Why Does Buzzfeed Content Work so well?

90s-riot-girl

A recent Buzzfeed content piece has proved great success in getting social signals and links, Which ’90s Alt-Rock Grrrl Are You?

969,000 likes on FB and counting.

Yes, any mediocre content on Buzzfeed is going to get more action that brilliant content on a mediocre website. But the huge numbers here represent that the content is brilliant.

Buzzfeed has made it’s name in the field of brilliant “pop culture” content. It doesn’t always produce good stuff, but you don’t have to if you regularly knock it out of the field.

So what makes this work?

The celebs chosen are not current and even when at their height were not considered mainstream.

They represent what I like to call a “small footprint, but high impact theme”. They may not have Global reach but the people who grew up with these artists have them deeply imprinted on their psyche.

The “personality quiz” technique, has been used for years in teen and womens’ magazines and is an old staple. It requires little focused attention, is done in minutes and provides something to have a conversation about.

People need something to talk about to fill the empty void, but lets not get too existential right now.

The fact that this content requires you to only make 7 clicks, where you probably don’t even read all the options and give it considered though adds to the genius of this content. As it’s instinctual, it’s possible that it’s more accurate.

You don’t have to think too hard to engage with this content, it leads you through what you have to do simply, and clearly.

It’s easy to be critical of such content if you are an intellectual snob, but if you want mass results, you have to go after a mass, populist theme and present it in a way that engages and doesn’t require too much attention and thought.

Try to Watch a Bon Jovi video without thinking of Spinal Tap

For me, Living on a Prayer is the, Bon Jovi song.



When creating content you have to be aware of cultural connotation

A connotation is frequently described as either positive or negative, with regards to its pleasing or displeasing emotional connection

Some people will have not watched Spinal tap, and some may not have even heard of it. Which means the headline above will be lost on them. They will also not get the reference from the BBC iPlayer, which goes to 11 on their volume scale.



It’s important to be aware that some will not only have a different emotional connection to the stuff you are putting out, but also will not even know anything about the stuff you are putting out.

Most get away with this by simply running with their own tribe and thus they share the same cultural capital as talked about by the French sociologist, Pierre Bourdieu. Note: It is a proven fact if you quote a French Sociologist, you will seem more intelligent than you actually are.

If you are creating content for others, and for tribes that you are not a member of, you need to aware that the reader may not know what you are talking about. This is why most blog content is very shallow and broad in tone.

The headline above will resonate most with those whose formative years were in the 80′s, and by definition represent a distinct target group, ie those with, Mortgage, kids leaving home, divorce, overweight, etc. This of course is a generalised list but represents high probability.

So, think twice about creating content that refers to the second verse in “Love will tear us apart”, by Joy Division, if you are marketing to 18 year olds in Midwest America.



The Joy Division video balances the Bon Jovi video just right.