16 April 2018
Have you ever read a Buzzfeed list or filled out one of their quizzes?
If you’re like me, you have. But if you’re like me, you may not have realized the overarching philosophy Buzzfeed uses to encourage people to share and interact with their content. That will change if you watch this TED Talk:
The question Buzzfeed asks really surprised me, as it’s related to a few things I’ve advocated to content creators for a long time now: “How is [our content] helping our users do a real job in their lives?”
Sound familiar? It’s the same concept I discuss in “Write a Blog”: Create content that adds value to other people. It’s about thinking about the user instead of yourself in a way that Buzzfeed calls “cultural cartography.”
Dao Nguyen explains the concept in a brilliant way that expands the reach of what “adding value” means. Buzzfeed aims to create content that fits at least several of the following categories, each of them trying to help their users in some way:
Think about the last piece of content you shared with someone or even just engaged with yourself. Did it fit into some of these categories? For me I think it was a Seth Meyers story about his wife giving birth in an unconventional location. It made me laugh, but it also made me want to connect with my family over it, so I shared it with my parents, sister (who is currently pregnant), and brother (who recently had a baby).
I love thinking about content in this way. There are lots of blog topics on my list that I want to write about. But some of them sit on the list for a long time or even get removed because I can’t think of how they might add value to you. It’s more than just the topic itself–it’s how I present it.
When I was running Kickstarter campaigns, I tried to think about project updates the same way. For every section in my project updates, I tried to keep it focused on adding value to the backer. Looking at the chart above, I can see how the content in those updates fits into these categories.
Buzzfeed is obviously an outlier in terms of the number of users. But I think their method is universally effective at organically encouraging people to engage with (and potentially share) content. When you have people engaging with your content, you have a community.
Do you think about the content you create in this way? Have you seen positive results?