‘It becomes about welding internet virality with news value’: The Daily Dot reached our highest traffic ever

This year, the Daily Dot’s newsroom made an active push to increase our production of original reporting found online, specifically in places like TikTok. Our efforts are paying off, and we recently reached a major milestone: our highest traffic ever. 

For our previous high, we reached 21.8 million unique users in a month. This past December, we attracted over 27.6 million unique users. Then in January, we beat our record again and reached over 36.1 million unique users. 

Our MVP for this traffic jump, News Editor Eilish O’Sullivan, says some of our top-performing stories are what Daily Dot staffers like to call “viral labor stories”—aka, content that blows up online which provides a window into the lives of working-class people in the gig economy and minimum-wage service industry.

“Whether it be a story about an ex-Starbucks worker speaking out against the corporation or one about a McDonald’s worker exposing the chain’s most popular menu item, our coverage is the public record of what’s happening on these very important platforms,” O’Sullivan said. 

O’Sullivan also said the Daily Dot’s audience is drawn to our work because it’s “more online” than what most news publications are covering. 

“Our readers are not coming to our site to keep up with the latest on what’s going on on the ground in Ukraine. They’re coming to our site to read about a man who changed his location on Tinder to match with ‘hotties that need a green card’ in the country,” O’Sullivan said. 

While O’Sullivan said story selection was key in driving reach and increasing traffic, she said there are many elements that come together to attract our audience’s attention, including headline construction and art. 

“I’d be lying if I said traffic doesn’t have a hand in how we operate or what kind of content we produce. High traffic is a pretty good indicator of what readers like and would probably like to see more of,” O’Sullivan shared. 

The Daily Dot’s News Director, Ramón Ramirez, agreed we need to pay attention to what our readers are drawn to and “double-down” on what works.

“That is my shrewd, pragmatic news thinking when it comes to the daily desk. However, we also need to do so knowing that, of course, people are more than likely to look at car crashes,” Ramirez said, “It becomes about welding internet virality with news value so that there is purpose. So that there are real journalistic principles behind every well-oiled post. They must work in tandem for us to greenlight them or else we are not serving our readers.”

The Daily Dot is committed to staying on top of the next big trends. We were ahead of the curve covering QAnon, Karens, and TikTok. Now we’re looking to the next thing. 

“I”m very curious about the post-Slap state of celebrity news and where it plays out,” Ramirez said, referring to the aftermath of the infamous Will Smith slap at the 2022 Oscars.

“I can’t say we know what’s next in terms of coverage yet. Something we’ve always been very good at, though, is having our finger on the pulse of the next big thing,” O’Sullivan said, “I’m excited to see what’s next for us. And I know we’ll know it when we see it.”

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