Get Your Buzz On: A Q&A with Buzzfeed’s Eric Harris

February 10, 2014  |  Jeromy Lloyd  |  Comments

Tips for making shareable content from a content marketing trailblazer

While native advertising and content marketing have become hot topics for many brands, New York-based gossip/news site BuzzFeed has been blazing the trail in the space for some time. Last March, the site launched an ad network that put advertisers’ content (that looks and feels like BuzzFeed’s own) into its feed and spread it across a number of affiliated websites. It even buys display ads on social networks to promote the work. Eric Harris, executive vice-president of business operations at, will share what his company has learned about native and content advertising at Dx3 in Toronto on March 5, and show how marketers can work with media companies to create content that matters. Ahead of the event, Harris discussed some of his key learnings about content marketing.

Buzzfeed's Eric Harris

What are the big things marketers need to know about making quality branded content?
Whenever we create content, we’re always asking ourselves “Why share this? Is there emotional resonance?” We’re also thinking about the platforms: where and how will people share it?

Is it all about finding the mass audience, like TV?
We want to create some things that are interesting to all demographics to get the five million or 10 million views. But we often create something that’s interesting to one niche group that, because of Facebook and Twitter and the power of BuzzFeed, we’re able to get that content to the right people… like a post about things that are hard to do as a left-hander. Only 10% of the population is left -handed, but if that 10% sees this post, they’ll be super interested and share it with friends.

Does shareable mean bite-sized?
A lot of the stuff we’ve created for brands has been short and snack-able. And our lists are easy to read. But on the editorial side, we’ve done a number of longer items we call personal essays. On videos, we’re geared more towards the shorter stuff. We have a video team in L.A. that’s created hundreds of videos this year, and we’re getting 100 million views on YouTube every month.

How important is mobile to BuzzFeed?
More than half our traffic is mobile. We see 75% of our traffic from social sources—Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest—and the traffic we get from them shows an even higher percentage of mobile.

Who’s doing it right on BuzzFeed, in your opinion?
Virgin Mobile [] and Geico []. We have weekly meetings with them. They have in-house experts and agencies we work with constantly. Instead of [our work] always being around specific campaigns or events, like most brands do, we can talk about their brand aspirations and the message they want to communicate to the world and just riff on that.

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