test headlines and photos to see which performs better for your content.

Think about and establish retention. For BuzzFeed Nugyen says: “We took a page from epidemiology – infections disease studies. We measure how quickly content will spread. There is a R= Bz – social reproduction rate of media – a measurement that exists in real time.” You may not create content that you can expect will go viral, but how are you measuring what works? How long does a reader stay on your website? Where do they go? How does your design and content guide them? BuzzFeed looks at all of this to establish a longer page view.

Sharing is the ultimate goal. This should be the ultimate goal for any small business or entrepreneur, too. Don’t you want to create something customers and friends love?  When someone shares your content, they are spreading your brand. They are starting to become evangelists for your brand and they are more likely to trust you before making a purchasing decision.

Data doesn’t takeover creativity. You want both. There’s a myth that data crunchers tell writers what to write at BuzzFeed. Nugyen said that nothing of this sort happens. Creators too need to understand some numbers. For example, women share four times more than men online. Content producers need to know that content that is easy to relate too for groups of people will be much more likely to be shared.IMG_9344 (1)

What about platform? Content can perform differently on different channels. “We did a study where we took the top 50 videos on Youtube and Facebook and divided them into three buckets,” said Nguyen. What did they find? The best t for YouTube is informational video, and for Facebook relatable videos did well. Pinterest has been BuzzFeed’s second largest refer for traffic overall. To leverage Pinterest, they added a one click button in the Pinerest app which helped increase sharing by 10x.

“We look at what users are doing and optimize sites for them,” she said.

How are you creating content that’s sharable? What do you see working best for you?

About the Author

Amanda Lewan

Amanda Lewan

Editor @michipreneur. Co-founder Bamboo Detroit. Follow me @Amanda_Jenn. I love telling the story of entrepreneurs and innovators.