BuzzFeed Says Twitter Is More Influential Than You Think

By Patrick Coffee Comment

What did BuzzFeed founder/CEO Jonah Peretti learn from “The Dress?”

Twitter is more influential than you think. Just don’t try to measure that influence in clicks.

As Noah Robinson of Fast Company reported last night, Peretti’s SXSW presentation detailed the how and the why behind “The Dress,” and the answer in both cases is media people on Twitter.

So while a majority of the story’s traffic came from Facebook shares, it all started with a single tweet. Here’s a graph that closely resembles a petri dish filled with viral bacteria.

buzzfeed graph

The equation is pretty simple: media folks and other “influencers” share and discuss a story on Twitter, that story gets shared on other networks by average Joes, and even people who never click on BuzzFeed links see the “conversation” so many times that they have to weigh in.

News organizations looking to siphon off some of that crucial traffic then put their own spin on the trend. For example, The New York Times’ take on The Dress was one of its most-shared stories last month despite the fact that The Grey Lady joined the fray quite late (by Twitter standards, at least).

The result? Advertisers are happy, media people grumble, and Twitter tries to figure out how the hell to monetize all this influence.

In another interesting take on the subject, last night Jason Abbruzzese of Mashable analyzed Peretti’s newest fascination: news orgs distributing content directly through social networks rather than attempting to drive traffic back to their own pages.

Who needs a website today? Peretti thinks the answer is “no one,” and he has a pretty damn good track record.

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