Started in March 2012, Upworthy is the child of Eli Pariser (left-wing political activist and former executive director of public policy advocacy group MoveOn) and Peter Koechley (the former managing editor of American news satire website The Onion). Known for using viral videos, infographics or images to promote social issues, their stated mission is to host the intersection of the “awesome”, the “meaningful” and the “visual”.

What is it that made them “the fastest growing media site of all time”, according to Fast Company?

We think it’s mainly because of the following three reasons:

They Inspire.

The site’s mission in a nutshell is to make meaningful stories go viral.

Cofounder Pariser said in an interview, “It’s been so awesome to see the hunger that people actually have for content that does have meaning.  That’s what gets me so excited: proving the thesis that people don’t just want fluff stories. People do actually want to be engaged, and treated like adults, and thinking about interesting and thoughtful stuff.”

Certainly, it seems that Pariser understands that with all the packaging and marketing that happens online, it can never beat quality content that is meaningful.

Pariser’s partner Koechley stated, “One question that we ask our curators to ask themselves is, ‘If 1 million people saw this, would it make the world a better place?’"


They Entertain.

The website does not just aggregate material that matters, it also packages the links with compelling titles, images and descriptions. They are famous for piquing the viewers’ curiosity so that they feel the urge to click on the link.

While they started off by not producing any original content, lately they have been issuing videos they produced on their YouTube channel.

Like the usual videos they find from all corners of the Internet, the ones they released themselves, such as “How Social Media is Changing Saudi Arabia”, or “Eyewitnesses Explain the Crimes of North Korea”, go beyond defeating boredom, but also broadcasting positive messages that resonate wide and deep.


They Push Content.

Social media is second-nature.

The website is known for pushing their content on every social media platform available. They also do this strategically: to tailor to the different audiences on FacebookTwitterTumblrPinterest and so on, they write different headlines for each site.  

The very fact that they marketed themselves purely on social media shows that marketing professionals can no longer ignore this booming new arena for promoting products. The ‘shares’ for a link is the metric for measuring whether the audience resonated with the content.

Through promoting content that endorses intrinsic values such as equalitywomen’s rightsfighting poverty, etc., the site is manufacturing virality by the millions.


Lesson learned:

Upworthy enjoys over 20 million page views per month, essentially because they inspire, entertain and understand virality.