Buzzfeed News is a Facebook page dedicated to reporting news to the general public, especially Buzzfeed fans. The page launched in 2013 and has more than 2 million likes and more than 3 million followers.
In the past three months, the greatest trending topic on Buzzfeed News’ page was a video episode from Queer Vision, a FB Watch show by Buzzfeed LGBT.
Confused yet?? Let us break it down for you.
“Nathan Mathis Is Fighting For Rights His Daughter Never Had” was posted on July 31, 2018. The video originally aired on Queer Vision, a Facebook watch show that falls under the BuzzFeed LGBT Facebook page. The show puts emphasis on trending news and culture pieces about the LGBTQ+ community.
The Buzzfeed News Facebook page shared this particular episode of Queer Vision, and received massive interaction.
Buzzfeed LGBT was founded in 2012. Their mission is to inform people about queer news. It has more than 850 thousand likes, and more than 870 followers. It’s interesting to note that this Facebook page existed prior to that of Buzzfeed News. This goes to show the importance/relevance of LGBT News to the Buzzfeed audience, and helps begin to explain why the post was so viral, which will we get more into later.
What’s the post about?
Presented in a documentary style, “Nathan Mathis Is Fighting For Rights His Daughter Never Had” is a video that tells the story of Nathan Mathis, whose daughter committed suicide. Mathis made it his life goal to fight for the LGBT rights his daughter never had. The video was produced after the story of Mathis blew up and was featured on talk shows like The View and The Ellen Show. The video discusses the mental health toll of loved ones following suicide and Mathis’s goal to spread awareness.
The video is subtitled word for word in BuzzFeed’s clean Proxima Nova typeface. This is optimized for the Facebook user’s feed because the video will autoplay and viewers will be able to understand the video even if they aren’t listening with sound. This use of subtitles hooks viewers, especially because the video opens with Nathan Mathis using bold words like “pervert” and “gay”.
The thumbnail is also optimized for the platform with a split screen showing a young Patti Sue and her aged father. When touching on the topic of suicide, showing a childhood photo of the deceased tugs right at a viewer’s emotional heart strings. This is also used in contrast to her older, worn father. Her father is also typed as a “southern dad” in the video description and Nathan Mathis’s photo in this thumbnail captures that image.
The run time for the entire video is 4:02, which is optimized for the Facebook platform. As Emma Tyler, Senior Social Media Strategist at BuzzFeed, explained to the NH BuzzFeed class, videos hoping to make money off things like midroll ads only make money if they are over 3 minutes. This video is is long enough to qualify for ad money but not too long that viewers click off the video early.
Finally, the narrative format of this video was also important to its success. Tyler also told the class that the most successful stories often have a strong beginning, middle and end to push viewers through the entire run time, especially if they are read-along style. The narrative format of this video grabs the attention of viewers and keeps them emotionally invested in Nathan Mathis.
Breaking Down The Virality
As BuzzFeed News was only established as a separate brand July 2018, we chose to look at over-performing posts from the last three months (Ha, 2018). Through our CrowdTangle search, we identified the Nathan Mathis video, posted on the BuzzFeed News Facebook page on July 31st, as the top performer (CrowdTangle, 2018).
Sharing was the top interaction Facebook users had with this post and accounted for its impressive virality of almost 16M views. However if we measured virality through Facebook reactions and comments, this post would perform the same as, if not significantly less than others in the same time frame (CrowdTangle, 2018).
Ha, A. (2018, July 18). BuzzFeed launches a new website for its real journalism. Retrieved October 27, 2018, from https://techcrunch.com/2018/07/18/buzzfeed-news/
Hailey Rene, Josie Hannum, Stefanie Grafstein, Ariel Rabinowitz