Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Lessons Learned From Digg.com

I had never heard of the website Digg.com until about a month or so ago. My good-buddy-pal (as Jim Cramer would say) Kurt, over at Clever WoT, wrote a great editorial/blogpost about why the television show LOST was "Lost". It was a great look at the TV show, and some 2,200 people "Digg"'d it. I inquired about what Digg was about. Now, a month later, most of my stories "buried" by Digg users (as in, the opposite of Digging, as in, not good) I've learned some valuable lessons, which hopefully I can pass on to other new bloggers so they don't make the same mistakes I did.

For those unfamiliar, Digg is a social networking site where users submit news, blogposts, videos, ect. and they get voted on by Digg users. The Digg button that was on a bunch of my posts (first near the top, now at the bottom when I use it) displays how many people "Digg" your story. The more the better, and at some point, a critical mass is reached, your post becomes popular, and you reach the Digg.com homepage. Nirvana for bloggers, or something like that.

When I first started this blog a month ago, I figured Digg was a pretty cool site. I signed up, and immediately started posting all my blog posts there. As I learned in hindsight, that was a mistake. Part of it was my fault, I wanted to try to get some exposure to the blog, and my posts, and Digg seemed like a great way to do it. Part of it was I couldn't figure out how to get the Digg button to work with Blogger and the only way I figured how to do so was to submit my story to Digg first, then link to it a link-field in my Blogger post. So if I wanted a story to even have a chance of being submitted, I had to do it myself. Another big mistake.

So, after posting most of my blogposts on Digg for the last month, in the last week, some of my new posts would soon vanish. Apparently, the Digg establishment were none too pleased that I submitted so many stories, and were using the "Bury" feature to make my stories disappear. Just as you can be made "popular" with the "Digg" feature, you can be made to go away by using the "Bury" feature. I'm on the wrong side of that line at the moment. Why? Well, because everyone on Digg likes list, here's 5 reasons why I'm likely being buried, and 5 lessons learned which new bloggers can take to heart if they ever use Digg.

5. Pick a smart Digg user-name: Since learning about Digg and doing some research, I never saw this suggestion, but I think it's an important one. I picked "swarheit" because that's well, my name, and my normal screen name on most things. It also happens to be the address to my blog (swarheit.blogspot.com). I'm thinking now that was a bad idea. It makes all of my posts look like spam (swarheit is submitting a story from swarheit.blogspot) and that isn't good. Even people that do post their own stories, probably do a better job of hiding that it's them doing it through a clever user-name. I was not that smart, and that was a mistake.

4. Be first, and don't be late: While Digg may stop multiple sources from posting the same story from the same address, if you are posting a comment about a story in the news, and the story is from your own blog, it'll go up. And it'll either get passed over because you've missed the "first filing" of the story or because it'll look like spam. I thought posting commentaries on the Don Imus situation, some campaign stuff, would be good and interesting. And I thought they were well written. But by the time I got them posted, there were already lots of Digg stories about them, and I looked very late to a party I wasn't invited to in the first place.

3. Smart Headlines: I was not good at this at the start, and by the time I got good, it was too late. I was being buried. Kurt's Why "Lost" is Lost was a terrific attention grabbing headline. "Latest on the Detroit Tigers and Michigan's Basketball Coaching Search" or "NBC's Las Vegas Turns to Magnum PI, Tom Selleck to Replace James Caan" or "Andrew Miller Time for the Tigers? And More Postponements for the Indians" don't work. Way too long. Complicated. Unfunny. Unclever. They don't work. When I've had success with Digg (and when I say "sucess", I mean, "not being buried") my headlines have been better. "Snow Delays? Major League Baseball Needs a New Schedule", "Bill O'Reilly and Geraldo Make Noise on Fox News", and "Detroit Lions Off-Season Scorecard -- So Far". Simpler. To the point. Somewhat clever (well, maybe not that last one). There's a reason why headlines are so important in newspapers.

2 and 1. DO NOT submit every story to Digg (So important it deserves two spots): My biggest mistake. Submitting everything to Digg. Too many unnecessary stories that nobody on Digg was going to care about. Too many posts from "swarheit" plugging stories from "swarheit.blogspot.com". Just too much. The Digg folks don't like people plugging their own blog multiple times a day, it doesn't matter how interesting your stories are, or what the topic is. I think in the past few days, people just saw my posts and buried them without ever looking at the content. I don't blame them. I realize now Digg is not the place to post every Blogpost. I just didn't know that a month ago when I started. You have to pick and choose, not submit too many, and see what happens. It's a lesson hopefully I've learned (though, maybe not since I'm submitting this story to Digg. Likely my last in a while).

Have Digg.com users heard some (or most) of these suggestions before? Probably. But, if you are a new blogger, and hadn't heard of Digg, or just started using it, like I did, hopefully the lessons I've learned will be of some help. Or maybe not. Depends on if anybody sees this story of it is "buried" like the rest of them.

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Christal said...

Yay. You already have 11 diggs instead of being buried again. Congrats :D

Clever WoT said...

Don't know how I didn't see this post before today. It's a good read, and good advice. I wouldn't give too much thought to Digg, though... the community has an irrational dislike for "blog spam" (i.e. practically anything from a blog source). It's worth it to toss a couple stories that direction, but having it go anywhere is lightning in a bottle.

There's a couple other places that have similar setups that you should check out: Netscape.com and del.icio.us, most notably.

Scott Warheit said...

Thanks Christal, but even with the Diggs, the post was still "buried" by the Digg people, who I will now call the "Digg Elite" which is a put-down coined by the Stoney & Wojo Sports Radio show. People way too into the NFL (more than they should be) are the "NFL-elite" (I'm a proud member of that club), ect. ect. So, those way too into Digg are now the "Digg Elite."

Kurt, yeah, I'll check those out. My Digg days are just about over. I think of it was my "rookie" experience with blogging and move on.

And as for how you didn't see the post, that's my fault. I changed the timestamp on it (I wanted my Pistons preview to be the first story on the homepage, not the Digg story) but when I changed the time I accidentally backdated it as well. A few days as it turns out. So it sort of vanished for the most part, just as did in Digg ironically.


Christal said...

Yea, I use del.icio.us and I've already posted your blog to my links page :) Another new site you should check out is http://ma.gnolia.com/ It's just like del.icio.us except the site is newer and more attractive.


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