Brian Fung at the Atlantic offers a preview of the new Web site for the National Republican Congressional Committee.
“BuzzFeed’s eating everyone’s lunch,” said NRCC spokesman Gerrit Lansing. “They’re making people want to read and be cognizant of politics in a different way.”
The committee spent hours poring over BuzzFeed’s site map and layout, studying how readers arrived at its landing pages and bounced from one article to the next. Unsurprisingly, a ton of traffic came from social media — but a lot of it also seemed to come from the site’s sidebar, said Lansing. So the NRCC’s redesign includes a list of recent and popular posts.
The images of the upcoming site even LOOK like BuzzFeed.
We have created a monster.
I can picture the lists now:
• 14 Ways Ronald Reagan Would Make Everything Better
• 15 Fiscally Responsible Marmosets
• 8 Pretty Funny Rape Jokes Told By Current Candidates
• 7 Sexiest Charts From The Ryan Budget.
• 12 Things Benedict Cumberbatch Hates About Public-Sector Unions.
• 9 Out-of-Context Remarks That Prove Obama Should Be Impeached.
• Ladies! 36 Best Identical-Looking Red Power Suits.
• 11 Gaffes We Won’t Make On This Web Site!
You think I’m joking? They made that last one already.
That is the underlying trouble with the BuzzFeed format: It’s literally beyond parody. And I don’t just throw “literally” around. McSweeney’s tried, with a list of Suggested BuzzFeed Articles seemingly too ridiculous for the ‘Feed — and Buzzfeed responded by just making them. Nothing is off limits.
Of course, how exactly the Nothing-is-Off Limits BuzzFeed model will mesh with the official Web site of an organization like the NRCC remains to be seen.
The thought of an NRCC/BuzzFeed spawn strikes me with extreme trepidation. It’s the sharktopus of site concepts. It seems unlikely to end well, and its most nightmarish iteration would involve tentacles somehow. Marry an elephant to the attention span of a gnat and see what happens.
We sensed this was coming.
The GIFification of public discourse is unlikely to stop anytime soon. The trouble is that this is what we want. You can tell. We click on it. It’s bite-size politics. It’s intellectual tapas.
Already, the new strategy seems to be working. Lansing told the Atlantic that the site’s visitor numbers, as they court social media clicks, look like those at the end of the 2012 campaign — insanely high for an off-year — and with each visit comes $.10 to $.25 in contributions.
That’s the most terrifying thing about this model: It works.