Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
October 21, 200711:39 PM

The Trouble With Digg - A Warning For Marketers

I seem to be running into the whole "we need to get into this Social Media thing" more often than not. While this is good for Twist Image business, it got me thinking that not all of the tools are good for everybody. It then led me to think about Digg. Digg is an online environment that enables people to submit news items and vote on their popularity. The more popular new items that people identify by hitting a button called "digg it", the higher the news item rises on the website. Ultimately this empowers the consumer to not only submit the content, but define how important/relevant it is. The consumers of digg (us) are the editorial board. We decide what goes on the front page of this virtual newspaper.

Netscape changed their homepage to reflect a similar social news vibe, but quickly changed paths this past summer. While I don't know the official reason why Netscape removed the social media news from their homepage, it has sparked some thoughts about social media and marketing.

While I know that Digg gets significant traffic, and that people are eager to read, submit and digg news, I'm also starting to believe that the more mass market still likes Editors to "do the work" for them. There's a significant investment involved in making a community like Digg work. One has to be able to review news items and Digg them. One also has to find unique news items and submit them into the Digg system. It all seems like a lot of work for the common news hound. My guess is that most people still want a filter. They want to know that someone (or a team of people) are looking at what's relevant and organizing it in a simple, digestible and entertaining way. There's no doubt that communities like Digg have their place in the social media landscape, but if I am the one who is not consuming the news, but responsible for organizing and voting on it, isn't there a huge batch of content that will, inevitably, slip through the cracks?

Here's what really got me thinking about this and why it is so important to Marketers: Social Media Marketing is an additional marketing channel - it's not the only one. There's no doubt it's a powerful one that seems to have more and more relevance as the months roll on, but it is not (nor should it be) a substitute for some of the more traditional channels. They have to work in harmony, or - as I like to say - "everything is 'with' not 'instead of'."

Marketers needs to embrace the people who like to submit and vote on news as much as those who like to be informed by items that have a strong editorial vetting process. There are those that are very engaged, and there are those who want someone to engage them. Marketers need to appeal to both types of consumers... understanding that they are very different beasts.

I actually love Digg. I love submitting items and I love seeing how the wisdom of crowds operates when it comes to information. That being said, I also enjoy seeing the homepage to online portals to be informed on items I might not otherwise have noticed. 

By Mitch Joel


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