Building your audience the Buzzfeed way – four tips on social content from Buzzfeed UK editor Luke Lewis

AUDIENCE-BUILDING-#4It’s one of the hottest topics in content marketing. A quick Google search throws up thousands of results professing to help you do it, but why is building an audience so important?

Throughout March, we’ve been examining a few of the main topics related to this mysterious, but extremely important, part of content marketing.

So far we’ve covered the basic concepts, the importance of ‘editorial regulars’ in your content mix and looked at whether ‘ready-made’ audiences really exist. Here, Speak Media’s editorial director George Theohari picks out Buzzfeed UK editor Luke Lewis‘ most useful tips from a recent in-depth interview (ahead of his speech on ‘The Art and Science of Social Sharing’ at the Media Trust Spring Conference)  and looks at what they mean for marketers who want to make their content go further on social. 

1. Focus on social, not SEO

Genuine engagement – the kind that will reap benefits both in terms of long-term brand-building, social impact, and Google juice – relies on real content, not factory-farmed SEO fodder.

Luke Lewis: “We appeal to human beings, we don’t appeal to GoogleBots. It’s one of the things that made me want to work here: we start of thinking ‘how can we cover this subject in a way that will get people sharing it on social media?’”

2. Write emotive headlines that will help drive social traffic

Lewis revealed that Facebook is Buzzfeed’s number one traffic source – that may differ depending on your industry sector and target audience, but whatever social platforms you’re using to promote your content and drive followers to your main online hub, focus on conversational, emotive headlines and snippets that will really grab people’s attention in the feed.

LL: “Most journalists want to get all the keywords in the headline and end up getting a stilted robotic effect: we don’t do that.”

3. Mix it up – it’s not all about listicles

Buzzfeed’s success is largely associated with ‘listicles’ – easily produced, list- or quiz-based articles that are often image-led and highly shareable. But like any good editor, Luke Lewis knows that varying the pace, themes and formats of his content is essential in order to surprise readers – and to help shape the news agenda rather than simply respond to it, as in the example of the political commentary on welly-wearing politicians ‘staring at floods’ that made a big splash (apologies) in the mainstream press.

4. Get immersed in social before (and after) work – you don’t need a ‘formal brainstorm’

Writers and content editors at Buzzfeed are expected to turn up for their first editorial meetings with their heads already buzzing (again, apologies) with ideas for the day’s stories – it might even be while chatting with friends or colleagues in the pub after work that they hit on the next big story. Not every marketer has access to a team of journalistically-minded social mavens, but there will no doubt be a good number of people around your workplace who like to gossip, follow the news (inside and outside of the office), or engage on any number of social platforms –they could be the source of your next blog story or viral campaign. You won’t know if you don’t ask…

LL: “Buzzfeed articles are about things that are talking points, not just things that are in the news. Quite often, you’ll have a conversation in the pub and come up with lots of ideas just from that. You don’t need a formal brainstorm.”

Read the original Drum interview with Luke Lewis here

Keep watching the blog for more on building an audience, in the meantime check out some of our other great content:
Fact or fiction: the quest for a ‘ready-made audience’ 
Editorial regulars: the first step to always on

Stop shouting into the void: the basics of building an audience

More from Tom Owen
More insights
Contact us for help building your own following

Author: George Wright Theohari

Branding | Content | Design. We develop and deliver beautifully effective communications across print, digital and film.

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