6 Crucial Content Marketing Lessons from BuzzFeed

When it comes to viral content, BuzzFeed seems to have it nailed. With posts gaining thousands of shares in just a couple of weeks, it’s no wonder brands look to this website for inspiration. But what if your business objective has nothing to do with cute kittens or popular sitcoms?

Believe it or not, BuzzFeed doesn’t just leverage their short, image-heavy content of cute cats. They also have breaking news, bite-size videos and interesting opinion pieces. For content marketers working with niche businesses (those believed never to go viral), don’t fret. A good number of digital marketing companies have done the work for us so we could learn the secrets of this publishing giant. Here are the six critical content marketing lessons to apply on your next campaign:

1) Headlines can make or break

It can’t be stressed enough: headlines are a huge deal. They can make the difference between being read and being abandoned. In most cases, 8 in 10 folks will read your headline, and decide right then and there whether they want to read the rest or not.

While BuzzFeed’s titles are not exactly SEO-friendly, they definitely make people want to click. In one analysis done by content marketing specialist Kalen Smith, he found that most viral BuzzFeed posts have headlines aimed to tease your curiosity. Think about it, which content would you rather read: “25 Real Struggles That Only Digital Marketers Will Understand” or “Daily Challenges Digital Marketers Face”?

buzzfeed- buzzsumo

Pro Tip: Don’t forget that we’re still content marketers. We need to take note of SEO and client restrictions. Before crafting BuzzFeed-inspired headlines, perform keyword research first to gain an advantage in organic search. Use tools like CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer to check how well your headline will perform in terms of emotional power and length. Want to writer better titles? Check out Copyblogger’s crash course on magnetic headline writing.

2) List posts always sell

Overrated but always a hit. You can’t argue with a classic. In an article by former Director of Content at Econsultancy Chris Lake, he explains why list posts always sell.

One of the reasons is because there’re no surprises. Readers get what is on the headline. They’re easy to scan, have digestible content, and can cover all kinds of subjects: from health, current events, to human nature. Whether you’re a beginner or a pro at content marketing, list posts are always a safe bet. Take it from BuzzFeed.

Pro Tip: While you’re at it, make those list posts long. If you could think of 15 or 25 ways to make the best emails, why not? It’s one way to add value to your readers by delivering a comprehensive post.


3) Integrate Newsjacking in Content Marketing

Popularized by online marketing strategist and author David Meerman Scott, ‘newsjacking’ means to ‘inject your ideas into breaking news stories’. Think of it as piggybacking on current events to remain relevant to the public. Think about what’s trending today and immediately, you’ll see brands, businesses and blogs offering their two cents.

Although it can be argued that BuzzFeed isn’t exactly the best source for news, their News category is also receiving plenty of attention. Associate marketing director Kerry Jones shares in one of her columns that BuzzFeed’s current events articles are one of their most-shared content because they delve deep into the topics. Unlike other platforms like CNN, BuzzFeed takes a more human angle and focuses on answering questions most people ask.

Pro Tip: Before jumping on newsjacking, make sure you align your brand or client’s business goals with what the topic is about. Steer clear of news that conveys negative emotions or portrays suffering. Go instead for news topics that inspire or motivate.

4) Thought-provoking content rocks

What’s the one thing these BuzzFeed headlines have in common?

  • 17 Crazy Kitchen Hacks You Have To Try
  • 28 Secrets Tattoo Artists Will Never Tell You
  • 17 Things Everyone Has Secretly Done At The Gym
  • 21 Things You’ve Always Wanted To Know About Private Investigators

The answer: they’re all thought-provoking. They stir your curiosity, they intrigue you, and sometimes, their content is even provocative. Both Kalen and Kerry found that the more unusual your topic is, the better. People love it when you have something new to offer, or when you explore a different angle on a popular topic.

Pro Tip: Make sure your content is clear, correct, and considerate. Don’t beat around the bush. Double-check your sources. And avoid touching on highly sensitive issues (like gender, politics or religion). Thought-provoking content should still be meaningful and offer people value for their time.

5) Invest in amazing photos

A picture is indeed worth a thousand words. In BuzzFeed’s case, there’s a certain ratio. For example: in Kerry’s study, their most popular current events content includes one relevant photo for every 54 words. This means their target audiences would prefer to read about the matter first before looking at images.


Depending on the topic, applicable photos lend more support and break up walls of text. Investing in high-quality, customized images ensure you retain your audience’s attention. Screenshots or photos taken from your phone would be a good addition to most articles.

Pro Tip: Boost your content marketing game by collecting pictures based on everyday scenarios. Using your phone camera, why not take snapshots of your neighborhood, household items, or even yourself? You can then gather these to insert into appropriate content. You save time and money!

6) Make it super easy to share

Isn’t it frustrating when you find an inspiring article, only to find out that you can’t share it? That’s happened to me quite a few times in some blogs that I liked. Avoid annoying your readers by making your content super easy to share. Aside from social media platforms, don’t forget your loyal email subscribers as well as forum buddies.

BuzzFeed makes their content super shareable by including social buttons on top and again at the bottom of each post. Images also have their own social buttons for quick sharing.


Pro Tip: Making your newsletters social media-friendly is easy with tools like GetResponse services. Their social share buttons feature can be added to your email in seconds, and encourages recipients to spread the word for you.

While content marketing specialists everywhere may argue that BuzzFeed often serves a lot of fluff, it’s a fact that people flock to their site for fun, engaging – and sometimes informative – content. Ask yourself: what can I give that’s unique to my target audience? Answer that through high-quality, helpful, and engaging content. Who knows, you may even outrank BuzzFeed.

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