So, why can’t users get enough of Buzzfeed’s take on food? More importantly, why are other brands (even in industries other than FMCG) falling over themselves to get involved?
I recently heard Ashley McCollum, general manager at Buzzfeed Tasty, speak about this topic at Millennial 20/20. Here are a few key takeaways.
Adapting to the changing nature of food and social
When Buzzfeed Tasty first began, food content on the internet was vastly different, being more about food porn and Pinterest-style imagery than everyday recipe videos. Since then, consumer interest has shifted towards fast and simple how-to’s, prioritising the contrasting verticals of comfort and health.
Content relating to these trends tend to be the most relatable and easy to replicate at home. In fact, according to Ashley, 50% of the audience has at some point made a Tasty recipe themselves. The most common type of comment is also a user tagging family or friends and saying ‘we should make this at the weekend’.
This accessibility has undoubtedly been a huge factor in Buzzfeed’s success. And be it pizza cones or grow-your-own herbs – it is the publisher’s ability to tap into current trends and user interests that has helped audience figures to sky-rocket.
The relatable nature of food also links back to why Tasty started, first being launched as an experiment to crack Facebook video.
The fact that it has generated international interest is a happy accident. But that’s the beauty of it, of course, with videos resonating regardless of language or location. The content disrupts the inaccessiblity of restaurants and high-end chefs, with videos that are short, relatable and easy-to-follow being watched in home kitchens around the world.
So while they might have started out as part of an experiment, Buzzfeed’s spin-off channels have gone on contribute to the brand’s global audience growth. Proper Tasty might be a local channel, but content created for the platform has been replicated in other European markets. Meanwhile, Proper Tasty itself has also seen an increase in views for videos that celebrate global cuisine.
Loyalty in a crowded marketplace
More brands are now working on sponsored content with Buzzfeed on the basis of its growth – even choosing Tasty over other established industry publishers like the Food Network. Reach and scale is just one reason, of course. Engagement is perhaps the biggest driver.
With content that’s tailor-made for Facebook – where features like auto-play and subtitles enable users to watch directly from their feed – comments and views are typically high.
Take the below video of a cheese fondue bowl, for example, which has had 12m views and over 43,000 shares since it was published.
As Ashley pointed out, it is also Buzzfeed’s existing brand reputation that has generated such a large and loyal audience. Users can spot a Buzzfeed copycat a mile off, with similar formats coming across as unoriginal as a result.
Connection between food and lifestyle
While access to Tasty’s audience undoubtedly holds appeal, it’s easy to assume that only FMCG brands would naturally align with the theme and style of its content. This is not the case. In fact, auto, finance and sports are growing categories for Tasty and Proper Tasty, with brands across all industries showing interest in producing partnered content related to the core topic.
Again, this boils down to the fact that food is an intrinsic part of all aspects of life, extending out of the kitchen and into other areas such as travel, home, and even fashion (demonstrated by the below image from ASOS).
Proof is in the pudding
So, what kind of success are brands seeing with Buzzfeed Tasty? Ashley highlighted the example of Oster Grill, whose minute-long video featuring a jalapeño and cheese-stuffed hamburger generated 20m views over the course of a single weekend.
As a result of this, the brand requested that Buzzfeed pull the plug on its planned follow-up videos. The reason being that they had completely sold out of stock and were unable to meet customer demand.
Success stories aside, it is also clear that Buzzfeed does not rest on its laurels. As a data-driven company it continuously uses data science to drive and inform decision-making.
It recently partnered with Quaker Oats on a campaign that had already launched in the US. However, from looking at metrics from across the pond, it recognised that users were switching off during beauty shots – i.e. moments with zero context or information about how to actually make the oats.
By making the video more utility-driven, the UK version ended up performing 20 times better than the US campaign, proving that even the biggest brands can benefit from a test and learn approach.
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