Social sharing: Lessons from BuzzFeed and Social Media Week London

By October 1, 2014 No Comments
Social sharing image adapted from under CC license

Is it any surprise that BuzzFeed receives three quarters of its total traffic from social media? Not at all. The reason being BuzzFeed’s content is extremely shareable – and on the online high street, shareable content is like having a franchise store. To go viral is to have a McDonalds on every corner.

The listicle website’s European VP Will Hayward delivered an edifying speech at the London leg of Social Media Week last week. In the year he’s held his VP post at BuzzFeed Will’s managed to increase the UK site traffic by 500%, so as far as ‘social’ goes, the man’s worth his salt.

Here’s what he had to say about the state of social sharing today.

Homepages are old hat

Driving people to your homepage was once the primary objective of social media sharing. Nowadays, the definition of ‘successful online marketing’ is based on a far less rigid measurement.

In a marketplace flooded with ephemeral content the aim now is to grab your customers’ attention with an engaging article, blog post or video, and gently hint at the brand behind it.

Sharing is more important than ever

If people aren’t visiting your homepage anymore (sigh) then having your brand-backed content shared is what really makes a difference. The more that happens, the further your brand travels and the wider and more diverse its audience is. There’s nary an editor in all the land who doesn’t publish content on Facebook, Twitter or G+ in search of valuable shares.

Comments count

Sharing is one thing, commenting is another. If viewers are taking the time to leave comments on your content, you know you’re on the right track. With competition for attention being so tight, managing to engage people in a two-way conversation is a massive win and gives your brand a good bit of credence. Unless the comments are viciously scathing, of course. (But even then it can be positive.)

Native advertising should inform, not mislead

Using content to build trust and engagement with your audience can only be achieved if it’s of a high quality. Low-grade content will be recognised as such in an instant, which can be more than a little detrimental to your brand’s reputation.

If you’re providing would-be customers with the articles they want to read or the videos they want to watch, then they’re more likely to view your brand as dependable. In fact, if your social media marketing practice involves anything other than this you could be doing more harm than good. Trying to deceive or confuse people, for example, just won’t work sustainably.

So there you have it – Will Hayward’s words of wisdom from SMW14 summed up in four simple subheadings. Now, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that following these handy – and fairly straightforward – tips on social sharing isn’t going to instantly result in page views on par with BuzzFeed’s (their site receives 150 million unique visitors a month), but it will certainly form a sturdy foundation for your social media strategy.

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