"What we've found is that our front-page traffic is growing really fast but the reason people are coming is changing," Peretti told me. "They come to see what's the zeitgeist … but increasingly they're coming for something to share. They come to the site looking for things their friends will like. They aren't coming to consume content they are coming to share content."
It's an important and subtle point he's making. Many web editors think of sharing as the natural behavior of a reader who is so moved or entertained or angered or intrigued by a piece of content that their enthusiasm bubbles over into a tweet, a Facebook post, an email to a group of friends or coworkers.
But sharing has become such a function of everyday life for so many that in fact readers are acting like producers. They have to keep their feeds alive, they have to keep their friends engaged, to talk to them about the world, which is being experienced so universally through the medium of the web. In other words, BuzzFeed went from being a document of what's being shared on the web to a sort of wire service for citizen publishers with a network they want to keep engaged. BuzzFeed goes from being a chronicler of what's being shared to an arbiter. And in that there is an opportunity to place real reporting on top of an incredibly powerful platform.
This article is full of smart ideas from friend of Hello, TypePad Jonah Peretti about Buzzfeed's evolving focus.