On March 26, 2012, a new media startup called Upworthy launched.
Today, it is the fastest growing media company in the world. Upworthy finished October with 7 million monthly uniques, up from 6 million the month prior. In August, it hit four million uniques, up from 2.5 million in July. Its fast growth was rewarded with $4 million from investors.
There are lots of media companies out there, but none have grown that quickly.
Are Upworthy’s growth and business model sustainable? We’re not sure, but either way the stats are impressive. We asked CEO and co-founder Eli Pariser what Upworthy has been doing to smash traffic records every month.
Here’s what he had to say.
Don’t write about politics.
Before he started Upworthy, Pariser worked for a digital, political publication, MoveOn. He and his co-founder, The Onion’s former Managing Editor, Peter Koechley, thought the upcoming election would drive traffic to Upworthy.
But people weren’t sharing much of Upworthy’s political content, so the pair ditched that angle and broadened the site’s coverage.
“We thought, ‘Ok, it’s an election year, people are going to be really interested in politics and the campaign, and we’ll get a leg up that way,’” Pariser says. “The election was our whole argument for starting Upworthy this year. But it turned out to be a total non-driver of growth. Of all our top pieces, only a couple deal with politics or the election.”
It can be tough for startups to let go of initial ideas and pivot to what’s working. But as soon as Pariser let go of! the pol itics angle, traffic soared.
Find story ideas on social media feeds, not other websites.
Upworthy’s curators don’t start their days surfing other websites for news. They surf social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook instead.
Sometimes it’s easier to highlight a conversation than to start a new one.
“We have our team of curators spending all their time looking on the Internet for stuff,” says Pariser. “We go for visible, sharable stories and really stay away from doing more typical, text-driven articles and blogging. We lean into images and videos.”
Focus on Facebook, not Twitter
Upworthy has found that Twitter is small traffic potatoes compared to Facebook. At the end of the day, Facebook is where the most people spend the vast majority of their time online.
“Facebook is a huge piece of the puzzle for us,” says Pariser. “Our Facebook community has grown from zero in March to over 600,000 likes.”
Pariser says Upworthy hasn’t done anything particularly brilliant to juice Facebook for traffic. It just spent a lot of time and energy cracking the social network.
“Honestly, I think part of [our success with it] is we take Facebook much more seriously than many of the other social networks,” he says. “I love Twitter, and Twitter is a fun place to hang out with smart people, but it’s a small fraction of our traffic compared to Facebook. The time and attention most sites spend on [perfecting] their homepages is probably what we spend on Facebook. If you look at our homepage, it’s pretty mediocre.”
Dr. Augustine Fou is Digital Consigliere to marketing executives, advising them on digital strategy and Unified Marketing(tm). Dr Fou has over 17 years of in-the-trenches, hands-on experience, which enables him to provide objective, in-depth assessments of their current marketing programs and recommendations for improving business impact and ROI using digital insights.
- Netflix vs Blockbuster - Perfect example of an industry replaced by a more efficient version of itself
- Coke vs Pepsi vs Dr Pepper
- Marketing Costs Normalized to CPM Basis for Comparison
- The Top Endorsement Earners In Each Sport
- 3G calling, no registration, and totally free
- AOL's Plan To Steal TV Ad Dollars Is Totally Working
- drag2share: The Most Pinned Brand On Pinterest Doesn't Even Use A Pinterest Account [THE BRIEF]
- Groupon launches Breadcrumb iPad app, vows to not be a typical POS
- HP Mini 311 Nvidia ION Netbook Hackintosh'ed
- #SESNY: Toward a Performance Mindset for All Advertising
- Tips for Marketers Selecting a Digital Agency
- Context Is Not King or Queen; It's Just Necessary
- 2013 New Year's Digital Marketing Resolutions
- The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Online Campaign Ratings and eGRPs
- Why You Should Banish the Net Promoter Score Immediately
- Digital Strategy To-MAY-to vs. To-MAH-to
- The Agency-Client Relationship is Forever Changed
- Targeting vs. Privacy - Who Will Win?
- Digital + Traditional = Unified Marketing
- May 2013 (66)
- April 2013 (70)
- March 2013 (114)
- February 2013 (89)
- January 2013 (136)
- December 2012 (96)
- November 2012 (130)
- October 2012 (147)
- September 2012 (94)
- August 2012 (92)
- July 2012 (112)
- June 2012 (71)
- May 2012 (82)
- April 2012 (80)
- March 2012 (122)
- February 2012 (114)
- January 2012 (129)
- December 2011 (60)
- November 2011 (54)
- October 2011 (29)
- September 2011 (17)
- August 2011 (30)
- July 2011 (18)
- June 2011 (19)
- May 2011 (23)
- April 2011 (23)
- March 2011 (52)
- February 2011 (69)
- January 2011 (108)
- December 2010 (82)
- November 2010 (67)
- October 2010 (68)
- September 2010 (44)
- August 2010 (101)
- July 2010 (61)
- June 2010 (28)
- May 2010 (28)
- April 2010 (26)
- March 2010 (33)
- February 2010 (21)
- January 2010 (12)
- December 2009 (4)
- November 2009 (2)
- October 2009 (14)
- September 2009 (6)
- August 2009 (19)
- July 2009 (34)
- June 2009 (11)
- May 2009 (4)
- April 2009 (6)
- March 2009 (13)
- February 2009 (32)
- January 2009 (25)
- December 2008 (1)
- October 2008 (1)
- June 2008 (1)
- November 2007 (1)