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10 Content Marketing Secrets We Learned From Buzzfeed

Last year, we invited Buzzfeed, considered by many to be content marketing leaders, to our studios to chat with us about how small businesses can learn from the pros. In our own listicle below, Keith Hernandez, VP of Global Advertising at Buzzfeed, shares some of the tricks of the trade. You can watch our Q & A with Buzzfeed on YouTube:



1. Always let your personality be your guide.

Social media is all about personality, so when it comes to creating and sharing content that feels real and human, big brands can struggle while mom and pops shine. “When it’s your passion project, it’s your personality that decided to make this small business,” said Hernandez. So let that inspire the content you create.


2. One size does not fit all.

The same piece of content won’t work on every social media platform — what looks great on Pinterest might fall flat on Twitter. How do you decide what to use and where? Just think of your habits on the personal social media account you use to keep up with friends. Chances are you represent yourself differently on Facebook than on LinkedIn. Follow that lead when posting for your business.


3. The pros start small and experiment with new content.

Rather than post an entire “listicle” or series of images and hope they work, the team at Buzzfeed teases out an item or two and sees what kind of response the new content gets before building it big. Try the same thing with your content. And remember, the Small Business Community is a great space to share and get peer feedback on content-in-progress!


4. The best things in marketing aren’t free.

Hernandez revealed, ”That it’s organic, and you don’t have to pay for it.” He then specified that this doesn’t mean you need a huge budget, but that some specific, well-targeted paid placements outside your usual social sphere are all you need.


5. “Viral” is in the eye of the beholder.

“Viral” has such different meanings for different businesses, and so might not be the best measurement of success. A big company might not consider ten million views “viral,” and a local business might consider 150 new sign-ups from their latest campaign a hit. What should your goal be? “Are you getting outside of your standard social network?” If so, your content has done its job.


6. There are 4 “pillars” to creating great content.

If your content is driven by these four ideals, it will feel editorial and have a human storytelling edge, rather than like a marketing pitch: Emotion (make the reader feel something), Information (give the reader something useful to their life), Aspiration (speak to the reader’s desire to change and grow), and Identity (always let your personality shape your content).


7. Even Keith Hernandez needs lifehacks.

Hernandez confessed the particular Buzzfeed hacks that he looks to for help, and illustrated a highly effective type of content: the how-to article or video. Readers love getting that extra information from content that they can take back to their life, so don’t just show off your product--consider bringing your expertise in, and showing how the product can be used in the reader’s day-to-day.


8. Bigger isn’t always better.

Marketing strategy used to be about reaching the largest possible audience, hoping your ideal customers would see your message. But things have changed. “With social media you’re able to get not only niche, but micro-niche,” says Hernandez. “What we’ve found is that when we write for someone like... left-handed people, you would think you’re leaving out 90% of the audience, but what you’re really doing is reinforcing that 10% to feel like the story was written especially for them.” And when people feel that connection with content, they’re more likely to share it.


9. Mind the “curiosity gap.”

You want your headline to catch attention, but not at the expense of being honest about what the content will actually deliver. No one likes to feel like they were tricked into clicking, and people are much less likely to forward or share content that was disappointing. Keep your headline grounded in reality and trust that an interested audience will find you.


10. Timing is everything.

If you’re investing in promoting or placing your content, you want to make sure you’re getting the biggest bang for your buck. Buzzfeed has found that smaller, more “snackable” pieces do well during the day while people are on mobile or taking breaks at work, and that long-form content gets a better response during the primetime hours of 6-10 p.m., when they can relax into it.


Originally published May, 2015

Jay Y
September 2016

Hello Brielle Bullard,


This post without a doubt is a very useful and informative article on the subject of "Content Marketing". As your survey reported, "1 in 5 surveyed admitted to not knowing what content marketing is.". I hope that those who made up the "4" in five, find this post and then like me, they will know...