BuzzFeed has had a goal for the past year: Grow its Latino audience. Its mix of content did better among young whites than non-whites, and it was showing up in its traffic. The site decided to take action, and a year later, it’s seen results — results that could have lessons for others hoping to reach an underserved demographic group.
Its main method was a simple one: publishing more content that’s relevant to that audience, editor Ben Smith said today in a memo to BuzzFeed’s staff. In 2014, BuzzFeed published 112 posts under the “Latino” tag, an increase from 15 posts in 2013.
BuzzFeed’s coverage has spanned from news reports on immigration policy and the situation on the U.S.–Mexico border to its traditional turf of lists such as 20 Emojis All Latinos Could Use and 32 Sweet Mexican Treats That You Might Have Forgotten About.
“Our lists and quizzes, many of them focused on what it’s like to live one life or another, had mostly not been about growing up or being Latino,” Smith wrote. “Our news reporting hadn’t had a particularly aggressive focus on one major issue of interest to U.S. Hispanics, immigration, or on the many other great stories about the broad group that now represents about 1 in 5 Americans in their twenties. Our nascent lifestyle coverage similarly had its attention elsewhere.”
The site’s Latino audience is now proportionally larger than its white audience, according to Quantcast data it released along with the memo. Though BuzzFeed didn’t include specific numbers, the site says its Latino audience is now overindexed at 115 (with 100 representing the overall U.S. Internet population) compared to 73 a year earlier.
Smith added that even the posts meant to speak to a certain identity, like “19 Things Your Mexican Mom Hated Hearing From You,” drew audiences beyond their intended target.
“That’s because most of our readers have diverse groups of friends and followers on the social web,” he wrote. “And more broadly, news stories that used to be considered in some way niche — marriage, immigration, and conflict between police and black communities — are perhaps the three biggest domestic stories of the last three years, whatever the audience.”
Smith credited Adrian Carrasquillo, who was promoted to editor of BuzzFeed’s Latino coverage last May, as leading the push to broaden the sites coverage of Hispanic issues. BuzzFeed’s editorial staff is 9.8 percent Hispanic, according to an internal study released last October.
In an interview last fall at the Nieman Foundation, Shani Hilton, BuzzFeed’s executive editor for news, told my colleague Caroline O’Donovan that BuzzFeed would continue to make diverse hiring practices a priority as a means to ensure its content reflected its audience. “The fun thing has been in practice that means that the more diversity that you get in your office, the easier it is to get more diversity, because you hire people, you trust them,” she said.