A couple of times this week I have seen great stories get buried on Digg. It happens and it sucks.
The thing is we all tend to think our own story is worthy of getting votes. But in many cases I think the people who complain about getting buried the most secretly know they were trying to game the system. If you have to ask every person online you know for a vote that is probably a good sign that you are pushing quite hard.
Digg is actually a lot fairer than people might believe, lousy stories get the same treatment but the authors still complain about the bury-brigade or auto-bury or whatever.
Ask yourself this; if you had never seen the article before, would you voluntarily vote for it?
If the answer to that question is a firm “no” then why should anyone else Digg it, stumble it or del.icio.us it?
Here is the secret to Social Media success …
… Social Media is a popularity contest. It’s a lot like high school really. Being nice is great, but being popular and having lots of friends is far more important.
I know some of you will disagree with me but I see “evidence”, or what I regard as evidence, might be just a misfiring of neurons, all the time.
To even get a story seen you need votes. Hardly anyone looks in the dark and hidden corners of social media sites where new and unnoticed stories live. The popular pages get all the attention, followed by “about to become popular with a little push”. Who hangs out with the “brand new and unlikely to become popular unless a miracle happens” pages?
So you need a bunch of friends to give you a kick start. The more the better.
That’s ok because Digg and such give you tools to allow you to send a story to your friends to get them to vote on it.
Even better if some of your friends are really popular and successful. If you hang out with the cool crowd your stuff will get far more attention.
So through your friends and adoring fans you get your stuff noticed. Most of the work is done. In fact that can be all that is required. Sometimes though people see through the charade and point out that the Emperor has no clothes and buries it.
The thing is we really shouldn’t be at all surprised when that happens if the article really doesn’t have any substance.
Unfortunately, just like high school, there is a ruling class clique with their own likes, dislikes and prejudices. Being popular is not enough if you break the unwritten rules.
When you are looking to use Social Media, hang out and observe. Look at what gets popular, what hangs around long term and what gets to the front page then disappears just as fast.
Most people will tell you what works on Digg tends to have some relationship with Apple, Linux, Ron Paul, etc. Things that probably won’t do well are anything that seems to be third hand (submit the original not a livejournal writeup of a copy and pasted story), overly commercial or overly self promotional.
Basically, unlike high school, it is the young male geeks who rule the roost. Remember the AV club? Yup, they control what gets to the front page, and they have a lifetime of bitterness to get out of their system.
The same old advice applies here as much as anyone else; consider the audience first over what you want. What will they enjoy and get value from? How best to deliver it? What do you need to do to appeal?
If getting on Digg is so important to you and it means sexing up your story and making Star Wars references, so be it. Personally, I am still happy when I get the ego boost from a front page digg story but now I focus on my actual audience rather than trying to please everyone.
Probably why I was never that popular in school 😉