BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti Increases Reliance on Creator Content

Jonah Peretti thinks content creators have a big role in the future of media.

Jonah Peretti smiles with a microphone and sheet of paper in hand, in front of a wall with BuzzFeed logos.
BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti plans on expanding BuzzFeed’s creator program. Getty Images for BuzzFeed Inc.

Following BuzzFeed (BZFD)’s series of layoffs and shuttering its newsroom, the company is relying on social media creators to produce content for its various sites, CEO Jonah Peretti said in an interview with Axios. He expects a wave of creators and media companies to partner in the coming years, he wrote in a blog post yesterday (April 27).

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“Creators on their own get burnt out, lack community, and don’t have a way to establish their trustworthiness and relevance,” he wrote. “Media companies on their own trend toward a lack of voice and relatability. Joining forces solves both problems.”

BuzzFeed was early in adopting creators into its editorial strategy. It has relied on influencers since 2018 through its creator program, a network of employees and influencers who contribute content to BuzzFeed’s verticals. Tasty, a food and recipe site that BuzzFeed owns, is made up of 70 percent creator-generated content, according to Peretti. Its videos made by influencers receive six times more views, with a total of 1 billion views on Instagram, he said. As media companies compete for limited advertising dollars—in part due to the rise of influencer marketing—Peretti could be setting BuzzFeed up for long-term revenue gains through its creator partnerships.

BuzzFeed could also integrate creator content into HuffPost, its politics and entertainment news site, according to Peretti. HuffPost announced in December it will launch a “talent residency” for 10 content creators. In this 10-month position, influencers will create videos on topics like equality, healthcare, parenting and personal finance that will appear on the site’s social channels.

BuzzFeed’s creator program

When the program launched five years ago, employees participated by experimenting with video content on YouTube and Facebook, according to Digiday. BuzzFeed increased its production of short-form videos with the rise of TikTok and Instagram Reels.

The program, which BuzzFeed named Catalyst last year, grew from 12 creators in 2018 to more than 100 creators as of last year, it said in a statement. One-third of its Catalyst members are full-time staff, but the company also contracts freelancers, former BuzzFeed employees and celebrities, Digiday reported.

Jasmine Pak, a content creator for Tasty with 182,000 followers on Instagram, has worked in BuzzFeed’s video production since 2017. Tasty featured a video of hers yesterday on how to make ssam, or Korean lettuce wraps. It received 17,000 likes. 

Its creator-driven videos serve as advertisements for products, exposure for creators and content for BuzzFeed. The company breaks its program down into creators making content about food, culture and shopping.

BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti Increases Reliance on Creator Content