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Buzzfeed's Social Media Director and ASU alumna talks online news

Maycie Thornton, ASU alumna and Buzzfeed social media director, was featured during the Cronkite school's Must See Monday

Jessica Pucci asks Maycie Thornton questions about working in the social media and news world at a Must See Mondays event at the ASU downtown campus on Feb. 20, 2017.

Jessica Pucci asks Maycie Thornton questions about working in the social media and news world at a Must See Mondays event at the ASU downtown campus on Feb. 20, 2017.

Maycie Thornton, ASU alumna and Buzzfeed social media director, spoke at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication on Monday to discuss social media, news and the effectiveness of different platforms.

During an interview before her Must See Monday segment, Thornton said social media and news have a mutually beneficial relationship.

Thornton said news sites like Buzzfeed create so much content that it's easier to keep track of what's working and what isn't.

“It’s just the way people consume news now,” she said.

Thornton said even though social media was used less as a news source when she was at ASU, the Cronkite school gave her a better understanding of journalism and media in general.

Thornton also said it is important to think about how different content resonates with an audience.

“You have to try to think about the audience and how they would want to share the piece of content,” she said.

Thornton said even though quality is the most important factor in making something go viral, it is still important to understand that each platform is different when it comes to producing quality content.

“You can’t just make a story one way, and expect it to work on all these different platforms,” she said. “You have to really optimize the story for every different platform to get the most eyeballs on it.”

Thornton said 80 percent of Buzzfeed viewers access their content from mobile devices, so accessibility and engagement on mobile sites is extremely important.

One of the mobile sites Thornton said she thought was doing well was Buzzfeed's page on the Snapchat Discover feature.

Thornton said she likes how Snapchat's discover page can incorporate every part of Buzzfeed, and that it has been a fun place for the Buzzfeed staff to discover and learn.

“It has been a challenge because you constantly have to reinvent what works on that platform,” she said.

During her Must See Monday segment, Thornton gave examples of how Buzzfeed content can do better on different channels.

“We found over the years that if you can segment your audience and give them exactly what they want, then the content will be more successful than if you just have one blanket page,” she said.

An example she gave was a video about a kitten and Navy pilot that performed better on the Buzzfeed Animals channel than on the Buzzfeed News channel.

Thornton said Buzzfeed Animals has a smaller following but the content connected with that channel more.

Thornton also said Buzzfeed's ability to balance news and entertainment is what makes the company special.

“It’s hard for a news organization to make money, but what’s really cool with Buzzfeed is that we are a profitable company with our entertainment,” she said. “We can fund really incredible journalism because of that.”

Melanie Abramoff, journalism senior, said she liked how Thornton viewed the analytics of what people were interested in and how she then created specific channels according to her findings.

“It’s super interesting that the content really drove what was going to be on social,” Abramoff said.

As someone who has her own digital platform and is also a member of the Cronkite News social media team, Abramoff said there were many takeaways from what Thornton said regarding data analytics.

Lori Fusak, a journalism senior, said she enjoyed hearing a professional’s perspective on managing social media. She also said she uses some social media for news.

“I used to think that using social media in the professional field would be easy, but I have learned that it is a lot harder than it seems,” Fusak said.

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