Longform startup The Big Roundtable (BRT) recently commissioned three college students to put its assumptions about social sharing to the test.
The challenge? Taking one story, one month and whatever techniques they could think of (legal, of course), the three undergraduates were tasked with the challenge of racking up the most unique page views.
Having struggled with pegging what makes people click — and how to get them to a place where they’re able to find stories — BRT noted high traffic numbers when its pieces were linked in other publications’ stories, but acknowledged that stories they thought would take the Internet by storm didn’t turn the results they anticipated. They wanted some answers.
BRT, led by Shapiro, editor Mike Hoyt and publisher Anna Hiatt, was formed in mid-2013, and is based on the idea that writers should be directly connected to, and supported by, their readers. Backed initially by a successful Kickstarter campaign, BRT has since been publishing quality longform (5,000+ words) pieces, some with media partners like Buzzfeed and Longreads, enabling authors to be paid via reader donation. Additionally, a “reader’s circle” receives 1,000 word samples of potential BRT content, so it’s not just the editorial team making calls on what gets read.