BuzzFeed Marketing Challenge

The BuzzFeed Marketing Challenge lets students learn how to “hypertarget” a desired market by publishing clickbait on BuzzFeed.com and promoting it to their target market. Students (or groups) are required to reach 1,000 views for max credit (although I have had multiple students exceed 100,000 views by being promoted by BuzzFeed’s editorial staff).

General project length: 3 weeks.

Materials:

BuzzFeed Marketing Challenge Assignment Details (modify dates, LMS, etc.)
BuzzFeed Outreach Example
Grading and Peer Evaluation
Student Strategies Form (for students to fill out about peer presentations)
The BuzzFeed Marketing Challenge (Academic publication w/ walk-through)

Tips:

  • Feel free to use, modify, or adapt the assignment sheet and materials for your own use. If you do run this in your class, I’d love to hear how it went!
  • Try it out yourself. You’ll be much more comfortable in helping students through the mechanics of publishing and it’s really not hard. Here’s a help section for how to publish on BuzzFeed. Here’s the BuzzFeed masterpiece I wrote and promoted  before making my class do it. If I can get 50K views in a few days, anyone can.
  • Remember that for every student that makes it on the BuzzFeed homepage, snags a big influencer, or gets a job offer, there will be plenty that do just OK. But tell your students to shoot for the moon and some of them will hit it. The important part is that students experience marketing for themselves and internalize lessons from their own personal case studies.
  • One caution: Students get desperate near the end if they haven’t met their traffic goal. This can result in behaviors that give student, instructor, and marketing profession a bad name. Spamming celebrities, mass e-mailing contacts, etc. Communicate up front that “desperation marketing” comes with a major social cost.

Press:

“Students Were Forced to Write BuzzFeed Click-bait For Grades. What Happened Next Will Rock Your World!” (My write-up on Mark Schaefer’s {Grow} blog)
Professors Assign Students to Post to BuzzFeed. You’ll Never Believe What Happens Next. (Chronicle of Higher Education)
Generating Buzz, One Viral Post at a Time (Jeff Larson at Brigham Young University, p.9)
Students Take Academics to BuzzFeed (Christy Ashley at University of Rhode Island)
Content Marketing Experiential Learning Project (Emory Serviss at Auburn University)
Student’s Valentines Day BuzzFeed Post Goes Viral (Adam Peruta at Syracuse University)
Honing ‘the power of the Internet’ (Rebecca Dingus at Central Michigan University)
What Happens When Students Write For BuzzFeed For A Class Project? (Matt Kushin at Shepherd University)