Video Essentials

VidCon ’17: Social Video Secrets from BuzzFeed’s Experts

There’s no other content-creation operation quite like BuzzFeed, a global company that generates 600 new pieces of content a day, averages 9 billion content views per month, and is the most-watched publisher on YouTube. But smaller video creators can learn from the company’s experience, and three members of the BuzzFeed team shared their “Social Video Secrets” at VidCon on Friday.

BuzzFeed’s executive producer for entertainment Ella Mielniczenko, director of social media Maycie Thornton, and business analyst Rico Moorer revealed the company’s four key recommendations for building a successful video publishing brand on YouTube and Facebook. Central to the organization’s mission is to look at the internet as a conversation, Thornton said, and try to add to that conversation.

“Optimize for human connections, not algorithms,” Thornton said. “If you do that, you’re futureproofed for new platforms and new connections.”

BuzzFeed’s social video secrets:

  1. Cater original content to individual platforms: People go to different platforms for different things, so give them what they’re looking for. What works on Facebook might not work on YouTube, so use data to assess what works where. That might be as simple as shooting square video for Facebook versus 16×9 for YouTube.
  2. Prioritize a specific metric for each platform and optimize for it: For BuzzFeed, the key metric for Facebook is shares, while on YouTube it’s cumulative views over a seven-day period. For BuzzFeed’s scripted content, the company is beginning to look at watch times and retention.
  3. Build a tight feedback loop and democratize your data: “Data is really just information about how your audience is reacting, what works, and what doesn’t,” Moorer said. “It’s also about the way you present it to people.” All BuzzFeed employees have access to all the company’s relevant data, so that a video producer in New York can see exactly what’s working for a producer in Brazil, and learn from that. The BuzzFeed team has built dozens of data tools that handle everything from pre-production and production to post-production and publication, Moorer said.
  4. Learn from your audience and always try to give them what they want: “The word ‘clickbait’ is thrown around a lot about what we do, but if you’re delivering the audience what they are expecting to get, you’re not tricking them,” Mielniczenko said. “It’s important that you see a headline that says something very specific, and there’s something satisfying about clicking on something and having it totally deliver on that.”

BuzzFeed’s Rico Moorer, Ella Mielniczenko, and Maycie Thornton at VidCon ’17.


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