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Increase customer engagement with content creation tips from BuzzFeed and Upworthy

Posted by Lauren Ruckheim on August 18, 2015

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Social sharing has accelerated significantly in the past several years with people sharing content across multiple marketing channels at a rapid pace.

As social sharing has increased, so has the amount of content being created. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 70% of surveyed marketers say they are creating more content than they did a year ago. However, creating content is only half the battle; the other half is engaging the consumer.

Sites such as BuzzFeed and Upworthy have mastered the art of customer engagement. Over the past 24 months, BuzzFeed has tripled its monthly unique visitor counts from 4.3 million to 19.3 million. At its current projected trajectory, it's set to eclipse sites like The New York Times, The Huffington Post and CNN over the next few years.

Looking at the evidence, there is no doubt that these sites have excelled at gaining consumer engagement with their content. Referencing BuzzFeed and Upworthy as examples, this article will provide some easy content creation tips to help improve customer engagement.

Know your audience

One of the first steps in creating any sort of content is to clearly understand the audience. This ensures that the content being created will actually be of interest to the specified reader.

Since companies very rarely only have one type of customer that makes up their audience, a simple way to define the target audience is to develop buyer personas. Buyer personas are generalized representations of the ideal consumer that enable businesses to categorize their audience based on different characteristics and traits. Once buyer personas are created, messaging and content can easily be streamlined toward each persona.

Although BuzzFeed’s content library is diverse, they have successfully targeted a unique audience — the bored. To be more specific, BuzzFeed has stated that their prime audience is people who are bored at work and need a distraction. In order to streamline their content toward all types of bored readers, BuzzFeed has divided their content into various categories for topics such as humor, shocking content, cute content, ridiculous content and more. No matter what type of distraction their audience is looking for BuzzFeed has content to fill their need.

Know what type of content your audience wants

Once the target audience is determined, the next step in creating engaging content is to determine areas that are of interest to the specified audience. Unfortunately, many companies use content as self-promotion instead of providing valuable information or entertainment to the reader.

According to a recent report from the Economist Group and peppercomm, 67% of the business leaders surveyed say content that contains unique or timely information improves their perception of a brand. In the same study, 71% of business leaders said that they don't like content that feels more like a sales pitch than one that provides valuable information.
The key to engaging customers with content is to offer the audience information they are looking for. BuzzFeed has taken it a step further with their numerous categories designed to entertain anyone who is bored.

For example, BuzzFeed’s readers who are in search of funny content can read the “LOL” category, which specializes in hilarious content or the “OMG” category, which provides content that is shocking like the time Kim Kardashian attempted to break the Internet. Additionally, consumers in search of a sweeter distraction could search the “Cute” category, which is fairly self-explanatory as it is the go-to category for cute puppy and kitten videos.

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BuzzFeed’s categories have been specifically designed to meet the need of any type of distraction the audience is searching for. Which brings me to my next piece of advice – not only does your business need to create the right type of content geared toward the particular interests of your audience, but it also must be strategically organized for a strong user experience. Website visitors must be able to find the content they want with an easy-to-use category or navigation bar system that adequately reflects what they will find on that page.

Use Images and Videos

Adding visual content can generate up to 94% more views, according to a report by MDG Advertising; therefore, including images, videos or infographics in content is a great way to increase engagement.

BuzzFeed has taken visual content to the next level by “stacking” images and videos. Instead of simply including one intriguing photo, they incorporate images on top of images.
One of BuzzFeed’s most successful posts to date was 21 Pictures That Will Restore Your Faith in Humanity. While the topic surely hit an emotional cord with the audience, including 21 pictures instead of 1 definitely played a role in gaining 15 million views for this post alone.
Looking at the success of BuzzFeed’s image-driven posts, it is not shocking that 70% of marketers plan to increase their use of visuals in their content marketing this year.

Repurpose and update content

Coming up with new topics for content can be very challenging day after day, but new ideas do not always have to come from a completely blank slate. Old content can be updated, repurposed or even spun in a new way.

For any given topic, BuzzFeed has developed 5 to 20 different angles. One such piece of content is the “What kind of ___ are you?” quiz. BuzzFeed has produced every type of quiz you could possibly dream of, from the “What kind of haute dog are you?” to “What kind of life will you live according to MASH?

When beginning to repurpose content, the best place to start is to evaluate the different types of content that have been created in the past such as ebooks, blog articles, case studies and free downloads. Hidden in an ebook or a case study is a brilliant idea for a new blog topic.

The importance of the title

Content can be filled with images and topics that are relevant to the consumer’s interests, but if the consumer doesn’t click on the piece they will never know what they missed. This is why the title of any piece of content is of the upmost importance.

Upworthy is known for their winning headlines and they have developed strategies to ensure that each headline is intriguing. Two of the most valuable strategies Upworthy uses when creating a headline are to avoid including any sort of opinion and to leave something to the imagination. With any good title or headline, it cannot give it all away. The goal should be to gain just enough curiosity that the reader will want to engage with the content.

Warning: Just remember to avoid creating content under click bait titles or the piece of content will have negative search rankings.

Engaging the consumer with interesting content is an art that few businesses have truly mastered. To learn more about content marketing and how you can improve your overall marketing strategy, download J&C’s “22 Great Types of Content Marketing” guide. This guide will help you form your own content marketing strategy and target the best content options.

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Topics: Inbound Marketing

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