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BuzzFeed’s new Summer Writers’ Challenge could pay up to $ 10,000 for user-generated content that goes viral, with the aim of getting its contributors to attract readers interested in niche topics and potentially discover new new areas of coverage for the BuzzFeed entertainment team.

Contributors to the BuzzFeed community – a hub launched in 2013 that hosts user-generated content like quizzes and lists created by people who simply sign up for an account – can choose to have their posts be part of the Summer Writers’. Eight week challenge. from June 15 to August 15. The best community posts are amplified on the BuzzFeed site by the editors. Program payouts are staggered, based on the number of page views each submission receives: posts with more than 150,000 views will earn backers $ 150; posts with more than 500,000 views will earn $ 500; over one million views will receive $ 2,000; and the highest level of 4 million views will net $ 10,000. This is the first time that BuzzFeed has paid members of its community for their top performing contributions.

The goal is to “attract new and different types of users” with this program, said Peggy Wang, executive director of growth and trends at BuzzFeed. “As BuzzFeed grows, our audience has new kinds of niche interests,” such as internet stars like TikTok influencers or new TV shows. “There are more fandoms, but there is no physical way for BuzzFeed to tackle all of these things,” she added.

This is not entirely true. BuzzFeed could hire hordes of more writers. But employing people full time is a major and risky investment if the content they are asked to produce is indeed to throw messages on the wall to see what sticks. Additionally, over the past year, BuzzFeed has grown into a profitable business that is would seek to become public and is opposed to losing money. “Although BuzzFeed is a profitable business, we do not have the resources to support another two years of losses,” said Jonah Peretti, CEO of BuzzFeed. by announcing that the company laid off 70 HuffPost employees in March.

The Summer Writers’ Challenge seems, in part, to be an example of BuzzFeed knowing how to manage its content costs and ensure a return on investment. The payout levels were calculated “based on our previous community traffic,” Wang said. BuzzFeed declined to share the average traffic generated by a community post because “it fluctuates significantly” depending on the type of post, timing and promotion, a spokesperson said. “We believe [the challenge] is a valid test worth funding for two months, ”Wang said.

The community has about 1,500 people, on average, who actively contribute an article each week, according to Wang. About 15,000 to 20,000 posts are submitted per month by contributors, and about 25 to 30 posts are promoted on the BuzzFeed site by publishers (otherwise, the posts are essentially hidden on the site). Prior to the Summer Writers’ Challenge, community contributors received “Internet Points” and “Virtual Trophies” for popular posts, which appear as a badge near the contributor’s signature on the page.

The program is like a “game,” Wang said, where people “are motivated to achieve a goal, using a measure that is easy for us to follow.” Community contributors can track the views of their post through their existing personal dashboards on the BuzzFeed site.

With this challenge, community contributors can post character quizzes on a new show they’re participating in, but don’t write much online, said Wang, potentially exploiting “something that’s about to be done.” ‘be really important’. A few years ago, for example, the editors of BuzzFeed started noticing an influx of contributor quizzes on ‘VSCO Girl,’ a teenage subculture that BuzzFeed didn’t cover yet, but then ‘exploded into this big one. case, ”Wang said.

The BuzzFeed community “can influence the direction of the site and the type of trends highlighted” that BuzzFeed staff may miss, Wang said. Information from the summer challenge, such as trends or topics identified, will be shared with staff.

Before posting any content, users must agree to abide by the Community rules: essentially, no branding or self-promotion messages, no politics, no plagiarism, no reporting, no spam and no “threatening, harassing, defamatory, deceptive, fraudulent, invading the privacy of others messages , tort, vulgar or pornographic. “

BuzzFeed editors crawl through community posts and remove those that break its rules. They also suppress messages flagged by readers. The posts that are promoted are often those that match trending search terms on the BuzzFeed site or topics that the editors believe might resonate with readers. “It’s a cool way to be able to quickly experiment with a lot of different types of content,” Wang said.

The challenge might even mean new work for a community contributor. “We have used Community in the past as a pipeline for hiring,” Wang said. The challenge can be “a way to identify new talent,” she said.

The risk for a program like this? Quality control. “The only value we judge this content by is views,” rather than “commitment to quality,” said Melissa Chowning, founder and CEO of audience development and marketing company Twenty-First Digital. , in an email. “We’ve seen what happens to the quality of the content and the information ecosystem when we just reward the ability to grab attention,” she said.

When asked about potential low-quality click-bait issues in the wake of the Summer Writers’ Challenge, Wang cited the community rules.

“As long as [contributors] fall within these editorial guidelines, I feel pretty good about the content we choose to amplify through our network, ”said Wang.

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