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Love it or hate it, look down at it or not, Buzzfeed is definitely doing something right. They’re one of the fastest growing sites on the web, their articles get hundreds (if not thousands) of shares, and they’re always hiring. They’ve got content marketing down to an art–a profitable one. What exactly are they doing right, and how can you use it in your business? Read on to find out:

What's in this article?


Copywriting 101

Want to make your headlines ten times more clickable? Take a scroll through Buzzfeed’s posts–it’s like getting a crash course in headline writing. They’re weirdly specific (“10 Pizza Jokes You Need In Your Life”), they’re almost always talking directly to the reader (“15 Kids Who Could Teach You A Lesson Or Two About Love”), and they promise something so good you just have to click on it and see for yourself (“10 Epic Headshots Reveal The Faces Behind The Hand Models”).

The key takeaway: Study the copywriting greats and use classic techniques to create headlines people can’t help but click on. Buffer has some inspiration for you with their post on tweets Don Draper would write, complete with 27 copywriting templates.

It is worth noting though, that especially with the rise of “clickbait” headlines, audiences are becoming a little jaded. It’s important to create a headline that will make people click through and read the post, but make sure your  article actually follows through on the promise given in the headline. If it doesn’t, people will leave with a bad taste in their mouth, and they definitely won’t keep reading or become customers.

Get super specific

One of the things that Buzzfeed does incredibly well is creating articles that are targeted at a comparatively small portion of their readers. An example of this is one of their more popular posts, with 2.2 million views: 27 Signs You Were Raised by Asian Immigrant Parents. You might think that targeting such a narrow part of the population wouldn’t result in very many views or shares, but the opposite is true.

From a Wired profile on new media:

These audiences tend to have strong ties to one another and are more likely to pass something on that they think will be interesting to other members of the same group. “Traditionally you’d think focusing on a single-digit percentage of the population would result in something not being popular,” Peretti says. “But actually it has the opposite effect. When media can spread through social networks, close personal connections are the distribution mechanism.”

The takeaway: Super specific content might not need to be the majority of your content marketing strategy, but you should make an effort to incorporate it. Aiming to have a 50/50 split is a good idea. You can reach a larger audience with the less-targeted pieces (assuming they’re still high quality and sharable) and reach a smaller number of people, but a more targeted group of them, with the specific pieces. Find segments of your potential customers to target by talking to your customers and finding out how they self-identify. The labels that they’ve grown up with or proudly wear (in the above case, children of Asian immigrants–in other cases, it might be novel writers or latchkey kids or something else entirely) are the secret to creating sharable content.

Don’t be afraid of sponsored content

We’ve already touched on this recently, discussing Medium’s forays into sponsored content, but it bears repeating. Whether you’re building a media empire or just looking to market your business, sponsored content and native ads are not the enemy. In Buzzfeed’s case, they effectively use the “listicles” and the sponsored content they publish to subsidize real journalism, and they have no problem with that model.

The takeaway here is simple: sponsored content needs to be done right–which mostly comes down to high-quality content that’s still entertaining and useful, even if it is an ad.

Need help with your content marketing strategy? Get in touch!