If your platform goes insanely viral in one country – that’s a sign of enormously great success. If your platform goes viral internationally, you are just the god of the media world. Buzzfeed, global network for news and entertainment, can teach you some valuable lessons about how to be successful on the international arena and what challenges you have to overcome.


Alrighty, why don’t we touch base on some general details about Buzzfeed?

Buzzfeed, cross-platform with the focus on news and entertainment, was founded in 2006 in New York City. Mainly focusing on listicles, GIFs, and expanding video production that are quite appealing to a variety of age groups, Buzzfeed hits more than 7 billion content views each month.

When it comes to unique visitors, over the last month, 88.5 million of people reading the content were from the US, while 90.1 million of people came from other countries around the globe. And that comes as no surprise, since Buzzfeed has 18 offices around the world, and they provide content in languages such as Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, French, German, and, of course, English.

In 2015, Buzzfeed decided to address one of the main issues regarding the international distribution of their content: how to make it relevant to people of quite distinctive mentalities and what content would go viral in significantly different places. Back then, Kate Burns, Buzzfeed’s general director for Europe, said that even though US Buzzfeed posts do go viral in Europe, they still need to be localized in order to resonate with the world’s perception of people of different mentality.

Before we jump into the details on how Buzzfeed managed it and what are the results of their great work, let’s discuss their “universal” content.


What Buzzfeed content is appealing to people from any corner of the world?

Adjusting your platform to a specific country is a big load of work, but some companies have done it quite successfully; for instance, look at the Pinterest’s strategies to move from the US business to the UK.

But, first of all, let’s talk about the content that is relevant to each human being no matter what country they are from, the content which resonates with everyone.

Luke Lewis, Buzzfeed’s head of European growth, recently spoke to Digiday about it. He said that topics such as Gender Equality, LGBT rights, some popular TV shows or movies, and human body work everywhere with no exception. For instance, the post about the Stanford’s victim of rape was read in 6 languages and received much of attention since it really resonated with global perception of sexual assaults not only in the US, but also in Europe.


Jumping from one place to another, how does Buzzfeed vary their content?

Buzzfeed. International Content Distribution

One of the most important things is to know what you are posting and where you are posting it. Luke Lewis said that simply translating a piece of content produced in Los Angeles and then distributing it around the world will just lead to nowhere.

Sense of humor varies from mentality to mentality. For instance, the Onion, American digital media company, which is famous for its humorous branded content, gets most of its traffic from the US rather than from the other parts of the world. The same would apply to the Buzzfeed, if they didn’t find a way to localize their posts.

For example, UK sense of humor doesn’t really resonate with the German one, because in Britain people are more likely to enjoy the posts about their self-identity, while in Germany people would simply don’t get it. Also, in Germany people usually go online to learn something new rather than watch cute and funny GIFs of kittens like in the UK.

Furthermore, in France, people’s hearts belong to food more than anywhere else. Buzzfeed’s video channel, Tasty Miam went viral in France generating 1 million followers. A video about baking crusty bread with Emmental cheese got 15 million views. Luke Lewis said that the French are really proud of their cuisine.

Therefore, key to success is understanding what people want and how they want it. Creating posts based on people’s values and attitudes is essential for the content companies that are thirsty for real success. So, the main strategy here is to find the right balance, otherwise the content can offend people of different mentality. Buzzfeed seems to get it right by generating more and more traffic every month.

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