Buzzfeed and Social Media Metrics

ashleymc    March 3, 2016

The definitive ranking of “Friends” characters. Which dog is your spirit animal? 17 reasons sleeping is the best.

Chances are, if these (fake) articles sound like something you would see on your social media feed, you’re familiar with Buzzfeed. Ah, Buzzfeed; the place where you always seem to end up, when procrastination is calling your name. Come on, who could resist these tantalizing food-prep videos?

The site is worth an astounding $1.5 billion, has 200 million monthly visitors and five billion video views.

According to their founder Jonah Peretti, most of their traffic comes from mobile and most of their distribution comes from social.   So, in January 2015, Buzzfeed decided to change their strategy. While most companies use social media platforms as a way to get users and followers to their main website (think about all the “click-bait” on your twitter feed), Buzzfeed decided to try a different strategy. They would now expand their focus beyond their website and app to social networks such as YouTube, Facebook and Snapchat. This shift meant that how they measured their Social Media Metrics would also have to change.

“This [change] meant that our daily, weekly, and monthly traffic reports tracking UVs and page views were obsolete. “- Dao Nguyen, Buzzfeed Publisher

Think about it. If the end destination was no longer a website where Google Analytics could measure UVs (unique visitors), Buzzfeed had to ensure that this change was fully integrated and accepted within the company. With 75% of Buzzfeed’s content never appearing on its website, data and social media metrics were more important than ever.

Forward Thinking

In mid-February, 2016, Dao Nguyen, Buzzfeed Publisher,  wrote an article called “How Buzzfeed Thinks About Data, And Some Charts, Too.” In this article, she lists the 5 things Buzzfeed talks about to help them effectively think about data.

  1. Re-anchor Periodically
  2. Embrace Complexity
  3. Be Humble: Data is best used for learning, not vanity
  4. Be pragmatic: Look at the metric(s) that helps you learn about your platform or achieve your objectives
  5. Be human: Some kinds of impact are not quantifiable

Take a look at the article and give the following a listen, where I give my thoughts about this eye-opening piece.

Buzzfeed’s main tool is Pound (Process for Optimizing and Understanding Network Diffusion), which launched in 2015. Pound takes metrics beyond counting clicks and shares, and shows the ways in which content travels from one user to another.

Lessons for Others

Buzzfeed’s rise to the top was no accident. They are constantly adapting to today’s world and trying to learn more about the ways in which people use technology. Not only are they trying to improve their product, they’re trying to improve the ways in which they track their product. Clicks, shares and unique visitors are no longer the only way to measure success, and Buzzfeed realized this well over a year ago. If other media and technology companies want to succeed, they should take a long look at how Buzzfeed uses data and social media metrics.

Organization: Buzzfeed
Industry: Technology/Media
Name of Organization Contact: Dao Nguyen

Authored by: AshleyMc

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