We’re always curious to know what makes viral publishers so successful — especially those creating original content. We talked to Diply, which has cracked the code on going big on social.
Diply is one of those sites that pops up in the newsfeed again and again. The site drove more than 4.9 million Facebook engagements in July, up from 2.4 million engagements in January. So how is the publisher sustaining that growth?
We asked Dan Lagani, Diply’s President and Chief Revenue Officer. Dan is a media veteran with years of digital experience at Reader’s Digest and Glam Media, amongst many other notable outlets. He gave us the scoop (or dip?) on what makes Diply so engaging on social media.
What makes Diply unique compared to other publishers?
Dan: The most fundamental thing for Diply is the understanding that consumers discover lifestyle and entertainment content in their social feeds. They’re finding our videos and stories by following Diply, Crafty, and/or Delicious through shares, comments, and recommendations from family and friends.
(ed: This recent video on Diply’s Page has driven nearly 1.1 million likes, shares, comments, and reactions)
The idea of publishing fun, interesting, and engaging content directly to social platforms – where people already are – is a simple but profoundly different approach to how traditional offline and web publishers approach their business. The usual approach is to put all your content in a shiny place and then figure out how to drive eyeballs to the content. As a social entertainment publisher, Diply inverted the pyramid, and it’s a core part of what makes us different.
We’re also different in that our content strategy is about understanding both the art and science of social. The “art” is that we start with great story ideas, and the “science” is that we test every video and story for engagement – shares, comments, and likes – before it goes live. This combination has helped us go from zero to a top ten lifestyle publisher on comScore in less than four years, and it’s why we have billions of high-quality media impressions that we’re monetizing every month, too.
The not-so-secret secret of Diply is that by having the entire company focused on social as our main distribution and content discovery platform, we can be a faster, smarter, and more innovative lifestyle publisher. In a market that continues to move so quickly, I’m happy and fortunate to be at a company like Diply that values and understands the power of a new and different approach to publishing.
You started out in traditional media, how did this experience translate to Diply?
I’ve got a varied background, and ironically, the fact that I started out in a traditional medium remains a core part of the innovation that I enjoy every day at Diply. Even 20 years ago, print was facing challenges. It was smaller and less sexy than television, and the only way to succeed was by being more creative, grittier, and nimbler and by understanding your clients’ businesses as well as your own. In the super competitive worlds of social, mobile, and video, those are baseline skills that continue to serve me well.
Virality can change fast. How is Diply innovating?
The focus from the start was to identify the most engaging content and understand why people share. To ensure a successful level of content consumption and engagement across our O&O channels, like Diply, Crafty, and Delicious, our guiding principle for content creation and social distribution is to test and test again. As the market continues to evolve, we take great strides to understand every aspect of existing and potential readers: what they are looking for, what they are engaging with, what article topics are performing best, what the optimum video length is, and how we can create stories and videos that people want to spend the most time with.
One specific example where Diply continues to innovate is social video. We produce 1,250+ original videos and stories per month, so we’re working with a vast amount of data and insights as a result. Twelve months ago, the winning format for video was the 16:9 ratio and, today, after looking at all that data, all the video that we produce is in a square format. Quite clearly, our data is already indicating that the next winning format will be full-screen vertical video.
What would you call Diply’s secret formula?
I don’t believe that there is one ingredient that has helped Diply scale so quickly since launching in the fall of 2013, but rather a combination of things: our understanding that lifestyle content is discovered on social platforms, our primary focus on creating engaging sharable videos and stories, and our commitment to testing all our content for engagement before publishing.
For example, we’ll shoot two different versions of a recipe video for Delicious, our food channel, and test each version – not only for expected video views, but for all around engagement, including time spent, shares, and comments. It would certainly be easier and less expensive to shoot only one complete video and set it live, but our approach has always been one of both the art and science.
We just saw that you released a B2B whitepaper, which is a pretty uncommon thing for a publisher to do. Can you tell us more about that?
It’s been such a well-received piece, and most importantly, it allows us to be a useful partner with our clients. We can speak with CMO’s about the kinds of things they’re interested in, like what’s different about social video, the importance of mobile, and how millennials discover and engage with content.
Even if it doesn’t lead immediately to advertising revenue, it’s good business to be experts in what’s driving the market and how consumer behavioral changes are forcing marketers to think differently about how they engage with current and future consumers.
What tips would you give to other publishers?
This is universal: Understand your consumer and stay deeply connected to them. Understand the role that your brand has in their lives and never lose focus of that. Diply’s focus is razor sharp in terms of content creation, social discovery, the importance of mobile, and the continued rise of video.
Even though social entertainment publishing is relatively new, at Diply, we’ve taken a classic idea – understand your consumer, your brand(s), and how they both interact – and put it to work in new and powerful ways. It’s important that you never lose sight of those concepts even as the media business evolves.
Thank you for joining us, Dan! We’re always trying to crack the code on what gets people sharing and what will go viral. For a look at what’s predicted to go big on social media, check out NewsWhip Spike.