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Why Bloggers Should Consider Social Bookmarking Sites Like Digg

Earlier in the week I published a post titled Skip Digg: Not All Traffic is Created Equal. In that post I mentioned that I’d follow up the post with some arguements FOR using Digg by a top Digg user. Today social media expert Muhammad Saleem tackles that very topic.

You will probably be surprised to read that I agree with a lot of what Josh said in his post earlier in the week. Josh’s points probably resonate with the experience that most of you have had. However, does that mean that Digg ( or other social news sites) is worthless as a marketing platform?

The answer to that depends on what your goals are.

The problem with most people is their approach to social news is shortsighted. Social news sites are a long-term investment not a day trade.

Josh is right, building a following requires time and patience, and why should a social news site be any different? You have to actively participate on the site and network with other users (both of which are incredibly time consuming) before you can truly understand a community and they can appreciate what you have to offer. And even if you do make the investment, there is no guarantee of success on the site, and why should there be?

Social media marketing is not for everyone and won’t work for everyone. Before you take the plunge and invest your time and energy into any site (for marketing purposes), whether it be Digg or one of its competitors, take a moment to understand the site, the demographics of the site’s community, and the community’s preferences (My Little Pony would hardly work on Digg, but on StumbleUpon maybe). Communities are always evolving and what works today may not work tomorrow. Darren is a great example of this.

ProBlogger used to do really well on Digg but for some reason it doesn’t anymore. At the same time, however, Digital Photography School still performs really well. Why? Because Digg users are no longer interested in blogs that blog about blogging or making money from blogging, but have in the past months become infatuated with digital photography.

The web is a crowded place and filled with people fighting hard against information overload (and mostly losing). In this kind of an environment, an environment where people are doing their best to filter out useless information (noise), social news sites function as filters that help separate the wheat from the chaff the definition of both varies community to community).

But even then, every social news site is different. If you don’t like the Digg community, or they don’t like your content, try Reddit, StumbleUpon, Propeller, Mixx, the list goes on. The problem is not with social news or one particular site, the composition of these sites is natural self-selection of likeminded people.

Traditional social news sites like Digg, Reddit, and Propeller serve as newspapers. They are designed to have all sorts of content, some. Some of it will be tabloid material (for the stupid people) and some of it will be smart (for the rest of the crowd). These sites (Digg) aren’t necessarily for distraction only, though they certainly do a good job of that.

Ultimately, Josh is absolutely right when he tells the “ProBlogger” audience to not use “Digg”. What I would recommend instead is Sphinn.

However, for the average blogger, especially news, politics, entertainment, science, and offbeat bloggers, Digg and all its sister sites are a great avenues for a lot of exposure, of which some definitely sticks and can lead to great long-term growth. When people target all the wrong communities where their content is not desired, that’s when people get frustrated. It’s just a matter of taking the time to understand the community that best fits your needs and where your content will be best served and spending time on that community.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Interesting… Sphinn I’ll have to check that out. I was never a big Digg fan anyway.

  2. Tom says:

    You do really have to understand where people focus their time on social networking sites. Putting to much time and energy into a site that does not have much interest in what you’re saying won’t benefit you or the viewers of the social network site much.

  3. Ganesh says:

    Well said. I completely agree. You have to try social media sites that like your topic of writing. Even though, I was convinced by Josh’s post, I find myself agreeing with yours too. Great. :-)

  4. Ryan McLean says:

    I like how you said it depends on your goals. Personally I am looking for people to read my blog who are already interested in making money online. That is my market and that is why most of my readers have come from other blogs.
    Eventually as I have more success and get more readers I will have the expereience to open my blog up to more social marketing kind of sites…but for now I am choosing not to waste my time as I don’t currently have what I need to be successful in those communities

  5. lazy drunk says:

    I totaly agree with social media expert Muhammad Saleem.

    You should add your site to digg anyway for other reasons, because it will help get it index in google faster, if your site is new.

  6. Laugh It Out says:

    I always like social media sites. They can give you that initial boost which you need when you are just starting with blogging. It is very easy to loose interest when you find that no one is reading what you are writing. Here social media is great to just give that initial spark.

    I say this because it helped me too when I started.

  7. I think this is a well argued post, but I have some issues:

    Let’s say you do succeed on Digg. How long does that last? A week? Less? There’s also something to be said about how certain items, at least in Digg’s case, make it to the top to begin with. Just ask any Ron Paul supporter.

    There is more to be said about the sustainability of a “Digg Effect” or “Tech Crunch Bump” over the long term. I have yet to see someone submit actual evidence that the Digg Effect has benefited them over the six months.

    Who is the average blogger? According to Technorati, we’re not so average. You said it yourself, there are stupid people and then the “rest of us”.

    Also: “Tabloid material for the stupid people” I hate to say this, but … many, many customers or people who would need the skills of a “social media expert” might fall into that category. I don’t think labeling those Digg users as such was appropriate or even called for. It’s bad for business and I wouldn’t recommend anyone work with someone who thinks of their customer like that.

  8. *over six months. I have yet to see anyone show how Digg or Tech Crunch has benefited them over a six month period.

  9. Derek Clark says:

    I have had much greater success with stumble upon than I have with digg. My blog is about politics, and it seems if I write more than 2 paragraphs it is too much for the digg crowd.

  10. Roy Scribner says:

    I prefer to sift through the chaff. It keeps me young! I am not familiar with Digg’s demographics, but I find that the applications I do use have widely differing (crazy different!) user bases. I think it’s important to understand the audience that you are reaching – all socmed audiences are not the same.

  11. Josh Klein says:

    How odd, I also agree with everything Muhammad has to say here :) He makes great points — and I don’t want anyone to give up on social media altogether because I’m down on Digg! I’m a fan of Stumbleupon and Del.icio.us, and I can’t stop using Twitter — which is actually where I’ve met Muhammad before.

    Thanks for the counterpoint!

  12. Jeff says:

    What people seem to completely ignore when rendering opinions on social networking is CONVERSIONS — it doesn’t really matter if you get 1000′s of extra visitors from a top Digg, Reddit, etc.. listing, if they don’t convert into subscribers and customers, then there’s not much value at the end of the day.

    I began testing my social networking activities a few months ago and have found that for my IM type sites, Twitter and oddly enough Myspace and Facebook tend to convert better than Digg, Delicious, Reddit, etc…

    And even more interesting, most of the conversions from Myspace and Facebook come from people who see my content, then go back through my profile and then become customers or subscribers. So the profile is extremely important.

    Anyway – food for thought – future articles on what your traffic is DOING after reaching your site via social networking is most useful.

    Jeff

  13. I’m kinda disappointed with Digg. Either something in my Internet connection broke and gets me off that site for not more than a minute after trying to login for ten minutes.

    Or maybe I’ve been self-promoting too much and got a retribution and not being able to go on there is like the “sentence”. Haha.

  14. There is another weakness to Digg. If you blog local, your posts will not be of interest to a US-dominated global site like Digg, where US news, global news and tech tend to rule. For instance, someone whose blog posts are all about Saskatchewan will never get traction on a site like Digg. I suspect there will be a healthy place for niche bookmarking sites, which is why I have just launched http://www.zoomit.ca for Canadians. Hopefully Canadian bloggers will find this to be a good supplement/alternative.

  15. Rob Chant says:

    Interesting thoughts.

    I’ve noticed that I’ve become quite blinkered in just thinking ‘DIgg’ when I think social news, and this post has helped to broaden my thinking a bit. Thanks.

  16. I’ve been thinking about trying out Sphinn, but haven’t got around to it.

    I think I’ll have a look now.

  17. joe gelb says:

    i think that there is a component with the social sites where because the traffic is high but a small percentage tends to stay on even the best blogs that people should use them not for the numbers but rather that small number of fresh readers who will become a part of their blog community as well. all social sites have benefits to all bloggers but people tend to evaluate their success based on whether they become a top blog tommorrow and not whether they gain some more readers who will slowly tell their friends and a deep appreciation will be rooted for that blog hard work. and also pro blogger may be having trouble because of diminishing returns afterall this site is the best and people already know that so i think the blogs on blog debate is settled online

  18. I agree, I think Digg has lost its effect in many markets though and I definitely agree with you saying Digg is more like a newspaper it totally is.

    I think in the future we will be seeing a lot more niche social media sites.

  19. Excellent post. I will try sphinn, first time I heard of it

  20. Ben says:

    Great Post, thanks a lot!

  21. Dave Peck says:

    Wow.. now you have me thinking, which is scary. Ill give sphinn a try, good post!

  22. You see, the reason Digg is worth a lot is because, in essence marketing is a number’s game. Yes, the conversions you get from social media is very low but something’s better than a big fat 0. If you’re able to get 5 posts to the Digg front page in, let’s say, 1 month, that means your site got about 100,000 to 200,000 visits from social media. Even if the conversion rate is a paltry 0.1% then you got 100-200 new subscribers.

    Better than a big fat 0…

  23. I also think there are way too many “blogs about blogging”… Well, except for Problogger of course :)

    It’s like calling someone on the phone to talk about phones.

    Thanks for the article Darren!

  24. Brad says:

    Great post!

    I think for a blog to do well on a site like Digg, it has to be the right topic at the right time. Like you said, less people are now interested in blogs about blogging, but it used to be really popular.

    I’m not sure if a blog like mine, about literature and writing, will every be a “hot topic” on Digg (I doubt it), but there are plenty of other ways to generate quality traffic.

    As always, thanks for the awesome content!

  25. Parth says:

    What do you recommend for a health and fitness site?

  26. Rahul says:

    Yes, definitely bloggers should consider social bookmarking sites for better coverage of ur blog.

  27. JR Griggs says:

    I think it comes down to try what you can when you can and go with what works. I think more could have been said in this article.

    BTW: I just submitted an article that I posted this morning to digg. With in 2 minutes it had another digg and a comment on my site. May be the only thing it gets but it only took me 30 seconds to do.

  28. Jeff says:

    Ruchir – that’s a ridiculous example. This is exactly why there is so much mis-information on this topic. How likely is it that someone is going to get a first-page listing on Digg these days? Have you ever done it? Can you do it each month?

    Assuming that someone is going to bring in 100,000 visitors (the average blogger now) on Digg each month is plain crazy. Even with those excessively imagined numbers, they get a couple hundred subscribers – I can do that with one affiliate mailing or an article or two on ezinearticles.com with far better conversions.

    I’m not saying that social networking doesn’t work – I gave examples above of how it works for our business, but I would suggest people keep very close watch on 1) How much time they are putting in 2) How many visitors they are getting 3) How many conversions that is resulting in and 4) Compare that against the other traffic generation techniques that exist out there.

    Jeff

  29. JB says:

    I think you are definitely right when you mention that using social bookmarking sites is a long-term investment. Digg can be immensely helpful to a few blogs, but unfortunately the majority of the its users, myself included, it does very little in regard to attaining and retaining a readership. For me, the cost of time and energy have proved time and time again that it outweighs the minor benefits I have ever received from Digg.

  30. I wholeheartedly agree with your points Darren, I think in the future we will be seeing a lot more niche social media sites.

  31. MLRebecca says:

    There are so many social bookmarking sites now. Some, like Sphinn, cater to specific markets. However, it’s not enough to simply post a link on Digg. That might offer you a linkback. However, as you mentioned, to truly become a trusted source on sites like Digg or StumbleUpon, it is important to become an active part of the community. Thanks for sharing your ideas!

  32. “The answer to that depends on what your goals are.”

    Exactly, Muhammad! That’s all I feel like I’ve been saying since I started Visionary Blogging a few months ago.

    If you don’t know what you want, how can you know how to get it?

  33. Maybe you need to create a post on how to become a good active member on Digg? (besides Digging other people’s posts) – if not already

  34. dani says:

    Doing Social bookmarking & SEO are the most powerful way to drive traffic, they just need lowest cost.

  35. @ Jeff: Well, it depends on your niche. At least for tech blogs it’s true…

    I honestly put 0 effort into building good profiles on social media. What I do is I just fire up a linkbait article, email bloggers, and utilize some voting networks. Using that method I haven’t gotten on the frontpage yet (never targeted Digg really – as before I had a metablogging blog) but my posts have gone “hot” on SU many times, bringing in anywhere from 1K-13K visitors.

    Yes, I agree that most bloggers are wasting time by putting so much time & effort into building a powerful Digg profile or networking with the top users…

    I think people should stop every now and then and figure out whether the ROI they’re getting is worth it or not.

  36. I already used digg but i’m not got a big traffic to my blog …i’m goin to try sphinn

  37. Thanks so much for all your wonderful tip and inspiration! My husband has followed your blog for quite some time. He finally convinced me to start a blog for my business in February. He is an AVID Problogger fan, and always sends me here for great resources and tips!

  38. Angel Cuala says:

    I have been submitting my posts before to SU and Digg, but haven’t received good effect so I seldom do it now. The funny thing is that currently, SU is my top referral site that gives me traffic and I am not sure if I can call that traffic valid.

    Thanks!

  39. ashok says:

    Thanks for this! I agree getting the right social media for the audience you want to reach is paramount. I’ve had really good experiences with stumbleupon: it is awesome learning from other users, exploring with others.

    Just as I had praised Digg last time though, and even made a new friend there today, I find myself staring at what I thought was a knockout post and hahahahaha I’ve got barely 30 diggs.

    If any of you want to add me and shout out to me 800 times a minute like everyone else on digg, http://digg.com/users/ashok – I digg nearly everything nowadays like a trained monkey. Maybe worse, monkeys might actually hesitate.

  40. KateC says:

    There are a lot more social bookmarking sites out there that can help your blog, I recommend searching for social bookmarking and submitting to a few.

  41. What I hate about Digg is they will flag you for spam if you have a small amount of diggs and yet the content that is the same subject will not get flagged when it has a high number of diggs, they are totally biased over there.

  42. uwak says:

    as beginner….i see social bookmarks as free tool to build comunity easy for our blog & web…just simple and easy

  43. Papa Razzi says:

    I haven’t really tried digg but my blog seems to be well received by stumbleupon.

  44. Mark says:

    Digg can be a very frustrating experience. Sometimes you’ll get picked up quickly and the momentum swings your way, other times you’ll get barely (if any) Diggs.

    That was one of the reasons I developed Publicity Wheel (http://www.publicitywheel.com), to effectively take this Digg-effect and move it away from this hit-and-miss effect (along with more natural traffic). Hopefully we’re getting there.

  45. Asokans says:

    Darren, You are absolutely right, blogs which talk about blogging tips and making money online has less chances to perform well. I have experienced this myself. I have not got any considerable traffic or sales from Digg, but my other blog with a different topic performs well. I have never tried sphinn, but have heard a lot about that… Need to try

  46. ITrush says:

    Never tried sphinn, thanks for mentioning.. Checking the site now.

  47. I must admit that I first I thought twitter was stupid but I have really turned around. I think I’m addicted and also it’s the third most popular traffic provider for me behind Google and Yahoo

  48. seo blogger says:

    Old social media sites have greater file archives and as such consider to have greater authority in terms of search engine placement. Having blogs listed on this site is a worthwhile investment since your blog may get flagged with lots of their users.

  49. Joel Drapper says:

    Isn’t sphinn limited to google, seo, link building, twitter, and blogging topics?

  50. Robin says:

    Well, i found digg, delicious, stumble are helping to increase my site traffic. so far i am getting a legal traffic :)

    With SEO it simply rocks :)