Upworthy Quotes

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For each article, Upworthy writes a minimum of 25 different headlines. Then the company does various A/B tests with its subscription lists to see which headline led to the most e-mail opens and the most shares.
Joe Pulizzi (Content Inc.: How Entrepreneurs Use Content to Build Massive Audiences and Create Radically Successful Businesses)
Upworthy’s rule is that you need to generate at least twenty-five headline ideas to strike gold.
Adam M. Grant (Originals: How Nonconformists Move the World)
Like The Second City, Upworthy turned its work into rapid, scientific experiments. It turned tiny failures into depersonalized feedback and created an environment where total failure was nearly impossible.
Shane Snow (Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success)
A filmmaker made a short documentary about this happy-go-lucky teenager on death row, called My Last Days. It showed Zach living happily, hanging out with his family, and playing music. Everybody loved Zach. When you see the footage, you can’t help but like him. As you watch him laugh and love and sing, you catch yourself forgetting: this kid is about to die. Zach’s family tells the camera how knowing he would die has helped them realize what matters in life and to find true meaning. “It’s really simple, actually,” Zach says. “Just try and make people happy.” As the 22-minute film closes, Zach looks into the camera, smiling, and says, “I want to be remembered as the kid who went down fighting, and didn’t really lose.” Not long after he said those words, Zach passed away. When Eli Pariser and Peter Koechley of Upworthy saw the film, they thought, This is a story that needs to be heard. Now just over a year old, Upworthy has become quite popular. In fact, it recently hit 30 million monthly visitors, making it, according to the Business Insider, the fastest-growing media company in history.* (Seven-year-old BuzzFeed was serving 50 million monthly visitors at the time.) The Zach Sobiech story illustrates how Upworthy used rapid feedback to do it: According to Upworthy’s calculations, My Last Days had the potential to reach a lot of people. But so far, few had seen it. The filmmaker had posted the documentary under the headline, “My Last Days: Meet Zach Sobiech.” Though descriptive, it was suboptimal packaging. In the ADD world of Facebook and Twitter, it’s no surprise that few people clicked. Upworthy reposted the video with a new title: “We Lost This Kid 80 Years Too Early. I’m Glad He Went Out with a Bang,” and shared it with a small number of its subscribers, then waited to see who clicked.
Shane Snow (Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success)
The Happiest Story about a Kid Dying of Cancer I’ve Ever Seen.” Upworthy watched the “feedback” pour in, monitoring both the percentage of people who clicked each headline and the number who shared it with their friends. It was a perfect, dispassionate science experiment, where the feedback could show Upworthy editors exactly which packaging would have the biggest impact—before they released it to the rest of the world. In moments, the results became clear: people clicked on the third headline 20 percent more often than the original. But that wasn’t the end of the test. Upworthy wrote alternate versions of the winning headline and sent it out to several other groups. It repeated the process a ruthless 18 times, for a total of 75 variations in all. Here are a few of the contenders: Headline % Lift We Lost This Kid 80 Years Too Early. I’m Glad He Went Out with a Bang 0% I Cried Through This Entire Video. That’s OK Though, Because This Kid’s Life Was Wonderful + 9% The Happiest Story about a Kid Dying of Cancer I’ve Ever Seen + 28% RIP Amazing Rock Star Teenager Who Punched Cancer in the Face with Love on the Way Out + 65% Cancer Wasn’t a Death Sentence for This Kid. It Was a Wake Up Call. -22% Her Parents Asked, “Would You Date Him If He Didn’t Have Cancer?” So There Ya Go. + 75% This Kid Just Died. What He Left Behind Is Wonderful. + 96% In the end, Upworthy tweaked the winning headline one more time: Headline % Lift This Kid Just Died. What He Left Behind Is Wondtacular. + 116%
Shane Snow (Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success)