I have made it through SXSW without losing my keys, phone, wallet, backpack, computer, chargers; without being towed, lost or mauled by hordes of SXSW’ers in line for Al Gore or Nate Silver; and without very much time for blogging. Here’s an attempt to catch up:
This morning I went to a panel called “The Big Power Shift in Media” put on by Jonah Peretti, the founder and CEO of BuzzFeed. It was excellent and discussed how we—consumers of media/people bored at work—have changed the way we share and consume our news. And BuzzFeed is trying to keep up with us.
BuzzFeed is a fascinating online media outlet. Readers can find silly articles of animals making faces (like this one titled “33 Animals Who Are Extremely Disappointed In You”) right next to this article on Connecticut congressional delegation being controlled by gun control.
For example, they have a whole article of basset hounds running. Just because. (http://www.buzzfeed.com/daves4/basset-hounds-running)
For Peretti, this formula (yes, an actual formula) is designed to maximize both quality of content and the ability to promote and spread that content successfully. And it needs to work on a phone.
“If you make something and it doesn’t work on mobile even if it’s amazing it has no chance of going anywhere,” Peretti said.
He said most people spend 95 percent of their time on an idea (or in his case, an article) and then 5 percent on how to promote it. With so little time and effort put into that last part, all the hard work could go unseen. He advocated for a 50/50 percent split between work to produce a high quality product and work making sure that product is seen and shared throughout the web.
Peretti also discussed how Google, Facebook and Twitter are important aggregators in information that we either look for or are shown by our social network. Google works to connect you with information you want; Facebook and Twitter is about connecting you with friends.
And Peretti said those friends are increasingly using that connectivity to share more than what they ate for breakfast: they’re sharing memes, funny articles, serious articles, opinions, links, etc. BuzzFeed wants to be able to provide the type of media people want to spread.
He likened this to a Paris Cafe: there’s cute dogs and serious conversations.
He said this is also good news for news providers. People will probably find aggregated articles when Google-ing for information, and that article likely won’t link back or give credit to the original reporter who did the story. However, Facebook and Twitter allow that original writer to push the content out straight from the source, and it is more easily traceable through retweets and shares.
It’s also attempting to change the presence of advertisers on media websites. Instead of a big logo, 100 percent of revenue from BuzzFeed is social content marketing. He said he believes the industry can do better than banner advertisements. He wants it to be interesting to the reader, not an interruption.
Beth Brown, editor in chief