A year and a bit ago now, BuzzFeed set up a cooking series called ‘Tasty’. Today, it has hundreds of millions of followers - but why?
Over the last few years we’ve reached a point where the use of video is largely unavoidable for brands on social media. Web users are consuming more and more video content than ever before, with social networks geared up to provide that content quickly and easily. On Instagram or Facebook, users can scroll through their feed and have videos auto-play as they scroll.
One channel that really exemplifies the ascendance of social video is Tasty, which has followers across different platforms, though it gets most of its views and engagement through Facebook.
Last month, Proper Tasty, the UK version of the Tasty series, had 15.5 million likes on Facebook, more than the 15.2 million people who tuned in to watch England humiliatingly crash out of Euro 2016 against Iceland. Of course, this is not a direct comparison; a piece of Proper Tasty content will not reach every single one of the 15.5 million people who like the page. But England’s game against Iceland was the highest UK TV viewing figure in two years, so it is instructive that we’re dealing with similar numbers in the realm of social video.
If we look at this on a global scale, the numbers are even more impressive. The content attracts 500 million views every month, with separate channels attracting views, likes, and shares from foodies across the world. So how did Buzzfeed pull this off? And what can marketers learn from it?
BuzzFeed launched Tasty in October 2015, and pioneered a stylistic top-down shooting style with quick edits that allowed the portrayal of a recipe within 90 seconds or less. Unlike traditional cooking videos, where you have a chef discussing their steps on camera as they go, Tasty videos are heavily annotated with ingredients, and basic steps such as ‘cook on high’. It also follows a ‘show, don’t tell’ philosophy; the captions won’t instruct the viewer to ‘stir,’ as they can easily see the ingredients are being stirred.
The result of all of the above was a newly-pioneered style of food videos that’s been frequently copied since. So how did Buzzfeed get it right? As well as the short run-time, the crucial factor is the annotations. This factor in particular means that videos can be watched without sound. Because of this, consumers can watch and understand the content of a video in situations when turning on their phone’s sound would be socially unacceptable, such as public transport.
This is an important lesson for brands to learn; video content should be edited so that it can be viewed both with and without sound. If you do this, you’re increasing the chance that anyone who stumbles across your video can actually watch it. For most videos, a simple subtitling job will suffice, though depending on the resources you have available, you can use the expressive medium of typography to convey ideas.
So, you have two choices. Make videos that don’t require words to make sense, or ensure that sufficient subtitles are included in the video itself. If you don’t, the person on the bus who can’t turn their sound up will keep on scrolling.
Different content for different audiences
Aside from the style of the videos themselves, another vital element of Tasty’s success is its versatility. The original Tasty channel is US focused, using American ingredients and catering to American tastes. To increase the reach of the channel around the globe, BuzzFeed created various different channels to reflect the tastes, language, and food culture of various other countries. The UK has Proper Tasty, while Einfach Tasty and Tasty Miam cater for Germany and France respectively. Another channel – Goodful – provides healthy eating alternatives to the largely unhealthy comfort food options presented on Tasty channels.
Each of the spin-off channels is popular in its own right, each with millions of likes and followers. There’s an important lesson for marketers here. If your social video strategy is intended for audiences in multiple countries, multiple regions of the same country, or audiences who have different interests and tastes, you cannot assume that a one-size-fits-all approach will work. Instead, taking time to consider a more wide-ranging strategy can pay dividends.
What can marketers learn?
The key take away for marketers from Tasty is just how popular it is. Video is a hugely important part of any social strategy now, and it’s probably here to stay. If you’re a marketer and you’re not utilising video yet, the success of Tasty is a compelling reason to start. Sure, Tasty had the backing of media juggernaut BuzzFeed to get off the ground, but it just shows that if you have a good idea that is well presented, it will gain fans quickly.
Charlotte Gabbitas is a creative producer at creative social media agency Media Bounty, based in London Bridge.