Let me preface what’s to come by saying that I don’t claim to be an expert on all things BuzzFeed. I’ve had modest success posting as a Community Contributor here in the last six months — tweeted by Weezer, crowned (temporarily, at least) the King of Cute, linked by National Geographic (for a cat video, no less!) — and the tips outlined below were developed and fine-tuned after a fair bit of trial and error. I’m not going to talk about what types of content plays best on the site, or where you should source it; that’s a different convo for a different day. Consider my observations more as more style points that will prime the pump for your posts and make it easier for the Community Editors to endorse them; you’re free to apply, or disregard, or repurpose, as you see fit.
1. Trigger The Social Media Buttons And Badge Your Posts
So you wrote and published a post. That’s great. Now it’s time to give it a push.
Start by triggering the “Share,” “Like,” and “Tweet” buttons (yes, Virginia, you should open a Twitter account if you don’t have one already). Traffic from your social accounts isn’t necessarily the main consideration here, unless you have a following of some sorts; what’s important is that you turn the zero on both over because the readers that follow are more inclined to share if there’s the appearance of a conversation or dialogue. Posts with zeros are the equivalent of an empty restaurant or a ghost town in the Wild West with tumbleweed bouncing across a dusty street — uninviting.
You’ll also want to badge your posts with the webspeak reactions — LOL, WTF, OMG, among others — that are embedded at the bottom of every post. You can tab up to three badges; as with the social media buttons, the goal here is to break the ice. If you garner enough reactions of one kind, your post will be added to that’s badge’s respective feed (example here), which will give it additional exposure around the site.
Pro tip: Ask your friends, family, and significant others that also read BuzzFeed to support your posts!
2. PROMOTE! PROMOTE! PROMOTE!
Dig deeper, though, and ask yourself the following questions: Do you contribute to any other sites or blogs that would allow you to link back if topical? Do you manage any social feeds for businesses or organizations or websites that might overlap with your posts? Do you have contacts at other sites that might link back (again, if topical)? Do you frequent any sites that run link roundups and solicit reader suggestions (such as Slash Film’s Page 2 or Laughing Squid)? What about the subject (or subjects) of your post? They would likely welcome the exposure and might share your post with their fans or followers as a result (CREATE AND EMPOWER STAKEHOLDERS!).
3. Go Bold Or Go Home
Every BuzzFeed post opens with a headline first, and what some people call the teaser or excerpt second.
Take a look at the site’s homepage (screen grab embedded below) and you’ll see that both fields are rendered in bold. BuzzFeed’s blogging software will auto-bold the first but you should add strong tags to the second (see example above). It’s quick, easy, and you don’t need to be an HTML wizard. This alone will not garner an endorsement for your post but it’s one less tweak for the editors. Make it easy on them and you make it easier on yourself. Remember: You want the editorial process to be as frictionless as possible.
Pro tip No. 1: You can also use italics, strike, and HTML tags in the excerpt, handy if you want to cite your source.
Pro tip No. 2: If your excerpt features two sentences, add the strong tags to the first for effect.
4. Email Your Editors!
The BuzzFeed Community has three editors. Their contact information is available on the masthead! If you have questions, or want to get feedback about one of your posts, identify one of the editors and send them a short message (note that this is not an invitation to spam everyone on the masthead in one message).
Pro tip: As with anything in life, moderation is key; reaching out to the editors is usually best reserved for when you have something truly compelling and awesome to share.
5. Exercise Your Cat Power
If you’ve had any success posting previously at BuzzFeed, you’ll likely have been rewarded with Cat Power. Graded on a scale of 1–5, Cat Power is a basically an index of trust and credibility. Toggle the box before you publish and it’ll slot your post into a streamlined queue for the Community editors to review. Do this during normal business hours on weekdays, and the editorial turnaround can be as short as 15 or 30 minutes.
Pro tip: If you’re publishing frequently and you only have one or two suggestions for every 24 hour period, reserve a suggestion for the post you care the most about.
6. Experiment With Different Image Thumbs
Pictures, as everyone knows, say a thousand words. This is exactly why you should optimize the photo thumbs on your posts. The primary image should be something compelling and colorful and evocative; depending on the topic of your post, the image might readily present itself but it might also be worth wading deeper into a Google image search to turn up something unique.
If BuzzFeed is a marketplace for ideas, then your post is competing with others for attention. A great image then can give yours a leg up in the battle for clicks. Spend some time with the cropping tool until you have something that will grab eyeballs.
Pro tip: If you’re posting a video from YouTube, BuzzFeed’s software will resort to the default thumb. That’s OK, but sometimes it’s worth it to watch the video through to the end and use screencapping software to pull something better.
7. Saddle Up To The Search Bar
So you found something on the Internet that you want to share with the entire world. Before you breathlessly write it up on BuzzFeed, take a look around and see if someone’s posted it previously (the Community vertical is also helpful here if it’s something new, newsworthy, or trending).
It’s not necessarily a dealbreaker if it has, but you will need to put a new spin on the content to keep it fresh. Take, for example, this video of a cat opening doors. Instead of just posting that one video, find four others like it, and violà: You now have the raw ingredients for a list!
The staff at BuzzFeed is so large and sprawling that a certain degree of duplication is inevitable and some phrases/images/videos/GIFS get recycled — A LOT — almost as if they were part of the site’s lingua franca (read: common vocabulary). A bit of research before you start can save you the heartache to come when one of your stories gets trumped by a staff writer posting the same item… (On the flip side, you can scoop the staff writers if your post is better written, formatted, or composed (names withheld to protect the victims)). On that note: Cite your sources. Always.
8. Clock Management
As the graphic below demonstrates, BuzzFeed draws its most traffic during the day between Monday and Friday. To capture your share, schedule posts accordingly. Because the editorial review process for Community posts can take up to 12 hours (sometimes longer on the weekend), I find it beneficial to post the night before (don’t forget about your Cat Power!). Along the same lines, prepping something on Sunday so it will be reviewed Monday morning can set you up for a prime placement at the beginning of the week.
On the flipside of this equation, the staff writers ease off a bit during the weekends, which presents opportunities of its own. Take this post, Pee-Wee Herman Cycling Suit, which I wrote in January on a Sunday afternoon. It was endorsed less than an hour later (not typical, mind you), trended onto the homepage in the early evening, and was perfectly positioned for visitors — and more importantly, other writers and editors — coming to the site the next morning looking for fresh posts.
9. When In Doubt, Punctuate Your Post With A GIF.
Posts With GIFS Are 1,000,000 Times More Likely to Get Endorsed.*
- = reports this cat. Your results may vary.