From viral to vital: the things we’ve learned about BuzzFeed’s evolution

Not long ago, the prestigious Financial Times outlet ran a story that spread like fire throughout the internet, raising concern within news, media, advertising and digital marketing communities on a worldwide scale. Suddenly, everyone seemed to be a bit more worried than usual. The reason? Among other significant data, FT’s story showed the world that BuzzFeed was cutting their 2016 revenue expectations by half: from 500 to 250 million dollars.

Just three days after the publication of FT’s demolishing story, another eminent publication decided to run a strong piece covering BuzzFeed’s reality. The big internet waves didn’t seem to bother The Atlantic’s editors, who on April 15th jumped into the conversation by releasing a magnificent profile on contemporary media’s Flagship.


The article came out under the title of ‘The Eternal Return of BuzzFeed’, and placed the company among America’s top historical content trendsetters. According to The Atlantic, BuzzFeed had taken the spot that was once occupied by other media behemoths, such as People, MTV and USA Today.

To be fair, the Financial Times’ article was right: BuzzFeed did overshoot its financial predictions by a large margin. But does this mean that their content model can be labeled as useless? That’s a whole different story.

Despite the exaggerated projections, BuzzFeed provides a very efficient model, both in terms of revenue and content creation/distribution. Let’s add numbers to complete the panorama: the company, which was founded in 2006 (yes, just ten years ago), registered 78 million unique visitors during last March, and almost a billion video views in the same period of time. For perspective, that’s about 21 million more unique visitors than the long-standing New York Times. Not only is BuzzFeed a successful company, but also proves itself as a successful role model for the digital marketing professionals and companies wanting to reach the younger layers of their audiences. That’s the people that, like it or not, are going to shape America’s economy for the next couple of decades. If you ask us, it’s quite a big deal.

Much like MTV or USA Today did thirty years ago, BuzzFeed gets young people right: what they want, consume and desire in terms of information. In addition, by running pieces that range from Pulitzer-aspiring investigative reports to mindless listicles, they show the true value of content flexibility. It’s not that they have the formula: instead, they seem to rely on a number of content options to appeal their multiple, diverse audiences. This should tell a lot to companies that want to push content online: people out there is diverse and so is the content they consume.

The key is to look at what works and make it happen!

Photo credit by Tama Leaver
Art work credit by Tech In Asia