Engineering Virality -- DC Week 2012

Upworthy
UpworthyUpworthy
Engineering Virality
           Andrew Forrest
   Audience, Analytics, & Business Manager

           Luigi Montanez
             Founding Engineer



          Wednesday, November 7, 2012
                DC Week 2012
Engineering Virality -- DC Week 2012
Engineering Virality -- DC Week 2012
Founders
Eli Pariser      Peter Koechley
Millions of unique visitors

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    April   May      June     July   August   September   October
Engineering Virality -- DC Week 2012
Not this...
This.
Engineering Virality -- DC Week 2012
Most Popular Content
Engineering Virality -- DC Week 2012
Engineering Virality -- DC Week 2012
Engineering Virality -- DC Week 2012
Engineering Virality -- DC Week 2012
Engineering Virality -- DC Week 2012
Common Threads?
The Secret Formula
    For Virality
Clickability =
  Headlines
Curiosity Gap
• Too vague, don’t want to click.
  • This is an amazing video!
• Too specific, don’t need to click.
  • Chimpanzee sniffs own butt,
    passes out from doing so.
• Just right, compelled to click.
  • Adorable chimpanzee does
    something rather unexpected.
Obama Blasts Obama's Evasive Stance
On Gay Marriage
       Obama Says Same-Sex Marriage
       Should Be Legal

            Now THIS Is Why I Voted
            For Barack Obama
We write 25
     headlines
for every piece
     of content
25 Headlines
• Start strong, then get desperate, get creative
• Explore all possible angles
• Useful outside of headlines: share text, tweet
  text, lede
Click Package
Thumbnails
Shareability
Why People Share
             Anger



                        The
                       Sweet
                       Spot
Relaxation                     Happiness




             Sadness
Engineering Virality -- DC Week 2012
Engineering Virality -- DC Week 2012
Share Buttons Are Effective
Dark Social
• URLs shared via email and IM
• Over half the traffic to established media sites
• Measured by direct traffic to content pages
• Provide an easy to copy-and-paste URL
Building An Audience
Broadcasting vs. Virality



• In theory, you only need virality.
• In practice, you need both.
Our Broadcast Network
• Facebook page
• Email list



• Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest accounts
Engineering Virality -- DC Week 2012
Engineering Virality -- DC Week 2012
Footer Signup
Engineering Virality -- DC Week 2012
Engineering Virality -- DC Week 2012
Engineering A Hit
Step 1: Content
• Impossible to know a piece of content will go
  viral.
• Find the right qualities to give it the greatest
  chance of success.
• Strong, positive emotional pull.
Engineering Virality -- DC Week 2012
Step 2: Framing
Engineering Virality -- DC Week 2012
Step 3: Initial Push




  Post to Facebook page and monitor results
Step 4: Recognize Potential




  Real-time traffic + tracking generations of sharing
Step 5: Push To Other Channels



   Email, Twitter, Tumblr, etc.
Engineering The Site
Social Networks
Engineering Virality -- DC Week 2012
Facebook Share Button
• The “Like” button isn’t effective.
• Sharing is a much stronger signal than liking.
• Do the extra work and implement a custom
  share button using the Facebook Share Dialog
  API.
Facebook Share Dialog
Open Graph API
• Learn it. Implement it fully.
• Provide title, description, url, & image meta
  tags in your HTML.
• Double-check your implementation using the
  Facebook Debugger.
• Full integration increases your viral capability.
Tweet Button: Intent
Twitter Cards
Social   Mobile
Mobile Traffic
• 29% of all traffic in April
• 31% of all traffic in October
• Highly viral content sees a higher percentage
  of mobile traffic
• The most popular mobile browser: the built-in
  browser in the Facebook iOS app
Mobile From Day One
Mobile Implementations
• Do nothing
• Responsive Design
• Mobile website (m.upworthy.com)
• Native iOS and Android apps
Scaling For Spikes
Aggressive Caching
• Static content should always be cached
• Don’t need powerful servers
• Bypass complicated web frameworks
• Use content-delivery networks
A/B Testing
• Use Optimizely to test new features
• Approach new features scientifically
  • Form a hypothesis
  • Run an experiment with a proper control
  • Trust only statistically significant results
• Building in-house experiment framework
Engineering Virality -- DC Week 2012
Questions?
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