Jonah-perettiWe are excited to have BuzzFeed founder, Jonah Peretti, present at Dreamforce this year. Peretti, who was also on the founding team of Huffington Post, will be discussing how content spreads in the age of social and mobile. 

Before the big event, we caught up with Peretti to get an update on all things content, as well as a preview of his presentation, which may just include some twerking.

Many people have heard of BuzzFeed, or seen content from the site on their Facebook or Twitter feeds. But we want to hear from you in your own words - what is BuzzFeed? What is the company's mission?

We are a global news and entertainment company built for the mobile, social age.


You've talked before about the shift from "search discovery" of content to "social discovery." Talk us through that shift.

The web realigned from portals to search and now we are seeing the shift from search to social. It doesn't mean that portals or search are dead, but social has become the dominant way people discover new information, ideas, and entertainment. The primary logic of content creation has shifted from keywords and topics, to emotion and relationships.

Now, you need to understand the human psychology that explains why people share, how they present themselves to others, and the social norms they follow. For search, IQ matters the most, but for social it is EQ. At BuzzFeed, we are obsessive about understanding these social dynamics because they determine what content and ideas are widely shared across the social web. Personally, I find it much more interesting than optimizing keywords. We are now faced with the harder but more interesting task of creating content for humans, and not a search engine-indexing robot. Humans are complicated and contradictory, but very interesting.


How does mobile impact "social discovery?"

Mobile and social have converged. The most popular apps are social. At BuzzFeed, when we see traffic from Facebook or Twitter it is disproportionately mobile. That means if your content doesn't work well on mobile, you are losing more than half the audience of sharers. Even if you create something amazing there is zero chance it will go viral if more than half of the addressable audience can't share. BuzzFeed's investment in mobile web optimization technology is a big reason our editorial and branded content is shared at such a high rate. Our tech gives us and our clients a real advantage, and then great content does the rest. BuzzFeed also works with brands and agencies to help with their content marketing.


What is the biggest challenge in getting brands to understand successful content for both themselves and readers?

The biggest challenge is getting brands to commit to the first program. Once they collaborate with our team and see the results, they get it and want to do more. We take them across the line of "advertising at people" to "making content for people." That is a big step but it is not as hard as it seems. And brands that have worked with us over an extended period get better and better with each passing month as they learn how to make great content that tells their story and connects with an audience.


How do you get brands to try new things with content marketing?

Our clients have large, successful businesses and our goal is to help them thrive, not create additional risk. The real risk for big brands is to continue to spend money on banners that don't work, ignore the media consumption habits of their customers, ignore young consumers, ignore mobile, social, or the web. Brands work with BuzzFeed to avoid the risk of staying complacent and not adapting to a shifting market. We help our clients innovate in new areas that are very important to the future of their business.


What is the best performing sponsored post on BuzzFeed?

We don't share the data of our clients but we have had many massive posts from clients like Virgin Mobile, Geico, Purina, and GE.


Which digital publisher (besides BuzzFeed) excites you the most today?

The New York Times obviously has great journalism, but they have also done a great job with their website. They are an impressive operation with an enduring standard of excellence.


What will you be covering in your Dreamforce talk?

Mostly I will be twerking. But I'll also share some thoughts on the massive shifts currently transforming in our industry.


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