Winning the Internet

NN12 Preview: The Sweet Science of Winning the Interwebs Through Epic Shareability

After a great run, the Winning the Internet blog has been retired. However, you can still keep in touch with New Media Mentors here.

NN12 training preview — Leading up to the conference, we’ll be featuring guest posts from NN12 trainers. Click here to register now for Netroots Nation, June 7-10, 2012.

SCIENCE FACT: You are the worst predictor of what will go viral on the Interwebs. So am I.

What’s an Upworthy? We curate and aggregate meaningful stuff you make on the Internet and compel the world to share it for the cause of good and reason and freedom and whiskey. Here’s a handy diagram that totally almost explains everything about what we do:
We find the amazing things you care about, or don’t know that you should care about yet, put a nice new coat of paint on them (headline and a picture), shine them up all pretty (new description), then send them back into the world to be shared some more. We might be pushing the radical homosexual agenda of equality for all, or cheering on female people’s weird demands to get “paid the same” as male people, or just showing you a brave kid and making you cry, or helping you find an apartment you can’t afford, or trying to seduce Ryan Gosling.

What qualifies us to be social media experts? Well, as an example, you may have seen an Obama ad that debunked the Koch Brothers recently. We provided almost half the traffic to the video using our secret blend of herbs and spiciness.

We use fancy data to test every single piece of content we put out there, constantly changing things up as we get more results that improve our shareability. So at #NN12, we’re gonna give away all our best secrets about how to make your stuff SUPER SHAREABLE.

To that end, here’s a teaser of what to expect. Let’s walk through a hypothetical situation.

Say there’s a big, scary corporate bill that fundamentally threatens free speech on the Internet. We’ll call it the Great Orange Satan Protection Act, or GOSPA for short. Its purpose: to shut down

In order to defeat the powers of evil, using the Internet, we must use all the resources at our disposal.

You and I already know that the media are a bunch of dinosaurs distrusted by both sides of the aisle for their bias toward sensationalism and suckiness. You also know most people trust their friends. Thus, sharing sites like Facebook will drive communication going forward.

To win, we must get people to share.

There are two puzzles to solve to WIN SHARING.
1)  If people see this, will they want to share it?
2)  If someone shares this with you, will you click on it?

Here’s a few things we’ve learned so far.

  1. Visual is more shareable. It’s true. Graphics and videos do better. So that means that you should ask yourself, “Can I distill my message into a simple, compelling idea that grabs the viewer?” All the statistics in the world mean diddly squat if no one is engaged enough to learn about them.
  2. Emotional arousal causes people so share. We’re not just saying that. Researchers are publishing papers. People share because of anger, humor, inspiration, anxiety. Sadness actually is not a good one. It’s depressive, and it depresses sharing. We’re going to help you think that through.
  3. Awesome headlines work. Upworthy’s co-founder, Peter Koechley, was the managing editor of The Onion. The most important thing he learned: it’s ALL ABOUT the headlines. At Upworthy, we use a creative brainstorming process similar to The Onion. And we will TELL YOU WHAT THAT IS. And we will tell you how a sexy headline turned a YouTube video with 700,000 views into one with 17 million views (#WINNING!).
  4. People share to tell people who they are. Conspicuous expression is displacing conspicuous consumption, people. Make a headline too polarizing and people will be afraid to share it, for fear of painting themselves in an unflattering light. So choose wisely (unlike me that one time.)
  5. Optimizing for FaceSpace and TEH Twitterverse is very, very important. Many organizations and good causes have incredibly insightful ideas and data, and they spend lots of money to make them look pretty on their website. What they don’t do is make those things work flawlessly on other people’s websites — specifically, Mark Zuckerberg’s website. They don’t test and adapt on the fly. We do. One test we ran recently increased the sharing on Facebook from our site by 330%. Feature change coming soon…Let me repeat that: We are going to increase our share output by

    See, if you were Andrew Breitbart’s protégé right now, sharing your pro-GOSPA infographic, you’d be failing at the tubez, missing out on tons of traffic.

It’s not too late to stop GOSPA. You just have to come to our training to really master the art of the share.

So join me and my fellow curator, Sara Critchfield, at 3 p.m. on Friday, June 6, at Netroots Nation.

We’ll pass out secrets, workshop some of your content, and help you win the tubez. Let us know you are coming by RSVPing on our event page. We’ll choose one or two RSVPers to workshop in front of the entire group. You can also tweet at us to RSVP, if you holler to @advodude, @upworthy, or @saracritchfield.

You read this monstrosity all the way through. You are an amazing human being.

Just for that, if you stop by our booth in the lounge, we’ll give you a free chair massage from actual professionals! And maybe a pony.

Also, you get a bonus KITTEH!

See you at Netroots Nation, Kossacks!

About Adam Mordecai

I'm a curator for I get paid to find snarky things that matter from the interwebs and share them with you. I think that is awesome. I also think the media needs to remember how to do its job. And that Jon Stewart is some sort of oracle. You can find me on Twitter, subscribe to my stuff on Facebook, and read my long winded ranting on Quora.

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4 Responses to “NN12 Preview: The Sweet Science of Winning the Interwebs Through Epic Shareability”

  1. Adam Mordecai June 12, 2012 at 3:48 pm #

    You can see our slideshow from our training here:


  1. Netroots Foundation | In case you missed Netroots Nation | Winning the Internet - June 21, 2012

    […] The Sweet Science of Winning the Interwebs Through Epic Shareability Fact: You are the worst predictor of what content will go viral in the world. Learn how to optimize your headlines and content, double your Facebook fans and increase user engagement. Steal our secret recipe to get larger shares. […]

  2. Netroots Foundation | 5 Things to Try in 2013 to Boost Online Performance | Winning the Internet - January 2, 2013

    […] some time to create images that people will want to share. The folks at Upworthy put together a post on shareability a while back and it’s a solid place to […]

  3. Netroots Foundation | How folks are using Facebook: Stats & take-aways for nonprofits | Winning the Internet - February 13, 2013

    […] we have available to us for connecting with supporters. Just be sure to make posts compelling and shareable so your fans have the opportunity to see […]