Two sites, both alike in dignity, in fair New York city – okay you get the idea. BuzzFeed and Nymag.com are similar for the type of content they produce – they are both popular alternatives to traditional news sites – and one of them has been in the news a lot recently for their success with tracking how and why content shared – the digital question du jour.
You’re likely reading a lot about one of those sites in the news this week – Fast Company reported on BuzzFeed’s new technology Pound, that tracks how content is shared and AdAge had a revealing interview with Lee Brown, the Chief Revenue Officer for the company, on their impressive $100 million in revenue in 2014 and their impressive accomplishment in March, 2015 of hitting 1 billion monthly video views across distribution partners.
BuzzFeed sums up their research of why people share as
…three major buckets. One, identity (“This is so me!”); two, emotional gift (“This made me LOL and I want to share it”); and three, information.
New York magazine has a different approach to creating content – with individual dedicated subject-area sites. From their site,
nymag.com: an award-winning website with original daily coverage of politics, personalities, entertainment, fashion, and food. Updated hourly, it’s a dynamic, engaging resource that offers readers commentaries on the hottest trends, shrewd dissections of breaking national and local news, runway reviews of cutting-edge fashion, the scoop on what’s cooking with the latest top chefs, guides for New York shopping, dining, nightlife, and events, and more.
vulture.com: the entertainment destination from the team behind New York magazine, is a beacon for passionate fans who want a smart, comprehensive take on the world of culture and offers around-the-clock, wall-to-wall coverage of movies, TV, music and beyond. Vulture’s writers and editors celebrate culture both high and low, because you never know where the next truly brilliant moment will come from.
thecut.com: Combining the beauty of a high-end fashion magazine with the dynamic energy of the web, The Cut explores a modern woman’s world with intelligence, sophistication, and humor…The Cut is fashion, forward.
scienceofus.com: a smart, playful window into the latest science on human behavior, with the goal of enlightening, entertaining and providing useful information that can be applied to everyday life. The site’s daily mix of columns, news stories, and visual features translates research from psychology, sociology, genetics, and other fields for a general audience.
On the other hand, here is how BuzzFeed describes themselves:
BuzzFeed is the social news and entertainment company. BuzzFeed is redefining online advertising with its social, content-driven publishing technology. BuzzFeed provides the most sharable breaking news, original reporting, entertainment, and video across the social web to its global audience of more than 200M.
One of these sites is about creating smart, compelling content that explores relevant subjects like fashion, entertainment, and food. They’re not speaking down to their audience and don’t assume that their audience can’t handle complex ideas or information not served in bite sized portions.
Take this BuzzFeed piece on the possibilities of a Friends reunion – at a grand total of about 120 words and 8 gifs – it barely qualifies as an article. An article on a potential Friends reunion on Vulture.com featured an interview with Jennifer Anniston and how she would it when they were all “super old”. For the record, that article was less than 50 words.
There’s no denying that BuzzFeed is writing the book on how content gets shared – and that is gold. But let’s not ignore that they’re in it first for the ad dollars. It’s great that their news is sharable but it’s mostly in the form of listicles. And while Lee Brown maintains that their audience is more than millennials, as someone who was born of the cusp of that demographic, I’m more content reading complete sentences rather than consuming content in gifs and listicles.
I think there is something for everyone here. Not only the core that we’ve continued to attract time and time again, but as we broaden our investigative journalism and our coverage into news, the reasons why people are coming are changing.