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Digg To Stop Making Their Users Famous

Digg have decided to scrap the top Diggers list – as of tomorrow. This comes as a result of increasing numbers of people attempting to pay top users to get them on the popular page.

This will cause a big stir among some digg users (especially those who have built quite a reputation on digg) – but what do you think it’s impact will be?

I think one of the things that is behind the success of sites like Digg is that they make their users famous and give them incentive to build a reputation/profile. While it might not impact their day to day user I’ve already talked to one top 40 Digger who’s not particularly happy about it.

Kevin does say that they’re working on new ways of connecting and rewarding users – it’ll be interesting to see what they do.

Hat tip – Tony

Technorati launches WTF Digg Clone

Steve writes that Technorati has launched a new digg clone feature called Technorati WTF (where’s the fire).

It allows users to submit posts that they think are hot – and then people vote for what they think is… hot.

I’m getting an 404 error page when I go there at present so maybe they’re still launching but like Steve I’m a little confused as to why they’re going in this direction.

I guess it makes sense that they might have a service that identifies what’s hot around the web at any given time – but wouldn’t it be more useful to have some sort of an index of hot posts via how many links they have incoming – as that’s what they track with their core service anyway (ie a Tech Meme Clone)? I guess they’re sort of doing this already with their ‘top videos’, ‘top news’, ‘top blooks’ lists.

Perhaps another way to do it would be to index digg, delicious, reddit etc and have a ‘top bookmarks’ list or something.

Anyway – it’s hard to critique something that isn’t working from a screenshot – so hopefully we’ll get to see it working soon enough.

Digg Traffic vs Referral Traffic – Which is Best?

Digital Inspiration has a post on Getting Noticed by A-list bloggers vs Getting on Digg Front Page which makes a few worthwhile observations.

It fits pretty closely to a comment I made last week in an interview with Jeremy when I was asked which social networking site I’d prefer to get traffic from. My response was (and I’m paraphrasing here) that while I don’t mind the rush of traffic of traffic that a site like Digg can bring in that I’d prefer a link from another blogger because it brings a different type of traffic.

Digg Traffic – While Digg brings a rush of traffic – it does so from a site with a very broad focus in terms of topics. It also sends the traffic largely from a link with little context around it and in most cases a link that comes from a largely anonymous person.

Blog Traffic - Traffic from another blogger is different on a number of levels. While it might not come in the same numbers – it will generally come with commentary and context, from a site that usually has some sort of a single focus, from a person who has established some level of trust and/or profile with their readers.

As a result – in most cases the Digg traffic comes and goes quickly and doesn’t usually hang around for dialogue – whereas referrals from other sites is more likely to ‘convert’ either as a longer term viewer, RSS subscriber, newsletter member or comment leaver.

Of course Digg traffic isn’t completely useless – in fact if you harness it you can grow a blog over time. It comes in such high numbers that even if only a very small group stick around it can be worthwhile.

It also brings a round of secondary links – which can be good for SEO and lastly it doesn’t hurt the old ego and can give a rush of motivation to a blogger. The key with Digg traffic however is to work on converting readers into loyal ones.

More reflections on different types of traffic at:

How to Build a ‘Digg Culture’ on your Blog

200612091300How do you build a ‘Digg Culture’ and get repeatedly on the front page of Digg over time?

In this post I’ll share 10 ways that top bloggers do it.

Last week on a post that Tony wrote about Digg Fraud one of those who left a comment wrote:

“I think it’s been pretty much proven that any traffic a site gets from digg is fleeting and doesn’t translate into long-term traffic.”

Many don’t believe that getting on Digg is worth much because the traffic is so fleeting however I think there is much more value for smart publishers than just the initial burst of traffic.

Such benefits to getting on the front page of Digg include:

1. Fresh RSS subscribers

Every time I get dugg I notice a leap in my RSS subscriber count. The first few times a site gets on Digg this is often bigger than subsequent diggings (after a few times I guess those who are interested in your topic will have already been subscribed) but there is a noticeable bump in subscribers each time.

2. Newsletter subscribers

Similarly newsletter subscribers (if you have one) will generally get a bump when you’re dugg. I generally add a link to subscribe to my newsletter on any post that gets on digg to leverage the traffic in this way. In this way (and with RSS subscribers) you are not only getting that first wave of traffic but are building ongoing waves of traffic each time you post or send a newsletter.

3. Secondary link ups

Digg has a ‘blog this’ feature and while it’s not used by every Digger it is used. I find that each time I’m dugg that there is a secondary wave of incoming links to your post via this feature but also other diggers blogging about you. I also find that when featured prominently on digg that you quite often get linked to on other social bookmarking sites (delicious, reddit etc) and get further waves of traffic and incoming links from their users. The secondary link ups don’t generally send a lot of traffic (although on occasion they can be from larger sites) but have the added benefit of helping the site’s Search Engine ranking (Google Juice) which over time helps build a site’s traffic.

4. A Digging Culture Emerges

If you are able to convert your incoming readers from Digg into regular readers you then have a unique opportunity to get repeat appearances on Digg again. I’ve found that with each appearance on digg that I seem to gather more and more readers to my site who will naturally submit my posts to Digg in future. I can’t quite put my finger on it but I guess the type of reader that is now subscribing to the blogs is now familiar with Digg and is even actively looking for things to bookmark. Once you develop this type of ‘culture’ the cycle outlined above can continue.

The Impact of Digg Culture over time:
Once this ‘digg culture’ kicks in a site can experience a series of ‘diggings’ which on each occasion will see the site receive a sudden and short burst of traffic followed by a return to lower traffic that is actually higher than pre-digg levels.

The actual traffic from digg is a nice (but short lived) thing – but the real benefit of being dugg regularly is the increase in traffic from loyal readers (RSS, bookmarks and newsletters) as well as the SEO benefits of new incoming links.

I’ve attempted to graph this below (this is not from any actual site’s traffic but is typical of a blog that enjoys the benefits of ‘digg culture’:

200612091300

While each blog is different (and the graph won’t apply to everyone) I’ve witnessed this ‘digg effect’ on a number of blogs now.

Can you Encourage a Digg Culture on Your Blog?

So how does one build a ‘Digg Culture’ on their blog? I’m sure this is a question that many of us would like ‘the answer’ to.

I’m afraid I don’t have a definitive answer and while many articles have been written on how to be successful on Digg I’m not sure anyone has really got it completely worked out because it can be a reasonably unpredictable and whimsical beast.

Having said that – here are 10 tips that come to mind on how to build a ‘digg culture’ on your blog. They come both from my own experience of having my blogs regularly featured on Digg but also by watching what other successful sites do.

[Read more...]

Social Bookmarking Icons – Are they Worth It?

37 Signals has a post on a topic I’ve been pondering a lot lately also – those social bookmarking buttons at the bottom of blog posts that so many blogs have. They write:

“Given the Ebola-like spread of these things they must be really effective, right? Not so much. Zero out of Technorati’s top 10 blogs feature those icons. And only two out of the 15 entries in the current crop at Digg’s Top Today page offer “Digg me” icons.

This focus on campaigning over content seems like a classic case of misplaced priorities. The reason posts wind up at Digg, Delicious, or elsewhere isn’t because the authors made it easier to vote for them (it’s already easy). A post winds up at these sites because people respond to its content and quality.”

I’ve been pondering these icons lately too for a couple of reasons – to be honest I’m a bit torn by them.

I’ll come out and admit to having a digg icon on the individual pages of my digital photography school blog. It only appears on individual pages where the item is actually dugg first by a reader – but they do appear (and pretty prominently).

The reason I’ve been pondering them is that on some posts (like this post on polarizing filters) the Digg count is pretty small (15 at the time of writing this). Not many people dugg it and the post didn’t really climb digg’s rankings. I suspect that a few of the 15 diggers dugg it after seeing the icon, but it didn’t really capture people’s attention. I think the post was of a good quality – but obviously it wasn’t viral enough.

On the other hand a post that I wrote last night on how to choose a DSLR did much better with Digg (sitting on 631 at the time of writing this). It made it to the front page of Digg today and brought in 20,000 or so visitors. Now I have no way of telling how many of the readers dugg the item as a result of the icon – but I do know for a fact that when I went to bed it was sitting on 4 diggs and I woke up this morning it was sitting on 25 diggs. However this morning when I linked to the post from my forums and sent some readers to it – within minutes the digg counter went up and the ball started rolling. I suspect that it was a direct result of the icon that tipped the post over onto the popular page of digg.

I guess what I’m saying is that on the majority of my blog posts the icon doesn’t do anything (in fact some would say it might cheapen the look of the site – especially when the counter is low) – however on the occasional post the icon might just give a quality post that doesn’t quite have the legs to go viral a lift that creates a digg-a-lanche.

I guess the question is – is it worth having the icons there for that occasional benefit?

The other thought that comes to mind is that Digital Photography School has a reasonably healthy readership each day that might make the icon’s use worthwhile. On a blog with a smaller readership the numbers of readers who see and click it would probably be too small to have any/much impact.

  • I’m in two thoughts – what do you think?
  • Do you use social bookmarking icons on your blog?
  • What impact have you noticed that they have?
  • What suggestions would you have in using them?

reddit buttons

Redditreddit have released reddit buttons for webmasters and bloggers to put on their sites to help spread the word about their posts.

They come in three styles. Give them a go and let us know how you find them. Do you actively promote social bookmarking options to your readers? Do you find they work or are readers becoming blind to them?

Using Digg to Improve Your Content

I’ve seen (and written) a lot of posts about how to get posts picked up by social bookmarking sites and what to do when it happens, but one of the things that has struck me recently is that another opportunity often presents itself when a site like Digg links links to a post you’ve written.

Let me use a recent example to illustrate.

Yesterday I posted a post in anticipation of 4th of July celebrations on how to photograph fireworks which was fortunate enough to get picked up by LifeHacker and as a result was Dugg heavily (or maybe it was the other way around – update – it then got BoingBoing’d – what a day – even with a large server allowance I almost went over! It might be time to upgrade that if I have any more days like this).

The most obvious benefit of this was the traffic that followed from Digg (7000 visitors in the first hour alone) as well as the secondary linkups that came as digg users blogged about the post also. It was a nice thing to wake up to.

But as I looked over the comments on the digg thread linking to my post I was reminded of another benefit of having a post exposed to tens of thousands of people. While digg users can be pretty harsh when they don’t like a post there is also an incredibly wealth of knowledge among them.

Amidst the 10,000+ people who viewed my post today – a certain percentage of them know a thing or two about photographing fireworks and a certain percentage of those people left comments on the digg post with their own suggestions, often with points that I hadn’t included on my original post.

This happens every time I’ve had a story high on digg and what I’m doing these days is to include the suggestions and tips of digg users as an update to my original posts.

You’ll see now on my fireworks post that I’ve got an ‘update’ on it with a series of quotes from digg users and a link back to the thread so that people can see who wrote them.

In doing this I not only enjoy the traffic from digg but improve the quality of the posts that I’ve written – which after-all is the ultimate goal of my blog.

Digg CEO responds to Netscape challenge

Richard MacManus has posted a response to the launch of Netscape from Digg’s CEO, Jay Adelson. In it Jay questions the scalability of Netscape and the level that users will actually be involved in it (both as a result of the editing processes that are built into Netscape).

Read the full post at Digg CEO Jay Adelson responds to Netscape challenge

PS: I’ve now been able to sign up as a member of Netscape an in addition to my earlier first impressions I have to say that I’m not that impressed.

Sure it’s nicely designed and there are a few interesting features – but the internal links really bug me as do the ‘visit this site’ links which take you to the source of the news but with an annoying netscape frame on the side and still with a netscape URL. I’m not a fan of this type of strategy to keep users on a site and doubt I’ll be a regular at Netscape as a result.

How to Surf Blog Traffic Tsunamis

Surf-1Sometimes it’s the simplest posts that you do that seem to get the best reactions from readers.

Yesterday on my Digital Photography School blog I posted a ‘beginner’ tip that I almost considered not publishing because it was pitched at such a basic level. The post was titled How to Hold a Digital Camera.

What the post contained was nothing that anyone would consider ‘Rocket Science’ by any means but was on a topic that I see many people getting wrong.

I set the post to publish and then went to bed.

This morning I wake up to find that it’s one of the most popular posts on delicious, digg and has been linked to from lifehacker and gizmodo (among others). An hour ago it had 7000 visitors (peak) and now as the US heads towards sleep its tracking at around half of that per hour (and still rising on delicious and digg).

Some of the comments on those sites are not particularly flattering of the post (many of them don’t seem to have read it) saying that it’s too basic – but the way people are hitting the page and linking up to it I’d say that there are plenty of people who do appreciate a ‘basic’ tip.

A few take home lessons from the experience:

  • Sometimes it’s worth stepping back from ‘advanced’ or ‘technical’ posts and remember that many potential readers are not at that level
  • People love a ‘how to’ article – so do social bookmarking sites
  • When your posts get popular they’ll also attract criticism – it comes with the territory – get over it and move on
  • When you get an influx of visitors to a post like this consider how you might leverage the traffic (I added two links inviting people to subscribe to my RSS feed and email newsletter to the post as soon as I saw what was going on – it’s paying off with a new subscription to my newsletter being added every 2-3 minutes at the moment). Another option is to increase the prominence of ads if you’re more interested in monetizing the wave of traffic – I’m not as interested in that – I’d rather build readership.
  • When you get a spike in traffic like this make sure you have something else ready to post as soon as possible for readers to look at (I posted an article on ‘how to photograph pets‘ while there is still a lot of traffic on the site). Keep the momentum going.
  • Enjoy the traffic while it lasts – tomorrow things will be a little higher than normal but the spike in traffic will soon become a distant memory

Update – for more information on capturing traffic from sources like Digg and StumbleUpon and converting them to loyal readers read:

Stickify Your Blog
How to Keep First Time Readers to Your Blog