When I started work at BuzzFeed on midnight last January 1, we were already the best at something: Creating emotionally driven, image-heavy content people want to share. Matt Stopera’s Most Powerful Images of 2011 had been the most popular post in our history.
But Jonah Peretti, BuzzFeed’s founder and CEO, had realized that the social space had expanded to include not only the emotionally resonant items people share on Facebook, but also the hard news, compelling features, lists, humor, and analysis that thrive on Twitter. Americans were spending less time finding content from portals and search engines, and more from their friends, and Jonah made a huge gamble that BuzzFeed could vastly broaden its mandate.
A year later, it seems obvious that he was right. Our political coverage, which operated on the assumption — truer, at first, in politics than anywhere else — that Twitter is your front page, made a big impact in the ultra-competitive presidential campaign by doing what great reporters love to: Report and write. And since January 1, 2012, when Matt Stopera and Zeke Miller shared a room in the Hotel Fort Des Moines, we’ve learned enormous amounts about the substance and form of social journalism.
Our verticals have been rooted in this same reality of social news. FWD covers the new human reality of tech, providing crucial — and shareable — insight on how life is lived on Twitter and Facebook and how those services are used. Shift has gone deep into how women live their lives online and off, and taken seriously the year’s breakthrough social platform, Pinterest. Our Sports vertical has pioneered a new visual, GIF-heavy form of storytelling that merges the best of sportswriting and broadcasting.
Successive waves of of verticals we launched this year drilled down on some of the things people love to learn about, and to share, from food to nostalgia (to food nostalgia!), celebrity, music, LGBT, and — naturally — animals. We have filled in deep expertise and authority on everything from playlists — BuzzFeed Music’s is one of Rdio’s top playlists — to recipes for cooking everything from doves to jello shots. We have made the case for Ryan Gosling, for Corgis and cats; and I’ve learned along the way just how hard the deceptively simple, emotionally direct posts like 33 Animals Who Are Extremely Disappointed In You are to make.
We’ve also taken on a new medium in a big way: This fall, we lured the online video genius Ze Frank aboard to teach us — and millions of other people — how to trade Halloween candy, and how to navigate Thanksgiving.
Here’s a quick trip through some of the best stuff we made this year, a crazy mix of content that we hope will look like your Facebook feed on a very good day.
2. McCain To Endorse Romney Tomorrow
Our first scoop of the campaign season.
3. Exclusive: Marco Rubio’s Mormon Roots
As a child, he was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
5. At Harvard, Obama Dived Into Diversity Fight
Read the whole post here.
6. For Thousands Of Veterans, The New G.I. Bill Isn’t Working
The VA apologizes, but calls the problem “isolated.” “Immediate corrective actions” promised.
7. 13 Simple Steps To Get You Through A Rough Day
If you are having a bad day then you should probably look at this post.
One of our top posts with 7.9 million views.
8. Google’s Marissa Mayer: “I Really Hope More Women Enter The Field”
She helped create Gmail, professed her love of Oscar de la Renta in Vogue, and — having just been named the CEO of Yahoo — is one of the highest-ranking women in Silicon Valley.
9. Career Confidential: Wall Street Escort Wishes She Could Tell Clients: “You’re Really Small And You’re Bad In Bed”
“They have big egos and are big babies. If I make any sign that they’re not the best lover, or that their dick wasn’t the biggest dick I’ve ever seen, they start asking all these questions and putting me down.”
10. 50 People You Wish You Knew In Real Life
Life would be SO MUCH better with these people around all the time.
Another viral hit, 9.2 million views
11. Facebook Social Readers Are All Collapsing
Are you annoyed by all those automatic Facebook news apps? Apparently you’re not alone.
12. 21 Reasons You Should Be Following The NBA’s Weirdest Player On Twitter
On the court, JaVale McGee is maddeningly inconsistent. Off the court, he’s the most consistently weird, funny, crazy athlete on Twitter. Here’s why.
13. How The White House Smothered The News Of Obama’s Trip To Afghanistan
How the White House played whack-a-mole.
14. 21 Pictures That Will Restore Your Faith In Humanity
People aren’t always awful. Sometimes, they’re maybe even just a little bit wonderful. Here are 21 pictures to remind you of that fact.
Our most viral post of the year, with 11.3 million views
15. The Strongest Woman In America Lives In Poverty
Sarah Robles is ranked higher than any other American weightlifter, male or female. She’s the best hope the U.S. has at an Olympic medal in the sport — but she struggles to pay her rent.
16. 31 Insanely Easy and Clever DIY Projects
These are the kind of simple projects for the laziest and most inept of crafters. Even if you can barely operate a drill, you can do most of these projects — and in less than an hour.
17. Horror Hospital: The Most Shocking Photos And Testimony From The Dawood Military Hospital Scandal
If you look at only one story about the Afghan War this year, make it this one.
18. It Never Gets Better
Why you should never buy a mediocre piece of technology expecting that it’ll be more amazing tomorrow than it is today.
20. An Olympic Fencer Refuses To Leave The Floor After Getting Screwed
In the match that would decide who would fence for the gold, Germany’s Britta Heidemann landed a match-clinching touch. But was it in time? South Korea’s Shin A Lam didn’t think so. So she refused to leave.
21. McKayla Maroney’s Vault Was So Good It Literally Dropped A Judge’s Jaw
The most impressive moment from the US Women’s Gymnastics team’s very impressive gold medal night.
22. Ryan Lochte: Great At Swimming, Less Great At Talking About Swimming
23. BuzzFeed goes to the National Hobo Convention
Read our important coverage here.
24. Tech Confessional: The Googler Who Looked At The Worst Of The Internet
After a year spent looking at the dark underside of the Internet — including bestiality, necrophilia and child pornography — this Google contractor wasn’t even hired full-time.
25. The Angriest Babies In The Whole World
26. 12 Hilarious Reviews Of A Pen Just For Women
“It’s good that BIC are finally doing something to aid the plight of women.”
27. Why Music Gives You The Chills
Those intense physical sensations certain songs can give you have a name: ASMR.
28. Can You Die From A Nightmare?
It was creepy to wake up violently in the middle of the night. It was creepier when no one could tell me why it was happening.
29. Foreign Policy Hands Voice Disbelief At Romney Cairo Statement
“Bungle… utter disaster…not ready for prime time… not presidential… Lehman moment.” And that’s just the Republicans.
30. 22 Things You’re Doing Wrong
It’s okay. These little tricks will help you become the highly advanced human you’ve always dreamed of being.
31. Proof That Cats Are Better Than Dogs
32. Making Mitt: The Myth Of George Romney
The Republican nominee’s father didn’t walk out of the ‘64 convention. And George Romney didn’t teach Mitt that you lose by being honest — he taught him that you change your positions to win.
33. Why Is This Man Running for President of the Internet?
Alexis Ohanian started Reddit, the self-proclaimed “front page of the internet.” Then he helped kill SOPA, the bill that threatened to destroy it. Now he’s running for President. Of the whole thing.
34. 27 Nail Hacks for the Perfect DIY Manicure
If you do your nails at home, here’s every tip you could possibly need to ensure a salon-quality manicure.
35. How To Make 5 Perfect Dinners For $10 Each
Five recipes, one grocery list, and an essential cooking technique shown step by step. You’re going to use this constantly.
36. Polygamists See Themselves In Romney, Obama Family Trees