Making social media work for you: advice from Buzzfeed

Keith Hernandez, executive director, international sales and strategy, BuzzFeed, USA, yesterday gave tips to attendees at FIPP’s Ibero American Conference in São Paulo, Brazil, about how social Media has become the new starting point for modern media and journalism.
Buzzfeed is “100 per cent digitally native” has 150+ million monthly UVs with 75 per cent of visits coming from social, which shows how much of a shift in consumer habits has taken place in recent years. 
“Instant messaging, friend referrals and Pinterest are the new social distribution channels and where people are getting their stories from,” said Hernandez, “so how do you get your story there?”.
Running through various social channels, Hernandez demonstrated the benefits of each. “Twitter is best for breaking news – the lifespan is short though and it falls flat after that,” he said. “Facebook is where the more general interest stuff is, with huge traffic spikes at the start and then and ebb and flow with huge social pockets.”
It may be surprising to some, but Pinterest is Buzzfeed’s second largest social network referral behind Facebook. But what are people sharing there? Food and DIY images, according to Hernandez. “Content on Pinterest has a lifespan that lasts months, if not years. It’s because this content can live on past something like breaking news, for example,” he said.
Buzzfeed measures its success via social lift – hence where the reproduction is happening. The most successful content according to Hernandez, starts with emotion and includes either humour, helpful tips, inspiration, identity or capturing the moment. “To capture the moment you have to add value,” he said.
“Mobile is the reality,” said Hernandez, referring to the fat that more that half of the site’s traffic comes from this platform. “You have to create content that lives there. If it doesn’t live there first, you’ve lost it.
One of the most interesting developments from Buzzfeed of late, is its international expansion. Hernandez talked about how the company originally replicated content for different markets but simply translating articles they thought would work. However, they discovered that this may not have been the most engaging way to do it. “Of course the internet is global but it’s also local,” he said. “We employ local journalists to write for what their local audiences care about. Being locally relevant but globally consistent is important.”
It goes without saying that branded/native content is prominent on the site, who are using Buzzfeed as a platform for their products and services. “There are people out there who love brands – you just have to find them,” said Hernandez. The company has recently moved into creating quiz posts for their clients, some of which Hernandez demonstrated in his presentation. 
Takeaways from Hernandez:
  • Experiments can turn into new forms of media
  • Social and mobile are the new distribution channels – you need those in place or you’re missing out
  • Shift to social mobile and video has come to advertising – same way pubs think about digital and native is how they should work with their brands

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