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The Anatomy Of A Top BuzzFeed Post

When trying to launch a viral hit on BuzzFeed, content is key. Without an interesting piece of information, users will not share your post, which is how things go viral. However, there are some simpler attributes of a post where following best practices can have a strong effect. Here, we investigate two of these: the time a post is published and its title.

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There’s no clear winner here but in general, it looks like the summer months are better for the biggest trafficked posts. This is a very interesting fact as it’s in stark contrast to the conventional wisdom in publishing that summer months are the worst for readership. Our data shows that while overall traffic may decline during the summer, the chance of an individual post going viral actually increases.

One thing is pretty clear, we can rule out weekends when it comes to having a big viral hit on BuzzFeed. This is most likely due to the fact that most of the BuzzFeed audience is office workers that visit the site to take a break from their jobs. There are significantly fewer people in an office environment on the weekend, which supports the data shown above as we have much fewer viral hits on the weekend. Once again, there is no clear winner here but it appears that mid-week (Tues-Thurs) is best. Finally, we broke out the top 1,000 posts by time of day published, summarized in the graph below.

Looking at this graph further supports the “bored office worker” as being our most common audience member. The distribution here shows that the most common times to launch viral posts are 12PM, and then between 3 and 5PM. Noon is lunchtime for most people, when they can take a break from working, eat and possibly surf the web. Here we can see that about 10% of our top 1000 posts were published right around noon. Big viral hits then slow around 1 and 2 PM and pick back up between 3 and 5 PM. This could be for a few different reasons, one being that 3PM Eastern Time is 12 on the West coast and once again when office workers will take their lunch break. The hour between 4 and 5 PM generally marks the work day coming to an end. As the work day draws to a close, and people’s minds start to wander, they may come to BuzzFeed as a way to wind down or simply because they no longer have the capacity to stay on task. Whatever the reason, it appears that content published during this time has a better chance of receiving lots of traffic.

So, ultimately it seems as if there is no perfect time for creating viral content. There are a few trends concerning time of day but no distinct set of rules concerning time that will guarantee that content goes viral. What the post contains is far more important than when it is published.