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April 22, 2008

Extra! Extra! The Social News Sites

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Mmm, lunch was delicious. But dessert was flan. Flan is not dessert. As Danny says, dessert means there is chocolate involved. Word.

But we’re back now and I’m expected to act like an adult and not tell you how yummy my food was. So I won’t. Up front we have Danny Sullivan moderating with speakers Neil Patel (Advantage Consulting Services) and Chris Winfield (10e20).

Neil Patel is up first. This should be entertaining. And I bet he’ll use the phrase “blah blah blah” at least twice.

What is Digg? It’s a social news site. Get a lot of votes and you’ll get on the home page. Great visibility.

Value: The average story gets 129 links and over 15,000 visitors in an hour. Great branding. Neil tells a story about the first time he was in the WSJ and how he didn’t know what the WSJ was or where you could go to buy one. Oh, Neil… [It’s not his fault, he’s too young to remember print newspapers.–Susan]

Audience: Lots of 35-50 year olds compared to the average Web site. It’s not just 18 year olds. Predominately male. If you want to get on the home page, appeal to the male audience.

Requirements: You need content, pictures, video or audio. Aren’t pictures, video and audio all considered content, Neil? Blended search, much?

Important Factors: The number of votes, time, voters, submitter, friends.

Unwritten Rules: No self promotion. You can’t pay for votes. No spamming. No SEOs allowed.

Fun Facts: Neil says that SEOmoz did a post and then offers up some stats. I’m not sure how the stats are connected to be SEOmoz. Or maybe everything is just connected to SEOmoz these days? Here are the stats: .7 percent of all stores get to the home page. Top 100 control 56 percent of the home page. You can’t control what people say.

That’s it. Neil didn’t say “blah blah blah” once. I’m totally let down.

Chris Winfield is up. He has 125 slides. Cries.

I don’t think I have ever realized how thick Chris’ New York accent is. Holy Jesus. Hee. :)

Why do you want to have your content on social news sites? You want to reach people who don’t know about you right now. You can influence people. You can get your message in front of them. There are millions of users. Social media is a good way to get traffic. For links.

Digg: It’s the big boy in social news networking. It’s “democratically”-driven news. Guillame Bouchard starts coughing dramatically. Hee! There are over 1 million users and 25 million visitors a month. Similar to Reddit, Propeller, etc.

It works by users submitting articles, images and videos. Content is promoted to the front page based on popularity. Lists work. The Ten Commandments was a list. Topics that work well are technology, politics, heath or business stories. Press releases, anything that looks commercial and anything that smells of SEO do not work.

Tips – Distinguish yourself. Don’t use the blank avatar. You want people to notice you. You want to be known for commenting. Find active friends. Use shouts but use them sparingly. Mix up your diggers. Don’t always have the same people Digg your content.

Advantages for marketers – They have amazing traffic. Typically between 10,000-60,000 visitors in a 24 hour period. You get in front of thousands of new people. It gives you the ability to influence people.

Study for a vacation packages company

They wanted to get high quality links, brand exposure and to start a “conversation”. The challenge was that it was a commercial Web site. They sell vacation packages. They came up with something that relates to the company but is still appealing to Digg’s audience. They made a list and incorporated cities through the world to make it personal. They used pictures, videos and cool facts.

When they submitted, they crafted a good title. Wrote a personal and opinionated description. Over 20,000 unique visitors in 24 hours. From there it spread to other social networks and influential blogs. They had 200 new email list signups. 75,000 visitors to that page from Google in 9 months.

Reddit: People post things and you can vote them up or down. Reddit uses a Karma ranking system. On Reddit there are no descriptions so your title has to sell the story completely.

Tips – Build up some Karma before trying to push your own content. Make sure your story shows up in reddit.com/new before trying to push it, otherwise you look like a spammer. Sub-reddits can be a good way to get exposure. Many top Diggers get their content to submit to Digg from the Reddit home page.

Niche sites: Great way to build targeted links. Pick sites that match what your niche is and become a contributor there. Small communities mean it’s easier to get to the home page. It will take less votes. It’s also much easier to be caught.

Sites worth targeting: AgentB, ArmchairGM, Autospies, Daytipper, HackerNews, Hugg, Wordsy, Sphinn, TeenWag

Foreign sites: Worth a quick title and description translation and submission. Meneame.net, TapeMoi.com, Scoopeo.com, Yigg.de.

Editorially Controlled Social News Sites: Join and submit your links. Fark.com, ebaumsworld.com.

Tips for Success:

  • Promote great content
  • Build your networks
  • Take extra time on your headlines
  • Manage the comments. Don’t be overly positive.

Tools for promotion: Twitter, Pounce, instant messenger and have good hosting!

Question and Answer

Is it okay to submit content to social media clients without disclosing that you’re doing it on behalf of someone else.

Neil: It’s the same thing as PR. You don’t get PR firms saying, “hey, that guy is in the Wall Street Journal because we put him there”. People get into the Wall Street Journal because of their connections. There’s no disclaimer there. Same thing goes with the social sites. If people know which content is up there because of money and connections, they’ll have a problem. As long as they don’t see it, they’re okay with it.

Chris: It gets back to “is it really something good”? Is it good content? If it’s not good content then it doesn’t deserve to be on there. If you’re providing value to that community with something worthwhile, then yeah, it should be there and you shouldn’t have to say why it’s there.

Thoughts on the algorithmic change at Digg?

Neil: What happens is that back in the day, these social sites weren’t as advanced as they are now. Back then, whoever was using the site the most often would have authority. What happened is that people were controlling too much of the real estate and it wasn’t as democratic. Digg adjusted the algorithm looking at voting patterns. They changed it to where friends’ votes don’t help as much as votes from random users. If you’re a power user, a lot of times you have these large groups of friends who always vote up your stories. It’s not as effective.

Chris: Digg is going much more mainstream. If you look at the home page, you’ll recognize most of the URLs on there. It makes it harder for smaller blogs or commercial sites to get on the home page. They want more mainstream content.

How much do the shouts affect the threshold?

Chris: With the Shout feature, it definitely affects the threshold, especially if you shout every single story. A lot of people end up getting banned because they abuse it.

Neil: With the shouts, it goes back to a lot of algorithmic changes. You’re shouting to your friends. Those votes help, but you still need a lot more votes to get on the home page because friends votes are somewhat devalued. The value is that the more votes you get, the higher you appear, the more random people will Digg your stuff.

If you’re not a great writer, should you hire a fulltime copywriter

Chris: Chris says it’s not worth hiring a full-time writer. You can find people to do it freelance. He recommends looking at Problogger’s job board and finding people who are actually involved with social media.

Neil: Neil says to participate in the community and get to know the top users and pay them to write for you. Neil says people used to buy him TVs and iPhones for his social media submission. Oh my Lord! He likes to make “friends’ with other users his own age (22) and appeal to their poorness. If someone admits to having college loans and no job, Neil knows it’ll be easy to pay that person to vote stuff up for you.

Nice.

For Neil: Have you ever had trouble sleeping at night?

Neil: I sleep like a baby!

Hee!

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