Gawker editor shares viral content secrets

Finding content that will explode online is a mix of ‘intuition’ and following ‘the big story arcs’ of the Web.

Ever wonder how Gawker does it? How the site churns out so much shareable content every day? One of its superstar bloggers, editor Neetzan Zimmerman, has spilled some of his virality mojo to The Wall Street Journal.

For new media nerds and journalism heads it’s a great read.

Sure, his content isn’t exactly fueling the discourse of America’s high society. See:

But gosh darn it, Zimmerman’s posts attract the eyeballs.

He chalks part of it up to “intuition,” but there’s more to his madness. Here are a few gems from the article. On “hot themes”:

“It might be that right now, people don’t care about stories about cats that much, and instead, sloths are more popular. So I’ll have a rule—cats are out, sloths are in, focus on sloths because that’s going to be your meal ticket.”

On following ongoing stories on the web:

“I’m following the big story arcs online, like in a soap opera,” he says. “Like within a trend of cats, different cats will have moments where they’re popular: Grumpy Cat is not popular now, but maybe it’s Lil’ Bub.”

And on Internet culture:

“Once Internet culture eats itself, will I be able to do my job?” he wonders. “When speaking truth to Internet culture doesn’t result in traffic … when that happens, I may lose my edge and I’ll have to find something else to do.”

Definitely give the full story a read. It’s worth it to understand the methodology (or lack thereof) behind viral internet culture.

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