Digg-ing for the Mainstream: Digg Founder Kevin Rose Takes a Big Leap from Tech-Land

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On June 22nd, at the trendy Anu bar in San Francisco, digg.com founder and architect Kevin Rose revealed digg version 3. I’ve been a digg user for about a year now, and I know a lot of you out there aren’t. So to give you a little background, digg is a social news site. Users submit links to news stories from around Internet. Everybody votes on (“diggs”) them, and the ones with the most votes get promoted to the front page.

Before the release of version 3, digg had been a site strictly for tech-related news, useful for anyone in the tech industry. But version 3, which officially launched on June 26th, opens it up to a more mainstream audience by adding world, business, gaming and science news. And as a major departure, videos and playable web games.

Digg, which had already been getting more than 8 million unique hits a month, is considered primo web2.0 advertising real estate. The high number of hits a story on digg can generate has been known to temporarily shut down smaller sites that can’t handle the bandwidth. And as the site broadens its content and its user base, it also broadens its appeal to different marketers. I’ve mentioned the use of digg as a marketing platform before, but now that digg has increased its appeal to mainstream non-tech marketers, it’s time to take another look.

Digging for Trends
Digg is a linking site. All the content on there points to an original source, most of which come from news sites, ad-supported commercial sites, blogs, and other content. It’s also democratic. The stories on digg are all third-party content submitted by users, the stories that appear on the home page are dugg or buried (voted down) by the users.

Not only does a site like digg need third-party content to function, but it will also put that third party content through the meat grinder of public opinion. A web content marketer can look on digg under a specific category and see what’s popular under that category at that particular moment in time. “This is more of a real-time view into what is popular on the web,” says Rose, “It’s really kind of a different way of looking at it, and a different way of promoting and determining what is cool and hot at any given moment in time.”

Digg’s new categories not only bring a wider audience, but also divide that audience up into more separate groups. Previously there were categories like apple, linux, and programming (which are still there). They’re different categories, and reflect users with slightly different interests, but they all cater to the same general tech audience. Now that digg 3.0 has such different categories as celebrity, finance, and science, the users who read news in one category may not even see the news in the others.

With digg 3.0, users can customize the home page so they see only the news that they want to see. At the click of a check box, users can banish categories of news that they’re not interested in. So a digg user who’s sick of politics can customize the home page so they’ll never have to see anything in the political category ever again. That kind of self-moderation is good for marketers. If a story from a site you’re promoting ends up on digg, you don’t have to lift a finger to target it. It will only be seen by digg users who want to see it.

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