How many times have you logged into Facebook with the intention of just quickly checking the News Feed when you notice a quiz? Intrigued, you click the link and have now been sucked into a quiz, which you’ll then share on Facebook causing a portion of your friends to do the same. BuzzFeed got you once again.
Within the last year, BuzzFeed has become the most dominant force when it comes to generating viral content. For example, the site skyrocketed its traffic 855 percent between September 2012 to September 2013 after Facebook altered its News Feed. While there has been some questionable methods attached to reaching this level of success – liking paying for ads on Facebook and plagiarism – the site still has had a remarkable run. (Whether you like it or not.)
BuzzFeed was founded by Jonah Peretti in 2006 as an initiative to test, track, and create viral content. Peretti is one interesting character. He graduated from MIT, taught computing in New Orleans, co-founded the Huffington Post with Arianna Huffington, Kenneth Lerer, and Andrew Breitbart, has dyslexia and became a viral sensation himself, following email exchanges with Nike.
Today, he is the CEO of one the world’s most well-known media and technology companies, which produces an average of 378 posts a day that has raised 46 million in venture capital from the Hearst Corporation, RRE, Lerer Ventures, and Japan’s SoftBank.
But, what exactly is BuzzFeed? Isn’t it just that site that creates quizzes and shares pictures of adorable animals? Yes and no. It’s actually a site that handles a wide range of tasks.
For starters, it can be a pop-culture where visitors can vote on the articles by using Badges like “LOL”, “WIN”, “OMG”, “CUTE”, “TRASHY”, “FAIL”, “WTF”. It can also be a serious news site with in-depth articles written and edited by people who used to work for Politico and NBC. And, it can be an organization that brands spend big money on to make their content go viral.
No matter the project that BuzzFeed is currently working on, there’s no denying it has revolutionized online advertising by embracing social, content-driven publishing. And, even if you loathe BuzzFeed, you still have to respect that. Plus, you can actually learn a lot from BuzzFeed. Consider the following 10 ways to get web traffic like BuzzFeed. And, no. You won’t have to hand over your hard-earned cash to Facebook.
1. Obsessively Test
Believe it not, there’s actually a lot of effort put into the content that BuzzFeed publishes. There’s not a group of 5 or 6 people lounging around and gathering collections of sleeping animals that they assume we will instinctively click. There’s actually a formula in place: R = βz.
The R stands for the amount of traffic that the post will reach, z is the number of people who actually view the post, and β is how likely the post will go viral. Of course, this sounds obvious to anyone who has created content at some point. Most of us are aware that a post will spread like a wildfire because of the amount of places that is has been linked to.
While luck is certainly a factor, BuzzFeed invests a fair amount of resources into trying to figure this formula out. And, the best way to do that is experimenting with simple A/B testing and analytics. For anyone who has dabbled in the world of content marketing, you already know how important a standard A/B test is. For those unfamiliar with this test, it’s usually used to compare two different versions of a website to see which one does better with traffic. How does Buzzfeed use A/B testing and analytics?