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BuzzFeed Set Out to Revolutionise Sharing Analytics with Pound

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In ye olden times, putting out content was as simple as publishing it and distributing it involved paying people to throw it around elsewhere and/or say it’s great even if it’s not. Now it’s a maze of social media sharing and stats tracking and it’s difficult to tell exactly how well you’re doing. Even with analytics trackers, you can only really observe how well a post is doing on a particular platform, rather than across multiple ones. Now BuzzFeed of all people have stepped with a new formula, meet Pound.

An acronym for Process for Optimizing and Understanding Network Diffusion, Pound "follows propagations from one sharer to another, through all the downstream visits, even across social networks and one-to-one sharing platforms like Gchat and email." According to BuzzFeed founder Dao Nguyen. What this means in human speak is that Pound can track and collect information about how well a post is doing for clicks and shares universally, rather than just for Facebook, Twitter or wherever else. That might not seem like a big deal, but it is.

buzzfeed.com

See, it might seem as if once a post is shared on Facebook, Facebook is where it stays, being liked and re-shared between friends and connections but of course this isn’t necessarily the case. It might then be shared in a private message, and then put on Pinterest as a result of that, then forwarded in an email, by which point the stats trackers usually give up and go to the pub. The digital pub, I guess, this metaphor is getting away from me.

Pound is capable of processing over 10,000 web requests in a single second and whilst BuzzFeed have only just unveiled it publically, it’s been collating data for them for a while. A lot of data. It follows an anonymous hash nestled in the post’s share URL and latches on a like a remora, sending back information as the post travels like a bat sending sonic signals and creating a detailed web of vital analytic info like some kind of crazy techno-spider. That was a lot of animal similes for one sentence, I apologise, but you get the gist.

fastcompany.com

Remora-bat-spiders aside, the information can be used to assess which posts should be optimised for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and wherever else as well as how to better tailor content for organic searches and gauge the effects of shares and posts by a particularly popular/famous user. It also results in all kinds of awesome 3D visualisations, which makes social media sharing look thrilling and cutting-edge.


It’s innovations like this that explain exactly why BuzzFeed are doing as well as they are, given that there are hundreds of similar websites putting out very similar content. As depressing as it is to say, it’s not the content that builds their audience, it’s the way they use technology to optimise social sharing. Those devious scoundrels. The entire reason they’ve gone public with Pound is to appeal to partners, so that they can be a more of an attractive option for sponsored posting. If you want to build your website's reader audience, look to their example.

Callum Davies

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF

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BuzzFeed Set Out to Revolutionise Sharing Analytics with Pound Reviewed by Callum Davies on Thursday, April 30, 2015 Rating: 5

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