In our first post on BuzzFeed editor Stacy Lambe’s recent Scaling Green Communicating Energy Lecture Series appearance, we covered his thoughts on how clean energy can break out of the “niche” box in a world increasingly dominated by media outlets focused on producing brief, visual, shareable content. But for cleantech communicators, how do you define the content these outlets produce?
…[It's] not necessarily news. It is things that people are just talking about and having conversations about, things that are just fun, creative but pulled together. It’s existing information that comes from someone’s experience just walking down the street and noticing a sign and they take a photo of it and they put it up. That will never go away, people will always put their experiences on the Internet. And it’s our job at Buzzfeed to pull those experiences together and put them out there in a way that people can read it and enjoy it.
Having just broken the 30 million monthly visitor mark, are outlets such as BuzzFeed the future of media?
I definitely think so. I think most people…don’t want just hard news or straight news told at them. They want something that’s…a very inviting experience that they can react to, that they can participate in. I think that’s what Buzzfeed does a good job of; it lets you have your say about the conversation but then passes it around for others to let them have their say as well.
The key ingredient of BuzzFeed’s success seems pretty clear: A keen eye for content that’s shareable, fun, visual and participatory (complete with “LOL,” “WTF” and “OMG” reader ratings).
Though BuzzFeed is expanding its original reporting into a greater number of verticals, the “aggregated content” approach Stacy described raises a question Jeff Jarvis has talked about on Buzz Machine: If everyone’s an aggregator, who generates the content? Will serious reporting on global climate disruption dry up like Midwestern corn fields, replaced by pieces such as “The 10 Most Expensive Hamburgers in the World?”
It's hard to say now, but the attention marketplace is clearly rewarding the BuzzFeeds of the media world. Maybe things will settle on a hybrid, creator-aggregator balance. What’s for sure is that cleantech needs to learn to buzz much more than it does now.