10 Reasons @BuzzFeed Is The Future of Content

1. The titles of its posts are just weird enough to intrigue.

Just long enough to give you a good sense of the article and snappy enough to make it easier to click than wonder what you might have missed out on by not clicking…

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2. The content for Buzzfeed stories is frequently sourced from Twitter AKA REAL LIFE.

I myself found fame after being unwittingly featured in ‘27 Middle-Class Problems‘, after *jokingly* tweeting about Spotify. Cue tweets telling me i’m famous – well the article was tweeted 7,500 times!

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3. The writers are brought to the forefront.

As well as the post author’s name appearing at the top of an article, the URL for each story/list/piece goes http://www.buzzfeed.co.uk(com)/AUTHORNAME/ARTICLENAME. People buy people. Or familiarity breeds contempt. One or the other. I personally remember the author of a particularly good post and will be more likely to read that author’s future musings/listings.

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4. It’s just so goddam visual and succinct.

Long-winded textual explanations of the state of the housing market are for CEO’s reading the Financial times at a leisurely pace whilst eating their egg and soldiers. Buzzfeed is for us young-uns (32’s young right?) looking for that next fix of heady content. Any text in a Buzzfeed article is usually their to explain the image/gif/video. Time is money people, and a gif tells a thousand words.

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5. Easy touch points of engagement.

In these time and attention scarce times, you need to make it flippin easy for people to engage. Buzzfeed does this by giving you an easy set of loose adjectives to click. Browsing readers can then sort content by the most ‘OMG’ or ‘wtf’. Win!

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6. It’s starting to take itself seriously

There will always be a place for cat gifs on Buzzfeed but the site has recently made a lot of new hires as it tries to make in-roads to serious journalism, presented in a Buzzfeed style format. They’ve hired Pulitzer winning Mark Schoofs to head up their ‘Investigative Unit’ and The Guardian’s Moscow bureau chief, Miriam Elder to be their Foreign Editor. Today they’ve tackled the housing crisis through a well laid out, easy to understand post entitled ’15 Facts That Reveal The Utter Insanity of The Housing Market’ by Daniel Knowles of The Economist. As I saw someone say on Twitter – this WILL be the way the next general election is sold to the younger generation. That may be good for engaging a previously inert segment, or bad for the bias in the way the arguments are laid out. Reporting serious subject matter brings added responsibility and a requirement to show both sides of an argument. That doesn’t get clicks though.

7. The breadth of subject matter!

From ‘The 14 Craziest Things Russia’s Top Doctor Ever Said’ and ’16 Horses That Look Like Miley Cyrus’, to the aforementioned article on over-population and the UK housing crisis – there’s a lot going on!

8. They’re monetizing already

Not through garish banner ads skyscraping their way down half the screen. No, the ads on Buzzfeed are stories written by advertisers or ‘partners’ and appear in the same content stream as regular Buzzfeed posts. These advertorials indicate that they are from a featured partner and have a shaded background – but if the title’s interesting, people are going to click and read…

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9. User generated content

As well as hiring big names in the world of journalism to write for them Buzzfeed also leverages to creativity of its readers. The Buzzfeed community members are able to create their own posts, and watch them spread like wildfire from the internet. In fact, their UK Editor, Luke Lewis was quoted as saying today at the #BBCSocial event, that the best community contributors may even be offered a job with Buzzfeed, Swell.

10. Other news networks are beginning to mimic the Buzzfeed way

From the BBC to The Guardian and Independent, the was truncated, easy to digest format of Buzzfeed articles is impossible to ignore and affecting the style in which other present their own news.

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Twitter ‘Moments’, Good Digital Examples, Great Content and Social/Online PR at #MWeekLive2013 with @DaraNasr, @ashleyfriedlein, @rosmack and @greenwellys

Last week I went to Marketing Week Live. There were a LOT of speakers, conferences, seminars, presenters. The trick with these events I feel is to

decide what interests you before you go and plan your day accordingly. I like my learning to be as untainted as possible by commercial agenda so tend to avoid the supplier sponsored ‘seminars’, opting instead for thought leaders and speakers who have earned their place on stage through merit, rather than sponsorship.

Twitter ‘Moments’

The exception to this is a speaker from one of the biggies; Google, Facebook or as on this occasion, Twitter. I arrived at London Olympia and found myself instinctively drawn to the centre stage, with a mass of people craning their ears to hear the wise words dispensed by Twitter’s ‘Head of Agency Sales’, Dara Nasr. Entitled ‘Twitter – An Interest Network with Social Properties, the general sense of the entire Twitter presentation was thus:

MOMENTS

  • Build a content plan around moments
  • Plan for the best scenarios
  • Expect the worse scenarios, e.g. Lynx and dogging
  • When everyone is creating content, speed of creation and distribution can be a key differentiator for example the oft cited Oreos tweet and the Nando’s response to Alex Ferguson’s retirement announcement #nandosfergietime

Modern Marketing Manifesto

Next up was Econsultancy’s Ashley Friedlein who talked us through the Modern Marketing Manifesto, with the following two examples:

The Tate was given as a example of a brand with a great digital strategy. This is publicly available and you can view ‘Tate Digital Strategy 2013-15: Digital as a Dimension of Everything’ here

Meat Pack Hijack was a great example of innovative, location based mobile marketing and won a Cannes Lion for its efforts. When a customer enters a competitor’s store there received a a message from Meat Pack with a countdown timer. The quicker the customer left the competitor’s shop and got to a Meat Pack store, the greater the discount they would receive. Brilliant.

Content Strategy by TUI’s Ros McKenzie (@RosMack).

There are two types of presenter. The first recites what they believe will sound good to the audience. A piece of jargon here and someone else’s case-study there. You don’t learn anything and leave feeling a little duped.

The second type tells you new and interesting things informed by personal experience and the evidence to demonstrate their assertions. Ros was this second type.

I thought I vaguely new what content strategy was about but Ros introduced the audience to a whole new world of content strategy. These are my notes:

  • What is Content Strategy? Ros suggested the definition by Christina Halverson in Content Strategy for the Web and in it’s most basic form concerns the creation, delivery and governance of content.
  • Content begins with differentiation
  • It’s not just about what you create. Its also the why? how? when? where? for whom? how often? and what next?
  • Substance + Workflow + Governance + Structure = Core.
  • Substance = What content do customers need to enable them to buy products. They come the your website to complete a task.
  • Structure = Is the content structured forcustomers to find and for multi channel delivery. Should be cleanly formatted.
  • All content should be usable on website, mobile, apps, tablet, print, email, intranet, blogs, microsites and social media. Lots of platforms!
  • Anne Rockley speaks of intelligent content including meta data for SERPs
  • Blobs versus chunks. No big blobs of large content. Break everything down in to flexible chunks of information, for example, one chunk of 140 charaters for Twitter so the samw piece of content doesn’t have to be constantly repurposed for different channels. Reusable chunks are faster to get to market, have a reduced cost, improved quality, predictability and unlimited delivery. No different versions, one single source.
  • Get the right content, to the right customer at the right time!

So

– Speak to customers, think of content first, have a reuse strategy and created structured, intelligent content.

Online PR & Social Media Fundamentals

The other conference speaker worth mentioning was Michelle Goodall’s Online PR & Social Media Fundamentals. Michelle is also the second type of presenter. She’s been in the industry a long time and really knows what she’s talking about. She also made me go bright red by mentioning me and my company Farrow & Ball as a case study. Shucks.

Michelle’s presentation is rather handily on Slideshare and can be viewed here.

A good event and thoroughly recommended.

6 Content Marketing Lessons From BBC Radio 1

Last weekend, Radio 1 held their now annual free music event, ‘One Big Weekend’. Held in Derry, Londonderry the event attached over 40,000 people and was held over three days, headlined by well known acts such as Biffy Clyro, Calvin Harris and Rita Ora. With 10.3 million daily listeners, Radio 1 is the UK’s third most listened to radio station  (Radio 2 is no 1 and Radio 4 no 2) and has a target age demographic of 15-29, although in 2008 the average listener was 33 years old. Recently, the BBC Trust ordered Radio 1 to appeal to more under 30’s which, give their target demographic of 15-29,  is a kind of no-brainer…

So how does this relate to great content. Well new music was the reason people used to relate to Radio 1, whereas now – new content is the new music.

Days Gone By…

Station controller Ben Cooper has realised that the ‘kids’ don’t listen to radios as much as they used to. When I was a teenybopper, much of our teen culture was influenced by music and its manifestation though popular media outlets.  So the girls would giggle at heart throb pictures of Backstreet Boys or 911 in Smash Hits, I would record Top of the Pops on VHS and then spend the majority of the following week replaying my grainy version of Hanson, I mean Aqua, I mean S Club I mean er, some cool band. Or I would be glued to the Top 40 chart show on a Sunday evening, finger hovering over the ‘record’ button of my radio cassette player, in anticipation of Babylon Zoo ‘Spaceman’ coming on.

If I wanted music, I had to ride my bike down to Woolies and buy whichever tape or later, CD, I wanted. And I had to save my money from washing dishes at the greasy spoon to do this. I didn’t have an iPhone with the ability to instantly download a Beyonce song for 79p. I couldn’t load up my browser and enjoy streaming a new band on Soundcloud or Bandcamp for free, sharing the link with friends if I thought it was any good. If you’d have mentioned Spotify I would have checked my face the mirror looking for evidence of pimples. The only music I listened to on a computer was the theme tune to Sonic or Alex Kid in Miracle World (good tunes). There was no ubiquitous, omnipresent supply of music at my beck and call. So as I say, if wanted to listen to a song I liked I had to jump on my bike and go buy it. Or wait until it played on the radio…

Radio 1 was where I heard songs for the first time.  It was where I felt a part of a community of other people that were also hearing songs for the first time. It was a hub of newness and excitement. My Walkman knew of no other FM frequency than 98.2. Walking to the bus, hidden in one ear during geography, on the bus back, in the kitchen when I returned home, on in the car when I got delivered to a friends house.

Future of Radio For Teens

Why Radio 1?

So if Soundcloud, Hype Machine, Bandcamp and Spotify, are the new places to listen to and discover music why listen to Radio 1? If Pitchfork and other blogs are going set the scene and tell me who I should be listening to, why listen to Radio 1? If i’m 15, then the internet and my phone are my connections to the world of new. Radio 1 may be on as background noise (probably because out-of-demographic dad put it on) but it’s the link to a band that my friend just reblogged on Tumblr that i’m concentrating on.

THIS is why Radio 1 is looking to content to place it back in the concentration zone of young people. One Big Weekend is an explosion of content. A plethora. A…er well a lot.

Localised Content

Each year the event is held in a different location within the UK. Last year it was Hackney in line with the London Olympics and this year it was in Derry, Londonderry. This helps Radio 1 to feel relevant to the youngsters in each region by featuring their city and the places they know in the multitude of photo and video content generated.

Exclusive Content

This is Radio 1’s event, put on by them for their listeners. With hundreds of bands and artists playing this gives Radio 1 opportunity to create a nice pile of content that they own and will be exclusively played on the station and via the Radio 1 website. I might be able to download my favourite Connor Maynard song from iTunes these days, but now Radio 1 has a 4 minute video online of Connor doing a mashup of a song with Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’. OMG I love Connor Maynard! So I now love Radio 1 a little bit more as they’re created this special moment for me and captured it on video!

Radio 1's One Big Weekend

Brand Partnerships / Affiliates

Ok so it doesn’t sound so cool when you call a musician a brand but this is in effect a scaled up version of a brand partnership. Affiliate marketing if you will. Radio 1 pay big bucks to Biffy Clyro, Vampire Weekend, Little Mix etc to have them play. Each of these bands then tells their huge fan bases how they’re so excited to be playing Radio 1’s Big Weekend… then shares links to the Radio 1 website of their performances. That’s a lot of traffic referrals. Little Mix alone have 1.5 million Facebook fans and over 3 million Twitter followers.

Content to Feed Multiple Platforms

The BBC is a many armed, content hungry monster. It has possibly the largest output and subsequest consumption of content in the world via TV, Radio and online. One Big Weekend fed all three of these platforms with all performances being recorded and shared on BBC Three, red button, the Radio 1 website, smartphones and of course various BBC Radio 1 shows.

Interactive / Social

Much of the content can be shared via social channels at the click of a button. More than that though, everything created is implicitly share-worthy,  given that the content features some of the best loved current music stars in the UK! The content has been shared via their Twitter, Facebook , Tumblr, Google+ and YouTube.

r1obw Google

Timely

The drip feeding of content began weeks before the event itself with announcements about the artists who would be performing, live shows from previous ‘Big Weekend’ locations, interviews with performers and ticket giveaways/competitions. After the event there were more interviews with artists, calls with listeners who attended and it seemed like every other song played this week was a live performance from the event.

More of The Same…

So I imagine we’ll be seeing a lot more of these content generating events from brands. Virgin do it with V Festival and then there’s the iTunes festival, the O2 Wireless Festival and probably many more besides.

Next up for the BBC, their ‘First truly digital Glastonbury coverage’… can’t wait.