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There’s something to be said for BuzzFeed videos, regardless of how you may view their content. Their ability to achieve such consistent success might be the new benchmark for brands looking to expand their content marketing. Many brands are remembered by “that one spot that was really popular on Facebook that one time”, but for BuzzFeed, it’s just another day at the office. Virality is extremely difficult to accomplish, especially on a consistent basis. Things like timing, relevance, and execution are common hurdles that brands face when trying to develop consistent viral content. However, none of these things seem to matter to BuzzFeed.

Since its inception in 2006, BuzzFeed has set the tone for digital media, successfully engaging the most highly coveted audience today – millennials. With younger viewers spending more time on the Internet than any other age group, it’s not surprising that BuzzFeed has found a home amongst its viewers. BuzzFeed as a brand has a lot to offer, but when it comes to its video content, there might be a formula that many of us are missing.

What is it about BuzzFeed?

There’s more than one thing that makes BuzzFeed’s videos so special. It’s not just the content, the timing, the humour, or the audience they’re appealing to. BuzzFeed videos are unique because of two things: their people, and their unique perspective on “what if” style topics.

One of their more popular videos is titled, “what if men could feel the pain of childbirth?” which is without a doubt sure to pique some interest. Sure, it’s not physically possible, but with a little help from science, a few daring subjects and appropriate use of a clickbait title, a video like this is poised to receive a lot of feedback online. Buzzfeed really does know how to properly seed a video.

This has sort of become BuzzFeed’s formula to virality. While nothing is ever a guarantee in the digital world, BuzzFeed’s videos tend to perform well in part to their consistency to their formula and ability to provide new perspectives.

Shareability is key

Outside of the massive audience they have online, BuzzFeed is successful because of its connection to social media, which is where they receive most of their views. Why? Because people love to share them. A video can be great and enjoyable to watch, but what makes you want to tell other people about it? One word. Relatability, which is one element that makes their virality formula truly genius.

How many times have you heard the phrase “try going through childbirth” whenever a man complains about pain, or “is it really worth the extra money”? Probably a few times, and probably a few more if you’re a guy. BuzzFeed capitalizes on topics like these in a comedic way, which isn’t rocket science – it’s logic. These videos are almost always half serious and make for some pretty great content.

It’s all about the people

Even when you have a great idea and means of execution, it can be hard to develop content that makes your audience sit back, have a few laughs, and enjoy. This is where the people come in, which is what separates BuzzFeed from any and all competition. As has been a theme on our blog for a while now, great people are hard to find. BuzzFeed’s videos feature people with lots of different personalities, making it easier for more people to relate, especially if the people on screen are likable. Great people are everywhere, but no brand has done as good of a job capitalizing on its people as BuzzFeed.

Will this video format be a trend in 2017?

When we wrote about trends last week there was a reason we didn’t include this is because the format isn’t exactly new. However, it’s possible that other brands may experiment with this format because of how it’s effective and easy to adapt to different audiences.
On top of that, it’s also very easy to produce. A large percentage of BuzzFeed videos are shot against a solid backdrop which puts the focus entirely on the subjects which can all be shot in a studio.
We recently experimented with this format ourselves, using the popular mobile game “Head’s Up”. If you haven’t played Head’s Up, it’s downright hilarious and is basically charades using an iPad/iPhone in groups of two or more. It offers a multitude of categories to choose from and has something for everyone, both young and old to choose from. With this in mind, we played it with several executives and the experience was pretty amazing. The simplicity of the game brought out the true personality of each person which will undoubtedly create for some truly entertaining content, and is something we will definitely be trying again in 2017.
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Chris Stasiuk

Author Chris Stasiuk

Chris is commercial director and founder of SVG, a Toronto based video content agency.

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