Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I am the one behind News Cat Gifs!


I am responsible for News Cat Gifs!.

For the uninitiated, News Cat Gifs! is a Tumblr that's gone viral, mainly in journalism circles, for over a week now. Really.

For those who know me, this is not news or a surprise, since my dealings with news cats are well documented.

And yes, the idea is not original. There is, after all,  #RealTalk from your Editor, Frustrated Journalist Cat (where a number of my submissions made it), Procatinator, Cat Gif page and on and on.

I was on vacation in late June and, while camping, I was ruminating over how to make things go viral after the Slate piece on Buzzfeed.  I'm part of Digital First Media's Idealab, after all, and I like to experiment with things on the side.

I didn't just want to quite mimic something from Reddit, though. But I figured if I had potential if it was something that was niche enough (journalism) and if I hit industry influencers (that's why I had gifs with Steve Buttry at  @stevebuttry, who is my boss, and NPR's Andy Carvin at @acarvin).

That was July 2. I posted about 20 gifs and @dfnewscat started posting the tweets. Other journalism industry influencers picked up on it early, I presume thanks to the targeted tweeting, including GigaOm's Matthew Ingram and the Associated Press' Eric Carvin, Andy's brother. Other journalism heavy hitters joined in soon thereafter.

I followed the Twitter spread with a simple Twitter search, so I could see the reaction (which was great and made me smile many times, especially when it was reaction from people I follow and admire).

The Tumblr was anonymous because that's part of the fun and because I wasn't posting the sources of the gifs. I wouldn't do that professionally, obviously. I was just having fun grabbing gifs from Tumblr and Google searches.

(TANGENT LINK: This is how to find the credit of the images online)

I messed up the metrics widget, however, and I didn't fix until about noon on July 3. But I knew it had gone viral already because of the Twitter chatter.

Since July 3 at around noon, the blog has had more than 239,000 hits, and close to 93,000 unique visitors. The average return visits as of now are 1,271 a day. The blog has an average of 19.50 note-to-post ratio. Yesterday it went viral in France and Australia, so it picked up a healthy 47,823 hits.

It received an interesting visit from the IP address of a U.S. Senate office in Auburn, Maine and it got many referrals in French at one point. There were tons of nuggets like this that made me smile.

I spent about an hour a night scheduling eight to 10 posts for the next day. I posted one over the weekend. The posts were not all just my experiences. It was more of a collective newsroom experience.. I'm glad many enjoyed it and related to it as I did.

It has 1,602 followers as of 2 p.m. today. It was shared wildly on Twitter, Facebook and even Google+ and Pinterest, and the latter doesn't even like gifs. It had nice referrals from 10,000Words and Kotaku as well. 

Note that the blog has no social media share buttons at all.

Top Three Most Popular Posts

When I Have Five Deadlines Looming
Text: 188 notes - Published 7 days ago
When You Know The Source Is Lying To You
Text: 121 notes - Published 5 days ago
When A Cop Tells Me To Stay Away
Text: 98 notes - Published 8 days ago

There are many lessons to learn from this experience, and I'll be eventually sharing some insights after everything is fully digested (I've got a lot of pages to do too).

In the meantime, I will remain a happy camper.

Image via

Feel free to ask me any questions.