Who am I really? BuzzFeed knows.

Feb 28, 2014 admin

“Which Spice Girl Are You?” While discovering the answer to this question may not have been on my to-do list, I had to find out. I got “Posh Spice” and proved I am just one of the many victims of BuzzFeed’s recent viral trend: quizzes.

Similar to BuzzFeed’s lists, the quizzes have been shared widely across social and traditional media channels. From deciding what to eat for lunch to determining if you are ready to start a family, BuzzFeed readers answer a set of culturally driven questions to discover key insights for their life choices. The quiz entitled, “What City Should You Actually Live In?”, has received more than 20 million views. It poses a fun possibility for readers and challenges them by suggesting they are living in the wrong place. Quiz takers are then sharing results with followers and friends across social media as part of their own story.

Summer Anne Burton, Buzzfeed’s managing editorial director and the head of its quiz initiative, explained to Nieman Journalism Lab, “The quiz is kind of like the broken-down-to-its-core of what BuzzFeed is— it gives someone something that they can relate to well enough that they can share it with others. When people share things, it’s partially because of what it says about them.”

Celebrities are also taking part in this trend. Lena Dunham, creator and star of HBO series “Girls,” took BuzzFeed’s “Which Girls Character Are You?” quiz and got Marnie Michaels, not the character she plays on the show, Hannah Horvath, to the surprise of her fans. The humorous and sometimes shocking reactions generated by many of these quizzes increase their sharability for a viral internet response. Dunham’s tweet about her quiz was retweeted more than 1,000 times and numerous outlets covered her results, including The Washington Post and Slate.

Not only have the quizzes dramatically increased site traffic and engagement for BuzzFeed, they are also becoming a significant revenue driver. According to Digiday, Mattel and Spotify were some of the first BuzzFeed partners to exploit the quiz popularity and more companies are jumping on the trend to initiate “cultural conversations” with consumers.

As PR and marketing professionals, we are always researching successful content marketing strategies and the increasingly pervasive BuzzFeed quiz should be top of mind for 2014. We can identify some key takeaways from this trend to consider in future content campaigns:

  1. Take the list one step further: Lists have been a critical tool for BuzzFeed to keep content in a simple, digestible and clickable format. Quizzes incorporate the list with a set of questions, but require readers to engage with each list item, providing data on their favorite color or television program to bring them closer to the final answer. The quiz provides valuable information for a business about their online audience and motivates site visitors to share content and drive additional traffic back to the site.
  2. Nostalgia sells: Some of the most popular quizzes and lists on BuzzFeed have been a flash back to our glory days. One quiz asks “Which ‘90s Movie Soundtrack Are You?” Digging up long lost memories and reminding us of our favorite childhood pastime have been extremely effective strategies for engagement and sharing. The millennial generation, super fans of the “inside joke,” are quick to share content with friends that reference a popular cultural or experiential memory. A recent example of this tactic appeared during the Super Bowl with the cast of “Full House” reuniting for a Greek yogurt commercial. Identifying your target audience and applying appropriate nostalgic content positions your product or messaging with a happier time and improves your online interactions with customers.
  3. Embrace a little controversy: Content topics with shock value have been another successful approach for BuzzFeed. Quiz headlines that ask bold questions or suggest what you’re currently doing is wrong appeal to a reader’s curiosity. As long as the messaging and delivery is controlled, provocative content will be more likely to go viral and generate greater awareness for your brand.

As we head into the weekend, here is a quiz everyone should take: "What Kind of Drink Are You Going to Need After Work Tonight?" Happy Friday!

Topics: Content, Content Marketing, PR, Social Media

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