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Posts Tagged ‘viral’

Which Tweet Wins? See If You Can You Out-Predict A Computer

If you work in social media, or any online media site really, for very long, you learn that it’s hard to predict which post or piece of content will go viral. That doesn’t stop people from trying.

The latest attempt? The New York Times has the details on a collaboration by three computer scientists who developed an algorithm that, with relative accuracy, can tell you which of two tweets to the same content by the same user will more likely be reshared. This is how those developers explain their project:

… [W]e take advantage of the surprising fact that there are many pairs of tweets containing the same url and written by the same user but employing different wording. Given such pairs, we ask: which version attracts more retweets? This turns out to be a more difficult task than predicting popular topics. Still, humans can answer this question better than chance (but far from perfectly), and the computational methods we develop can do better than an average human …

How is that possible? A huge body of data to pull from. In A/B tests, it predicts which tweet will be more popular correctly 67 percent of the time, compared to the 61 percent of tweets more likely to be retweeted that humans guess correctly, according to the NYT. Before you get too depressed, read the full article to see why your computer won’t be replacing you or your social community manager anytime soon.

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Then just for fun: The NYT’s The Upshot takes this idea one step farther and put together this fascinating 25 question gut check to see if YOU can beat their algorithm and predict with more success whether one tweet will go viral or one tweet will go silent.

It’s harder than it sounds! I got 15 vs. the computer’s 19. So what do you get?

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Finally, Viral Content That’s Actually Funny: The Onion To Launch ClickHole.com

Watch out Upworthy, BuzzFeed and the other bazillion viral content producers who rely on visitors falling into the rabbit hole of clicking link after viral link on their website. There’s soon to be a new, funnier kid on the block who’s going after your audience by poking fun at you…

(Screen capture from ClickHole.com)

(Screen capture from ClickHole.com)

Parody news site The Onion, which already garners robust traffic by playing off newspaper and TV news story stereotypes, announced this week it will set its sights on stealing some of the click love with a parody site of the viral content farms.

The new site, ClickHole.com, will launch in June. Don’t worry though if you can’t wait that long, there’s already a fun infographicesque tutorial up on the homepage where you can practice your clicking skills. Plus, the name is such a perfect parody of such sites that it’s hard to believe that domain was even available.

Read more

Everything Upworthy Can Teach Journalists

upworthyThis week, New York magazine has a profile of the website we all love to hate: Upworthy.

Upworthy is the bane of many a journalist’s existence. It peddles in clicks, and has people sharing, painlessly and by the millions, pieces of content that concern topics we actually want to report on. A 10-page feature or package with video on the effects of poverty takes months to prepare and weeks to garner attention on Twitter. They find one video on the topic and it has thousands of views. It’s  more BuzzFeed-y than BuzzFeed; they at least have a news team. You should read the whole piece, though, because there are lessons to be gleaned from their success.

1) Ah, the infamous Upworthy style headline. In one part of the feature, they talk about ‘click testing,’ where they run through possible headlines and then see how clickable they are out in the wild. If it’s not clickable, they tweak. Every media outlet can do this, and if you want to garner more traffic, you should. If you feel icky about changing the headline after it’s originally published, just add a note. I see good digital outlets doing this all the time. Slate stories, for example, often have one headline when I see it in the morning and another by the afternoon when I actually get around to reading it. If it requires emails or write offs to tweak a headline or re-run and write a new social media tease to make it more interesting — you’re doing it wrong. Read more

The State of the Digital News Publishing Industry, According to the Internet

typefaceThere must be something in the air, maybe the end of a crazy year, that’s making writers introspective. In the past week alone, there have been some very good analyses of the state of the digital publishing . Since it’s cold outside (unless you live in a place where it’s not cold outside, and in that case, stop gloating) and you need some good reads for hibernation, here are five pieces that, I think, aptly explain the industry right now and help further the conversation.

“Against ‘Long Form’ Journalism,” James Bennett

Everybody in the room, put your hands together for Mr. Bennett. It’s not that he’s against expansive reporting, but the way the terminology is thrown around by publications. He asks:

“Is this just a fad, maybe even a fraud? Cynics would say that publishing a few big feature stories is a shortcut to respectability, and they’d be correct. But realists, I’m happy to say, would comment further that such features work: They draw in a lot of readers.”

Recently, I have find myself tapping out around page 3 or 4 of a feature article. By placing value on “long” we stop focusing on “interesting.” Let’s find another phrase, Bennet suggests, even if it proves tough;

Length is hardly the quality that most meaningfully classifies these stories. Yet there’s a real conundrum here: If long-form doesn’t fit, what term is elastic enough to encompass the varied journalism it has come to represent, from narrative to essay, profile to criticism? And how do you account for the blurring of boundaries as work from the digital realm energizes and reshapes traditional forms of journalism?

“Growing Obsession With Viral Content Exposes the Weakness of Most Digital Media,” Mathew Ingram

good post about Gawker’s Neetzan Zimmerman, although I wondered about this: “He posts only about a dozen items a day” http://t.co/rBfMIQvbxI

— Mathew Ingram (@mathewi) December 2, 2013

Let’s put aside the fact that that headline is really long and plays into some viral trends itself. After the Wall Street Journal’s profile on Neetzan Zimmerman, Ingram was irked by how many times a day the subject posted, and posits that focusing on viral content as a growth strategy, while it works for some, may not be a great idea. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket sort of thing:

But even if the content itself continues to work — in the sense that people will always want to share photos of otters holding hands or cats that look like Franklin Delano Roosevelt — the value of those millions of pageviews is continuing to drop. That’s not just because there are more and more sites doing it, but because the value of incremental pageviews is sinking inexorably towards zero. Read more

How Users Find, Share and React to News on Facebook

pewfbook2The Pew Research Center has released a study, in collaboration with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, on how Facebook users interact with news on the platform.

The study found that while the majority of users still flock to the social media site to check up on family and stalk photos of their high school classmates weddings, this inevitably leads to news sharing. However, 16% of users reported being bothered when contacts post the news, even more bothersome are political agenda comments.  Read more

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