Over the past few years, I’ve written a number of posts that caught the attention of Digg users. Many were surprises, but a dozen or so were written specifically for Digg, mostly for clients. These successful Dugg stories or videos, etc. are what I want to discuss with you today. Were it not for Liz Strauss, I would not have had the inspiration to write this (she’s a real expert on this topic), so thanks to Liz for spurring me on here.
Now, I’m not going to tell you how to trick Digg users into digging your crappy content. If your content is crappy you stand little chance of getting dugg, I mean unless you have some hot pics of a geek girls in various stages of undress, lying in front of an extreme network connection or other appropriately IT-geek-fantasy pics. It’s either quality content or nudy pics… There is no way to win at Digg without either.
Must Have Great Content
This goes along with the ‘don’t have crappy content’ point, but it’s even more important. Don’t market ANYTHING EVER that isn’t absolutely fabulous. First, it’s a waste of time. Second, and more important, it can ruin your name. And, I don’t just mean your brand, which is extremely important, but even worse it can ruin the chances that anyone is ever again willing to look at your site, even after your content improves. What I mean by this is that if I see a link to your site and click it, if it’s bad, I note this fact. Now, if I later see your link, no matter what others are saying about how awesome it is, I remember that I’ve already seen it and it is not worthy of my time, so I’m not going to click through. Don’t ruin your chances of world domination by marketing unworthy content.
Now, what do I mean by ‘Great Content’? Well, here are some examples.
- The Web Entrepreneur’s Customer Service Toolbox: 100 Hacks and Resources
- The Top Ten Free Website Tools and Services
- 20/20 Stupid In America
- Flesh Mob At Abercrombie And Fitch
Note with each of these examples, you have something that is must see. In the case of the articles (not the video), you have something that’s so long and so useful that it’s too much to take in at one sitting. You are compelled to bookmark it, because it’s that good (and that long). Just reading some of these is a chore, because they take so much scholarly attention, but the content is so valuable to Digg readers, that they’ll bookmark it and Digg it. In the case of the video, it’s so good you want to pass it along to others. Viral marketing at it’s finest, for 20/20 at least…
Who Are You Looking To Impress?
Note that I specifically said ‘valuable to Digg readers’. Knowing your audience is vital here. Now’s the time to do some research. Not only are you specifically studying Digg readers overall, but you need to take time to study the Top Diggers. This used to be easier when there was a leaderboard, but a quick/easy way to find theme now is to study the homepage for a few days. Click on each homepage submitter’s name and check out their percentage of successful digs that made it Home.
Take a look at this guy’s stats. He was a random click for me on the homepage. However, note how high his submit percentage is (45%). That’s sizeable. That means that roughly out of every 2 stories he submits, almost 1 makes it to the homepage.
Do your research. Make impressing these guys your aim. If these guys submit you, then you have a great chance of success. Your goal should be to get these guys to find your article, and it should be specifically to tailor it to what they are already submitting.
A Little Friendly Stalking Never Hurt Anybody
There are a few ways to go about this, but the easiest is to stalk these guys. Yes, I know that sounds horrible, but if it didn’t work, Netscape wouldn’t have offered to pay them to do what they do so well (which is, of course, the reason there is no longer a Top 100 list, but that’s another story altogether).
I’ve been on Digg for a relatively long time in web years (since early 2005) so I have built up relationships with some people that are helpful in this way. Please note that this is an example of how organic community involvement is vital to your success online, and by doing it the way I have done it (ie by actually taking part in the community) you gain validity. Doing it this way is better, as you will garner more success and still be able to sleep at night.
Off my soapbox and back to stalking school… For the stalking though, I’m not talking about creepy ‘I’m a crazy person’ stalking, but really just attempting to form a relationship with them.
First, it’s research time. Take a look at their last 20 Diggs. What are they submitting? Who are they normally reading? Do you see any patterns you can exploit?
Now, for the next action: Take part in those communities (blogs, forums, etc.) and identify who they are and make an honest attempt to gain credibility in that community. Later, take a second to reach out to them asking for nothing. That relationship just may turn into their becoming a reader of your site.
Shoot for making relationships with at least 10 or so top Diggers. I don’t consider this gaming the system, because you are just trying to get them to notice you, you aren’t at all spamming them or annoying them.
Again, you get one shot here, so don’t overstep and NEVER ask for them to Digg you. If your stuff is good enough, they’ll notice you. If not, then go back to the content-creating drawing board.
If it didn’t work ask yourself, “Is your content relevant to Digg readers”? Remember, they tend to like extreme science breakthroughs (medical, astronomy, physics, etc.), technology related content, Digg related content and sexy stuff. If your blog is not related to those topics at all, I wouldn’t waste my time and energy with Digg. It’s not worth the effort. Try broader sites like Netscape, or niche oriented ones like Lipstick. A quick
Monetize – What have you done for me lately?
You are probably thinking, ‘this is a lot of work’. Yes, it is a lot of work, but for some things it is worth the effort. You’ll need to calculate the ROI of each marketing campaign you run, and yes, this is just another marketing campaign. Your results, whether your aim is immediate money or long-term branding, are definitely measurable. If they are branding, it’s a bit harder, but just capturing the mentions, the comments, etc. in a spreadsheet will help you understand quickly if it was worth the effort.
Monetization tracking is even easier. I’ve never depended on Adsense on my sites for monetization, my money-maker has always been through direct consulting jobs. For my clients, however, the large majority have not been about ad clicks nor sales, but branding. They’d want a particular product to gain attention, a contest to gain traction or a specific area of their site to gain memberships and authoritative backlinks. Because we were careful to define exactly what we wanted, tracking the campaign was easy via tracking traffic, WOM buzz, sign-ups, sales, etc.
I promise not to bore you further with all this marketing talk, but I wanted to point out that the most important thing to remember when determining if all this is worth the effort is in defining exactly what you want to do from the beginning. With clear cut goals (ie I want to gain 5K views, 50 subscribers and earn $25 in advertising sales and I am willing to spend 4 hours on this effort), you can easily track your efforts and determine if this should get another try next month.
The Bottom Line
- Determine your goals
- Write or build to your audience
- Make it damn good
- Schmooze with the best
Odds are, you will not make hundreds of dollars on a Digg story, unless you know some hoodoo-voodoo that I don’t know (and some of you probably do). PPC monetization is rarely effective on Dugg stories. Digg is much more effective at making sure your content, product, video, etc. get attention, at Digg and around the blogosphere.
Good luck, and as always, I’m Duzins on Digg. Let’s be friends 🙂