How BuzzFeed tailors its content across Europe
International expansion may be part and parcel of most publishers’ strategies, but extending brands across multiple countries, each with its own language and culture, is tough. What plays in the U.K. doesn’t necessarily resonate in Spain. BuzzFeed has been working hard at cracking the code.
Its U.K. office has exploded since its 2013 launch, with 100 editorial staff and 50 commercial. It has also launched editions in Germany (2014), France (2013) and Spain (2015). Paris has the most staff, with 12 editorial; Berlin is a close second with 10, and there are four editorial staff in Madrid. All commercial deals are sold from the U.K. for now.
But what resonates in the U.S. and the U.K. isn’t necessarily the same in Europe. Sense of humor alone varies wildly across the continent. BuzzFeed has broken through in markets like Spain by targeting specific areas of interest like LGBT and gender-related topics,. In France. the reporting team is the most established and has broken through on topics like social justice, sexual violence and gender equality.
BuzzFeed doesn’t release its own figures externally, although comScore puts its U.K. traffic at 12 million monthly uniques, France at 2.3 million, Germany at 3.2 million and Spain at 2.2 million.
BuzzFeed’s head of European growth, Luke Lewis, spoke to Digiday about what it has learned so far.
Nailing content sweet spots
BuzzFeed gained huge traction in the U.K. from the start by tapping into Britain’s self-deprecating sense of humor, which doesn’t necessarily translate well to the mainland.
“In our early days, a lot of our most popular posts were in key with British identity,” said Lewis. “That doesn’t work so much in Germany where people are less inclined to share posts about German identity.”
Nor would it work in France. There, BuzzFeed has learned that the way to many a French heart is through their stomachs.
Enter Tasty, BuzzFeed’s video food channel, which runs on Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest. Tasty Miam in France has 1 million followers, and videos that have gone over particularly well include how to bake crusty bread with Emmental cheese, which has had 15 million views.
Another popular one in France was this chocolate fondue pudding, which generated 9 million views on Facebook. “Easy Miam ties into a different sense of pride [than the British]. The French are very proud of their cuisine,” said Lewis, who added that the French are less likely to laugh at themselves. “A snarkier tone on content in France also works better than it would elsewhere.” Tasty now has pages in the U.S., U.K., Germany, Spain and Mexico. Most of its focus for its Europe editions has been on using native video to build audiences on Facebook.
“If you don’t get the balance right, you can easily offend people. You can’t centralize the content, just produce it in Los Angeles and then just translate it,” said Lewis. “It needs to be laser-focused to the people in that country. That detail really matters.” When it comes to original versus repurposed, translated content, it’s aiming for a 50-50 split, according to Lewis.
That’s the view at the agency level, too. Joseph Burtoni, social …read more