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December 27, 2006

How to Build a ‘Digg Culture’ on your Blog

Posted in: Social Media

200612091300How do you build a ‘Digg Culture’ and get repeatedly on the front page of Digg over time?

In this post I’ll share 10 ways that top bloggers do it.

Last week on a post that Tony wrote about Digg Fraud one of those who left a comment wrote:

“I think it’s been pretty much proven that any traffic a site gets from digg is fleeting and doesn’t translate into long-term traffic.”

Many don’t believe that getting on Digg is worth much because the traffic is so fleeting however I think there is much more value for smart publishers than just the initial burst of traffic.

Such benefits to getting on the front page of Digg include:

1. Fresh RSS subscribers

Every time I get dugg I notice a leap in my RSS subscriber count. The first few times a site gets on Digg this is often bigger than subsequent diggings (after a few times I guess those who are interested in your topic will have already been subscribed) but there is a noticeable bump in subscribers each time.

2. Newsletter subscribers

Similarly newsletter subscribers (if you have one) will generally get a bump when you’re dugg. I generally add a link to subscribe to my newsletter on any post that gets on digg to leverage the traffic in this way. In this way (and with RSS subscribers) you are not only getting that first wave of traffic but are building ongoing waves of traffic each time you post or send a newsletter.

3. Secondary link ups

Digg has a ‘blog this’ feature and while it’s not used by every Digger it is used. I find that each time I’m dugg that there is a secondary wave of incoming links to your post via this feature but also other diggers blogging about you. I also find that when featured prominently on digg that you quite often get linked to on other social bookmarking sites (delicious, reddit etc) and get further waves of traffic and incoming links from their users. The secondary link ups don’t generally send a lot of traffic (although on occasion they can be from larger sites) but have the added benefit of helping the site’s Search Engine ranking (Google Juice) which over time helps build a site’s traffic.

4. A Digging Culture Emerges

If you are able to convert your incoming readers from Digg into regular readers you then have a unique opportunity to get repeat appearances on Digg again. I’ve found that with each appearance on digg that I seem to gather more and more readers to my site who will naturally submit my posts to Digg in future. I can’t quite put my finger on it but I guess the type of reader that is now subscribing to the blogs is now familiar with Digg and is even Actively looking for things to bookmark. Once you develop this type of ‘culture’ the cycle outlined above can continue.

The Impact of Digg Culture over time:
Once this ‘digg culture’ kicks in a site can experience a series of ‘diggings’ which on each occasion will see the site receive a sudden and short burst of traffic followed by a return to lower traffic that is actually higher than pre-digg levels.

The actual traffic from digg is a nice (but short lived) thing - but the real benefit of being dugg regularly is the increase in traffic from loyal readers (RSS, bookmarks and newsletters) as well as the SEO benefits of new incoming links.

I’ve attempted to graph this below (this is not from any actual site’s traffic but is typical of a blog that enjoys the benefits of ‘digg culture’:

200612091300

While each blog is different (and the graph won’t apply to everyone) I’ve witnessed this ‘digg effect’ on a number of blogs now.

Can you Encourage a Digg Culture on Your Blog?

So how does one build a ‘Digg Culture’ on their blog? I’m sure this is a question that many of us would like ‘the answer’ to.

I’m afraid I don’t have a definitive answer and while many articles have been written on how to be successful on Digg I’m not sure anyone has really got it completely worked out because it can be a reasonably unpredictable and whimsical beast.

Having said that - here are 10 tips that come to mind on how to build a ‘digg culture’ on your blog. They come both from my own experience of having my blogs regularly featured on Digg but also by watching what other successful sites do.

  1. Style of Writing - while many hundreds of pages get to the top of the digg pile every week and there is quite a variation in their style - many of them do tend to have similarities. They are often lists and are usually easily digestible pieces that appeal to a skeptical yet reasonably knowledgeable audience. I don’ t know their demographics but I suspect it’s largely a young male audience so your writing needs to be appeal to them. I find ‘how to’ posts tend to do well on Digg, as do posts that break news or that are irreverent to some sort of institution.
  2. Topic of Writing - Digg has recently broadened the topics that it covers, however it’s roots are technology based and I find that blogs that have a technology focus tend to have a higher chance of being dugg repeatedly than blogs that are on other topics. This may change with time.
  3. Become a Digg User - perhaps one of the most powerful tips I can give you is to actually use Digg yourself. Become a part of the community, be an Active Digger (not just of your own sites), watch what stories make it big, analyze their style and topic, make connections with other diggers. Don’t do all this just to manipulate the system but because in doing it you could well learn a thing or two about building a successful site, have some fun and meet some cool people.
  4. Get on other Key Sites/Blogs - One way to get highly Dugg is to be featured on other sites with a Digg Culture. For example blogs like Life Hacker routinely have the sites that they link to get flow on diggings. Similarly, other social bookmarking sites like delicious and reddit often bring i a type of traffic which will then also digg your posts. Ultimately the more people that see your post the higher chance of it being bookmarked - however there are certain sites that can send traffic that are more likely to do so.
  5. Drive Traffic to Diggable Posts - a few weeks ago I noticed an interesting trend on one of my blogs statistics. It seemed that every Friday (or at least every second one) I was getting on the front page of Digg with one of my posts. This was strange to me as I had not purposely tried to get any of those posts featured in that way but almost as regularly as clockwork they were. Why was this? The answer lay in my weekly email newsletter which I sent, you guessed it, every Friday morning to thousands of readers. While I hadn’t mentioned Digg in those newsletters and had not asked readers to do it - the fact that I sent thousands of readers to a freshly written post all at the same time meant that a certain percentage of them Dugg it (partly because the Digg Culture was already in effect as I’d previously been at the top of Digg on that blog). It struck me that I was onto a good thing so I began to release my more ‘diggable posts’ on Fridays instead of randomly and let my newsletter continue to do its work.
  6. Make it easy to Digg your work - I know that some people hate the recently common practice of putting social bookmarking icons at the end of posts but they can at times be the difference between getting your post on the front page of Digg or not. I choose not to use them but if I do see one of my posts rising in the number of Diggs that they have I will generally add a text link at the end of my posts pointing to the Digg page that readers might like to visit in order to bookmark it. This means that not every post on my blogs has a digg button - but those that someone has bookmarked often get enough extra diggs to get on the front page.
  7. Titles and first lines are Important - I find that in most cases that I’ve had a post I’ve written submitted to Digg that the person who submits it uses my title (or at least something close to it). In many cases they also use the first line or two of my post as the description. As a result it is important to hone your title writing skills and to think carefully about how you start your posts. Posts that make it to the Digg front page are punchy, informative and draw readers in to read more.
  8. Digg Your Own Stories - With Caution - I quite often get asked whether I submit my own posts to Digg. To be honest, in my early days I did, but I found I had a much higher rate of getting to the front page when someone else did it naturally, so I stopped. My attitude is that getting into Digg is something that I want to happen naturally but that once it’s in and climbing the ‘upcoming stories’ ranks that digging my own story is something that I’ll do on posts that I think are worthy of digging. I’ll also pass the digg page link onto a few friends on occasion to help it on it’s way - however this is not something I engage in heavily because I’m much more interested in organic results for my blogs these days. Also don’t aim to get on the front page of Digg every day (or even every week). I’ve found that some digg users actually become suspicious of sites that get Dugg too much - moderation is the key.
  9. Celebrate Diggings…. Subtly - If you get on the front page of Digg I think it can be worthwhile to subtly mention it on your blog and/or thank your readers for it. Don’t go over the top with it (or your readers will think you’re boasting or obsessed) but to mention it reinforces that you’re a diggable blog which may trigger other stories that you write to be dugg. Subtlety is the key though - don’t be obsessive or cheesy about it.
  10. Quality Content - Ultimately Digg users (like most web users) like quality, useful and unique content. They get frustrated with second rate writing, lots of mistakes, recycled stories and sub standard site design. If you work hard on building a quality website you’ll substantially increase the chances of building a Diggable blog. Once again - don’t be obsessive about it. Build your blog up to be a site that people enjoy and want to come back to and let your Digg culture grow in it’s own time.

Digg This Here - I had to follow my own advice! :-)


Return to: How to Build a ‘Digg Culture’ on your Blog


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