Lessons From Buzzfeed: The Science of Sharing

More

BIIgnition.pngNEW YORK -- Cute kitten celebrity Lady Gaga sex tape. Those words won't necessarily help your blog become the most talked about thing since penicillin -- but they may help.

The logic of "going viral" seems fairly straightforward for many media companies: create the basest, most eye-catching content with a few Google-friendly keywords, and boom -- instant Internet success. But Jonah Peretti of Buzzfeed, the popular website that combines viral detection technology with editorial sensibility, believes the science of sharing isn't that simple. After nearly a decade of working everywhere from political campaigns to market research, Buzzfeed came out of a simple question: "How do ideas spread?"

Obviously, intellectual porn is usually trumped by real (or close to real) porn. But the human mind isn't a uniform filter, especially on the Web, and sharing behavior differs across Google, Twitter and Facebook.

"Nobody can see what you search on Google, so popular search trends tend to reflect the more reptilian brain in people, Peretti said. "Celebrity gossip, sex, hair transplants ... nobody tweets about this stuff."

Facebook and Twitter are more toned down. Since you know your friends and family will see what you post on Facebook, the majority of viral content is based around humor, political identity, or causes. "It's the difference between 'this is what I actually like' and 'this is something that I think will make me look like a good guy,'" Peretti said. "This goes for political and social causes too." Twitter shares the same characteristics of Facebook, but given its interactivity, tends to attract a more techie, culturally-savvy audience.

The result is something of an online schizophrenia; as opposed to having the same coherent identity as the online world of social sharing, viral sharing actually exposes the cracks and inconsistencies of our online identities.

More from Business Insider's IGNITION: Future of Media conference:

Jump to comments
Presented by

Jared Keller is a former associate editor for The Atlantic and The Atlantic Wire and has also written for Lapham's Quarterly's Deja Vu blog, National Journal's The Hotline, Boston's Weekly Dig, and Preservation magazine. 

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

The Time JFK Called the Air Force to Complain About a 'Silly Bastard'

51 years ago, President John F. Kennedy made a very angry phone call.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Technology

Just In