Transcript: Arianna Huffington on We Are Drowning in Data and Starved for Wisdom

I actually say to them that if I was launching the Huffington Post today there would be no website because it’s all social. And I think one of the reasons why we succeeded at remaining at the forefront of this business is because we changed our strategy. So three years ago, because I woke up after eight hours sleep feeling completely recharged, I could see the iceberg that was about to hit the Titanic. And the iceberg was that people were not going to be coming to the Huffington Post directly in the large numbers they were coming to the Huffington Post directly. We had — our operation was being driven very much around our Splashes.

We launched the idea of the Splash early on in the life of the Huffington Post, which was again very radical and controversial at the time because the idea was that you needed to put as many stories as possible at the top, kind of above the fall, to drive traffic to them. And we said, no. We are going to announce what we consider is the most important story of the moment. We may change it ten times in the course of the day, but it created a sense of drama. It made people keep wanting to come back to see what’s the big story now. And we hired editors who really knew how to create amazing headlines that were a little playful and not conventional. One of my favorites was when Dominique Strauss-Kahn was arrested. Our headline was OMG, IMF.

And so the point, though, was as things changed, we decided to stop prioritizing our other front pages. We still prioritize the front page because we’re still getting enough traffic to it. But we stop prioritizing the splashes of what by then we had 70 sections at the Huffington Post covering everything from, colleges to wellness, to business. And editors would spend a lot of time creating beautiful splashes which would be seen by fewer and fewer people. So we made different teams that instead worked on how to make content be social and be viral.

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But here is another thing we discovered. Normally we think of content going viral as being cats on skateboards or cute animals. And we discovered that the content that goes most viral is content around solutions. Things that people want to share.

Interviewer: Positive stories.

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