Ze Frank: Hi, this is exciting. A big event.
Like many of you, not all of you, I was born during that weird cusp generation, right?
So, I had rotary phones and…yeah, give it up for rotary phones. The piece of technology
that should come back. People would make fun of me, because my number had a lot of nines
in it. Right? And that would literally take longer to dial. It would be “drrr-dut-dut-dut-dut-dut”.
So, if you were in a hurry having to dial, you’re just, “Oh my God, ugh.” Right? And
then, you know, entering into college, PCs and word processors opened up this magic of
being able to take a four-page paper and turn it into a five-page paper, just by using Courier.
It was this gift that came down from the heavens. Right? And then, less than a decade ago, we
have this thing that used to be the size of a wall, suddenly fit in your pocket in the
shape of a smartphone. And it connects us to each other, it connects us to information
and more importantly for this, it connects us to videos on platforms like YouTube. So,
living through that time, for me, was so freaking exciting. Because I grew up in a household
with art and music and science. And suddenly, there was this explosion in these tools that
allowed me to do all these things, without having crazy expensive equipment or really
difficult to get access. And without the burden of knowing what was good. Right? Nobody told
me. I could just do it in my spare time. And so after, I got a degree in neuroscience.
And then, I spent the next two years doing everything I could, except neuroscience. Right?
It was a little programming, a little animation, some sound mixing, some writing. But all of
it focused on this crazy new play space, called the internet. And so, right in about 2001,
right when my parents were worrying about me and wondering why they spent so much on
college, I had my first viral hit. Which was called, “How to Dance Properly”. And it’s
very deep feet philosophical stuff, but it was a little flash animation. And it blew
up overnight and this is before YouTube, by the way. Right? It’s before social platforms. It spread
by email, which is incredible that anything spread by email. I’d just like to pause for
a second. Right? That’s how it spread, millions and millions and millions of people. And so,
this is when I first met Jonah Peretti. It was in 2001 and he is the founder and CEO
of BuzzFeed. And he had had a very similar thing happen to him, where he had tried to
order a sneaker and customize the side of the sneaker with the word “sweatshop” on the
side. Right? And then, the ensuing conversation with the brand over email went viral, because
it was hilarious. Right? And then, but the crazy thing is like…right? So, everybody is looking at it and a week
later, he is on national TV having a debate with the global head of PR for the brand,
about sweatshop labor. And he was just a student at the time. Right? And so, both of us were
wondering “Why?” Right? Why does some content seem to spread so much more efficiently through
the ecosystem, than other types of content. I don’t know if you guys remember “The Dancing
Baby” or “Subservient Chicken”. Right? These were massive, massive online hits. The early
ones and it would be very difficult to use the word “quality” to describe what was going
on. Right? And I have no doubt that you guys go on to
YouTube and probably, even with some of our content, you’re just, “Really? 10 million
views? Why? What is happening here?” And so, that’s what we’re obsessed with at BuzzFeed,
is understanding why. Why does some stuff share better than others? And the place that
we start to try to understand that is to look at the very basic mechanic, which is the “share”.
Right? First of all, sharing is now so massively powerful because of mobile. Right? Everybody’s
got mobile phones. You’re watching before you go to sleep at night and you can just
share with a little click. Right? And it’s the most powerful form of modern distribution. And so, to try to understand why people share,
you can just start by asking yourself. Why do you share things with other people? One
thing that we did was we tried to look at a pretty interesting little clue, which is
the text that people use when they share something. Right? “The share statement”. It’s the text
you use to justify why you’re sharing it. And when we looked at all these share statements,
we started to see some really interesting buckets. Right? The first bucket were statements
like, “Oh, my God. That’s totally me.” Or, “I thought I was the only one that did this.”
Right? And we call those “identity shares”, where you’re using media to share a part of
your identity. The second category is when you say, “This
totally cracked me up, it’ll crack you up.” Right? Or, “This inspired me, it’ll inspire
you.” That’s called “emotional gifting”, in our world. And the third category is statements
like, “Hey, we were just talking about this the other way.” We call that “social information”,
where you’re broadcasting information that is already pertinent in your social sphere.
So, I’m gonna show a 30-second example, just to try to drive it home a little bit better. Female: That’s not how you fold the towels. Male: It doesn’t matter how you fold a towel. Female: It does matter how you fold a towel.
If you want it to fit in the closet, you have to roll it. Female: Oh, my God. Could you chew any louder? Male: This goes on here. It takes two seconds. Female: Well, then the next person that comes
in will do it. Male: That’s not the point. I don’t see why
I have to put the utensils face down. Female: Because when they’re sticking up like
that, if someone trips and falls, they’re gonna impale themselves and die. Male: That’s literally the stupidest thing
I’ve ever heard. Ze Frank: So, here’s the thing. At face value,
it’s shot well, but it’s not movie quality or television quality. There’s moments that
suggest some form of narrative, but it’s not really a story. Right? So, there’s this question
of why it’s shared millions of times, that video. And the interesting thing to start
looking at is people shared it with their significant others, to bring up the arguments
that they have. But there’s something very impactful about that. Right? Because it’s
not the perfect film about relationships, it’s the perfect opportunity to talk about
yours. It has actual usage in the environment. And so, people share to connect, to reminisce,
to broadcast their identity, emotional gifting, all these different things. But the point
is, is that everybody in this room should be thinking about the role that your content
is playing in people’s lives. Not just for consumption, but what can they do with your
content in their social environments, in their spheres. And then, the trick is to try to
figure that out and if you’re not doing that stuff, try to make that content. And so, figuring
out how it applies to brand is hard. Right? It’s not easy, it requires thought and work. And more importantly, it requires a place…a
place to do it. Where risks are mitigated, that you have opportunities to experiment
and play. And you can get some real-time feedback and all that. So, when we started our studio,
two and a half years ago, that’s why we started out on YouTube. And it’s why we consider YouTube
such a powerful partner today. It has all these ingredients. Right? It has all these
ingredients which allow you to do impactful, deep, wide-reaching work. And the ingredients
are this. Right? The first is massive scale, on both desktop and mobile. The second…powerful,
real-time analytics that help you get farther along with the goal. And the third is amazing
publishing tools. These are the three keys to your success on YouTube. So, BuzzFeed’s a multi-platform company, but
YouTube is still at the center of how we think about this stuff. How we test and learn towards
understanding the impact the content has on users and how modern brands are built. So,
just some statistics, the fun part. We release about 50 videos to our YouTube channels, every
week. We just crossed the five billion all-time, lifetime view mark. Thank you, yeah. The numbers
on YouTube are just staggering. 60% of our audience is mobile, which is radically significant.
And in the last six months, we’ve averaged 185,000 likes, 25,000 comments, and 500,000
hours of watch time, every day. The way we approach our editorial video is
the same that we approach branded content. Right? We try to find connections with the
parts of the brand messaging that need to resonate and we try to find to find connections
to what we know about why people share content. But it’s not just about reach. Right? It’s
about “reach x impact” and finding the right blend of those two that maximizes the results.
Here’s an example of some of the brand content that we do. Male 2: Dear kitten. Since I have hissed at
you the customary 437 times, it is now my duty as the head of the household to, begrudgingly,
welcome you. Perhaps you are here to replace me, but I must do my duty and educate you
on your new surroundings. As Maximilian once did, for me. Rest in peace. Ze Frank: So, the cool thing about this is
that it was not developed a traditional TV spot. Right? It was preceded by a whole series
of test videos, where we tested all these assumptions about cat ownership identity,
about the tone and the style, about different ways of integrating the brand into the spot.
We wanted this campaign to be something that was agible…agible and flexible. That we
could jump on success when it started to happen. And the resulting effort drove amazing reach
and more importantly, measurable impact in brand recognition and purchasing intent. Measurable.
And today, Dear Kitten is a series, an ongoing series with over 59 million overall views,
and we are about to release Dear Kitten Four. The overall question is this, “How are you,
as a brand, testing and learning?” It’s crucial. Everything is changing, very quickly. There’s
all these new opportunities to learn. So, how are you doing it? And then, how are you
learning about how your messaging can create content that has usage to your audience? Right?
How are you thinking about how you can take advantage of the modern distribution opportunities?
It’s time to ask those questions, but more importantly, it’s time to start doing something
about it. Thank you, so much.