BuzzFeed is the first “true social news organization,” said Jonah Peretti, founder and CEO. “All of our growth has come from making use of the social web,” he added, speaking at a SXSW session called The Big Power Shift in Media.
Founded in 2006, BuzzFeed now has more than 40 million unique visitors a month and has recently been "unintentionally profitable." Much of its success comes from its ability to create shareable content.
“I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how ideas spread,” Peretti said. You could have a huge marketing budget, but if nobody wants to share your content and ideas then it’s not working.
BuzzFeed targets the "bored-at-work" network to share its content. There are “millions of bored office workers,” he said, who blog, instant message, and use Facebook and Twitter all day. This group is bigger than any traditional major news network, he added, and these are the people who make things go viral.
These have been joined by the "bored-in-line" crowd. “I used to hate mobile,” Peretti said, as it used to be impossible to share via mobile devices. But now, half of Facebook traffic comes from mobile, and 40 percent of BuzzFeed traffic, and mobile is becoming a key driver in what makes things go viral. “You can’t go viral if your content can’t be viewed and shared on the mobile web.”