BuzzFeed editor talks 'going viral,' complete with gifs

BuzzFeed viral politics editor Benny Johnson demonstrated that "going viral" is less about numbers than surrounding a target audience with content.

BuzzFeed viral politics editor Benny Johnson demonstrated that "going viral" is less about numbers than surrounding a target audience with content it will share or add to during his speech at the Convergence in Communications Conference on Friday afternoon.

Johnson did so despite the final minutes of his presentation being cut short by a fire alarm. Attendees of the Rosslyn, VA, conference were given the "all clear" to return minutes later.

As one might have expected from an editor at BuzzFeed, his presentation was rife with gifs. Opening his talk, Johnson promised to show examples of content that is considered successful on the Internet. The screens above him flashed images of Grumpy Cat, a clip of "Gangnam Style," and a photoshopped Mitt Romney doing the "Gangnam Style" dance, all playing over Rebecca Black’s breakout hit, "Friday."

Johnson might have been able to make an entire presentation on virality using Vice President Joe Biden alone - through clips both real and photoshopped - but with only a few, he made his point: the political world is more accessible than ever. Also, stars from both parties can be compared to cats and muppets.

He also demonstrated that what starts with targeting an audience can end with it being thankful for that content. Johnson showed a screenshot of BuzzFeed’s comment section after it ran a primer on the crisis in Syria comparing players on the world stage to characters from MTV’s The Hills. Russian president Vladimir Putin was depicted by none other than Heidi Montag.

At the bottom of the gif-filled post, Millennials - Johnson said there are 8.2 million of them - expressed their gratitude to BuzzFeed for explaining the international crisis in a way they could understand. Some shared it with their followers on social media.

Yet MIllennials might not be thanking Johnson after he described the generation by using an image of pop star Justin Bieber tweeting on The Late Show with David Letterman, perhaps meant to be the face of a generation. But at least he didn’t use the Bieb’s mugshot.

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