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Social Bookmarking Icons – Are they Worth It?

Posted By Darren Rowse 2nd of November 2006 Social Media 52

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?
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.
  1. Social bookmarking has become one of the major methods of free promotion for websites. We would be crazy not to take advantage of such a huge means of promotions.

  2. I love social bookmarking, it is an awsome way to promote sites for free.

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