What Happened To BuzzFeed's Facebook Traffic?

BuzzFeed, a digital media company with 130 million monthly unique visitors, gets a lot of traffic from Facebook. But recently, Facebook shares and likes seem to be drastically down for the company.

During the month of March, Buzzfeed’s article shares on Facebook exceeded 13 million, which was nearly 7 million more shares than its closest competitor, The Huffington Post, according to social media data company News Whip. Buzzfeed also pulled in 13 million Facebook shares in February 2013.

A closer look at the March numbers, and you can see BuzzFeed smoked the competition. Nearly 3,000 BuzzFeed articles produced 20.7 million likes, 13.7 million comments and 47.5 million interactions. The Huffington Post produced 6X more articles and got half BuzzFeed’s Facebook shares.

But in April, BuzzFeed’s number of shares began to decline. That month, its articles were shared only 10 million times, down from 13 million one month prior.

In May, the number of Facebook shares plummeted to 5.9 million, falling below The Huffington Post. That’s down 55% from March:

Here’s another look at the decline in Facebook shares, from February 2014 through May 2014.

Below are BuzzFeed’s other Facebook metrics, which also nosedived in May. BuzzFeed produced slightly more articles in May than in March, but its likes dropped from 20 million to 13.3 million. Comments sank from 13 million to 6.1 million, and Facebook interaction went from nearly 50 million down to 25 million.

What happened to cause BuzzFeed’s 55% decline in Facebook shares between March and May 2014?

It seems to be caused by a decrease in quizzes being produced by BuzzFeed’s staff. Liam Corcoran, News Whip’s social media editor who created the Facebook shares charts, says in January, all ten of BuzzFeed’s most-shared stories were quizzes. In May, none of them were.

“The interesting thing to note from May is that BuzzFeed’s top performing stories contained way less interactive quizzes than previous months this year,” he told Business Insider via email. “We recorded BuzzFeed starting to have serious Facebook success with these brilliantly shareable quizzes in January, when all of their top ten stories were quizzes. Quizzes like ‘What State Do You Actually Belong In?’ and ‘What Career Should You Actually Have?’ broke new sharing records in early 2014. In May, the quizzes dropped off from the most shared stories list.”

He adds, “It’s important to emphasise that BuzzFeed remains a social powerhouse, with over 25 million total interactions in May. No other publisher, apart from The Huffington Post, has ever reached that figure.”

Now BuzzFeed is back to producing a quiz per day. A BuzzFeed spokesperson says the company is keeping an eye on Facebook’s traffic and pointed to some of their popular quizzes in June. Even though Facebook shares have declined, BuzzFeed’s traffic has held steady for the past few months according to Quantcast, which directly measures the network.

Here are BuzzFeed’s unique visitors for the past year.

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