Upworthy’s co-founder, Peter Koechley describes how his media site succeeds in its mission: to make videos with important content – content that really impacts on how people live their lives — go “as viral as some idiot surfing off his roof”, to borrow from the website. He puts it like this:
“From the very beginning we said we’re not going to do news. It sort of feels like toddlers playing soccer. Everyone’s running after the ball. We want to be doing something that adds value. Instead of doing the most timely thing, or to have it first, we kind of want to be the place that’s reliably great, even though we’re not first. And in that sense we’re more magazine‑y than newsy. We’re adding more context, and frankly not stressing about topics that other people are talking about.”
Social media managers will doubtless be intrigued as to how the site is kept ‘reliably great’; Upworthy proclaims that its video content is “…sensational and substantial. Entertaining and enlightening. Shocking and significant.” And with its vast following on Facebook, that claim is no exaggeration.
Having recently raised $8 million in Series A funding (it raised $4 million last October), Upworthy is now focusing on using its editorial content to build revenue streams, something it has only flirted with previously. To this end, it’s expanded its business team from “less than one” full-timer to four, and it’s starting to expand coverage of specific topics like global health and parenting which Koechley and fellow co-founder Eli Pariser believe will open the door to monetization through sponsorships.
Koechley says that if a particular topic gets really aligned with a sponsor, Upworthy will “find the best content in the world” on the subject and get it socially shared more effectively than anyone else.
$12 million and a mass following, social media managers will agree, says that he knows what he’s talking about.