Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Spectacular Rise and Crash of Upworthy

“Here, approximately, is how Upworthy became one of the biggest sites on the internet back in 2012 and 2013: It came up with a way to package preexisting YouTube videos in a way that made them appealing to people who wanted to project certain political and social values to their Facebook friends. This makes sense! Putting a compelling headline and a hard-sell introduction on a video that might have otherwise gotten lost is just good aggregation—the content is free, the payoff is big, and the politics are coherent. What made Upworthy especially explosive was that it was repackaging not just to appeal to people but to a mostly invisible quirk of its distributor—what is sometimes referred to as Facebook’s ‘long click’ metric. Upworthy headlines compelled people to click; long YouTube videos embedded on their site compelled people to stay; Facebook received three very strong signals—clicking, sharing, and time spent—that Upworthy’s content was vigorously engaged with, and treated it as such.”

John Herrman