Will the New Digg 4.0 Bring Back Bloggers?

Digg used to be one of the foremost ways to promote Web content, though after a series of changes in algorithm, many users who were bloggers, publishers, or SEOs fled. While it may not be used as much for content promotion as in the past, at least amongst my blogging and Web publishing colleagues, it still has some life in it yet. There’s a brand new version around the corner, Digg 4.0, and it has a number of new features, including several that tend to the social. But is it enough Will it bring back all the lost power users? Can it gain ground over the volume of content sharing done through social networks such as Facebook and Twitter? Or is it too late?

How Digg Used to Factor in Blog Content Promotion

As someone who used to write 3-5 anonymous linkbaits per week a few years ago, Digg was crucial to the success of my work; if my content didn’t get the home page, I’d be in less demand. As soon as people started gaming Digg, and Digg reacted to that by changing their algorithms, there was a domino effect. Many smaller publishers and bloggers felt that they were getting cheated while certain sites still got their content on the Digg homepage, even if a lesser known site had a better post on the same topic. Incidents of domain banning also seemed to go up.

In other words, things had just gotten worse for some bloggers and publishers. So why use Digg for promoting content, wasting time, money, effort?  My own services became less and less in demand, at least at the rates that I used to get, because publishers were not willing to spend money on campaigns that might fail on Digg. That ushered in cheap linkbaits cranked out with little quality (though some still do well thanks to voting networks). I in turn stopped using Digg regularly, as did many of my colleagues. I’m not bitter; I just don’t use Digg all that much anymore unless someone asks me.

A typical approach a few years ago, to promote content, might be to use some combination of Digg, Reddit, Mixx, Propeller, Stumbleupon, Delicious and other social voting/ bookmarking sites, depending on the niche. Regardless of the combination and the sequence of submission, Digg was often a crucial part of the promotion for some publishers, and it wasn’t working for them anymore.

How Blog Content Gets Promoted Now

Meanwhile, those who discovered the power of Facebook and Twitter for content sharing went that route. These two social networks (yes, Twitter is one, not just a microblogging service) have potentially greater power for creating viral content than social voting and bookmarking sites. Why? Because of a number of reasons:

  1. Trust factor. With Facebook at least, your social network tends to be comprised of people who know you, even if only online. That isn’t always the case with a voting site, even if it allows for “friending,” because Facebook allows for conversation that helps you get to know someone better. Obviously, you’re more likely to re-share web content posted by someone you know than to vote up content submitted on Digg by someone you might know not very well, if at all. Digg did have limited interaction through their “shout” feature, though I think that was dropped a while back. But it wasn’t the same as conversation. The “conversation” is on Facebook, and to a lesser degree, on Twitter.
  2. Wider audience. With 400M+ users, Facebook has a broad range of users, and ultimately, we’re all much more connected than on voting sites. I’m definitely more connected to other users on Twitter than I ever was on Digg or other social voting and bookmarking sites.
  3. Ease of sharing. It’s easy to share content from a range of topics and have someone re-share it, on both Twitter and Facebook. Facebook even gives you a nice little snapshot of what to expect. That means more people are likely to share interesting content.With voting sites, before voting buttons were available for placing on blogs, if you wanted votes, you had to convince someone to sign up for one or more social voting/ bookmarking sites. The probability of success was low then and I’m not even sure it’s that great now, even with the availability of voting buttons. Now, even if friends did sign up, getting them to spend time daily checking on Digg to see if you needed a vote or ten was an uphill battle. If you voted too fast as a group, or if the same people voted en masse, or if you frowned at Digg the wrong way, Digg might punish you — unless you were one of maybe 10-15 sites that seemed untouchable.
  4. Better viral infrastructure. Facebook doesn’t the restrictions Digg imposed, when it comes to sharing content, nor does Twitter. As such, interesting content can go viral sooner, and having the shortest viral loop is crucial for content to become viral. Even just a half-dozen retweets in short order of shared content can help bring in Web traffic and thus be a more valuable approach than using a voting site full of rules. If you cross-promote on Twitter and Facebook, without managing to p*ss off your friends/ followers, the potential for the success of Web content is even higher.

The Return of Digg?

But Digg has been reinvented. Founder Kevin Rose is at the helm again, and there are a slew of new features, many of which are “social.” I’m not going to get into all of them, but the relevant stuff is that you can import your social graphs from Facebook and Twitter. You can also log in with your Facebook profile, though I believe that was there before Digg 4.0’s release. You can also import contacts from GMail, Yahoo Mail, Hotmail and AOL, though I don’t know when these features were added. The other features of Digg 4.0 (which by the way is not live yet) are described in a recent Techcrunch post, but as many people are saying, they seem to be copying some of the better features of Twitter and Facebook?

Will these features be enough to bring lost users, especially bloggers, to Digg? I’m willing to keep an open mind, though don’t have the time to invest again. But before completing this post, I thought I’d synchronize my original Digg account with my Facebook account, in preparation for Digg 4.0 going live. Unfortunately after going through three or four registration screens, I got a “Yikes, we just had an error.”

The voting/ bookmarking flavors of Social Media can still work, provided you follow some simple tips, but I’m not sure Digg will be in my arsenal anymore. Me, I’m sticking to Twitter, Facebook, Stumbleupon, Delicious and a few others. Still, if you ask me to Digg and I like the content, I probably will. You can add me on Facebook; just remember to make a mention of why you’re adding in the message area or I’ll ignore the add.

One thought on “Will the New Digg 4.0 Bring Back Bloggers?

  1. Great article – thanks!

    Being relatively new to Web 2.0 resources and strategies, I’d have to guess that the other social sites (if they haven’t already) will follow Digg’s lead in re-architecting itself. Striking the right balance between robust services / features and staying true to the original intent of the site is the challenge these days.

    Best regards!

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