On Media & Growth Hacking

Dao Nguyen is the new publisher of Buzzfeed. She was their growth czar. One of the reasons I like Buzzfeed is that they are smart about breaking the rules and inventing new rules, when they need to. More importantly, at the same time they look into media’s past and find parallel roles that are juxtaposed to the web.

Magazines and newspapers had circulation people who would often rise to the top and become publishers as they would be the folks responsible for growth and ultimately fiscal health of the company. They would know where to place the magazines, what kind of promotions to undertake and who to partner with in order to drive attention to the publication, which in turn would lead to higher circulation. It was a thankless job in many publications, but at large magazine groups especially at trade publications or mega-market pubs it was a prestigious position, often leading to top positions.

Dao promotion to publisher has the same parallel. Growth czar is essentially circulation manager 2.0. I am surprised how many big media companies miss this little point: growth = circulation.

“She’ll lead publishing for the social web, in the most modern sense, where data science, the CMS, technology, and a deep understanding of social networks, mobile devices, and digital video matter most.” Jonah Peretti, Buzzfeed founder.

I don’t much care for what Buzzfeed has to peddle, but I am a minority — there are hundreds of millions who do think they are cat’s meow. I also believe that Jonah Peretti and his team are doing what others have failed to do — build a tech-company whose product happens to be attention.

A letter from Om

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