4 unexpected content marketing lessons from BuzzFeed

4 unexpected content marketing lessons from BuzzFeed

BuzzFeed is one of the biggest success stories in media today. Just a few years after its launch, the site has generated over $100 million in revenue in 2014 and is already profitable. It’s impossible not to talk to anyone under the age of 35 today who doesn’t know what BuzzFeed is.

So what is behind BuzzFeed’s phenomenal success? The site has pioneered the use of listicles, but its triumph can be attributed to more than that. The site’s growing web traffic is a result of its focus on interesting content, social-media optimization and smart use of technology.

Effective content marketing is a lot about acting as a brand publisher, so marketers can learn a lot from the BuzzFeed approach. Here are 4 lessons from this media powerhouse:

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5 content marketing lessons I learned from going viral

What happens after a piece of content you’ve created goes viral? 

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to find out the answer to this question when a blog post I wrote about the death of the social media manager got a lot of traffic. Within 24 hours, the article had 1,000 views. Mentions poured in on Twitter. I received the most LinkedIn requests I’ve ever received in one week. And my LinkedIn following easily crossed 1,000. By the end of the week, the post has reached over 50,000 views. Today, that post has more than 86,000 views.

5 content marketing lessons I learned from going viral

“Viral” is somewhat of a relative term, but for me, seeing one of my posts get more than 50,000 views in one week certainly qualifies as going viral.

It was an odd experience for me because as a marketer, I often think about ways of extending the reach of my company’s content. I am not alone: many marketers want to crack the code for viral marketing. In fact, it’s the quest for virality that’s driving the popularity of real-time marketing. If we can all be like Oreo, then we’ll boost brand awareness and increase lead count/sales…eventually.

From my experience going viral, I’ve learned some valuable content-marketing lessons. Here are 5 of them:

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Why going viral means nothing

Why Going Viral Means Nothing

Last March, I published a blog post about the death of the social media manager. I wrote the post as part of LinkedIn’s #MyIndustry campaign.

Within a day, more than 1,000 people have seen it. The views kept on coming, reaching over 50,000 views by the end of the week. I got a lot of mentions on Twitter. I received the most LinkedIn requests I’ve ever received in one week. My LinkedIn following easily crossed 1,000. Today, that post has more than 76,000 views.

I’m not sure when a piece of content technically goes “viral,” but at least in my standards, that LinkedIn post did just that. Some of the blog posts I’ve written in the past have reached a wide audience, but those views trickled in over a long period of time. Not this one.

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9 proven ways to become a content marketing creative genius

9 ways to unleash creativity

As marketers, we’re expected to be always on. We’re expected to be creative, to be able to come up with new ideas all the time.

And in marketing, creativity is a critical component of success. You won’t see traction in your content marketing efforts unless you have new ideas to share or you present them in a way that hasn’t been done before. On social media, we need to constantly come up with new blog post ideas and new ways of engaging our audience.

So, how do you keep the creative juices flowing?

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Winning at content marketing: How long-form content can help

the rise of long-form content
Photo credit: Steve Rhodes (Flickr)

“This blog post is too long.”

“We need to cut this down to 500 words.”

“Make this shorter. Maybe split the blog post into two?”

As a social media manager, I’ve heard these comments numerous times before. Many marketers are biased against long-form content. “Less is more,” they claim. “People have short attention spans.”

It is true that being concise is often a good thing. That’s why Twitter is such a hit: It forces us to distill our thoughts and communicate only what’s truly important.

But having short content for the sake of having short content is not valuable…and it’s not a good content strategy. Brevity shouldn’t come at the price of completeness.

The rise of Big Content

In the past year, several well-respected SEO and marketing folks have been advocating for “big content.” And when people say “big content,” they often mean long-form content. But it’s worth noting that marketers and analysts are using the term “big content” differently:

  • Craig Roth from Gartner says big content is “a term that helps highlight the subset of Big Data related to the less-structured side of it.  Big Content isn’t new or different than Big Data; rather it helps focus on uses of Big Data for unstructured information for the kind of folks that think the Library of Congress is filled with ‘content’, not ‘data.'”
  • Contrast this with this definition from Moz’s Dr. Peter J. Meyers’ definition. He says big content is the type of content that takes time and effort, that breaks the mold and that talks about big concepts. In other words, he’s talking about pieces of content—either a blog post, an interactive infographic, an ebook, etc.—that is well-researched and that is often (but not always) lengthy.

Big content should serve a higher purpose in your company than just to increase pageviews. In this post, my focus is more aligned with Moz’s definition. I’ll cover why long-form content should be part of your content marketing mix. (To be clear, I am not advocating that you stop creating shorter blog posts. The point of this post is to highlight why creating long-form content in addition to shorter pieces is a great idea.)

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