Site A’s most shared article last month was a list picture post and its latest viral quiz was Game Of Thrones: the big, brain-splattering quiz. Site B’s most shared content last month was long form content with over 3,000 words. Which site is BuzzFeed and which is The Guardian?

Site B is BuzzFeed and Site A is The Guardian. There is a myth abroad that major publishers are about serious content whilst BuzzFeed is all about list posts, quizzes and short catchy, even fluffy, content. The data shows that the truth is much more complex. My analysis of the posts from the two sites over the last 10 days shows how major publishers and Buzzfeed are learning from each other to drive traffic and shares.

The Content Analysis

I reviewed articles published from 1st April to 10th April 2015 using Buzzsumo for BuzzFeed and for The Guardian.

BuzzFeed published 2,420 articles in the period which received an average of 5,263 shares each.

By contrast The Guardian published 6,717 pieces of content which received an average of 485 shares.

The Data Findings

The most shared articles on BuzzFeed were List posts followed by How-To articles as can be seen below. In the case of the Guardian the most shared posts were Why posts followed by How-To posts.

 

guardian-buzzfeed-content types

Long Form Content Performs Well Consistently

On the analysis above you might suspect that BuzzFeed’s short list posts consistently get the most shares on average. However, whilst the majority of the content published on BuzzFeed is less than 3,000 words, the long form content performs significantly better with an average of 38,000 shares. The difference in the level of shares for long form v short form content is actually much more marked for BuzzFeed than The Guardian.

guardian-buzzfeed-length

Our research has found that long form posts consistently perform well in terms of social sharing. This is something that is not lost on BuzzFeed. They have a team of experienced journalists that produce quality, long form articles that resonate with their audience.

Individual Picture List Posts Have Viral Potential

Long form content appears to do consistently well, whereas short list posts with pictures are a more hit and miss affair as to what will resonate and go viral. That said, the most viral individual posts tend to be Picture List Posts. Some of these posts really resonate with the audience and break out of the pack to become the very top performing posts. This is true of both BuzzFeed and the Guardian.

In the period I examined, the top BuzzFeed post was a Picture List Post on BuzzFeed that received over 300,000 shares.

32 Pictures That Will Give You Intense Elementary School Flashbacks

buzzfeed-picture

 

The top Guardian post in the period was also a Picture List Post which received over 500, 000 shares.

Overpopulation, overconsumption – in pictures

surfer by Zak Noyle

 

Summary

The future is not what it was. BuzzFeed and the major publishers are learning from each other when it comes to driving traffic and shares. They are constantly reviewing what works and experimenting with content formats such as quizzes, picture posts, headlines and with engaging long form content. As a consequence the differences between the sites in terms of content formats may be far less marked in the future.

 

3 Responses to “BuzzFeed’s Most Shared Content Format Is Not What You Think.”

  1. dicktofel

    any chance you could provide median as well as average figures?

  2. Kaloyan

    Awesome study, as usually. Keep them coming up.

    P.s. I featured your case study in my latest article about long content: http://wooguru.net/blog/long-form-content-posts/ Check under More social shares. And share if you like it 🙂

  3. Swapnil Jagtap

    Thanks for detailed post. This will definitely help me. Keep posting.
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