Upworthy Uses Its Facebook Page, Social Plugins To Grow

By Justin Lafferty 

Upworthy wants to share content with the world — and use Facebook to do so. The company is in the developer’s showcase for utilizing social plugins and successfully using its Facebook page to engage its audience. Facebook reported that as Upworthy.com grew to 10.4 million unique users in one year, its Facebook page grew to 1.3 million likes over the same period. Upworthy credits Facebook for a large portion of its traffic.

Upworthy’s mission is to help content go viral by getting it in front of people who care. It’s not a news site, but more of a transfer station for popular, thoughtful content. It seeks to share videos and stories that most people don’t often see or read, bringing them to a wider audience.

One major way that Upworthy has found success is through Facebook’s social plugins, such as like and share buttons. Upworthy also uses the facepile plugin, which shows people who visit the site their friends who have liked the Facebook page. Upworthy estimates that about 65 percent of the U.S. population on Facebook has a friend who likes the site.

Upworthy is also in tune with its readership. The company uses rigorous testing for headlines, knowing that the difference between a dull headline and an exciting one can mean 1,000 or 10,000 people clicking on that story. For each post, Upworthy curators generate at least 25 headlines. The managing editor picks four of those and tests them to see how readers respond. When it tests headlines, Upworthy sees differences of 20 percent, 50 percent, and even 500 percent between headlines for the same story.

Facebook praised the site for figuring out what their readers want and why they share stories:

Upworthy realized early that people post stories to Facebook to help express their identities. People post things they believe in and want to let others know where they stand. Based on this insight, Upworthy arranges its stories by topic areas that people identify with, including diversity, economy, environment, guns and crime, LGBT, science, and women.

Upworthy also focuses on quality versus quantity in stories. The curators (Upworthy’s editorial group) spend their days combing Facebook and other visual sites, creating 60 pieces of topical content per week. The team uses Facebook to identify worthwhile topics. Upworthy doesn’t want to be the first to report a news item, but rather to get the right piece of content published when it is most relevant and likely to be shared.

Readers: Are you a fan of Upworthy on Facebook?