Have We Had Enough of the BuzzFeed Quizzes on Facebook?

BuzzFeed to Facebook

I should be living in Cape Town, South Africa and the State of Rhode Island. Yet, I’m 100 percent Southern.

If I were a Founding Father of the United States, I would have been Ben Franklin.

My true career destiny is to become a college professor.

And Mulan is the Disney princess who should be my BFF.

Such is the wisdom I’ve gleaned from just a few of the myriad quizzes that have populated my Facebook newsfeed this year, mostly from BuzzFeed, a social news and entertainment website.

What has made these mini-personality and knowledge quizzes so popular?

“We find that when people take one quiz, they want to take more,” said Melissa Rosenthal, director of creative services at BuzzFeed in a Mashable article. “People love to share things that kind of represent who they are and say something about who they are.”

Perhaps it’s the little bit of pop psychology you might deduce from quizzes like, “What Does Your First Album Say About You?”  Maybe it’s the nostalgia that these quizzes can evoke from the pop culture references in quizzes like, “How Well Do You Know Your ‘90s Boy Band Lyrics?” Or it could be the sheer absurdity and frivolity found in quizzes like, “Which Muppet Are You?”

Like most things in social media, popularity brings money, leading BuzzFeed to launch branded quizzes, which appear in a similar format to the site’s sponsored content, including the “Which Barbie Doll Are You?” quiz from “featured partner” Mattel.

However, could the popularity of these quizzes be waning?

Business Insider reported recently that BuzzFeed’s Facebook traffic was on the downswing.

In March, BuzzFeed’s article shares on Facebook exceeded 13 million, nearly 7 million more shares than its closest competitor, The Huffington Post, according to social-media data company News Whip. But in April, BuzzFeed’s article shares were down to 10 million. By May, that number had plummeted to 5.9 million.

BuzzFeed SharesIn January, all 10 of BuzzFeed’s most shared stores were quizzes. In May, none of them were, partly because BuzzFeed slowed the number of quizzes it was producing. BuzzFeed is now back to producing one big quiz a day.

“A BuzzFeed representative said the company is keeping an eye on Facebook’s traffic and pointed to some of its popular quizzes in June. In other words, BuzzFeed’s Facebook shares have ‘normalized’ after the temporary quiz craze,” according to Business Insider.

Perhaps the popularity of those BuzzFeed quizzes also is on the decline as reports have emerged about the tracking BuzzFeed is capable of doing with those quizzes. Recently, numerous media outlets have reported that BuzzFeed’s analytics code would suggest that the site has tools in place to build individualized data profiles based on users’ quiz responses, which frequently include highly personal information.

However, BuzzFeed says that isn’t what it’s doing. The site tracks user behavior on quizzes, but only after it’s been anonymized, and only in the aggregate, The Washington Post reported.

“We know how many people got Paris or prefer espresso in the ‘Which City Should You Actually Live In’ quiz, but we don’t know who they are,” says Dao Nguyen, BuzzFeed’s director of growth in the Washington Post.

In the end, the answer to the decline in the popularity of BuzzFeed’s quizzes might be a simple one. There just may be a limit to the number of quizzes we can all take – in more ways than one.


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