September 27, 2013

NewsWhip | TheWrap | Joy Mayer

NewsWhip has a new tool for publishers befuddled by the move from headlines optimized for search engines toward those optimized for sharing.

Its “Clickbait Headline Generator” quickly gives you content like “Is Netflix CEO Reed Hastings getting high with Vladimir Putin?” and “Is John Kerry teasing Ben Affleck at your parents’ place?” Throw some pictures under them, fire up Chartbeat and watch your Christmas bonus grow!

The service is not only “definitely a robot, it’s also guaranteed not to be an art project,” Tom Lowe writes, referring to the disappointment experienced by a certain segment of Internet elites when they found out the @Horse_ebooks Twitter account was the latter.

The headlines are funny, but the imperative behind such story packaging is deadly serious for publishers. BuzzFeed was the top publisher on Facebook in August 2013.

BuzzFeed, Upworthy and The Huffington Post “focused on publishing share-friendly content, and getting it shared,” Paul Quigley writes in NewsWhip’s post about August data. The most shared story on Facebook that month wasn’t on BuzzFeed, but it sings from the same songbook as much of that site’s content: A HuffPost story called “23 Signs You’re Secretly An Introvert.”

“There’s gold in getting them introverts sharing,” Quigley writes.

BuzzFeed was only the sixth-biggest publisher on Twitter. The Top 3 on that service, in order: The BBC, Mashable and The New York Times.

Journalists wondering about what kind of content will “work” on social media should first ask themselves “what ‘working’ means to your newsroom, or this specific platform, or this specific post/story,” Joy Mayer writes.

When my newsroom posts the score of a Mizzou football game (no link, just the score), we get tons of likes or retweets. The goal of that post is clearly completely different than what we hope will happen when we post a photo gallery from the game (when we’re hoping for clicks and shares). Or when we post an invitation for people to predict the score (when we’re hoping for comments).

BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti has described Facebook and his organization as “very complementary companies.” He told The Wall Street Journal’s Keach Hagey last year: “They own the railroad tracks, we drive the trains.”

Related: No new TV viewers or newspaper subscribers are being born, BuzzFeed president says | 5 reasons people share news and how you can get them to share yours | Want your work to be shared? Make readers feel something.

Support high-integrity, independent journalism that serves democracy. Make a gift to Poynter today. The Poynter Institute is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, and your gift helps us make good journalism better.
Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City…
Andrew Beaujon

More News

Back to News