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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Walkthrough of New Facebook Insights

Facebook say they have listened to feedback and want to make Insights clearer and more actionable. Sounds good. Current insights are inconsistent and I always take them with a pinch of salt. With these new insights, Facebook have evidently realised that if they want to charge Facebook users to reach the fans they have already paid to acquire – there had better be some good stats available to justify all this spend to the CFO!

What’s New…

People Talking About This (PTAT)

Currently a single ambiguously achieved number Facebook are going to split this out in to its constituent parts. These will all now be reported sperately as:

  1. Page Likes
  2. People Engaged (the number of unique people who have clicked on, liked, commented on, or shared your posts)
  3. Page tags and mentions
  4. Page checkins, and other interactions on a Page.

Virality (now called ‘Engagement Rate’)

“We also heard that the virality metric in Page Insights is often used as a benchmark for Page post quality. However, this metric doesn’t include clicks in its measurement, which are a strong indicator of positive post engagement and a key piece in providing marketers with metrics around overall post quality. So moving forward, we’re including clicks in this metric and renaming ‘virality’ to ‘engagement rate’ to be clearer in our definition.”

The new insights are split in to four distinct sections; Overview, page, posts and people.

Post Insights

Facebook now give Page managers a post-specific ‘score card’, allowing you to compare positive and negative metrics together.

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New Demographic Metrics (People)

You can now see the data not just for those users you have reached, but also for those who have engaged with your page. You can now break this down even further and see if people in different countries or towns ‘like’ or engage with certain content categories. E.g, you see that fans in London engage most with posts that feature black cabs, where-as those users in Wales were more prone to interact with posts about rugby…or dragons.

New Facebook Insights

New Facebook Insights

Timescales

Facebook state that this will be a gradual roll-out starting with selected page managers, before becoming more widely available ‘later this summer’.

More information from the horses mouth

Real World Social Business’ – RNLI at the Seaside

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Social Media at The Beach

Yesterday I went to the beach to enjoy our two week long British summer. Once we’d found a parking space, we (I) carried the entire contents of our home minus kitchen sink, the short distance from the car to the beach. Struggling along the promenade, kids straining at the (virtual) leash I saw the last vacant spot on the sand and headed towards it. “Hi how are you today?” I heard a voice say. “Are you going to build a nice sandcastle?” the same voice said to my 4 year old. Peering around the pile of towels, goggles and assorted balls in my grip I saw an RNLI lifeguardImage talking to my son. He was highly engaged in conversation with her as the topic was ‘how to build the best sandcastle. The girl next to her then asked my wife if she wanted any info on safe swimming for kids, which of course my wife did. What kind of a mother wouldn’t want this information. Impatiently tapping my foot, the cynical marketer in me was counting down the seconds for the goal conversion to occur, i.e. donate some money. It took 6 minutes for my wife to finally walk away, nearly as weighed down as I was, by donation /sign up forms.

This is nothing new in ‘real life’, however social media have allowed this commonplace tactic to occur in the digital space. All organisations, businesses, brands, SMEs and charities need to make a profit. It’s their ‘raison d’etre’ whether said profit goes to shareholders or good causes.

This will never be overtly communicated though. In fact mentioning the fact that a business is an actual money-making business these days is a heresy. Organisations want to ‘be your friend’, ‘tell you a story’ and share ‘the moment’. They definitely, DEFINITELY don’t want to relieve you of your hard earned $$. Yet.

Social media now allows organisations to enter in to that same conversation as my wife and son had at the beach:

Summary

  1. Location – we were at the beach, therefore a related subject is beach/sea safety, for which the RNLI are an authority.
  2. Weather/season/relevance – It would be fairly pointless those nice ladies from the RNLI standing in that same spot in mid-December.
  3. Conversation / engagement – Had they just asked us to give them some money we would have completely ignored them. They asked a pertinent question, at the right time and began a relevant conversation. This applies exactly the same in social media.
  4. Conversion – They weren’t there just to have a chat, they had targets and goals. With any social media activity you should also have a firm idea of the purpose of the conversation.
  5. Awareness – Even those people that walked straight past couldn’t have failed to notice the RNLI branded tent and branded paraphernalia. Not all (hardly any) social media activity will lead directly to a conversion – it’s largely an awareness thing.
  6. Value exchange – in this example, the RNLI gave us some useful advice on beach and sea safety with a helpful booklet for us to keep. That’s value for us so we may reciprocate by ‘liking’ them on Facebook or even signing up to a monthly direct debit.

You can donate to the RNLI (who do incredible things and save lives hereImage

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.

5 Quick Tips For A Better Facebook Brand Page

I don’t know about you but I read so many generic, copycat articles concerning  Facebook advice. Most mention such things as creating ‘engaging content’ and ‘entering in to a conversation’. All completely correct of course however I’ve heard social media ‘gurus’ touting the same thing for 6-7 years. No-one ever seems to have genuine tips – until now!

Facebook logo

I manage a brand page that has 50,000+ highly engaged fans so I just wanted to share some tips that come in handy for me on a daily basis:

1. Facebook Image Sizes

This is a balancing act between sharing high quality images and making sure that those images look as good as possible within Facebook. First of all, make sure that the image you start with is at least 2mb. Then use Photoshop or which ever software you prefer (Ifranview is a good, free image resizer) and reduce the pixel size of the image. Facebook images are 403×403 px but you don’t want to go down this small as when your fans open the image it stays too small. I usually reduce the image to around 600-700 px, keeping to ratio the same as the original. This way most of the image still gets displayed in people’s newsfeeds, but there’s still a little added value in them clicking to open up the full image.

ADDITIONAL: I’m told by Luke Williams (Social Media Coordinator at the RNLI) that he resizes to 843px to ensure images look ok when ‘featured’ on a timeline.

2. Promoted Posts

Facebook ads budget

Yes, these days we pay Facebook to get fans and we then have to pay Facebook for the majority of those fans to then hear what we’ve got to say. When you go to ‘promote’ a post, Facebook will give you a list of budgets to select. Now this is anecdotal, but try selecting the highest budget possible but STOP the promotion once it’s spent however much your actual budget is.  So you have £31 to spend, set it at £500 but then pause once you’ve spent £31. I find that this seems to hugely increases the ‘pool’ of people exposed to any single post, just don’t forget to stop the promotion.

(These are quick tips, there are lots of different methods for promoting your posts within the Facebook ad manager area.)

3. Respond & React

First came one way, broadcast messaging, then came ‘two way symmetrical’ (uh oh they’re answering back and talking to each other.) Now we have this situation where brands are sharing things with fans, who share things with their friends and fans are sharing things with brands. Brands need to then make sure they share these nuggets of insight around the wider business.

You need to keep a constantly close eye on the notifications/admin area of your page. For every person that says ‘me too’ or ‘love this’ etc etc you can show fans you heard them and you’re listening, by ‘liking’ their interactions with you. If they posted a justifiably negative comment, you need to look in to that too, gather more info, speak to customer services and offer to help. If it’s a compliment about the Swindon branch – pass that on the goddam Swindon branch (they’ll love you) and tell the fan you’ve done this. If a fan says how they hate the little bit on the packaging that always rips then pass this on to Johnny in innovation/NPD – it’s just what he wants to hear!

4. Facebook To Drive Other Channels

Ok so you spent 6 months just trying to get sign off on that Facebook advertising budget. You don’t HAVE to use that for building just your Facebook page, you can use it to cross-pollinate your social platforms! If you’ve just started your Pinterest account, you may have noticed that there is no Pinterest advertising. Same for Instagram.  Share a photo as part of a post and then expand on that image by creating a board of similar images on Pinterest. Link to this board “more over on our Pinterest page <link>”,  from your Facebook post and promote the post – voila a bunch of people wil now visit you on Pinterest and you’ll see that follower count increase. There are many other ways to get the most out of your Pinterest page…

5. Devil’s In The Detail

Just because Facebook generally allows for a casual, more informal tone of voice, this doesn’t mean you can allow the quality to drop. In fact, you may find that your Facebook fans, being the committed, passionate bunch they are will be very helpful and forthcoming in correcting any mistakes. Double check everything, then check it again. Then check the links. Unfortunately, Facebook doesn’t allow you to preview photos so set up a ‘test’ Facebook page to avoid sideways or pixelated photos. If you’re not sure how something’s spelled, look it up in the dictionary. Old school I know but useful to be able to cite the OED when you get in to the whole US vs UK spelling discussions…