Founded in May 2005 by Arianna Huffington, The Huffington Post is a news blog, which features varied content including entertainment, politics, business, culture, technology, and much much more. In 2009, the website came second in Time’s 25 Best Blogs of that year, and is currently eBiz’s number one Most Popular Political Website with an estimated 54 million unique visitors every month.
The Huffington Post started out as a blog, so its founders and current journalists have all understood the power of social media and have used this as much to their advantage as possible. The lead account, @HuffingtonPost, tweets more regularly than most news accounts on Twitter with an average of 10 tweets per hour containing links to the website.
The site has also vastly branched out using the social network and has separate Twitter accounts for each of its sections, eg, @HealthyLiving, @HuffPostSports, and @HuffPostPol (politics). It has also branched out and separated itself on Twitter into different areas, such as in the US with @HuffPostChicago and @HuffPostLA, and then into different countries with @HuffPostUK and @ElHuffPost (Spain). This means that a Twitter user can customise their use of The Huffington Post by following the different sections/areas that they are interested in, like a “customised newspaper” (Johnson, 2009). This is something that The Huffington Post understands by its many Twitter accounts, thus gaining maximum exposure.
Most journalists, interns and contributors to The Huffington Post can also be found on Twitter under their personal profiles. The atmosphere of many of their profiles is quite informal and personable, much like the actor and writer Greg Jenner. He uses his Twitter account as self-promotion, as well as talking to people – famous or otherwise – and to give general updates about his life. He, like many other Huffington Post journalists, can then form some sort of relationship or bond with his followers, so then they might be more inclined to read his articles when they are published.
This is where The Huffington Post is at its finest. Although much of its content is serious, formal and trustworthy, due to its blog format, it has room to be informal and play to Twitter’s desires. One such article recently was about grumpy cats, something that would be a sure-fire hit with tweeters. As well as these often silly photo compilations, the website also posts lists of things, one of which recently was Women’s Names Ruined By Songs: 23 Names Changed By Music. The format of these sort of articles is informal and quirky, often with not a lot of text and many pictures and videos. The reader, who has clicked a link on Twitter and is willing to give 30 seconds of their time to the article, is met with stimulating content, such as photos and videos, and no heavy text, and is therefore rewarded and is more likely to come back to The Huffington Post again.
In any case, The Huffington Post seems to know what it’s doing. In 2011, Politico reported that the blog received 35.5 million unique users every month, more than the New York Times. This could possibly be due to its appeal on the internet and interaction on Twitter, but as it stands, The Huffington Post continues to be a (free) force to be reckoned with.