A semi-alarming predicament: whenever I get on the internet, even if the goal is to pay a bill or respond to an e-mail, I enter some wormhole and realize I’ve just been perusing Buzzfeed for the past twenty minutes. Every. Time. How does this happen? Buzzfeed is ranked the 40th most visited site in the U.S., and in the past couple years has seen a substantial growth in traffic. Here are six reasons why Buzzfeed has become an addiction for me, and probably you, too:
1. Audience: Buzzfeed writers successfully reach a broad audience (basically, everyone who uses the internet). No one gets left out: for every post geared toward females, there is a corresponding post for males. If there are “27 Problems Only Introverts Will Understand,” there’s also “25 Frustrating Things About Being an Extrovert.” Most websites tend to have a narrower target audience, but the idea here is understanding who they are and what they want to read about.
2. Content: Pleasing an enormous demographic requires generating some serious amounts of content. Generally, posts lean towards humor (after all, laughter unites), but social issues are also a powerful presence. Lately, quizzes are trending, such as “Which Power Ranger Are You,” “What State Should You Really Live In,” and “What Classical Author is Your Soulmate?” (apparently, H.D. Thoreau and I make a great couple). Most seem ridiculous, but then, one can’t help but wonder…really, though, what kind of cereal am I? At the end, results can be shared with Facebook friends or followers on Twitter, encouraging even more people to discover their cereal identities.
3. Images: Buzzfeed nails visual content, from the homepage to the actual post. Images on the homepage tend to be recognizable in the pop culture arena, which grabs attention and compels readers to check out the related post. Within the post itself, images and GIFs are used to enhance the content (although, once in awhile there’s something random thrown in).
4. Layout: There’s a lot going on on the Buzzfeed homepage, but ultimately it is organized in a way that doesn’t totally overwhelm users. The color scheme is simple, there’s a menu with clear categories, and a sidebar with most visited posts and links to other sites. For a site with crazy amounts of content, everything fits in a way that isn’t visually offensive. In other words, we tend to appreciate simplicity, and Buzzfeed makes mindless browsing easy.
5. Updates: New posts come in constantly. Last September, during an afternoon spent staring into the computer screen, a new post popped up entitled, “This is Probably the Most Important Song Ever Written.” Skeptical, I watched the video, which was Ylvis’ “What Does the Fox Say?” This was about a week before the song dominated my Facebook newsfeed. Other sites may not require this constant influx of new information, but relevance is key.
6. Sharing Other Sites: On the homepage, Buzzfeed has links to other websites, and often features content from other places, including links to the original post. In other words, Buzzfeed recognizes information its audience will enjoy, shares it, and most importantly, gives credit to these outside sources.
I’ve finally come to terms with the inescapable hold Buzzfeed has on my internet productivity. And my apparent penchant for dudes that live in the woods.