The Secrets of Business Insider’s Success

This post is part of the Branded Blogging Series, which features tips on how to learn from the successes of some of the most innovative and successful brand blogs.

There’s no shortage of business content on the Internet. Anyone with a computer and an E-Trade account can present themselves as the next Jim Cramer. In economic terms: there’s more supply than demand.

To stand out among this crowded field, brands have to be bold, be direct and – in the case of – be useful. Every day, this site finds the space where CNBC and the Wall Street Journal meet and makes it their own.

The strategy is simple: Be the business insider so the reader doesn’t have to be. Delivering it is complex, but here are five key principles to Business Insider’s success that brand bloggers can learn from:

News to Use

Every trading day starts with the “Top 10 Things You Need to Know Before the Opening Bell.” 
This is the core of the content strategy. It gives the readers exactly what they want: a daily blueprint on how to get rich.

These lists cover everything from the newest employment data and earnings reports to who Ben Bernanke is having lunch with and how the foreign markets performed while you were sleeping.

Edgy Mix

Always coming back to business, BI’s content flows effortlessly into politics and pop – Europe is in crisis; the stock market is 50% overvalued; and a hooker was charged with seducing an Obama cabinet official … with pictures!

This isn’t the content one would expect to get from Bloomberg. It’s much more diverse, while still geared toward the same audience – that market junkie who want the tools to day trade and gossipy talking points to with them.

Compelling Headlines

The links on BI don’t just say what’s going on in the business world, they also say why it’s awesome.

A photo gallery of the tech CEOs’ biggest yachts, would be labeled “You Have Got To See These Big Ass Boats.” Such colloquial dialogue is effective because BI’s readers aren’t insiders themselves – they’re the other 99% who wants a glimpse inside the life.

The darker headlines are written in a similar type of everyday language: “Why Living in the American Empire Isn’t All That It’s Cracked Up to Be” and “I Was Punched in the Face for My iPhone – and It Happens All the Time”
 both appeared on the homepage recently.

Tables and Charts

When BI can’t tell the story in plain language they get right to it by breaking out graphics which are just as easy to understand. After all, nothing’s more direct than a straight line. These are often used on the more complex, data-driven stories and they have the added effect of making everything seem more official-sounding.

A recent graphic was bluntly called: “Here’s What Will Happen to the World’s Top 10 Currencies if the Euro Falls.” No one really knows what would happen in that scenario, but they already have the charts so it has to be credible, right?

Simply Irresistible

Perhaps the best take-away for brand bloggers is BI’s knack for knowing its audience and how it communicates in a way that’s just for them. They know the audience can’t get enough of JP Morgan’s dashing CEO Jamie Dimon, so they cover him like other blogs cover Lady Gaga.

That’s not to say that BI pulls its punches when it comes to corporate content, as was evident in the recent article, “Top 10 Tech CEOs Who Have to be Fired.”
 But when it comes to giving readers what they want, extra props have to be given to a recent feature called “Here’s the Easiest Way to Cheat on Your Taxes.”

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