Podcast: Walter Menendez, “Engineering Virality: BuzzFeed’s Scientific Approach To Creating Content”

If you’ve heard of BuzzFeed, you probably think about our famous articles and quizzes, such as The Dress and Which State Are You Actually From?, as well as our video escapades, such as The Try Guys Try Sexy Halloween Costumes and our famous Watermelon Explosion experiment on Facebook Live. The success of our content might seem accidental, but as a result of BuzzFeed’s experimental approach to producing content, the virality of these posts is actually a very scientific and calculated effort. This talk details how BuzzFeed thinks about and creates content, highlighting our paradigms for the function and role of our content. Menendez also discusses the software stack that supports this experimental loop, as BuzzFeed also employs a variety of technologies to build an analytics layer. Included in that tech discussion is also an overview of the metrics and signals BuzzFeed is interested in once content is live. Along the way, Walter highlights some of the Comparative Media Studies learnings he employs on a daily basis to thrive in the BuzzFeed content ecosystem.

Walter Menendez is a Senior Data Infrastructure Engineer at BuzzFeed, based in New York. He is an MIT alum of the class of 2015, having majored in Computer Science and Engineering (Course 6-3). While at MIT, he concentrated in Comparative Media Studies, as well as having done undergraduate research in various Media Lab groups (Fluid Interfaces, Laboratory for Social Machines). At BuzzFeed, he is responsible for the development and maintanence of all of BuzzFeed’s data collection, from on-site impression collection to data warehousing solutions, empowering the analytical approach that BuzzFeed uses for the content creation cycle.


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