Published: 12 August, 2015

Translated by Penhleak Chan. Many, many thanks.

Really Everything You Have To Know About BuzzFeed ... really now!

BuzzFeed is now worth $ 850 million as reported by the New York Times. Good for BuzzFeed but not really interesting for the content producers out there. What’s interesting is the formula that has brought BuzzFeed to where it stands now. Therefore, I have decided to conduct a significant contribution to deciphering this money-making formula. To decipher the mysterious formula, I conducted an RSS interview. For a month, I have diligently recorded the RSS feed from BuzzFeed with IFTTT and Google Drive before proceeding to query the RSS data using OpenRefine. During the measurement period (07:07 - 08/08/2014) 4,000 lines of data were recorded. The data included the following information: article title, publication date and time (July 07, 2014 at 3:30 PM), article URL and image URL (if an image was used).


Below are some of the questions I wanted to investigate:
  • When are BuzzFeed articles published?
  • How often are BuzzFeed articles published?
  • Is there a recognizable pattern?
  • Can I find out more about the so-called cliche headlines?
  • What role do GIFs play in the wily BuzzFeed strategy?
Since this is an ongoing investigation, I expect more questions and answers to come.

I spy with my little eyes

To communicate the results of the first two questions, a heatmap -- which seemed to be the most appropriate visualization -- was used. BuzzFeed publishes most items outside the normal core working hours. We -- the readers -- are supplied with content once we are off work and are enjoying our leisure time. Content distribution is particularly intense from 17:00 EST until late into the night. Especially noticeable is also the inclusion of lunch break (12:00 EST) as a targeted time for content distribution.

All You Need To Know About Cliche Headlines

Cliche headlines are undoubtedly among the most discussed topics when talking about BuzzFeed. Around 32% of all the article headlines began with a numerical list (e.g. 49 Things You Probably Did not Know about Melbourne). These are then refined with a pinch of FOMO. Typically, the headlines suggest that we missed something or do not know something. Sometimes the headlines simply point out "this and that" we should know about a topic. An interactive overview below gives a good overview of the most frequently used cliche headlines by Buzzfeed.

Things You Probably Didn't Know About GIFs

This is how a GIF Porn week on BuzzFeed looks like. Approximately 20.5% (n = 665) of all items were promoted with a GIF. The following gallery shows not the whole month but only the first week of data. A presentation of all the data collected throughout the whole month would lead to significant delays in loading the GIFs. This one-week’s worth of data still includes a whopping 190 GIFs. I ask you, at this point, to be patient when loading the images ... it's worth it.