Learning from BuzzFeed

There’s no question BuzzFeed’s hyper-digestible video content has been a game changer in the industry. For, those in the business of creating brand videos, how far should this paradigm be applied to content?

The numbers say it all. BuzzFeed is one of the content-creation pillars of social media, with an average of 3 billion video views per month, a global audience of 650 million, and 200+ million unique monthly visitors per month. By any metric, this is a huge amount of content, reaching an equally huge audience. What allows BuzzFeed to get this kind of traction, and what can agencies for video production in Orange County learn from them?

A Question of Digestibility & Quality

BuzzFeed’s rise to media monstrosity is undeniably linked to its close relationship with social media—particularly, social media as experienced through the smart phone. Imagine what Ben Franklin would think if you were to go back in time and tell him that, yes, in 2017, there will be little devices that you can pull out of your pocket at the drop of a hat which allow you to watch a DIY video of how to make a realistic pickled head in a jar using Photoshop? It’s hard to say, but my guess is that he’d be for it, putting him among the masses of people that flock daily to BuzzFeed’s super-digestible, low-commitment content.

Around 70% of BuzzFeed traffic comes from mobile devices, and around 75% of that traffic comes from social media. If you’re BuzzFeed and this is your audience, without question, you’re going to tailor your content for the audience. At its worst, this means sacrificing certain aspects of quality on the altar of digestibility and accessibility.

For example, think back to the soundtrack of the last BuzzFeed video you watched. What’s that? You don’t remember the soundtrack? That’s because NOBODY remembers the soundtrack, because you probably stopped scrolling long enough to watch three quarters of a video when it auto-played on mute. And as far as production quality goes, the range is anywhere from so-so to passable for viewing on an iPhone screen. This isn’t meant to undercut the influence BuzzFeed has; the format simply works for everyone.

So does the BuzzFeed paradigm apply to other media items that your brand is producing? I’ll venture a yes and no. The answer is yes because the younger generations are growing up with BuzzFeed and other social-centered visual media as their main source of media—It’s rapidly replacing TV. Naturally, this influences the way they see content online, whether on a social platform or elsewhere—not to mention that the previously mentioned shift to mobile extends beyond social media to all web content. This means that your content had better be lean, easy to get to, and snappy and engaging, or else your audience may just scroll right past your whole company.

Just as importantly, BuzzFeed should not lower the bar of what is acceptable for your brand. Now and forever, no matter what the medium, quality will always be quality. There’s a time and a place for BuzzFeed-like content (your social media channels, or a vlog for example), but in every other arena, whether you’re taking a photo or video of your product for eCommerce, or creating a brand video to greet your customers on your website’s home page, quality matters just as much as before—maybe more, because of the average person’s reduced attention span.

As you look for video production in Orange County, keep in mind this balance between digestibility and quality, and if possible, do both.

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