4 Tips for ‘BuzzFeeding’ Your B2B Editorial Strategy (Part 1)
Why quality business content doesn't have to be as rigid as you think.
Part 1 of 2
It’s an exciting time to run an editorial team. There’s an abundance of highly-effective social content channels and availability of advanced data insights about reader behavior to help guide decision making.
But if you’re a small- or medium-sized B2B publisher, the tantalizing data capabilities and enormous traffic surges of a BuzzFeed or Upworthy can feel frustratingly out of reach. Plus, it seems so much easier when your goal is more squarely about creating entertaining mass-market content.
In B2B media, it’s not that simple. Fundamentally, our mission is to create high-quality, professionally-oriented content that advances the industries we serve. At our best, we are helping to develop job skills and market insight—and in our line of work at Praetorian Digital, which operates the leading media websites for first responders, it’s not a stretch to say that means saving lives.
When it comes to our editorial content, we don’t get to be silly. But that doesn’t mean we have to be dry, boring and ignorant of use cases that may not be strictly professional in nature; our sites are as much communities of connected individuals as they are professional development tools.
The Art of Buzzfeeding
I found the Bisnow.com example from last year fascinating and instructive. Bisnow, which caters to commercial real estate executives, overhauled its site design and content approach to follow the BuzzFeed/Vox/Business Insider model. Clearly, it’s working just fine for them.
At Praetorian, we’ve defined the act of “Buzzfeeding” our content a few different ways. Employing a wider range of more engaging and visual content formats. Leaning on a greater range and more active use of analytics data. Testing, tweaking, and refining different content approaches to expand readership while retaining authority and credibility.
For us, the “Buzzfeeding” process has been a careful and gradual one. It’s as much about communication, training and messaging as it is about employing new content approaches.
Here are some specific ways we’ve shifted our content model to capitalize on mass-market trends while retaining our B2B media integrity:
1. Refining and expanding content types
This is an article-length topic on its own, but a few of the key tactics we’ve employed:
Keep it short: For years, we pumped out opus-length articles without closely examining the return on the monumental amount of time spent writing and editing them (it wasn’t good). We’ve made a concerted effort to limit the word count for most articles, better edit lengthy drafts into shorter pieces, and generally tailor our content toward modern reader preferences.
List and explain: Not every article can or should be turned into a listicle, but there’s no question it’s an effective format (and one that lends itself to effective headlines). Writing and editing more articles into list format has resulted in much higher traffic to our original content, and it’s also been a good tool for some of our writers in helping them more clearly organize and articulate their key points.
Write killer headlines (and push the envelope on occasion): We haven’t resorted to Upworthy’s approach—writers at the site come up with up as many as 25 potential headlines for each story—but we have required three headlines for each draft, and that alone has elevated our overall headline quality and resulted in higher traffic.
Turn readers into contributors: We’ve had great success establishing UGC formats that consistently perform well and are quick to produce. Some even double as legitimate market research.
2. Striking the right balance between “fast” and “slow” content.
This Contently article from last year addressed BuzzFeed’s successful shift toward more substantial journalism (“slow”) to enhance a reputation forged with expert delivery of lighter, more disposable (“fast”) reads.
It was a good way to frame our own challenge in finding the right balance. As a B2B publisher, our equation must be weighted more decisively toward “slow” content to provide the professional impact we strive for, but that mission isn’t minimized by also incorporating some lighter content.
With the proper balance, we feel comfortable that our traffic is a reflection the market’s interests. We hold lighter content in esteem for the purpose it serves, and that is to entertain and unify readers around a shared perspective or condition (i.e. that of being a police officer, EMT, or firefighter).
Check back in for more tips on "BuzzFeeding" Your B2B Editorial Strategy next week.