Exclusive: Vegas’s Doug.com Wants to Compete with Upworthy 

May 20, 2014

12:00 pm

Last week, social media influencer Branden Hampton quietly launched Doug.com, a site for positive viral content that aims to compete with the likes of Upworthy and Distractify

“We’re taking the viralness of an Upworthy with the community aspect of Reddit,” Hampton says.

Watch a guy teach himself to dance in a year. Or (my favorite) a young girl experiencing rain for the first time. If your heart hasn’t completely melted yet, this dad’s reaction to becoming a grandfather will do the trick. 

The headlines might seem familiar, and Doug.com doesn’t deny that its competitors are onto something. With a team of curators, Upworthy has grown to almost 400,000 Twitter followers by focusing on uplifting videos. Distractify’s curators feature all types of content and have an audience of 134,000 on Twitter. ViralNova, bringing up the rear with a Twitter audience of 4,000, prefers text and gallery-style posts.

Hampton is betting that people don’t just want to consume viral content, but also engage around it. Whereas the other sites don’t even allow comments – suggesting that you continue the conversation on social media – Doug.com encourages it. The only way to suggest content to Upworthy is to tweet at them, but Doug.com has built that into the site.

On top of that, Doug.com users can compete for the top spot on a leaderboard, accumulating points for sharing, commenting, liking, and suggesting content. The top influencers will eventually get free rewards or contest entries, and badges to boot. They’ll also get the satisfaction of seeing their content grace the site’s front page. 

Speaking of which: have you ever visited Upworthy’s homepage, or even Buzzfeed’s? I hadn’t before I wrote this article. And for Hampton, that’s a problem – there’s no loyalty. He wants to build a real brand, starting with their goat logo (“goat” stands for “greatest of all time”). 

But it won’t be easy to compete with Upworthy and the like, so Hampton is relying on his own social influence to grow an audience. He has over 30 million followers on Twitter and Instagram, including his personal account @CEO and the #1 most engaged brand on Twitter, Notebook of Love. He also owns 20+ other accounts for niche interests like fashion, fitness, food, marijuana, video games, and cats (@cats). When Doug.com posts a cat video, for example, he can share it on the @cats account; the same goes for the other topics. He can leverage niches to become mainstream – something Upworthy can’t do with its generic brand.

Doug.com is built in Las Vegas, on Tracky’s a social publishing platform and with a team of designers and a curator. With such a focus on community in the downtown Vegas startup scene, it’s no surprise that Hampton saw opportunities for collaboration.  

Unlike a viral video, Doug.com (like all startups) won’t be an overnight success. So we’ll just have to stay tuned to see if they live up to their slogan of the “greatest of all time.” 

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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact [email protected]

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