BuzzFeed CEO: 'There's a way to internationalize that didn't exist before'

byMargaret Looney
Feb 6, 2014 in Social Media

Socially driven site BuzzFeed is growing globally, and it has the global reach of social media to thank for its international potential.

"There's a way to internationalize that didn't exist before," said CEO Jonah Peretti in a webcast conversation with Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith.

"Facebook and Twitter are already so global, and that's a big part of BuzzFeed's distribution - people sharing our content on social platforms," Peretti said. "This means we can expand to other countries."

BuzzFeed is using a two-pronged approach to expand globally. "Some of web culture is kind of universal, and a lot is very specific to identities, languages and media cultures," Smith said.

BuzzFeed has reporters based around the world in countries including Egypt, the Ukraine and Turkey. They cover pressing topics in English from an international perspective for a U.S. audience.

But BuzzFeed is also setting up international teams to write for regional audiences. Currently, there are five editions targeting a non-U.S. audience. Three target specific countries (Australia, Brazil and the UK), while French and Spanish versions appeal to speakers of those languages in multiple countries.

Peretti outlined the strategy for breaking into a new market. It starts with eyeing countries where BuzzFeed already has a solid base of readers, who either view the content in English or interact heavily with the more visual posts.

For the sites outside the U.S., BuzzFeed begins by translating content, then brings in an "exploratory team" to write content specifically for that region and builds a business around it.

That's the strategy BuzzFeed used for its UK site, which is already bringing in more than 10 million unique visitors per month. Peretti notes that market is just one-fifth the size of the U.S. market.

Next up: BuzzFeed Foreign Editor Miriam Elder told Nieman Lab she hopes the site can expand to Latin America and Asia, especially China.

IJNet Editorial Assistant Margaret Looney writes about the latest media trends, reporting tools and journalism resources.

Image CC-licensed on Flickr via BohemianDolls.