Okay, that didn’t happen. But as two heavy-hitting content sites best known for their link bait headlines and pervasiveness, they did both talk about their viral science philosophies at Social Media Week in New York.
Jonah Peretti and Eli Pariser agree the human self is complex and our interests are varied. As Peretti would frame it, BuzzFeed lets you pet the dog while reading the New York Times.
Pariser points to the aspirational self (the one that brags about not having a TV) and the behavioral self (the one that shame-eats a Doritos Locos Taco), explaining that, “A good media company addresses both and measures both.”
On BuzzFeed, the distinction between the fun quiz and the serious story is apparent. On Upworthy, they blend the two together by packaging the serious issues into digestible and entertaining bits.
As a nonprofit content marketer, Upworthy is the dream I dared to dream. Finally, a model for how we can tell a story about a public health crisis, starving children, and #1 health killers without it feeling like we’re serving up a whole bowl of broccoli. What’s more is Upworthy has the ability to reach those who never eat broccoli.
Once Upworthy gets the vegetables in by acting like the spoon is a choo-choo train, people feel nourished. This changes the notion that to be successful you have to give the people what they want and the public is at fault for wanting only Grumpy Cat. Upworthy’s data shows that people are willing to read about the important issues as long as it’s packaged in a certain way.
Upworthy is showing even more faith in humanity by rolling out their new feature that allows their community to vote on content. Perhaps it’s because I’m most like Sybil from Downtown Abbey, but Upworthy makes me feel very optimistic about the future.
Amanda Lehner is a Digital Strategist @HelpsGood based in NYC.