Lessons from A Shareable Content Powerhouse: Buffer

Contently, a company that knows a few things about great content described Buffer as the “poster child for startup content marketing done right.”

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High praise indeed, but well earned. Buffer is a popular social media sharing app with about 1.6 million users and $4 million revenue. Buffer has two well-paid content crafters on staff, and both the founders (Joel Gascoigne and Leo Widrich) are prolific writers. It’s also unlikely they would have won their first 100,000 users without the 150 guest articles Leo had published during the first ten months.

There’re a lot brands can learn from Buffer, especially if they want to learn how to create shareable content that generates conversions and establishes a positive brand experience with audiences. On average their blog posts get shared thousands of times, with hundreds of comments and hundreds of thousands of monthly readers.

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The Purpose of Great Content

Leo explained the thinking behind the blog as it being for, “people who could potentially interact with potential customers,” he said in a Mixergy interview. “We want to have a large audience that could be inspired, be interested by the content we produce and go away and maybe tell someone, ‘Hey, I read this great post on the Buffer blog.’ And this guy says, ‘Actually that’s cool, and also Buffer looks cool—I might use that.’”

So they shifted from selling to telling stories.

It worked. Suddenly their blogs were being shared tens of thousands of times, earning them new users and subscribers every week.

All About Relationships

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Producing a high traffic blog depends on creating as many relationships as a politician running for election. Your blog is the centre of a complex web of relationships. One of the best ways to drive traffic is through guest articles published externally as Buffer has been doing right from the early days.

As Leo explained in Search Engine Watch, “Relationships are hard to track, but are the most valuable things that you gain from guest posting. At the end of the day, if you do a lot of guest posting you simply make a lot of friends.”

Great Content Doesn’t Follow A Cookie Cutter Model

Buffer found being counter-intuitive works well for them. They have a very open culture. Everything from their salaries to terms sheets are online. Most companies, we know, can’t or don’t want to be that transparent. But they found that being different has also worked well when it comes to content.

Most people and many content and social media experts will tell you to keep digital articles short and sweet. Bitesize amounts of knowledge, easily consumed, for our ever diminishing attention spans.

Buffer found the opposite is true. They regularly have blogs that take around 7 to 10 minutes reading time. They are crammed full with facts, figures, graphics, images and tables. At times they are more like short academic essays than the McBlog’s served up by the rest of the digital media industry.

The result is a success that is self-generated, pushed forward with a blog with its momentum, audience and direct contribution to the bottom line of the company.

Attentive.ly is a a social marketing platform that drives engagement with your digital campaigns by turning your existing audience into brand advocates.

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