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Monday, May 19, 2008

Today's post is from Chris Bennett, the President and Founder of 97th Floor, a leading edge SEO Firm. Learn about the Digg phenomenon and the value it delivers from a marketing perspective.

If you have a website or blog – and even if you don’t – is an incredibly valuable resource. If you’re simply a casual user, it’s a gold mine of great stories, tutorials, and tips...and better yet, it can be a great way to drive massive amounts of new visitors to your website.

What is Digg?
Digg is the biggest social news site on the web:
According to, in March 2008 over 19 million people visited Unlike traditional news sources where editors and publishers decide what qualifies as ‘news,’ what appears on is controlled by the Digg community.

Thousands of stories are
submitted to Digg in categories including technology, science, world & business, sports, videos, entertainment, and gaming.

A quick note: Many people think Digg is like Facebook or MySpace; it is and it isn’t. Facebook and MySpace are social networking sites. Digg is a social news site – it has a social networking aspect, but it’s all about news. Users submit articles, photos, tips, etc. to share items and see whether the community likes them or not.

If you like a story you have the option to “digg” and endorse it. If you don't like a story you can “bury” it by marking it as duplicate, spam, inaccurate, or simply because "it's lame" (lame is an actual term used on Digg). If you’d like to elaborate on your basic opinion, the comment section gives you the opportunity to share your thoughts with the rest of the community.

Stories that get “dugg” then compete with each other. Each story has a lifespan of 24 hours; if it quickly gets enough votes the story will be ‘promoted’ to the front page. Typically 15 stories are on the front page at any given time, and they’ll usually stick around for 2 to 2.5 hours. As other stories are dugg, they push the original story down the hierarchy and onto the second page, then the third page...until it eventually disappears.

To show you what can happen, say a story about global warming is published on the New York Times website. If that story is dugg but doesn’t make the front page, it may generate a few hundred extra visitors to the Times website through its Digg exposure. If enough users digg the story and it makes the front page, the Times website may get thousands of additional visitors.

While the average spike in traffic tends to be 10,000 to 15,000 unique visitors, we’ve seen stories generate up to 200,000 unique visitors. (Which, by the way, can create the “Digg Effect” – some websites simply can’t handle thousands of visitors in a short period of time and either slow down, or temporarily go out of service).

Why Digg Can Help Your Business
So why should you care about Digg? If you understand how Digg works and what kinds of content gets lots of votes, you can adapt those lessons to your blog or website and create content that will be popular with the Digg community, with the search engines, and ultimately – and most importantly – with your visitors. Understanding this social media helps you understand how to create and position your own content. Digg is like a test environment: You can check out articles in your field and apply what you learn to your own content strategy.

Many people assume they should use Digg to drive traffic to their site by promoting their own content. I say, take the opposite approach: Study Digg to find out what makes content popular and apply those concepts to your own content. This way, Digg members and other social mediums will find and promote your content. Best of all, writing great content gets Digg members (and search engines) to do your website promotion for you.

And it works. A friend of mine employs no website promotion strategy other than writing great content. Almost every post he adds to his blog is submitted to Digg by his readers. Why? He creates great content – and people like to share great content. His content is viral in the true sense of the word: The community promotes him, so he has no need to promote himself.

How to Incorporate Digg Into Your Business Approach
So how do you get started? Here’s the basic approach:

  • Sign up for a free Digg account and check out the categories you’re interested in.
  • Vote, comment, and get familiar with the Digg environment. You may make silly comments and other users may flame you for it, which could feel like a trial by fire...but you’ll quickly learn how to interact in the community.
  • While you’re there, keep watching the front page to see what kinds of stories are popular.
  • Apply what you learn to your website or blog.

Now let’s take it a step farther. To become a Digg power user with the ability to influence what appears on the front page, you’ll need to put in considerable time and effort. Here’s how:

  • Make friends – the more friends the better. Why? When you submit a story you can invite your friends to digg it. Watch for users who make the front page, befriend them, and digg their stories.
  • Watch all the stories your friends submit – that will keep you up to date on what others are digging.
  • Digg the articles you like, but don’t digg every story. Be ethical about the process and genuine about what you like.
  • Powerful users will notice you’ve dugg their stories and may add you to their friend list...then they’ll watch your stories and digg your stories. Over time, you’ll build your own powerful profile.
  • Set up a reciprocal Digg exchange – a “you Digg my story, I Digg your story” relationship. You can do so by sending a private message known as a “shout” to your friends. Just digg their story first and then tell them, “I dugg your story, please Digg mine.”

Developing friends is the key to becoming a powerful user. If you’re the first to submit a story but you don’t have friends, a power user with friends who submits it later than you will make the front page. Timing isn’t nearly as important as having friends who generate diggs.

Thoroughly understanding the Digg community and becoming a power user requires many hours a day adding new friends, dropping old friends, setting up RSS feeds and alerts so you’ll quickly find good news content, submitting lots of good’s a time-consuming process. In a way, becoming a Digg power user is kind of like a game – if you want to do well, you have to play that game well.

If you want to get serious and find stories first – because if you submit a story after a top digger, you have no chance – use our free Social Media for Firefox tool. You can then screen popular stories on StumbleUpon, Reddit, and to see if that story has been submitted to Digg. The tool helps you find viral and unique content and cool stories – and lets you be first to submit them to Digg.

Chris Bennett is the President and Founder of 97th Floor, a leading edge SEO Firm specializing in Search Engine Optimization, Reputation Management, Social Media Marketing and Blog Optimization. Chris has been involved with the Internet “since the days of Alta Vistas reign, the good ol’ days when you could change your meta tags, submit your site through Inktomi, and see your rankings improve by dinner.”

Stay up to date with Chris on his blog.

If you like this content from Chris... be sure to Digg it below!


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