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An insider's look at Buzzfeed (for blogs and content marketing)

At a conference held in Birmingham yesterday, Jonathan Perelman, VP at one of the world’s most clicked on social storytelling sites, revealed some information about the nature of the domain’s editorial policy. Better yet, it makes for a useful breakdown if you have any interest whatsoever in content marketing and boosting social media engagement.
According to, the Rethink Media event, which took place at Birmingham University, sounds like  a fascinating day. Regrets to one side we weren’t there though it’s still possible to learn a thing or two from what was said. Buzzfeed’s Perelman confirmed the truth behind a notion many people have been advocating; so-called EQ [emotional quotient] now matters more than IQ [intelligence quotient] when it comes to producing articles, lists and videos the public will want to show their friends and other online acquaintances.
Referencing the long-form content Buzzfeed hosts for political reporting- produced by a set of investigative professionals headed up by a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist named Mark Schoofs- apparently according to readership reports many people who share this content do so before they actually read the piece. A smart glance between the lines would therefore suggest it is of the utmost importance to deliver a concise introduction outlining the nature of what’s to follow when you’re writing over a certain word count, and use evocative images, headlines and standfirsts in order to ensure the highest level of emotional power is present in the lowest number of seconds spent on a page.
It’s also rather telling that Perelman believes social has taken readers “up the economic value chain” when it comes to what makes the final page. Loyal editorial ‘buyers’- from magazine subscribers to webzine visitors who help maintain advertising sales- have always been important, without them such entities wouldn’t exist in the first place. But it’s certainly true that for the modern digital title there has never before been such accuracy when it comes to analysing what has and hasn’t worked to bring eyes in. The result being the ability to properly fine tune what content they are hosting, based on their readership’s exact wants and needs.
We have previously written on the differences between social networks, and the need to differentiate in terms of approach, and it’s unsurprising to see Buzzfeed understands this strategy. Drawing a line through the UK’s most popular networks, Perelman argued that Facebook posts are governed by our desire to share our own identities, Twitter is predominantly news focused and Pinterest has very little reliance on contemporaneity or timeliness, stating the platform “isn’t about immediacy”. We would add that it depends on perspective to some extent, after all the concept of a trend in itself is based upon an era or period, which can last for five minutes, five days or five years, and by all accounts trends have a habit of making popular pins. Nevertheless, Perelman’s wisdom and inside knowledge, which is responsible at least in part for ensuring the beast that is Buzzfeed remains so successful, shouldn’t be overlooked by anyone involved in content marketing.

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