The demise of Digg – but not of social media strategies

A while ago I proclaimed the arrival of the Foreign Office on Digg. And now Digg looks like it’s in deep trouble, announcing cuts in staff of 37% earlier this week, following 10% cuts earlier in the year.
I’m always sympathetic to people suffering cuts, for obvious reasons, and it’s sad to see a major player in social media in trouble. Digg’s role as a curator and aggregator of news content, with the content with the most recommendations (diggs) rising to the top, was a valuable resource for anyone attempting to make some sort of sense of the sheer scale of information and opinion on the web. The stuff that rose to the top wasn’t always the most important or earth shattering, and LOL-ing at someone who haz catz is perhaps not the most productive use of your time, but it provides a route map through the web.
But our experiment with Digg can hardly be classified a roaring success. We jumped on as they re-designed and re-launched, but sadly the re-launch was over a cliff-top and the reliability and audiences they’d had simply disappeared. It’s difficult for them, a matter of livelihoods, and it’s a small issue for us, but it does open some questions for the way we use social media.
If we adopt a social media channel, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, Twingly or Digg , and if that channel stumbles, have we done the wrong thing? Well, we’ve certainly backed the wrong horse, but I’m not sure it means the strategy is wrong, that of getting the heavyweights of the internet to take our content as widely as they can, rather than publishing on our own site and hoping. We can’t just build it and hope they will come (I still have share options from the first dotcom boom somewhere that proves that doesn’t work), we have to find ways to push the content into the information streams that people use.
Digg was one. It may well recover, the predictions of imminent demise may be premature, but it doesn’t look good. It just doesn’t mean we were wrong to try to make the most of it. What it may mean is that I’m a rotten judge of re-launches (and I’m worried about TweepML), but it won’t stop us trying – any suggestions for our next foray into social media?

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Ted McLaughlan

Nice post – I’d say stick with (A) generating good, conversational content, (B) maintain the original on your own site, as much as possible (or at least copies/feeds), and (C) maintain a repeatable, fairly simple process for editing, optimizing, linking and distributing the content into whatever social media channels make sense, as much as possible via RSS. This way, these tools/services can come and go, but your “publishing site and network” can continue to generate and protect your good content. If you don’t own the original publishing site or network, or make some kind of record of things you like (i.e. bookmarks, links, contacts) be prepared to lose your content, its impact/reach, its usefulness.

Jimmy Leach

All sensible stuff, Ted, thanks. The social media aspect to what we do is for amplification of content on our own branded channels and for engagement in areas where we think its better to go and find the crowd rather than try and generate our own (usually the best approach for us). But the process you describe is very useful, thanks.

Andrew Krzmarzick

I think one of the problems with Digg is that it was such a one-dimensional product. All you could do was submit and vote on content…by there was no feeling of immediate contact with other people, as Facebook, Twitter and a social network like GovLoop provide. FourSquare is not far behind…unless they find a way to make it more interactive in real-time.