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What you can learn from BuzzFeed, Mashable, and VICE

Carlos Serra - COO
Mar 10, 2022 12:25:20 PM

While there are conflicting opinions on whether printed media is dead or not, one thing is certain: the increased use of the internet has brought about a gradual decline in the reach of print media.

With more people than ever before getting their news first from Twitter and preferring blogs to magazines, it’s crucial for media companies to evolve so they can stay relevant in this digital age. But how can media brands move to create digital content that helps them stand out, resonates with their audience, and impacts culture?

In this blog, we’re going to do a deep dive into what you can learn from brands like VICE, BuzzFeed, and Mashable to create audience-focused content and build loyal fanbases. Don’t forget to bookmark and start implementing these insights to improve your own marketing!

Contents:

BuzzFeed demonstrates how to replicate your audience’s voice

BuzzFeed is one of the most popular entertainment websites in the US. The site is known for its quizzes and viral content.

In 2022, BuzzFeed attracted over 103 million monthly visitors from direct, referral, social, organic, and mail traffic. How do they manage to create content that consistently attracts that many people? To answer that question, let’s examine BuzzFeed’s online communities.

BuzzFeed’s online audience is mainly made up of 18-34-year-olds living in the US. Of course, this makes sense considering that they’re a US-based media company. BuzzFeed’s global audience are also interested in pets, education, sports, science, and society.

To find out how knowledge of their audience helps them create better content, let’s take a closer look at the segments that make up BuzzFeed’s audience.

Audiense blog - Buzzfeed audience

Here are the three main audience segments that make up BuzzFeed’s global audience.

Daily USA news

  • 55.12% of this segment follow the Daily Show, which is the second highest affinity after BuzzFeed.
  • However, they also follow a lot of journalists, news commentators, and broadcasters, which shows they have some interest in news and politics.
  • This segment doesn’t use social media as much as the global audience, and they also browse the internet more on their desktops than mobile devices.

How BuzzFeed creates news content

BuzzFeed has an entire site, BuzzFeed News, and Twitter account (@BuzzFeedNews) dedicated to providing news commentary and trending reports for their audience.

Audiense blog - BuzzfeedNews

Although the content on these platforms takes a more serious approach than typical BuzzFeed content, they’re still engaging enough to grab people’s attention.

For instance, the news reports are less than 750 words to keep their audience’s interest.

Entertainment fans

  • This segment is more female-driven (64.32%) and over-index for Los Angeles.
  • As expected from the segment’s name, entertainment outlets are the frontrunner influencers for this segment.
  • They are most likely to be found on Spotify and are interested in content around celebrities (BTS), entertainment shows (Big Brother Brazil), and the latest movies (Encanto).
  • This audience likely follows BuzzFeed because it reflects their interests in pop culture.

How BuzzFeed taps audience’s interests in entertainment

BuzzFeed is undoubtedly known for its content around pop culture and entertainment. To meet the needs of this segment of its audience, BuzzFeed creates a lot of up-to-date information about the latest shows and movies.

For instance, you can find over 15 Encanto quizzes on BuzzFeed’s website that they use to attract and engage their audience.

Audiense blog - 15 Encanto quizzes

Animal lovers

  • More than half (50.99%) of this audience segment is interested in pets.
  • The majority of this segment (19.48%) of this audience is single, which makes sense considering that more single people are opting to become pet owners.
  • Influencers for this audience include Lonely Planet, Nat Geo Travel, and Anthony Bourdain. This shows that this audience enjoys travel and food experiences.

How BuzzFeed diversifies content for specific audience segments

BuzzFeed has a website for their audience obsessed with traveling called Bring Me.

Audiense blog - Bring Me Buzzfeed

The content style is not so different from what BuzzFeed typically produces, as the site still uses short-form content, quizzes, and the like. However, all the content on Bring Me focuses on travel.

Also considering that this audience segment loves animals and is more likely to use a video-based platform like YouTube, BuzzFeed has a lot of pet videos on their YouTube channel.

Audiense blog - Buzzfeed Youtube channel

What marketers can learn from BuzzFeed

Although BuzzFeed’s audience consists largely of graduates, they keep their content at a 4th-grade reading level. They do this because they know their audience wants to be entertained and not have a dictionary by their side as they read BuzzFeed’s content.

As a marketer who wants to remain relevant in the digital space, it’s crucial to understand your audience’s reading preferences, even if you’re not a global media brand. Do they prefer short content? Do they want it filled with industry jargon? Would they prefer proper grammar to trending slang?

Only when you understand your audience as BuzzFeed does can you answer these questions.

Audience growth opportunities for BuzzFeed

When examining recent conversations happening within BuzzFeed, we found a large section related to black communities.

11% of the audience driving these conversations identify as black in their social media bios, which contrasts with the rest of the full audience in which only 2% identify as black in their bios.

What’s more, the influencers for this audience are predominately made up of black voices, filmmakers, and creatives such as Ava DuVernay, Issa Rae, and Matthew A. Cherry.

Audiense blog - Buzzfeed influencers

The top content for this audience unsurprisingly includes hashtags like #blackhistorymonth and #mitchplease, which centers around politics and black culture.

This data can help Buzzfeed to go even more granular in their approach to content and cater specific content around politics and black culture to create superfans among that audience segment.

Putting the audience first helps VICE stay ahead of the content game

Another media company that does an outstanding job at staying relevant with the kind of content they produce is VICE.

Catering to a largely male audience, insight has shown that their most engaged fans are over 60% male and lean toward a younger demographic of 18-24. They’re also primarily US based, although over 60% of the audience is based elsewhere in the world and London appears as the top city for their overarching audience.

Let’s break down their audience to see how they create content for each audience segment.

Audiense blog - VICE audience

Parents

  • They are usually influenced by ‘parent-y’ brands, e.g., Parent, ToysRUs, Today’s Parent, and Huffpost Parent.
  • This audience has immense love for Jimmy Fallon (2nd most-followed account after VICE for this segment). Spongebob and Sesame Street also push through in the media affinity for TV shows.
  • This audience is likely to be influenced by online ads and prefers to use credit cards when shopping online.

Audiense blog - Purchase influence factors - VICE

How VICE uses audience knowledge to guide product recommendations and Twitter discussions

Since this segment is big on online shopping, VICE has a “Rec Room” full of products recommended by the VICE team.

Given that this audience segment is mainly millennials, VICE includes product recommendations for house decor, fitness, and even sex toys.

When it comes to content consumption, #Euphoria ranks as the top hashtag that drives conversations among this audience, especially on Twitter. So it comes as no surprise that VICE shares the interview-style content about the show on Twitter.

 

Political media

  • It comprises journalists, writers, and those working in media.
  • Perhaps somewhat center, left-leaning politically based on influencers and brands, including Jeremy Corbyn, Owen Jones, Louis Theroux, Independent, and Guardian.
  • Interested in travel and the sciences with media affinity heavily related to news outlets.

How VICE gets their audience engaged with experience-based storytelling

VICE doesn’t follow the way traditional media market or tell their stories. Instead, VICE chooses to make their stories experience-based, focusing on the audience — who are meant to be the story's center of attention.

That’s why many of VICE’s stories are first-person accounts or documentaries like “The Islamic State.” This type of content has helped VICE get nominated for many awards and even win an Emmy.

Most times, VICE also tells stories that mix the interests of different audience segments. For instance, there’s a furry-loving, queer, and gamer segment of VICE’s audience that enjoy the news.

Audiense blog - VICE influencers

When political matters that affect this segment come up, VICE doesn’t hesitate to tell the story — helping them build better connections with their audience.

Audiense blog - VICE

What marketers can learn from VICE

While BuzzFeed’s content is usually lighthearted, VICE takes a more serious approach with its news content.

Marketers can learn that even though you might be operating in a competitive market, you need to put your audience first by creating the kind of content they want.

VICE’s example also highlights the importance of using the proper format for delivering content. Although they started as a magazine publication, VICE now has a thriving YouTube channel with over 15 million subscribers.

The lesson? Publish your content where your audience usually hangs out online and in a format they’ll enjoy.

How VICE can reach even more people

Even though VICE has found success with YouTube, they could get even more reach by showing up on Reddit — the platform their audience is most likely to use.

Audiense blog - VICE should use Reddit

VICE’s team should seriously consider pouring resources into their efforts on Reddit by empowering a few brand ambassadors that can find subreddits that relate to their audience at large and nurture more personalized connections there.

How do they do it? Comment on trends. Post their content to start engaging conversations. Provide thoughtful responses that add dialogue to conversations. The sky's the limit for VICE on Reddit and could further cement their content presence on the internet.

Mashable knows long-form content is best to educate and engage their audience

A first look at Mashable’s audience shows 18-24-year-old males living in the US. A global, multi-platform media and entertainment company, Mashable understands that there are many ways to share content with their audience, not just the written word.

They also highlight that they’re passionate about culture and tech, with much of their content consisting of the latest gadgets and product reviews. Let’s take a closer look at the audience segments that make up Mashable’s most engaged audience.

Audiense blog - Mashable audience

Devs & engineers

  • This audience is quite broad, geographically speaking, with 25% living in the US and 11% in India.
  • Bill Gates, Tim Cook, Richard Branson, and Elon Musk are among their top influencers, and 97.8% follow Google.
  • This audience shows interest in football, cricket, and engineering.

How Mashable uses product reviews to engage tech enthusiasts

Mashable heavily features tech content on its website. In fact, there’s a whole section on their site dedicated to apps, software, cybersecurity, smart homes, and the tech industry.

Audiense blog - Mashable website

They also have a section where Mashable reviews the latest tech products and gadgets.

Digital marketers

  • They are massive users of LinkedIn & Pinterest compared to the full audience.
  • The influencers in this category are made up of marketing companies and experts like HubSpot, Hootsuite, Ad Age, Ann Handley, and Forrester.
  • Brand name matters to this audience. So to sell to this audience, you need to use well-known names and brands.

How Mashable uses long-form content to educate consumers and drive traffic

Seeing that this audience comprises marketing enthusiasts, it’s likely they come to Mashable to inform their own content and writing — and why shouldn’t they? Thanks to their in-depth product reviews and listicles, Mashable currently ranks for 6.5 million keywords.

TV & movies

  • This audience spends plenty of time on Tiktok, Spotify, and Soundcloud.
  • They’re music and entertainment lovers who enjoy watching MTV, The Voice, Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Tonight Show, and Saturday Night Live.
  • This audience is influenced by TV shows and movies from Netflix, Sony, 20th Century, and celebrities like Chris Pratt, Steve Carrell, and Paris Hilton.

How Mashable uses content to scratch their audience’s entertainment itch

Like their audience interested in tech, Mashable also has a category on their website dedicated to entertainment news.

Audiense blog - Mashable Entertainment news

In this category, they talk about everything from upcoming movie trailers to interviews with casts from TV shows and movies that have already aired.

Key marketing strategies to learn from Mashable

Don’t be afraid to go long-form. Although BuzzFeed and VICE usually keep most of their content short, Mashable found success with long-form content, primarily because of knowing what their audience wants.

Mashable also teaches marketers the importance of regularly producing engaging content and supporting social causes your audience cares about.

How Mashable can drive further conversations with its audience

Similar to VICE, Mashable also appears to be underutilizing a platform that their audience is most likely to spend time on — LinkedIn.

Audiense - Mashable audience top social networks

While Mashable already uses LinkedIn (where they have 800K followers), most of what they do is share links from their blog without context. The result? Incredibly low engagement and lost potential on a channel that should be performing at a high level.

Audiense blog - Mashable profile Linkedin

Instead, they could treat their LinkedIn followers as a new audience they’re trying to reach. To do this, Mashable needs to make its content native to LinkedIn.

Types of posts they could use include:

  • Polls
  • Video breakdowns of their articles
  • Text breakdowns that highlight the most interesting parts of their articles
  • Visual carousels that highlight the key takeaways from their articles

Overall, what they’re doing works. However, when you have this type of data insight, you quickly realize where the gaps are and where you can improve your efforts. In this case, for Mashable, that would be better utilization of LinkedIn.

Key takeaways

Here are some key takeaways for remaining relevant and delivering content your audience would enjoy, as learned from media companies like BuzzFeed, VICE, and Mashable.

  • Talk about what your audience cares about because they’re the ones you’re creating content for at the end of the day.
  • Introduce expert opinions in your content. It’s quite unlikely to be a subject matter expert on every topic. So instead of creating half-baked content, interview subject matter experts who can provide unique perspectives and takes on such topics.
  • Present content in a format they’ll enjoy. If your audience prefers video content, you better get the video production department set up.
  • Pay attention to what resonates with your audience. It can be challenging to create content for your audience when you see them as a monolith. Instead, break the audience into segments, and create laser-focused content for these segments.

If you’re ever struggling to understand your audience and what content you should create that will resonate, we recommend you take a deep dive into your audience segments.

With an audience analytics tool like Audiense, you can quickly find who motivates your audience, the type of content they like, the social platforms they’re likely to use, and more to create content strategies that work.

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