Buzzfeed’s Tasty recipe for success

Buzzfeed’s Tasty Facebook page only launched in July 2015, but since then it has amassed 85.6 million fans – now the ninth biggest page on the entire site. Its food videos are incredibly popular, with last year’s Sliders Four Ways reaching 190,600,000 views and 5,200,000 shares.

This success has prompted the launch of many spin-off pages, with Buzzfeed pursuing more and more niche markets. Michelle Kempner, BuzzFeed’s Head of Social, attributes recent successes to the way these pages tap into personal identity – think Tasty Vegetarian for meat-free consumers and Tasty Junior for young cooks. Non-food pages include Goodful for wellness and Nifty for DIY enthusiasts, among many, many others. For Buzzfeed, these resonant identities are key to driving shares, its most important social metric and measure of engagement.

Buzzfeed is constantly creating new pages – 150 so far, with seven launched in the first three months of 2017. Small teams move from page to page, with the 75-strong team structured to adapt when audiences change. It typically takes six months for them to establish a new page, build a permanent team and be ready to sell to advertisers.


Viral videos

After experimenting with aspirational food porn, Tasty has moved towards more simple, relatable recipes that are easy to make at home. Videos see the best engagement and viewing times when footage relates directly to how to make the recipe, rather than sexy food angles designed to entice. It has also increased its output of healthy recipes.

The videos tap into current trends as well as users’ interests. With more than 50% of Buzzfeed’s visitors aged between 18 and 34, its content targets younger tastes, as well as its unique media and buying habits.

More recently, its content offering has expanded to include how-to videos and long-form content (around 12 minutes so far), showing cooking challenges and mini documentaries. It’s early days, but so far these longer videos are showing promise.


A different type of publishing

These social-only entities – with separate identities to the main brand, Buzzfeed – are experiments with building “entire editorial properties on platforms we do not own”, according to Ashley McCollum, Tasty’s General Manager. This is content that is published directly on Facebook, Pinterest, Snapchat and Instagram, rather than social aimed at driving visitors to

The content is designed specifically for each platform. On Facebook, this means short, fast-paced videos optimised for Facebook’s autoplay feature, so videos make sense without audio and can be consumed directly in the viewer’s feed. These are videos that resonate across countries and languages, though it is worth noting that Buzzfeed is opening pages targeted at a number of countries in various languages.

Facebook’s algorithm favours content that does not take people away from the social network, so dedicated posts that keep people on the page do significantly better. Social channels such as Instagram and Snapchat do not offer outward links at all, so are even more suitable for this kind of social-only publishing.

This content strategy is not without risks, however, with traditional advice being not to build your home on rented land. Unpredictable algorithm changes can see the sudden loss of huge swathes of audience, though Buzzfeed has sought to mitigate these risks by building publishing entities across multiple platforms.

Buzzfeed is going where the audience is, making money not through pageview-linked adverts on its own site, rather with native advertising which looks just like regular content. It doesn’t rely on slow, annoying adverts served by other companies around its content, rather the product is completely integrated into the post.

There is considerable interest from food and drink brands, as you would expect, but with food connected to almost every aspect of life, Buzzfeed has been able to attract advertisers from the appliance, auto, travel, home, fashion, finance and sport sectors. The combination of huge scale and engaging editorial video content is proving a very attractive one.