Viral site PlayBuzz were the talking point of our September Facebook rankings. We talked to their Chief Content Officer about their rise to the second most shared site in just a few short months. 
One of the biggest surprises of September’s Facebook rankings is the emergence of PlayBuzz as a viral powerhouse to rival the likes of BuzzFeed, Upworthy, Viral Nova, and most other mainstream media sites.
Not only did the site come second in terms of Facebook shares, but they also came in at number four overall, ahead of the likes of the Guardian, NBC and the New York Times, as well as other social native sites like the Independent Journal Review, and Upworthy.
The news provoked a lot of commentary around the web, and on Twitter.

We weren’t caught as off-guard, having noted the phenomenal share counts that some PlayBuzz quizzes have been attracting over the past few months.
Here’s what we said back when we released July’s Facebook rankings:

PlayBuzz are mastering the viral content game like few others. Their biggest story of July, ‘Can You Pass A US Citizenship Test?‘ racked up over 2.1m Facebook interactions, making it one of the most widely spread pieces of content ever posted on Facebook.
To put that in perspective, that’s almost half of the total monthly score accumulated by some sites further down the top 25 list. 
With even a grammar test scoring close to 2m interactions, it’s impossible to leave PlayBuzz out of the viral equation, especially given that they’re now ranked as a top 10 US mobile site. Their rise has been faster, more sustained and more dramatic than other viral names such as Upworthy and Viral Nova.

A quick look at PlayBuzz stories published in the past week in Spike shows that the site’s quizzes are still going strong on Facebook:
Playbuzz in Spike
Nonetheless, it was still surprising to see PlayBuzz unseat BuzzFeed to take the second-highest number of shares on Facebook last month, after the Huffington Post.
Yesterday, we asked PlayBuzz’s Chief Content Officer, Shachar Orren, some questions about the fast-rising site.

How do you explain the huge popularity of PlayBuzz content in recent months? 

PlayBuzz is a content platform designed to allow everyone, from bloggers to major publishers to just any person, to create content that has the potential to become viral and shareable. The content formats that we offer the world are ones that encourage content that is more personal, that immediately creates an emotional response. Whether it’s a listicle or a quiz or a poll, it’s “about you”, and that makes you far more likely to be interested and engaged in it, and more importantly, share it with others.
Other than that, PlayBuzz’s popularity is driven by the power of being a content network that includes not only content by our small and superb editorial team, but crowd sourced content made by our vivid community of authors and publishers, creating content on our platform. Content is generated by more than 5,000 major websites, blogs and brands, and then embedded on their sites and apps. They are the ones who spread the buzz.

Can you give us some insight into the work you put into presenting your stories and quizzes on Facebook?

The content formats that PlayBuzz is offering are meant to encourage shareabilty and virality. We maintain a community of over 800K fans on Facebook, and we always try to get our fans to comment and engage with our items in different ways. But posting an item on our page is just the initial trigger to get it out there. After that, the success of the item will be determined by end users sharing it on their timeline (organic posts), and that’s the majority of Facebook activity that we see. That’s why the title and thumbnail of an item are crucial – that’s what most users will be clicking on their feed, not on the post we made on the PlayBuzz Facebook page.

Have you found that certain forms of content do better than others for your site?

Our company’s purpose is to offer formats that enable you to create the most popular and trending forms of content out there. Right now quizzes and listicles are doing great all over the web, but in the future, new formats will emerge. Our goal is to always offer new playful content formats that publishers can utilize in order to drive users’ interest and engagement in new ways.

How important is social distribution in driving traffic and new readers to PlayBuzz?

Our traffic consists of 65% returning users vs. new ones. Many of our returning users are coming from social media, as they are more inclined to click on organic posts generated by PlayBuzz users, given their familiarity with our brand and offering. Social media is definitely something we keep very much in mind when creating and designing new formats and authoring new content items. Content that you don’t just want to click on, but want to share with the world, is exactly what we aim for.

Have you any new content plans for the near future?

See above. We are deploying and testing many new and exciting content formats that will introduce more ways to consume content in a fun and playful manner.

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