Unless you live under a rock, you probably know what BuzzFeed is. The Internet media giant cranks out news, quizzes, trending topics, and pop culture “buzz” that attracts audiences from teens to twenty-something year olds en masse.
While the nature of this particular company may not exactly align with your own, there’s a lot we can learn from how BuzzFeed turns small ideas into really big, viral marketing trends.
It starts with the brand.
BuzzFeed has a distinct brand that sets it apart from other media companies. Quirky, playful, and borderline irreverent, BuzzFeed adopts the diverse attitudes of its millennial audience and mirrors it back at them. The effect is such that users who follow BuzzFeed come to think of it as more of a close friend than a media outlet (I know this because that’s how I like to think of BuzzFeed).
By embracing, owning, and capitalizing on a uniquely quirky brand, BuzzFeed essentially creates trends out of thin air and turns them into viral pieces of content that earn shares, likes, and engagements by the thousands. But the real genius is how BuzzFeed used one of their trends to create a wildly successful, “old school” product.
Extending Successful Ideas Into Products
One of the greatest things that’s ever happening to your Facebook feed is the “Tasty” series created by BuzzFeed. In about a one minute video, an anonymous pair of hands will show you how to make a recipe.
The videos, not one of which has less than 100k views, have been a viral sensation this year. To extend the success of the videos, BuzzFeed created Tasty Cookbooks, where users can go to the website and assemble a custom cookbook of their favorite tasty videos, decorate it with emojis, and have it shipped to them for $24 (or $39 if you want hard cover and an apron).
Since making the product available, more than 100,000 copies have been sold. And, since they’re all made to order and printed on demand, the profit margin stays high.
What Small Marketers Can Learn
When you see an opportunity to extend the shelf life of a marketing campaign, product, or piece of content, cashing in it on it can have big pay-offs. By extending some of your most successful content into a product or service, you can draw the most engagement and squeeze every last usable component out of your idea.