Should You Give into Buzz Blogging?

Over the past couple of years we have witnessed the emergence of a new style of blogging. I call it Buzz Blogging as BuzzFeed was an early adopter of the style and stands as a prominent example in this field.

I define Buzz Blogging as a style of blogging with the following characteristics:

  1. Headlines that are purposely intended to induce curiosity (i.e., click-bait);
  2. List-based posts, with the number of items included in the title;
  3. Media heavy content, with a small amount of commentary for each item;
  4. Posts that are either funny or make big promises about their usefulness (but rarely actually deliver on them).

An example of such a headline would be, “25 tips to be more productive – #4 will change your life”. Heck, who doesn’t want to be more productive or even change their life (for the better)? And now we are all curious as to what number four is. So the post gets clicks, and is shared far and wide on social media.

These lists are often compiled from Reddit threads, posting photos without much attribution in the process (or, and let’s not even go there, copyright permission from the photographer).

From the blogger’s perspective these types of posts have several obvious advantages:

  1. Buzz posts are usually quick and easy to write;
  2. They get clicked;
  3. They tend to appeal to a broad audience, including international audiences who might struggle with more text-heavy posts due to language barriers;
  4. They tend to go viral, as people mindlessly browse and share Buzz posts on Facebook, Twitter, etc;
  5. They are like potato chips: you can’t stop at just one. The typical reader of Buzz posts is in “casual surfing” mode so they generally click on similar types of posts that appear on the sidebar or at the bottom of the page.

We could argue that they’re the new “infographic” of the blogging world. However, unlike infographics, you don’t even need a designer make such posts.

It might be tempting to apply these principles to your own blog. However, before you jump on the bandwagon, I urge you to consider the negatives of such an approach:

  1. Buzz Blogging over-promises and under-delivers. The typical reader of a technical blog will notice and start to consider your blog to be “fluffy” at best, and as junk that isn’t worth their time at worst.
  2. If you are using third-party pictures without the proper license (e.g., Creative Commons) you are liable for copyright infringement. Unlike BuzzFeed who can fight or intimidate Joe Photographer, you might end up having to pay up (and rightfully so).
  3. It wastes an opportunity to connect with your readers on a deeper level, while at the same time arguably making the blogging world even shallower.

When it comes to penning great posts for today’s audience, I think that the following guidelines will give you a fair compromise and serve you well:

  1. DO write enticing headlines;
  2. DO NOT write misleading headlines or ones that promise the moon (your average post isn’t going to change most people’s lives);
  3. DO make lists;
  4. DO NOT transform your blog in a constant list fest;
  5. DO use media content (photos, videos, audio) generously;
  6. DO NOT skimp on the actual textual content of the post. Long text will always have a SEO advantage over Buzz posts which are, in reality, intended to be flash in the pan that relies on viral/social traffic.

What do you think? Will you give into the temptation of Buzz Blogging?

PS: I’m back. 🙂

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About Antonio Cangiano

Antonio Cangiano is a Software Developer and Technical Evangelist for IBM, as well as a web entrepreneur, serial blogger, and published author. He makes extra income blogging in his spare time about technical topics. He authored a definitive blogging book published by The Pragmatic Bookshelf.

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