by Brian Cuban
What is Digg? For those who do not know, I will use the description right off their web site:
“Digg is a place for people to discover and share content from anywhere on the web. From the biggest online destinations to the most obscure blog, Digg surfaces the best stuff as voted on by our users. You won’t find editors at Digg — we’re here to provide a place where people can collectively determine the value of content and we’re changing the way people consume information online.”
I will not go into all the ins and outs of Digg. You can read a good article about it here. You basically submit content you find interesting to the Digg Community. The community votes it up or down. If enough people vote it up and not too many vote it down or “bury it”, your submission makes it to the “Front Page” which can generate thousands of hits to the submission.
Is Digg beneficial to the “obscure bloggers” of which I count myself? It can be if you remember the key phrase coined by Viacom movie mogul Sumner Redstone “CONTENT IS KING!”. I actually thought my brother Mark Cuban coined the phrase until I read about Redstone. This is the golden rule that drives the Digg community.
What is your blog about? Is your blog about getting traffic from front page postings regardless of quality of the content because you are ad supported? I see a lot of that on Digg. That kind of content in my opinion is not king when it comes to blogging because it is almost always content generated by someone else. Why not spend some time building a loyal readership base with quality and or original content? If you don’t people are not going to come back until you have another popular submission. I want reader loyalty. I want people to stick around and look at my multiple posts. The only way they are going to do that is if they enjoyed the initial post I submitted to Digg. When a Digg submission of mine hits front page, it is just as or more important to me how many other of my articles are clicked.
There is nothing wrong with writing about other people’s news. Unless you are writing an original screenplay it makes sense to write about the world happening around you. The key for me at least is to take an event, even if 500 other people have written on it, and make it mine with original ideas, thoughts and viewpoints. If I can not add something new (at least new to me) to an event, I tend to stay away from it.
The tendency of some Diggers is to read only the lead-in when they digg. I try to create a lead-in that encourages readers to click on the link to my blog rather than simply digg and comment off of the lead-in. A bad lead-in can get an article buried as quickly as a bad article itself. The art of writing a good lead-in can be compared to a a teaser for a Hollywood movie. You want to capture the interest of your audience quickly without giving to much information. You want them to be curious enough to go see the movie.(your blog) It is a continuous learning process.
Do not be afraid of the comments. When a submission goes front page there can be hundreds of comments. Many of them are hateful and tough to read but if you shrug those off and find the meaningful ones you can learn a lot about ways to improve your writing and content selection skills. I routinely got tortured for my grammar before I started working harder on it. I still get tortured to a degree but the complaints have reduced dramatically.
On June 6 2008 I wrote an article entitled “Why Athletes Go Broke“. It went popular and generated 814 Diggs. This is a fairly modest number for a front page submission. In contrast, the actual article on my blog received 30 thousand hits. This is again, not an unusually large number of hits from a front page submission. The real benefit is the other search engines and blogs that pick up on this large number of hits. This process got my post noticed by the New York Times. The Times linked to the my blog in their Freakonomics Section in a post entitled: Why Do So Many Celebrities Go Broke. It was also posted in their “Whats Online” section. The Times postings resulted in my submission being picked up by news blogs all over the world. This resulted in two ESPN interviews and a national appearance on the Fox News Channel.(video below) I have also received several offers to write for publications.
What lessons can be learned from this? There are some that will say that this only happened because my last name is Cuban. I dispute that assertion. I have written many blogs that have gone front page and not generated any interest beyond Digg. It proves that Digg does work for bloggers even in the face of any disdain by the Digg community towards the blogging community. I have no idea if this disdain actually exists but I read about it frequently. It proves that regardless of any Digg variables, content will always be king. If you have content that is timely, interesting and hits a “public nerve” Digg will work for you. Digg is not just for distributing hard news around the internet. Digg can work to distribute your thoughts on that news as well. You just have to have something worth saying. Digg can pull back the curtain but the audience still has to like the show. Be original-Be timely-Be bold as a blogger. The Digg community will stand up and take notice.