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Thank you for choosing to read this blog! I am wondering, are you reading this on your desktop computer, laptop, tablet, smartphone (while commuting)…or maybe even on your wearable technology. The point I am trying to convey here is that nowadays information is so easily accessible and abundant, it has lost its value. Moreover, the average person spends around 8 seconds before shifting their focus to another source of content.

Are you already on BuzzFeed, checking out the “10 Best Ways To ...”? Here is a fun fact, BuzzFeed is currently the most popular viral website with 150,000,000 unique monthly visitors. These numbers are quite impressive and the question that emerges is how do they manage engagement on such a vast scale? What is BuzzFeed’s secret to successfully creating viral content campaigns and what can BuzzFeed teach us about improving idea campaigns?

A – Topics matter

Idea campaigns are one of the most effective ways to generate ideas on a given topic. Topics are usually in the form of a question and need to be carefully worded to suit the purpose of the campaign, and are of significant importance to its performance.

When it comes to topics, BuzzFeed has an impressive track record of catchy titles that make it almost impossible not to click on. Scroll down their website or Facebook newsfeed and you can see the following clear patterns:

  • They go straight to the point – almost all BuzzFeed topics start with a number (“10 Amazing Pictures Of…”, “22 Surprising Moments…”). People like numbers and in this case they give clarity to the reader about the lengthiness of the piece and the time that they will have to invest in it. So keep it short and to the point!
  • They use specific key words to create the feeling that you are missing out on something “awesome” or “life-changing”. The takeaway is to incorporate words that resonate with the target audience for your campaign, to make it more appealing and less easy to skip past.
  • Identification – BuzzFeed succeeds in segmenting and navigating their audience by knowing their community demographics (“Jokes Only British Will Get”, “30 Things That Only Kids In The 90’s Did”). In an idea campaign the factor of identification can act as a quality controller. The more specific the targeted audience is the better fitted the ideas that get in.

B – Keep the structure short and simple

You have already succeeded in making your idea campaign stand out and your topic is just what they call link-baiting. Now let’s pay attention to the body of your campaign.

An idea campaign consists of four key components – topic, audience, time limitation and structure. The structure is what the idea submission to the topic-question should look like, the guidelines. Since you want to get a well-developed and clearly elaborated idea, you might feel tempted to ask one-too-many questions. What BuzzFeed teaches us, though, is that you don’t want to be redundant or overwhelming. Once again wording is of huge importance. So put a little bit more time into crafting the best body for your campaign and say more with less.

C – Make sure to create engagement

If you look at the stats underneath every BuzzFeed post, there are numerous shares, tweets, retweets, comments, etc. What they create is engagement and you need this in order to make the best out of your idea campaign. You are not aiming only at getting a one-time effort of submitting an idea, but also at the contributor’s engagement. Know your audience and foster a dialogue. Focus your efforts on making them stay, comment, collaborate and build on each-others’ ideas. Strive to create such a vital environment and the results of your idea campaign will exceed your wildest expectations.

The 8 seconds have already elapsed long ago and if you are still here, reading, you are definitely not an average person. Moreover, now you are well equipped to build a successful idea campaign by following the ABC’s of BuzzFeed. Now back to your office and create your best new campaign yet!

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Jaspar Roos

Jaspar Roos

Jaspar Roos manages Future Ideas, one of the largest pan European public private platforms dedicated to the startup and venture eco system. Together with Emerce, a leading online blog, Future Ideas publishes the best European startups of the year. Within Future Ideas, he explores the future in a variety of areas. Topics range from the future of ideas to the future consumer.

Next, Jaspar is Chief Inspiration Officer for DIALOGUES INCUBATOR, the ABN AMRO Bank corporate venturing accelerator for open innovation in the financial industry. Dialogues Incubator has won many prizes & acknowledgements for their ventures and radical innovative projects. Jaspar has been co-managing this incubator since its start in 2007. Jaspar Roos is also Inspiration Catalyst at his own company Inspiration Academy, a platform to facilitate and accelerate inspiration in organizations.

Jaspar is part of numerous advisory, inspiration and executive boards, like Erasmus Medical Center Incubator, Front End of Innovation Europe and Trendwatcher of the Year Election. Jaspar is an international speaker and author on inspiration and (financial) innovation. Jaspar lives by the motto: bring back the fun.