It’s at least worth as much of a gander as social networking outlet del.icio.us. Digg is a social link-sharing site where users submit links to tech news, blog posts, deals, and other general bits of geekiness to a queue. Other users then vote (or “Digg”) links they like. When a link gets enough diggs, it’s promoted to the main page. It’s been hailed by many as a successor to technology news site Slashdot. Unlike Slashdot, however, there’s no central editor. The stories that appear on the homepage are determined entirely by the users.
I got a chance to chat with ReveNews publisher Jim Kukral a bit about the effect Digg had on his site. ReveNews had several articles submitted to digg.com by readers over the last two weeks. One of them, the tongue-in-cheek article Amazon.com Super Affiliate = Osama Bin Laden, actually spent quite a lot of time on the front page. After experiencing the surge of traffic (60k unique hits) called the “digg effect,” which can shut down smaller sites unprepared to handle the bandwidth, ReveNews ended up with a bump in permanent readership.
It’s important to note that ReveNews never marketed directly with Digg. A reader saw an article they liked and submitted it, along with a brief summary. Other people also thought it was worth reading and “dugg” it. It’s also important to note that ReveNews (like Adotas.com) is a highly targeted niche site, which leads some to wonder whether or not the surge in hits from a popular story on Digg is really worth as much as it looks on paper. It certainly can’t hurt, but as Kukral tells me, “the traffic is nice, but how do you measure it really? We’ve seen a slight increase in both our email newsletter signups, and our RSS subscriptions”
First of all, Jim was being modest. He later revealed that the “slight increase” he mentioned was actually about 10%. That just doesn’t sound small to me, but it’s a far cry from the 60,000 people who came, saw, and then left never to return again. Don’t get me wrong, I like Digg. I think it’s a great idea for a site, and it’s a good place to find interesting stuff. It’s worth keeping your eye on, but I don’t believe it’s something you ought to deliberately target.
It’s a lot of work compared to what you get out of it. First of all, there’s no guarantee an article you submit will be promoted to the homepage (where all the action happens). That’s all determined by registered Digg users who make a habit of perusing the Digg queue and promoting stories they like. Second, Digg is simply too broad. Digg isn’t just a site for technology news… stories submitted cover nearly everything geek-related. That means that if you want to market your content on Digg, in addition to stories about the latest Google search technology, copyright law, and Linux, you’ll be competing with stories about the upcoming Transformers movie, how to run Windows on an Intel Mac, and rumors about Halo 3.
The best thing to do is no different from good publishing practice: publish solid, attractive content that people want to read. If it’s something that appeals to a broad, tech-savvy audience, one of your readers will submit it to Digg. You don’t even have to lift a finger.