Social Media Week NY Highlights: Key Takeaways from the CEO’s of BuzzFeed & Upworthy

By: Sofie De Beule

February 20, 2014

eli pariser
jonah peretti

Social Media Week New York is reaching its fourth day. Many great, inspirational thought leaders in the social business have already claimed their place in the spotlights on one of SMW NY’s 3 stages. Our Engagor team is, of course, also present this week and ready to be inspired and connect with eager and innovative minds in social.

As already mentioned in the beginning of this week, the CEO’s of two of the top buzzing social companies, Upworthy and BuzzFeed, took the stage during Social Media Week NY. And how! Let’s take a look at some of their key insights.

BuzzFeed Commands the “Connectedness” Throne

BuzzFeed CEO, Jonah Peretti, touched on some really important points focusing entirely on how to appease your social audience. Every marketer should dedicate their efforts to maximizing the understanding of their target audience by focusing on a long-term strategy instead of traffic or volume. He explained to us something we strongly believe in, but many companies simply fail to apply:

Reach is not important, it’s about touching and reaching the right number.

Peretti’s vision is to continually evolve and improve the process. With regards to advertising, for example, BuzzFeed doesn’t use ads, but instead only employs featured content. To manage the tangible tension between ads and content, BuzzFeed also applies a clear separation between those teams.

BuzzFeed clearly commands the “connectedness” throne bringing people together. Their people-centric approach allows them to focus on some of the world’s biggest challenges. It brings new antidotes to the table in a world filled with anxiety due to the speed in which technology evolves. It’s also Engagor’s greatest love and passion to help establish that powerful connection between a brand and its audience.

Upworthy Caters to People “Who Haven’t Given Up on the World”

Upworthy’s CEO, Eli Pariser, made it clear from the start by using a bold statement that their goal is to “provide content to people who haven’t given up on the world”. We discovered these 3 key points, putting their entire focus on their audience, in his memorable SMW speech:

  • Quality is a Lot More Important Than Quantity

In December, Upworthy posted 246 articles with clear, compelling headlines. Yahoo, for example, published a whopping 14.000 articles in that same month. Very similar to BuzzFeed’s approach, Upworthy speaks to actual people. They believe it’s impossible to make content go ‘viral’ if people don’t love it. Therefore, they make sure their content meets at least this standard:

Give people content they want to bring out to their friends.

  • Listening With a Heart is Key

From the start of Engagor, we continually started implementing valuable feedback from our own users. However, Upworthy believes this is often ignored and companies focus too much on behavioral statistics and numbers.

We can’t forget that people still have more than one self. They are not only interested in the next Justin Bieber escapade, but they also want to get updates on what is going on in Afghanistan. Upworthy, therefore, focuses on keeping things hip yet relevant with a fresh spin for a culture caught between today’s juiciest gossip and tomorrow’s social issues.

For a world that indulges all too often in the instant gratification of tabloid headlines, Upworthy provides content that makes us look at the world around us with new eyes.

  • Foster Engagement and Bring It Into the World

People clearly do care about issues like the environment, gender inequality, race, bullying, etc. With over 20 million unique visitors per week, this is a small peek at what the US cares about in the most Upworthy topics of 2013:

Upworthy clearly makes it a mission to become big in the world because CEO Pariser thinks it’s the only way to change the world. Therefore, Upworthy works with whatever connects to people and uses straightforward technology, similar to Engagor, to find out “where people are“. To initiate strong social change, Upworthy looks for the stories that are perhaps neglected but have true meaning.

What is your opinion on BuzzFeed and Upworthy?