The problem with tracking how content spreads on social media is that, while tracking how something spreads through a single network such as Facebook is easy, tracking it across multiple networks is much harder. This is where BuzzFeed thinks it can be of assistance, and as one of the kinds of viral content at the moment, it’s certainly in a position to do so. This assistance comes in the form of a new technology known as Pound.
The traditional view of how content spreads socially is tightly bound to a specific network. Share your cat GIF on Facebook, for example, and watch as ever-widening groups of interconnected people propel the image far beyond anything you could have planned—on Facebook. Even analytics providers tend to bucket content this way. But think about it: Do you really share things just on Facebook? Nope. Like most people you are more likely switching from Twitter to Facebook to Pinterest, chat and email, sharing all the while. And even the best analytics providers out there do a poor job of tracking how that cat GIF gets passed across the social web. That insight, based in part on research by Stanford and Microsoft, is at the heart of a new initiative announced Monday by BuzzFeed at the NewFronts (which is where online video makers pitch their lineups to advertisers). It’s called Pound, and BuzzFeed publisher Dao Nguyen describes it in a blog post as a proprietary technology that “follows propagations from one sharer to another, through all the downstream visits, even across social networks and one-to-one sharing platforms like Gchat and email.”