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Mormons, Mullets,

and Maniacs
New York Viral Media Meetup
August 12, 2010
Jonah Peretti
the viral web in realtime

The Big Question


• How can you spread your ideas and
make them “go viral” on the web?
• I have been answering this question
by creating media, working on
political campaigns, starting
companies, and collaborating on
research
• In the next 15 minutes, I will share
everything I have learned in the past
10 years
Key Concept:
The Bored At Work Network
• Millions of bored office workers blog,
Tweet, Facebook, and IM all day
• The BWN is bigger than the BBC,
CNN, or any traditional media network
• A decentralized network that enables
media to “go viral” if ordinary people
enjoy sharing it
The Old Broadcast Model

Broadcasters and advertisers


decide what is popular…
The New Networked Model

BWN decides
what is popular
the viral web in realtime

Strategy #1:
Viral Media
• Create media that is perfect for the
Bored at Work Network
• Key is to make something that is easy
to understand, easy to share, and
includes a social imperative
• A few examples of things I have
made...
Nike “Sweatshop” Email
• Ordered a pair of Nikes customized
with the word “sweatshop”
• Email forward led to a viral cascade
• People dedicate their life to fighting
for human rights whereas I did not
even know much about the sweatshop
issue, but....
the viral web in realtime
the viral web in realtime
The Rejection Line
BlackPeopleLoveUs.com
the viral web in realtime
Hanging Out With Close
the viral web in realtime

Friends!

OMG! Good Morning


America with Chelsea
the viral web in realtime

Limiting Factor: Most Things


Are Not Viral
• It is hard to make viral media
especially for serious topics
• You never know in advance which
ideas will work
• You can drastically increase your
chances for success if you try lots of
things and bring the best forward
the viral web in realtime

#2: The Mullet Strategy

Business
upfront,
party in
the back!!!
Business
Upfront
the viral web in realtime

Party In The Back!!


Jonah Peretti
jonah@buzzfeed.com

Add, Test, Tweak, Optimize, Remove Stories In Real Time


the viral web in realtime

Strategy #3:
Big Seed Marketing
• Buy the seed, get the viral for free
• Combine art and science to maximize
organic viral distribution
• Big seed makes viral advertising
repeatable for the first time
ViralRank

R=ßz
• ViralRank measures the “social reproduction
rate” of media

• It is the key metric to show what is getting


shared and linked on the social, realtime web
The Viral Multiplier Effect

• The higher the value of


R, the bigger the
multiplier effect
R>1 R=1

• Most people focus on


R > 1 but they are rare
and unpredictable

• Optimizing R values R<1

less than 1 is what will


transform the
advertising industry
Time
BuzzFeed Ads:
Viral Optimization
Viral R = 0.1
Content

Viral R = 0.3
Promotion Content

Viral R = 0.8
Content

We test R values in realtime and promote content with a


higher rank. BuzzFeed editors, users, and advertisers can
try lots of ideas and the platform maximizes distribution
Viral Units Available
Story Units Thumbnail Units
Header

Story Unit 1

Related Content

PARTNER

Story Unit 2

PARTNER

Partner Area
Viral Dashboard

Manage
and
Maximize
Viral Lift
Who accelerates sharing with BuzzFeed?
Strategy #4:
MANIACS!!!!!!!
• The web is ruled by maniacs like Perez
Hilton, Ron Paul zealots, Apple fan
boys, blog commenters, animal lovers,
and other crazy people
• Content is more viral if it helps people
fully express their personality
disorders
• Couch potatoes don’t matter on the
web, crazy people do
the viral web in realtime

Histrionic / Narcissistic
Personality Disorder

Key to success for FB,


blogs,YouTube, twitter
Obsessive-Compulsive
the viral web in realtime

Personality Disorder

Key to success for


Wikipedia, online games, comments
the viral web in realtime

Which Is Better:
Judaism or Mormonism?
the viral web in realtime

Performance Metrics
Jews
Mormons
15000000

11250000

7500000

3750000

0
1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2007
the viral web in realtime

Strategy #5:
Learn From The Mormons
• Judaism is a really high quality religion
but quality is NOT a growth strategy
• Mormons want you to be Mormon!
Make evangelism core to your strategy
• Focus on the mechanics of how an
idea spreads, not just the idea itself
Recap:
How To Go Viral
• Viral Media - activate the bored at work
network
• Mullet Strategy - business upfront, party in
the back!
• Big Seed Marketing - pay for the seed,
optimize for viral lift
• Maniacs - target crazy people, not couch
potatoes
• Mormonism - quality is not enough, build
evangelism into your ideas
contact me
jonah@buzzfeed.com
@peretti