Stephanie Buck, associate features editor for Mashable, helps oversee department strategy and features reporting. During her career in media, she has contributed to lifestyle and digital publications both national and local. A California transplant, she now lives in New York City in a tiny apartment overflowing with yoga mats, knitting needles, and craft beer. Given Mashable’s extensive social reach—boasting 20 million unique monthly visitors, 6 million social media follows, and roughly 60 articles tweeted per minute—we asked Buck for her take on shareable media and what makes for good viral content.
What are some of the most exciting things about working at Mashable?
You hear all these great things about “startup culture,” but until Mashable, I had no idea what that phrase meant. Sure, the office has a kegerator and a kooky mural. But for me, the most exciting bonus has been Mashable’s incredibly collaborative nature. Although the brand is growing exponentially, Mashable retains its small-business mentality, in that each department interacts closely with the other. For example, with the site’s recent redesign, I’ve been able to learn more development and product tools than I ever dreamed. And you can bet that’s going on the ol’ resume.
Where do you find your inspiration when writing articles?
As a writer, I grew up with the phrase, “Write about what you know.” In my case and for what I love to write about, it’s more like, “Write about who you know.” Most of my inspiration comes from what my friends and loved ones are experiencing, what they talk about over cocktails, how they’re tackling generational challenges. These are the kinds of things that make social media so relatable—so I approach my writing with the same mentality.
Not your typical work environment, Buck and her Mashable associates get down to business at a media summit.
What is one of the most fun articles you’ve ever written?
That would have to be an article entitled 20 Things Your Most Annoying Friends Do on Facebook. Think humblebrags, oversharing, and baby spamming. I had a running list in my head (as I’m positive most social media users do), but I also chose to send out a company-wide email asking my co-workers about their biggest Facebook pet peeves. Let’s just say, I think we may have broken the record for longest email chain in company history. That’s when I knew I had a winner and, sure enough, the article became Mashable’s top performer for the week.
What type of content does the best on your site/what types of posts tend to go viral?
Web virality is a fickle, fickle beast. What I’ve learned, from speaking with viral experts, is that viral content is largely arbitrary—it’s nearly impossible to predict what Web users will enjoy and share. But Mashable (and mostly our Watercooler channel) continues to become as fluent as possible in the Web zeitgeist, remaining on the pulse of conversation at all times. Often, that means combing the Web for a thrilling new stunt video or encountering a news-related political meme that we, ourselves, enjoy or find valuable. After all, we are our readership. If we enjoy it, chances are our audience will, too.
Buck (back, center) portrays Ermahgerd Gersberms Girl in the 12 Memes of Christmas, alongside her Mashable colleagues.
What do you see as the future of content?
It’s been fascinating to watch content and commerce overlap, especially as brands and publishers continue to collaborate. Brands are investing big bucks into content advertising by integrating branded apps, shareable media, and valuable tools into their overall marketing strategies. The challenge has been for traditional media to approach the reverse: to monetize by seamlessly merging advertising and marketing programs into their content. I have faith that we’ll see publishers innovate and upend content’s status quo in the coming year, in really exciting new ways.
It’s not every day that Grumpy Cat stops by the Mashable office to say hi. Lucky.