BuzzFeed: 6 reasons their serious stuff works

Could marketers use BuzzFeed's trademark style to garner more attention than straightforward list-based posts? We review the case for adopting a BuzzFeed-like approach.

BuzzFeed: 6 reasons their serious stuff works

As a copywriting agency we’re always interested in different ways to convey information through copy and design.

Recently we saw an interesting blog post about Economist journalist Daniel Knowles using BuzzFeed to communicate a serious topic (the state of the UK housing market) in BuzzFeed’s trademark style, which involves sensationalist headlines and posts based on humorous images and animated GIFs.

Could marketers use this technique to garner more attention than straightforward list-based posts? We review the case for adopting a BuzzFeed-like approach:

1. People are paying more attention to BuzzFeed.

BuzzFeed stats img 1


Their traffic has steadily risen over the course of 2013. And now they’re tackling serious issues and getting attention. As the RSA’s Anthony Painter noted in his post, Daniel Knowles’ Buzzfeed piece received much more attention than a comparable piece on the Guardian website.

2. The use of emotive headlines is a huge pull.

BuzzFeed emotive title example img 1-01

Daniel Knowles could have written, “Here’s 15 Reasons Why Britain’s Housing Marketing Doesn’t Work”, but “The Utter Insanity” makes it sound far more compelling. See our recent post here for deeper nuances as to why.

3. Images bring dry points to life.



Knowles has carefully selected compelling images – from graphs to photographs of derelict industrial land – to reinforce the key points of his argument.

4. Information is served in digestible chunks.

Cheese and pineapple sticks by Rochard Beatson cropped

Via Richard Beatson

The information is broken down into readily accessible chunks – you aren’t forced to look at too much information in the same section of screen. That makes it easier to read on a smartphone, too.

5. So…should marketers consider using a Buzzfeed-style format for blog posts?



It’s definitely worth experimenting with. Painter points out that the BuzzFeed housing crisis article had far higher social media engagement than an equivalent article on the Guardian’s website (417 tweets versus 31 at his time of writing).

6. Keep these rules of engagement in mind:

Deadline Rules of Engagement

Via Deadline

  • Spend time getting the headline right – it’s what attracts the clicks
  • Be sparing with words: the aim is to create a piece of content that’s quick and easy to read
  • Be clear about where you sourced your images from if they’re not your own
  • Be wary of connotations: could your images have alternative meanings to some people?

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