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How BuzzFeed makes viral hits in four easy steps


Stashed in: Memes!, Reddit!, Influence!, Growth Hacks!, Copying, Montage, BuzzFeed!, Restore your faith in humanity., Viral Content

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It's amazing how internet companies can figure out exactly what you want to see, and then serve it up to you! Do you feel served... or played?

Buzzfeed does see this as a game:

1. They don't create the content; they curate it, often from Reddit, Imgur, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Google image search.

2. They repackage ishoo it looks pretty and the source is not obvious.

3. They shamelessly manipulate people's emotions:

"Last Wednesday, BuzzFeed’s Jack Shepherd published an irresistible piece called, “21 Pictures That Will Restore Your Faith in Humanity.” The post is exactly as advertised, a rundown of photos of people being more wonderful than you’d expect—rescuing animals from danger, helping strangers in need, expressing tolerance for others, and all manner of additional good stuff. It became an instant hit on Reddit, Twitter, and especially Facebook, where it has earned more than 2 million Likes. So far, the post has attracted more than 7 million views, and as of Tuesday morning, its traffic shows no sign of abating."

I just re-read this article and discovered page 2.

BuzzFeed really is a huge ripoff of Reddit:

But what about the 14th image, the one that doesn’t use the phrase “one job” in its title? It turns out that was included in a compilation of “one job” images created by Reddit user BarelyMexican. That post, which went up a month ago, received 453,000 views and includes seven of the 14 images BuzzFeed uses. Every one of BuzzFeed’s “one job” images appeared on Reddit first, but neither Reddit nor its users (like BarelyMexican) are credited in the piece.

Once you understand how central Reddit is to BuzzFeed, it’s like spotting the wizard behind the curtain. Whenever you see a popular BuzzFeed post, search Reddit, and all will be revealed. A post called “30 Very Sound Pieces of Advice,” full of photos showing amusing life lessons? You’ll find many of its pictures by searching Reddit for “advice,” “sound advice,” “best advice,” and other such phrases. (You can complete your search by looking at Google Images and IMGur, too.) How about “19 Things That Will Drive Your OCD Self Insane”? Search for phrases involving “OCD.” “Fourteen of the Most Fabulous Animals in the Kingdom”—amazing pictures of animals striking glam poses? Just search the Web for “Bitch, I’m Fabulous,” a well-known Web meme, with particular animals (i.e., here’s a fabulous pigeon, a fabulous gorilla, and a fabulous llama). “Thirty-three Animals Who Are Extremely Disappointed in You”? That mines an old meme, one that’s easy to find all over the Web—including in a BuzzFeed post from last year, “12 Extremely Disappointed Animals.”

Copying is the most sincere form of flattery.

To sum up: "The secret to its viral success is to find stuff that’s already a minor viral success and make it better. Repeat the process enough, and you’re bound to get a few mega-hits. That’s not genius. It’s a machine."

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