BuzzFeed: An Industry Leader in the Social and Digital Landscape

Whether it’s “19 Photos of Dogs Being Adorable During The Blizzard” or “12 Love Scenes Improved By a Chipotle Burrito,” BuzzFeed’s catchy titles are bound to catch your eye. On an average day on Facebook, I am likely to encounter a BuzzFeed article that is either shared on my news feed, or posted to a friend’s wall by another friend.

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An article that BuzzFeed wrote in 2014, “How Technology Is Changing Media”, is what inspired me to write this blog post. Overall, it is an in-depth look at how the company is leading the industry’s trends in social, mobile, and video. BuzzFeed believes, as shown by the graphic below, that there is a shift in how people access content on the web. Social traffic is increasingly the way in which people are heading to Buzzfeed.com, rather than searching themselves. Personally, every time I end up surfing that site (it is a great way to procrastinate doing anything), it is because I came across an article on a social media platform that led me to the site initially. What I find most interesting about the graph below is the relatively short time frame in which the social traffic increased and the search traffic decreased.

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It is important that BuzzFeed recognizes how its users are consuming the content on its site, to maximize the possibility of users sharing content from the site with their friends and followers. Being that BuzzFeed’s main focus is on mobile, they realize that people aren’t just reading content on mobile, they are also watching videos.

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Although I associate BuzzFeed with news and entertainment in the form of written content, BuzzFeed’s new motion picture division seems like a good strategy that is growing. It has evolved into one of the top video producers on the Internet with billions of monthly views, from short six-second videos to feature-length films.

 

Viewers are spending more and more time watching digital video than traditional cable networks. According to an article posted by Contently.com, the time that adults spend watching digital video each day has increased from 21 minutes in 2011 to one hour and 16 minutes in 2015. I can see this change in my own daily life, as I am someone who prefers to use Netflix and Hulu at my own convenience, rather than watch TV. BuzzFeed’s decision to invest in this digital video market definitely is a contributing factor to their success. Unlike Netflix and Hulu, BuzzFeed’s production is cheap and fast as videos often tend to take less than a week to make because the staff can write, shoot, produce, and star in their own creations.

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BuzzFeed Motion Picture’s debut video featuring President Obama

What I think makes BuzzFeed so unique is the fact that it is not only a news organization, but also a social news organization. The company thrives on being social and digital, and would not be successful without those attributes. Not only can you share content on social media platforms, but you can join the community of writers to contribute anything. It is true that I rely on social sites for both news and entertainment content. Facebook’s trending stories and Snapchat’s daily updates in the discover section are ways I learn about current events. I find myself using BuzzFeed for more entertainment purposes, but I have explored the news section of the site as well and found it to be very useful.

50% of US millennials read BuzzFeed per month, and I am curious if older generations will begin to use the site as the number of people with smartphones grows. Considering the increasing social traffic of BuzzFeed tied with the digital video aspect of their site, I am starting to understand how digital and social are so interwoven, like Professor Kane discussed during his first class. Do you see a future where a digital company like Netflix becomes social?

To conclude, I’ll leave you with a quote from Chris Dixon, a recent member to BuzzFeed’s board:

“I believe the future of BuzzFeed — and the media industry more generally — will only get brighter as the number of people with Internet-connected smartphones grows, and the Internet solidifies its place as the central communication medium of our time.”

If you have a lot of homework and you are trying to procrastinate, here are some BuzzFeed quizzes:

What State Do You Actually Belong In

What Cereal Are You

5 comments

  1. Very good post Lauren. I am frosted flakes, not sure what that says about me. I think it is very interesting to note the increase in social media traffic versus actually searching for Buzzfeed material. I can speak to that first hand as I deleted my Facebook a couple months ago my Buzzfeed surfing has definitely dropped significantly. This is a very good example of how social and digital media go hand in hand.

  2. Great post, Lauren! I’m going to echo what Justin said in that I definitely only look at BuzzFeed when I see a link on my news feed. I would never search the site on my own. What I find really interesting is thinking about the future of BuzzFeed, specifically their investment in the digital video market, which I think will be crucial moving forward. I could definitely see BuzzFeed evolving into a more legitimate source for quick news updates too, similar to The Skim.

  3. Great balance of educational information and lighter, funnier content in this post. It is very interesting to see how closely social and digital media are related in this case. Similar to what Justin mentioned in his comment, I don’t have a Facebook and I very rarely go on BuzzFeed (but I obviously started procrastinating on the website right after reading your post). The only time I have really seen any BuzzFeed content lately is when my friends find something funny and send it in our group chat. However, I’m certainly in the minority in this case, and I definitely think focusing on accessing the site via social rather than searching is right decision moving forward.

  4. On one hand, I really like BuzzFeed. They do really innovative testing and shaping of their content to maximize viewership. On the other hand, I can’t help but think that its ultimately going to dumb us down by chasing all the empty content designed just to attract our attention (i.e. “this one weird thing…).

  5. I definitely think I belong to the school of thought that digs Buzzfeed for its engaging content, but despises it for its pointless troll-type bits. Its business model looks very stable in the current market conditions, especially with low costs of production and a high content output rate relative to competitors. At a brief glance, I would say Buzzed’s growth is positioned to parallel the upward trends in smartphone ownership and Internet usage; however, industry growth always means new competition and alternate methods of media consumption. Cheers!

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