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BuzzFeed Tries Growing Its Own Memes

Site beefs up staff to in attempt produce original content

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From oh-so-adorable animal photos to celebrity memes, BuzzFeed has made a name for itself as a top curator of viral content. But can it also succeed as a place to find original content?

It’s going to try. In recent months, the site has beefed up its editorial staff—last week it hired Gawker’s Matt Cherette and Jezebel’s Whitney Jefferson—and sent reporters to events like Occupy Wall Street. It even created its own rally outside People’s offices to proclaim Ryan Gosling the real “Sexiest Man Alive.” (People had given the title to Bradley Cooper.)

“I like to think our job isn’t just to track culture but to have an impact on culture,” says Jonah Peretti, BuzzFeed’s co-founder and CEO.

BuzzFeed’s aspirations seem to be paying off. It says homepage traffic is growing and that a recent original post, the 45 Most Powerful Images of 2011, received more than 7.3 million views in six days, with site traffic hitting record highs two days in a row.

“What we’re going to do now that we’re all connected?” asks Peretti. “Are we just going to share stuff about our own lives and cute kitten pictures or... substantive content? I think you’re going to see a lot more of the latter.”