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Writing for a young target – BuzzFeed Style

Everyone loves a fancy brochure or long personal email packed with paragraphs of information. Or at least they used to. In today’s fast-paced digital age, young consumers are surfing through the internet and browsing content faster than ever before. With the attention span comparable to a goldfish, how do universities promote their programs to an audience who will barely skim the headline?

When promoting and marketing higher education the first thing to realize is that you are not selling to your peers. It’s tempting and sometimes feels mandatory to hit the message points pushed by deans or star faculty, but teenagers would rather be watching Netflix and are most comfortable communicating in Snaps and Instagram photos. So how do you reach them, or more importantly, how do you connect with them?

Well, take a tip from the largest growing media site who knows a thing or two about spreading content, BuzzFeed.

BuzzFeed has revolutionized the ways in which people get news and content. With their attention grabbing headlines, personal quizzes, lists of content and news articles written in everyday English, BuzzFeed has a global audience of over 200 million, and your target is a part of that audience.

So how can you bring the engaging mentality that BuzzFeed generates into your online marketing to become more appealing to your target?

  1. Lists, lists, lists: some of the fastest trending articles are composed of “7 reasons why…” or “10 things you love…” This idea can be applied to how you promote your school and programs through your social media outlets to catch the eye of a younger audience; such as “15 ways that your ______degree will pay off.”
  2. Headlines: Strong headlines are key. With an audience that has a click through rate faster than any audience before and with all the articles circling through the web, it is important to stand out in order to grab attention. Add questions to headlines to engage the audience, such as “Why should you attend ________?” or add emotions to engage readers, “The best reason for attending _______.”
  3. BuzzFeed has a style guide, and while theirs will be more conversational than a university’s, it is important to remember that while sounding professional, you should also sound human. Prospective students and parents alike are looking for the best programs and education they can, however, do not forget that prospective students are also looking for a home in which they hope to be comfortable and happy.

For more tips on how to be marketable and speak to a younger audience, Jon Steinberg, president of BuzzFeed, offers these tips:

  1. Keep it short.
  2. Ensure the story has a human aspect.
  3. Give people the chance to engage.
  4. And let them react.
  5. People mustn’t feel awkward sharing it.
  6. It must feel authentic.
  7. Images and lists work.
  8. The headline must be persuasive and direct.

What do you think of the BuzzFeed writing strategy to better target potential students on social media?

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