The biggest “must read” story making its way around the web this week is New York Magazine’s profile of BuzzFeed founder Jonah Peretti and his enviably successful approach to paid content.

To sum things up, Peretti, who also helped launch The Huffington Post, was a math student at MIT who grew fascinated with the concept of viral memes and later created BuzzFeed as a tool to identify and facilitate the spread of said memes via algorithm. His goal was to truly capture the magic behind “word of mouth” buzz (the cat GIFs and political reporting came later). Most of the Internet and quite a few of the biggest brands in the world agree that Peretti has uncovered a secret formula for creating native advertising that might just go viral. Here are some revelations from the profile:

  • BuzzFeed editors work directly with marketing specialists from partner brands to create content in a “newsroom”-style environment.
  • The vast majority of traffic for both BuzzFeed originals and paid posts comes from social sharing.
  • The site’s most popular posts don’t go viral after a single big-name personality shares them — they’re simply picked up by several isolated individuals who share them in small groups (average nine Facebook friends) that spawn small “share” groups of their own.
  • There’s a science to this. Peretti has literally devised a formula.

Read more