Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

The Secrets Behind a Viral Web Hit–And the Huffington Post's Success

Everyone who makes stuff for the Web wants it to go “viral.” But you can’t just make your stuff go viral–anyone who actually found out how to do that would be very, very rich.

Still, there are ways to increase your chances of making stuff go viral. Or at least improve the performance of stuff that is going viral.

That’s sort of the premise behind BuzzFeed, Jonah Peretti’s New York start-up. Last night, Peretti put on a presentation that was half sales pitch and half how-to guide for aspiring viral-content makers. You should click through the whole thing, which is quite entertaining and embedded at the bottom of this post. Sample:

Note that some of Peretti’s presentation focuses on how the Huffington Post maximizes its traffic. That’s because Peretti was a co-founder (or early hire, depending on who tells the tale) at Huffpo, and crucial to setting up the site’s tech-savvy strategy.

Many people still think of Huffpo as a political site fueled by celebrity bloggers, but the site’s real recipe for success is its focus on real-time traffic analysis. Huffpo doesn’t talk about this much in public, but slide No. 18 gives you an idea of what the site is doing.

And, because Peretti knows what he’s doing, these slides are almost certainly going to become a Web pass-along. The Jews vs. Mormons analogy he starts on slide No. 29 pretty much guarantees that.

Jonah Peretti Viral Meetup Talk


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work