How to Use Buzzfeed to Draw In New Users

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Jun 9, 2014 5:20:00 AM

Many will already be familiar with the list-making machine that is Buzzfeed, a website that launched in New York in 2006 as a "viral lab" by web developer Jonah Peretti to track what the hottest content on the web was at any given time.

For those seeking fun, web-based small business solutions, look no further.

Many will already be familiar with the list-making machine that is Buzzfeed, a website launched in New York in 2006 by web developer Jonah Peretti as a "viral lab" to track the hottest content on the web at any given time. The site has expanded widely into video content, an active online community and much viral content of its own, proving itself as one of the most popular sites empowered by cloud hosting in recent years. Buzzfeed can be harnessed as an extremely powerful content marketing tool when used innovatively. If your small business plays its cards right, your list could very well be the next big article that pops up in every Facebook and Twitter feed across the country.

How Buzzfeed works for content creators
Though it started as a viral content lab, the website has quickly turned into a hub of internal viral activity that founder Peretti once described as "social content marketing." Current Buzzfeed president Jon Steinberg explained to writer Dan Levy exactly what this meant for those hoping to profit from the site's services in an interview with promotions blog Sparksheet.

"Advertorials and word-of-mouth have been a force in marketing and research since the 1950s. We're just doing that online," Steinberg explained simply, and compared Buzzfeed to word-of-mouth marketing for the mille​nnial generation. "It's going back to good advertising and getting away from banners, which were always a terrible advertising product."

Your marketing strategy for small business may not include the Buzzfeed advertising price tag that a number of Fortune 500 companies have taken advantage of in the past year alone, but this doesn't take your organization out of the game. The Community is an incredible lively area of the site that promotes popular posts to the main website - all your company has to do is make it worthy of the front page, and that means speaking the language of its millions of young readers.

"We would never run a piece of advertising like, 'Buy this stuff now for nine dollars,'" Steinberg said. "We don't do what I call 'shouts in a vacuum.' It has to be about a message."

Getting creative and clickable with your list
To speak to this message, it's smartest for content creators to use cloud services to their advantage and do some research on industry-relevant topics that will appeal to their current consumers and prospects while remaining accessible to get clicks. These are ordinarily structured as a list of ways that a user's life can be improved or become more informed on one topic, and are formatted using engaging keywords to draw in a reluctant reader. For instance, "18 Things You Never Knew Started As Marketing Ploys" pulled almost a million views merely by teasing a reader with data rather than providing it in the title, as is the normal news circuit's habit.

Gabrielle Richter, a writer for social marketing blog Likeable Media, gave some insight into what keeps a Buzzfeed article fun without becoming overt, transparent marketing. For most, improving business efficiency won't be possible until this fine line is conquered.

"The potential earned media is a marketer's main drive to the social platform, so content must be worthy of sharing," she explained. "Interesting and unbranded content is most effective for eliciting eliciting shares. Brands on Buzzfeed must adapt their content to the site's light and playful dynamic."

Before beginning, consider what about your industry interests the everyday person, as well as how can you as a content creator can incorporate this into something you do. From there on, the article practically writes itself, as long as you are familiar with the contemporary components that make the website so unique.

For those who aren't list-writers, the one piece of media you must be familiar with is the .gif - defined by Webopedia as "graphic interchange format," or a short, silent video clip that doesn't require any buffering. Buzzfeed contributors use these tools to elicit emotion, or even in a photojournalistic sense to help explain the story they are writing about. Below these .gifs or regular images are brief explanations of the graphics and how they fit into the list, usually presented in a conversational, humorous style. A successful list will contain meaningful, funny substance in both the graphic and the accompanying text to maximize views and the length of time a reader spends reading the piece. The promotion for your product or service is typically the last item in the list to avoid revealing the article as marketing too soon.

When a list is well-made, improving business efficiency doesn't need to be done by forfeiting a marketing budget - your piecemay not appear on the front page like those curated by other big-paying vendors, but well-made, engaging articles make their way out of the Community boards every day and straight into the public's consciousness. With a little luck and a lot of online marketing for small business strategy, yours could be the next one to make waves!

Topics: How