In the world of technology stocks, there are so many places you can invest money in. In fact, if you think that the only place to invest, as far as the internet is concerned, are social network platforms, you are sadly mistaken. There are all sorts of software, there are all sorts of technologies happening in the background, from handling advertising, mining data, processing information and all points in between where venture capital companies, venture capital funds and individual angel and investors and speculators can park their money.
Interestingly enough, one of the most unpopular places to invest your money has always been content. This should not be surprising. If you want to invest millions of dollars, there is nothing sexy about a typical content website. The reality is that, unless you are dealing with brand names that have a virtual lock on a certain body of content and are the run away winners in a particular niche, your chances of success with a content investment are quite low. If you are looking for proof to back up this claim, you only need to look at AOL’s acquisition of Patch and Huffington Post. In my opinion, these have been completely disappointing investments. In the case of Patch, it is nothing short of a disaster.
It is too easy to lose your hard earned dollars investing in content websites. So why did Buzzfeed recently get fifty million dollars in funding? Well, first and foremost, this investment does prove in no uncertain terms that online content is not dead, if you invest in the right vehicle. Buzzfeed is not just an online destination like Huffington Post. It is not just an ambitious online content project like Patch. It is much deeper than that.
If anything, Buzzfeed is quite inspiring because it shows that there can be a happy marriage between compelling content packaging, social media and mobile devices. The reality is that, the world of online content publishing has been turned up side down with the popularity of smart phones and other mobile content viewing devices like tablets. In this mobile age, Buzzfeed is showing that content still has some legs, if it is positioned properly. Here are some of the reasons why Buzzfeed is worth the fifty million dollars of additional funding that it received.
Viral Content is the Name of the Game
Simply putting together a blog and telling your friends about it is no longer going to cut it. You might be the pre-eminent authority in the particular subject matter or niche, but that alone is not going to produce dollars in your bank account. You have to do something more. You have to understand, that in this day and age, the typical online content consumer has an artificial form of ADHD. To cope with the over two million pieces of content being produced and shared every single day, people are forced to have very short attention spans, people are very impatient. Either you engage them in the first fraction of a second or they are gone permanently.
That is how high the stakes are when it comes to online consumption. This is exactly the kind of lesson that many bloggers simply have no clue about. Either they are completely ignorant of it or they actively overlook it. Regardless, the results are the same. If you do not factor in the fact that people are only going to give you a fraction of a second to weigh your content, you are basically playing the online content publication game wrong.
Buzzfeed Gets it!
This is why its blog post titles, its article format and the way its website is configured, is to maximize the state of being and going viral. They want you to quickly understand what a particular piece of content is about, click the link, quickly read the content and most importantly, share that content on Twitter, Google+, Facebook and other social media platforms. Buzzfeed has done a spectacular job making their website easily viral. This is why Buzzfeed is one of the most popular websites out there. If you think about it, it is a typical content site. There are really very few barriers to entry as far as content originality and content presentation are concerned. What Buzzfeed brings to the table is that, it gets how content is shared and appreciated in the mobile age, and has engineered a successful content production and content promotion and advertising platform that makes money out of the contemporary realities of online content publishing.
What made Buzzfeed Hot?
The primary stock in trade that Buzzfeed brings to the table is its ready to read content. If you have been reading a lot of list articles on the internet lately, you have Buzzfeed to thank. All those top 10, top 5 type articles were pioneered by Buzzfeed. I am not saying that Buzzfeed invented this format, but Buzzfeed definitely popularized this format. In fact, Buzzfeed has made this format almost mandatory. The reason why the numbered lists are so effective is because, as I have mentioned earlier, people have a form of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. People only give themselves a fraction of a second to decide whether to read a piece of content or not.
When they see numbered list articles listing out benefits or listing out certain facts, they know that the article would be easy to read. People are looking for easy to read and easy to process content, this is why numbered list articles are so popular. They are not going anywhere anytime soon. Although not all list articles are great, read why your list article might suck.
Late Breaking Content
Another thing that makes Buzzfeed different is that, it focuses on late breaking content. One great example of this is when there was a singing nun on the Italian Voice. Almost immediately after the singing nun became very hot on YouTube, Buzzfeed featured a story on her. As a result, you do not need to leave Buzzfeed to find the hottest and most viral content on the internet. If you do not have much time every single day to find really hot trends on the internet, you only need to bookmark Buzzfeed, Digg and Huffington Post and you are pretty much set. Regardless of what niche a particular type of content or news appears online, you will get your fill in a very timely manner with Buzzfeed. It has really cornered the late breaking content market.
Emphasis on Viral Content
Buzzfeed is very strategic in regards to the content it chooses to feature. It knows that not all content is hot. This is why its sources, the internet, basically give it signals as to which type of content is going to break out and which content is basically going to remain cold. By using its own internal metrics and technology it is able to ride viral content. This is extremely important to keep in mind because if you are a blogger specializing in a particular niche, you would do well to reverse engineer this strategy.
The problem with most bloggers is that, they are so focused on rarity and standing out from the competition that they neglect to realize that hot content only becomes hot because the crowd finds it hot. In other words, it takes much more effort, time and money to turn something that is judged cold by the crowd, rather than promoting something that the crowd already considers as hot. Buzzfeed does not want to re-invent the wheel. It just basically pays attention to social media signals and gives its audience the viral content that it craves after.
Leveraging the Power of Information Gaps
If you have been paying attention to websites like Upworthy, Viralnova, you would notice that these headlines use a specific writing style. This is not an accident. This headline writing style is intended to grab your eyeballs. It offers bite sized themes with information gaps. When you read these titles, there is something missing.
As a result, you are emotionally triggered to click the link so you can get the full information. These blog posts are then written in such a way for you to get the focus of the blog post, and just as importantly, click the share button on Twitter or Facebook. The whole point of this publication style is to get you to read and engage your emotional hot buttons. This is the formula for content going viral. Buzzfeed has turned this into an art form.
What Traditional Media can Learn from Buzzfeed
As mentioned above, viral content and viral marketing is an art form. Buzzfeed has definitely mastered this art form. What traditional media can learn from Buzzfeed if they have an online presence, is to package their high quality content in a very viral way. You have to understand that with social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter competing for Mindshare online, it is really important for traditional publishers to package their content in such a way that it is very easy to share and very easy to pick apart.
The name of the game is not content per se, but the packaging of that content. If you understand the proper form in the age of digital mobile content, your chances of succeeding in online publishing is much higher than if you stick to the old rules of flat and static publishing. The reality is that, the old thinking of build it and they will come, no longer works. You have to go to where your media market is an engage your media market and audience in the language that they are most accustomed to.