With over 68 million unique visitors every month, BuzzFeed has become the apple of many content marketers’ eyes. Marketers ogle at BuzzFeed’s viral reach numbers and engagement levels, and that’s fine to a point. I definitely think that there are lessons to be learned from BuzzFeed’s success, but they have also brought us vices like click-bait titles and uninformative listicles. Worst of all, they’ve brought into the mainstream the idea that low-quality content is fine, and many content marketers have taken this to heart.
Over the past few years, I’ve worked with very large brands and very small brands alike, and just about every one of them has suggested trying this style of content to drive more traffic. See, in their head, this is the equation:
Site Traffic * Conversion Rate = $$$
Therefore, if I can double site traffic with cheap, baiting content, I can DOUBLE MY REVENUE!
What they’re not seeing is that this type of content doesn’t double revenue. If anything, it halves it. If you don’t believe me, here are 7 reasons that mimicking BuzzFeed will destroy your content strategy.
1. It Will Ruin Your SEO
Regardless of your target market, nothing screams, “I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT,” quite like bad content. Sure, it’s easy to throw together a list of “5 TOP TOOLS FOR [Insert Industry Here],” and it may even drive some traffic, but if you’re not providing unique value, your bounce rate will skyrocket, your brand’s value will be diminished, and your SEO will take BIG a long-term hit. Google pays attention to things like bounce rate more than ever, and if you’re not doing an effective job of providing the information your target audience needs, Google will bounce your butt to the second page faster than you can say, “Which Disney Princess Is Most Like Your CMO?”
2. It Will Undermine Your Salespeople
Pop Quiz: What’s the first thing every one of your prospects does once they talk to your salespeople?
Answer: Look at your website.
If the first thing you saw once you got to a website was “This Hyperactive Cat TOTALLY Knows What It’s Like To Get A Client Call Before a Piece Goes to Press!” Would you ever call them back?
Your salespeople are working hard out there to justify your existence. Marketing should be the number one driver of sales, and if you undermine your salespeople by putting up content that causes them to lose their credibility with customers, you’re BEGGING to have your budget cut.
There are a million reasons that marketing and sales struggle to work well together, but cat GIFs shouldn’t be one of them.
3. It Will Confuse Your Email List
Remember those people who actively said, “Yes! I want to hear more about your company!” Do you think those people will be amused by your click-baiting headlines and vapid blog posts? No. Unsubscribe. And, while I’m at it: spam filter.
4. This Chimpanzee Is Taking Some “Me Time”
This GIF is from a REAL BuzzFeed article. This is what you look like. Are you proud of yourselves?
5. It Will Trivialize Your Customer’s Problems
Great SEO is about solving customers’ problems. A customer runs into an issue, they Google it, and find your website as a solution.
WHAT A MAGICAL WORLD WE LIVE IN.
Now, imagine being a frustrated client, finding a site ranking for your problem, and finding ABSOLUTELY NO HELP on that page. Annoying, isn’t it? Not only are these people not going to buy from you, they’re now actively upset with you because you don’t understand their problems.
6. It Will Drive the Wrong Traffic to Your Site
If you’re not providing immense value to your target customer, but you’re driving more traffic…who’s visiting your site? It’s not the person who wants to buy from you. Consequently, you get more unqualified traffic, driving down your conversion rate, and making your website significantly less effective. Funny how these mistakes compound on each other, isn’t it?
7. It Will Sabotage Any Chance of an Increased Content Budget Next Year
So you’ve decreased your conversion rate, hurt your search rankings, pissed off your salespeople, and you want budget for video? Here, why don’t you take a look at these 15 cats who are better at getting budgets passed than you?
Okay Tim, Stop Being Mean and Tell Me What to Do!
All right, so you want to drive more traffic with your content marketing, and I have, hopefully, dissuaded you from making the mistake of following recent content trends, so what can you do?
The most basic thing you can do is provide great, informative content. If your target reader doesn’t walk away learning something from every piece you put up, you’re not doing your job. Above and beyond that, though, there are definitely a few small tactics that can go a long way.
Earlier I said that there are some great lessons we can learn from BuzzFeed, and I wasn’t lying. Here are three things that BuzzFeed does extraordinarily well that can take your content game to the next level.
Reinforce a Sense of Identity
Ever notice the common denominator of the BuzzFeed articles that seem to litter your Facebook news feed?
“15 GIFS That Only ‘90s Kids Would Understand”
“12 Signs That You’re Secretly Lorelai Gilmore”
“27 Reasons You Should Never Leave College”
What do all these have in common? They reinforce the sense of identity that a niche of people has. They look at ‘90s kids or caffeine-addicted, career-oriented women and support their sense of identity. This is what causes people to share content. They feel like you understand who they are, and they want to show that to the people who know them best.
If you want to apply this to your business’ writing, take a good look at your target market, and get a sense of how they view themselves. Make sure you support that identity in every piece that you write.
Support an Ideology
Put another way, try to express ideas that your target customers already have in words that they don’t need to come up with. The reasons that ideologies spread is because it takes the hard work out of having an opinion. No longer do I have to do the research, craft an argument, and put it into words. You’ve done that for me! Thanks, company!
You can do this by building a brand identity that resonates with your customers and really focusing on flying your brand’s flag around certain issues. Do your customers hate new-fangled technology? Then your brand should hate it, too! Maybe your customers love the ease of use that comes with a MacBook. Not only should your brand love MacBooks, but to hell with PCs while we’re at it!
Give an Emotional Gift
Make your customers feel something that they want to share with something else. Inspire them, motivate them, get them ready for Monday. If you can give them an emotional gift, you can make them excited to share that gift with their colleagues.
If you need a content partner that gets all of this and will make your website’s content work for you, I’d highly recommend working with Metonymy Media. I don’t work for them, I’m actually a former client who brings business their way any chance I get because they’re the only writing vendor I trust. To learn more about Metonymy, check out their services and reach out!
About Tim Hickle
What do you get when you combine improvisational comedy, economic acumen, and a ravenous appetite for all things digital? Meet Tim Hickle—resident Digital Marketing Strategist at Miles Design.
Tim earned a degree in Economics from Indiana University, where he also founded the IU Campus Comedy Festival. After graduation, he parlayed this diverse skillset into the world of marketing and social media, digging into the analytics, and trying to quantify ROI. Go figure.
So, how does comedy come into play? Tim explains that in improv and in digital marketing, you can measure your results by the applause you get. It’s both a rational and an emotional exercise. And even though digital marketing is driven by technology, the most successful campaigns are quintessentially human.
Outside of work, Tim is involved with the local startups scene and managed community efforts for Verge Indy. He also spends an inordinate amount of time watching sports with a craft beer in his hand. Which, he would say, go together like econ and improv.