The Organic Marketer


The Digg Effect: Welcomed or Dreaded?

Posted in Social Marketing by Jim Tome on April 11, 2008
Tags: , ,

This week, we’re talking about a web marketing concept that a lot of readers may have heard of, but aren’t exactly sure how it is used or what the practical applications are. Well, that’s where we come in!

Many of you may know about Digg and its close competitor (and, in some ways, complementary technology/site), del.icio.us. First a primer on what exactly these are to bring the rest of the class up to speed:

Digg (located at Digg.com, but also a technology that can be incorporated into a separate web site) allows web surfers to vote (called “digging”) on the popularity of specific content (like a blog article, news release or other news-type information).

Articles can be submitted to Digg.com where they are posted, (hopefully) read by Digg members and then voted upon for popularity. Members can also “bury” an article (the opposite of “digging” and often resulting in a submitted article going down in popularity), comment on it, share it with their social network of friends or associates or even embed it into their own blog.

Conversely, you can include the Digg badge on your site’s content, encouraging registered Digg users to digg your content, thus increasing its popularity. Articles are classified under certain topics and those that reach a certain level of popularity (around 40 or more diggs, but this is a somewhat ambiguous number) reach the home page as well as topic-related pages.

Del.icio.us (also this site’s web address!), is slightly different from Digg. With del.icio.us, readers can tag an article they like and then bookmark it for others to see, called social bookmarking. Both sites tend to share some common features like sharing and commenting, and many think the two sites are fairly interchangeable.

But why should I care about Digg and Del.icio.us?

To begin with, there are an estimated 3 million registered Digg users. Seeing as Digg officially announced their one-millionth registered user one year ago in March of 2007, this chart shows a current growth rate of about 110,000 users a month.

Del.icio.us also boasts a high number of registered users, over 1 million as of September 2007, though it stated at the time that that number was three times as high as it was just nine months before (so, we would surmise del.icio.us’ user base to be at least 1.6 million as of March 2008.

OK, they’ve got the readers, what else?

Here are some interesting insights into what has been commonly called the “Digg Effect” from the popular blog, See One, Do One, Teach One (based on their experience of having their articled digged):

  • The Digg Effect brings in a moderate amount of traffic to your web site.The relevancy and popularity of content published or referenced by Digg of course affects how many people, but the article’s author said he experienced anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 visitors per day which tapered off within a week.
  • Expect some subscriptions and interest, but not overwhelming. The study found an uptick in inquiries and other interactions when content on a site gets Digg attention, but don’t expect 5,000 to 10,000 new prospects or customers every day.
  • Comments on your content tend to occur back on Digg.com. There’s a commenting feature built into Digg (and del.icio.us), so a smart marketer monitors those discussions and makes sure their side of the story (if a comment is negative) or their kudos back to the commenter (if it’s positive) are stated.
  • The Digg Effect tends to drop on the weekends. Which is good because a sudden influx in traffic to your site can severely tax a web server that isn’t used to that type of volume.
  • Your Google page rank can be affected by the Digg Effect. Or not. Sometimes it’s the article teaser back on Digg.com that gets the higher page rank even though your site contains the entire article. Yet another good reason why it’s important to be a part of Digg community and monitor posts relevant to you.
  • Once an article is Digged, it shows up elsewhere. This is where del.icio.us comes into play. Presumably, if people like your content, they share it with others. So think “penetration” — using Digg and its brethren can gain you exposure on a much wider scale for a much longer period of time.

 

The practical stuff.

OK, so you have an inkling of what Digg does — it’s a way to bring awareness to content on your web site. And you can see there are potentially millions of people who will at least have some exposure to your content’s teaser if placed on Digg.com (and there are plenty of other competitor sites as well) itself. We’ve shown a few of the benefits, if even some aren’t 100% guaranteed.

The strategy to realize here is that content you publish has a much larger audience than the people who come to your web site. Social networking sites like these open you up to the world and if your content is well-received, you gain an untold number of advocates who recommend it to people presumably like them.

Add to the fact that sites like Yahoo and Google now employ Digg-like voting. Google especially seems to be experimenting with allowing searchers to vote on sites they list in search results, which Google then makes a record of and uses to adjust future search results for that searcher. Very Big Brotherish!

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