25th Mar

Is Twitter digging DIGGs grave?

Like a lot of people I know I was a little late arriving at the DIGG party. Achieving a front page listing for one of your stories a few years ago was extremely achievable, and many bloggers benefited from what became known as the Digg-effect. A front page story can throw across a substantial spike in this social media themed traffic. Now a days it’s almost impossible for sites like this to benefit from the DIGG-effect so a lot of bloggers and web masters are slowly moving away from Digg and focusing their social marketing towards sites like REDDIT, Stumbleupon, de.lic.ious and now it seems Twitter.

When this blog was setup we installed the Diggthis button and averaged around 80 Diggs per post, thanks to our RSS readers and our Digg friends. Unfortunately Digg isn’t a great referrer for us and we never managed to fulfill the techniques required to get any one story featured. I feel thousands and thousands of other bloggers have gained very little from Digg and have given up on even submitting their stories.

Personally Stumbleupon is our greatest social media traffic source, referring over 180,000 hits on one article alone. My good friend Tim Nash gave a great talk on Stumbleupon a year or so ago and ascertained some useful facts about the service. Tim summarised “On average there are 250 visits per thumbup… but one thumbup does not equal 250 visits”.

Next comes REDDIT, but traffic is like a flash in the pan, dying out as quickly as it started.

Social media traffic graph

The Twitter Effect

I have a prediction. The prediction is Twitter will become over the next year or so a major referrer to blogs and company websites, replacing Digg and a whole host of other social media sites. What used to be called the Digg-effect is starting to be replaced by the Twitter-effect. I believe Twitter will dig Digg’s final grave.

Twitter is a very simple status update service, incase you have never heard of it, and is becoming every more popular. Over the last few months it’s really started to hit the main stream with the likes of Jonanthan Ross (@Wossy) and Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) talking on the Jonathan Ross show and about Twitter, giving the service maximum exposure to the nation.

Over the last year or so hundreds of Twitter based web apps, websites and plugins have been created. The Twitter API has enabled the simple service to become ever more popular. Our friend Patrick over at Branded3 has even developed a twitter based petition service.

Now to aid bloggers and website masters to ascertain a slice of the Twitter pie there is a whole host of WordPress plugins they can use. One plugin which is particularly popular at the moment is the Tweetmeme plugin (the button at the top of this past on the left). Tweetmeme works a bit like Digg, presenting user submitted news stories on their website, where people can retweet the post on their own Twitter stream to boost the story up.

By using Tweetmeme you potentially have an unlimited supply of traffic and exposure. For example, you tweet the story and have 200 followers to your Twitter stream and 5% Retweet the tweet, that’s 5 retweets! Then if that sequence continues and 5% of their followers retweet the same tweet then 5 turns into 25 (30 in total). This pyramid style traffic can easily pull thousands of visitors across to your website, resulting in a very powerful Twitter-effect.

The difference with this Twitter-effect over Digg is that you start the chain off by communicating direct with your followers, who in most scenarios would be more than willing to retweet a worthy tweet. It’s still new and hasn’t as yet been flooded by potential Twitter power users, unlike Digg, but watch this space.


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  • squid
    March 25, 2009 at 1:52 pm // Reply

    I just don’t get Twitter. I’ve gone on there about 3 times over the last 18 months and each time have gone “WTF?” and walked away.

    I find it tedious wading through the posts, particularly all the ‘@username’ replies and it confuses me.

    Ebuyerdotcom have a feed (http://twitter.com/Ebuyerdotcom) which I guess I can kind of understand as a cheap and cheerful way to advertise deals to customers … but I feel that has limited appeal too.

    Bottom line: I’m getting old.

  • March 25, 2009 at 3:51 pm // Reply

    Dugg ;)

    Good article, I’m getting a little annoyed with Digg at times, largely because it’s a community of people where the few can decide what the many like (in fact, dare I say that Digg is going towards a more traditional media source?). It isn’t as truly open as something like twitter is.

    Rhys’s last blog post..Welcome BBC Readers!

  • March 25, 2009 at 7:03 pm // Reply

    Great Article Frog,

    Really glad you think we can take on the might of DIGG – we have another major revision coming out next week – with categories, which really is going to take us to the next level.

    Plus separate RSS feeds for each category + channels, plus a whole load more API calls for developers to further data mine the stories

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  • greensaab
    March 26, 2009 at 1:28 am // Reply

    I stopped going to Digg as the primaries first began because it seemed like only the very left were deciding the diggs. I was a big viewer before that. I now have tweetdeck up and pay attention to only the stuff I want. Digg should have stuck with tech only or separate it a little better.

  • March 26, 2009 at 1:14 pm // Reply

    Interesting write up. I must say though retweets annoy me, especially if you have a group of people with similar interests… One person posts something, then you get a retweet from one person, then another from someone else. It ends up with a single piece of information getting passed to the same recipient 3, 4 or 5 times. I don’t follow too many people, but the RT effect is giving Twitter a slightly irritating edge.

    Jim Sefton’s last blog post..Converting a PHP string number into a numeric value

  • March 26, 2009 at 7:29 pm // Reply

    The RT is *how* you get the ‘Twitter effect’. It’s all those little ripples that sees your X follows multiply into thousands and even millions (if you’re big enough in the first place). It’s all about reach, and the RT is how you get it. The initial hit from your own tweet (say, back to your blog) is just the first part. It’s what everybody else does that really matters.

    Sheamus’s last blog post..Does Twitter Need Its Own Tom Anderson?

  • goran
    March 26, 2009 at 7:44 pm // Reply

    First Twitter web social bookmarking site
    Cool idea ;)

  • March 27, 2009 at 3:24 pm // Reply

    @Sheamus : I realise I am in the minority here, a lot of people disagree with me, but I see RT’s as spam most of the time. Once in a blue moon a RT is good, but some people RT everything their friends say… It would be nice if you could filter out RT’s

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