9 B2B Social Media Lessons from Buzzfeed CEO Memo

b2b-content-buzzfeedJonah Peretti, Founder and CEO of Buzzfeed, the content site that is the source of those crazy Facebook posts that your friends share but you never do, posted an internal memo with the year’s upcoming plan on LinkedIn. In it he revealed that Buzzfeed drove 85 million unique visitors in August, that they are 3X bigger than they were last year, and by this time next year they will be one of the biggest sites on the web.

How did they grow to become this content behemoth? By publishing list posts, or listicles as they are now called. There is a list about everything and everywhere. No matter what you are interested in or where you come from there’s a post like The 29 Most Minnesotan Things That Ever Happened. There’s a lot of retro and nostalgia posts like 15 TV Shows From Your Childhood You Didn’t Know Had Book Versions and there are even posts that appeal to the social media set. This post, Who Tweeted About It First? A Peek At Twitter’s Early Archives, uses a new Twitter search archive and discovers the first tweets around certain topics. I would share that post. And the title of the post is not as sensational as others on the site.

In true Buzzfeed fashion, Paretti’s memo was written in list form, and I have adapted his headings to the lessons in this post, so B2B marketers can improve their own social media and content creation efforts.

1. News

Even though Buzzfeed made their name on fun posts, they take their news coverage very seriously. While you are here to watch cat videos, read more about what Congress is up to. And it seems to be working. Company news may not be the best content for your B2B company, but industry news filtered through your subject matter experts or industry leaders is. News is becoming personalized, so anything you can do to show your site or blog visitors how the news is relevant to them will be to your advantage.

2. Formats

Yes, they live by the list, but Buzzfeed creates a variety of content, including some they have invented. Have you seen a “rubbable” GIF that you can control with your mouse? Thanks Buzzfeed. Different members of your audience consume different types of contents at different times. Experiment with different types of blog posts. Explore visual content. Even consider audio or podcasts, especially if your mobile audience is growing.

3. Video

Nobody is expecting B2B Marketers to build a video studio and hire a full team of video producers like Buzzfeed did, but video is an easy way to tell a story, highlight a customer or employee, provide customer service how-tos and even entertain. Choose from 6 seconds, 15 seconds or even 2-3 minutes. Make sure you consider the environment in which your customers and prospects watch video. It is as likely to be on a smartphone or tablet in the middle of a train or bus.

4. Mobile

The Buzzfeed CEO freely admits that all their mobile traffic is due to luck. The same is true for you. Visitors are turning to mobile devices and B2B companies are not following. If a prospect can’t find what he’s looking for due to a poor mobile experience it is unlikely he will return from a desktop. And Google mobile search penalizes sites that are not mobile optimized. Learn what responsive design is and talk to your web team about it.

5. International

If your business serves a global audience, follow the Buzzfeed lead and don’t create separate outlets for every country but maintain one central repository and build dynamic localization processes into the site. Even social media posts, especially LinkedIn company updates, can be targeted by geography and language.

6. Business

You better believe that Buzzfeed is a business and their goals are to create interesting content that people share and to find interesting ways to get companies to sponsor that content. It’s a business model and it’s working. Social media needs to be core to your business activities for anyone to take it seriously. If a small group of B2B marketers are running a blog and posting updates on social channels, but nobody in management understands the business value, the activities could be all in vain. As companies change course this team can fall by the wayside.

7. Advertising

Buzzfeed is building a site that advertisers must include in their plans. The business model dictates that companies pay to participate. But is there something in your social media activities, for example, a leading blog, important video interview series, even an ebook that becomes wildly popular in your industry, that customers or prospects just have to be a part of? Would they pay for that privilege? Companies pay to sponsor corporate events? Is this idea that different?

8. Team

You may be a social media team of one, but always look for additional support from other teams, even on an ad hoc basis. If you are successful, you will need additional people. It seems like Buzzfeed’s structure is flexible and as teams get too big, they break apart into smaller teams. Make sure you have the right balance between strategy and execution as a team grows or changes. In a team of one, it is mostly about execution with a little bit of strategy, but you can control how the team grows by who that next person is.

9. Focus

And finally, hard as it may be to believe, there are lots of things that Buzzfeed doesn’t do. They focus on their core activities and soundly reject ones that don’t help drive them to their goals. Focus on goals that are important to building your social presence, important to other company marketing activities, like lead generation or customer retention, and important to executives. Single-minded focus on what matters is how you can succeed.

And just to honor Buzzfeed, here’s an animated GIF of two corgis playing tetherball. I can watch this for hours.


  1. says

    Any content producer should look to Buzzfeed as a leading example. Some push it aside as just another celebrity gossip site, which means its easy to get traffic. But there are TONS of sites dedicated to celeb gossip, and Buzzfeed is pushing ahead of all of them.

    IMHO the things that sets Buzzfeed apart are #2 and #3 in your article – the site is all about easy-to-digest, visual content. And it’s the engine of their growth and success.

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