Is Upvoted the new Buzzfeed?
‘We want our content to go viral’. If I had a quid for every time I heard a company say that…well, I wouldn’t be driving a Volkswagen Polo to the office!
Organic sharing has become the holy grail of content marketing, and one of the major reasons is simply that there are more places to seed it.
We’re now seeing a chain reaction in which social media posts are being picked up by sites such as Gawker, LadBible and Buzzfeed and turned into articles, which are in turn picked up by the mainstream media – as the editorial equivalent of peeping through the Old Curiosity Shop window.
Much of this content is also extrapolated from what, until now, has been the seedy underbelly of online discussions: Reddit. A forum revered by its 36 million users, but unknown to many. A community that tends to hit the headlines for its controversial discussion topics, but which unwittingly supplies a lot of the quirks and irks that eventually trickle through to the Metro or Digital Spy.
However, this is all about to change…
This week, Reddit announced the launch of Upvoted – an aggregated platform of its most popular content, sanitised for the wider user community and commercialised for the brand opportunists.
On the surface, this makes sense: if other people are nicking content from Reddit and repackaging it into mainstream stories, why shouldn’t the horse shout the news from its own mouth?
However, this doesn’t sit well with me. In my opinion, Reddit is an uncontrollable beast – a hotbed of discussion akin to the coffee house culture of the 19th century, albeit mixed in with some rather unsavoury conversations that I don’t for one minute condone.
But, then again, I’m not an active Reddit user. So I decided to ask someone who was.
“It looks like it’s gone down like a bucket of sick,” was the exact response when I quizzed my boyfriend, who is constantly scrolling through Reddit on his smartphone. He promptly sent me this feed in evidence. It seems the cannibalisation of Reddit material by third parties is one thing, but having their parent company tidy it up and post it out is quite another.
“I don’t see it taking off*,” was the better half’s other comment, as he pointed out that Upvoted is trying to compete against sites that already have a massive following, so consumers are likely to view the content there instead.
Also, half the population doesn’t know what Reddit is, so that won’t be a selling point, and the other half are Reddit users so will probably just head straight to the original post. Essentially, Reddit will be competing with itself, just in a better branded format.
Anyway…why am I blathering on about this, and what does it have to do with B2B content marketing?
I guess my point is this: user-generated content gains momentum because it resonates in some way, shape or form; funny; sad; outrageous; entertaining. It appeals to people on an instinctive human level, and evokes our emotions to an extent that we feel compelled to pass it on.
There is no way you can force feed people into sharing stuff they don’t believe in, even with the savviest ‘6 Things You Absolutely Must Say To Your Best Mate Or They’ll Never Speak To You Again’.
These platforms that extract the best (or worst) user-generated content are elevating it to a level where it becomes easier to see, but ultimately good content will be liked and shared even without them. Great ideas travel, FULL STOP.
There will continue to be a massive market for your Buzzfeed, your LadBible, even perhaps your Upvoted, but companies should not make the mistake that this means going viral is easy.
In fact, if your opening gambit is ‘we want our content to go viral’, you’re approaching it completely the wrong way. But more about that another time…
*Caveat: my boyfriend declared in 2010 that Instagram would never take off – so he doesn’t always get it right!