Cheezburger Network CEO Ben Huh oversees 60 humor websites like the I Can Has Cheezburger cat blog. Forget viral hits. He says user loyalty--his network gets more than 24 million visitors each month--has less to do with funny cats, and more to do with data, consistency, and supply chains.
Forget Going Viral: The LOLcats Approach to Growing a Lasting Audience
I can has success? With nearly 58 humor websites and millions of viewers in his media empire (including the famous I Can Has Cheezburger cat blog), Cheezburger Network CEO Ben Huh says user loyalty has less to do with funny cats, and more with learning from data and strategy.
00:00 Ben Huh: My name is Ben Huh and I am the CEO and founder of Cheezburger. Cheezburger is the, as some people call it, "The happiest place on the internet." Cheezburger is now 58 plus sites and we run several high profile brand humor websites on the internet such as FAIL Blog, I Can Has Cheezburger and Meme Base. And in fact, what we are doing is, we're continuing to expand our portfolio of sites and content that people can actually enjoy and what we've now done is we've allowed our users to create their own collection of humor and what we really wanna become is synonymous with humor on the internet.
00:35 Ben Huh: The vast majority of the content that's on our sites is not produced by our staff, it is actually crowd source. So people take videos of themselves falling while trying to skateboard and it's really funny so they sell it at the FAIL Blog or they'll take one of our tools and they'll take a photo and they'll create a caption on it and then it'll become a mean or they are dictating an existing meme and making it kind of their own. And so we don't really know what's coming down the pipe. I guess in business parlance, we don't really have a reliable supply chain. So what we rely on, is we rely on screening and we rely on the community to help us filter out the stuff that's good versus that's not and we try to make sure that the supply of content that's gonna show up on our sites everyday is really good and work on the macro issues like, "Hey, if I'm a business working on content, I wanna make sure that I have the best staff writers because the staff writers always share very good content". Now that's managing a supply chain when it comes to content. So, with us, we manage our supply chain with content by making things easier for people to create. And as long as your filtering system's there, then you can actually generate better and better content.
01:34 Ben Huh: What you really wanna do is deliver consistent, quality content every single time somebody visits. You wanna make it a daily habit and the only way to actually grow your traffic and your audience is to get new people to show up and get some of them to stay because if they don't stay, all you're gonna end up is the same amount traffic you had before. And I usually dissuade people from trying to pursue virality and the reason is that I've seen enough data and I've seen enough metrics from our sites, as well others that show that virality just becomes this giant peak and then it just disappears and the people who showed up really don't come back and you're left kind of the same place that you were before even though you spent all those effort trying to get virality. And it's so unpredictable. So what I do is I tell people to focus on consistency.
02:19 Ben Huh: We have the same fundamental product that we did four, five years ago, which is the ability for users to create a modified content that makes each other happy. So in fact the entire company is geared towards interacting with our users and making sure that they wanna come back and interact with us and that makes us create a lot more tools to actually listen to our users, not only from surveys and actively listening to customer service but also passively listening, like what does the data say. Whether it's social media, whether it's user-generated content or whether it's just analytics, there's something there that's going to profoundly change the way you understand your customers and challenge your notion of who your best customers are, who your potential customers are and where your growth path is.