Everybody in the online world has been discussing the fall of Digg this week. Digg was sold for way less than it used to be worth. Lots of people are jumping on the bandwagon of calling Digg a huge failure.
There are two points I want to make with this article:
- Don’t Take Shots at Digg
- Avoid Social Dependency
It’s easy to look at Digg now and call it a failure. That’s the easy way out. I don’t see Digg as a failure. It was one of the most popular websites on the Internet. How is that a failure?
Plus it’s easy for the critics to take shots at people for trying to create some great and maybe not seeing it last for 100 years. At least the folks at Digg – past and present – were trying to change the world. I think that’s admirable. Watch out of the critics especially those that have never done anything. It’s easy to take shots while you’re sitting on the sidelines without ever taking your own shot.
There is a lesson in the Digg demise, though, and it’s for business owners.
How Social Dependency Can Make Online Marketing Difficult
There was a time not long ago when Digg was a powerhouse in the social world. In fact, it was one of the biggest sites on the entire Internet. There was a huge community of folks on Digg. They would collect the most interesting content from around the Internet and share it. People would vote for the content they thought was most interesting. If you wanted to know what was happening on the Internet you went on Digg.
Business owners would try to get their content shared on Digg. They would work on building their reputation on the social network. They would try to build content (written, graphical, video, etc.) specifically for the users on Digg. Some won and earned loads of traffic. Others didn’t get those big wins and eventually moved on to the next thing.
For any business that did win with Digg and became dependent on that traffic there is now really not that much to be gained from making content for Digg or even interacting ont he site. That could change at some point, but for those that invested in the Digg world it’s effort that no longer yields results.
That’s where I see the lesson.
Social media, like Digg, should not be the main focus of your business efforts. The folks that created content with the aim of getting it shared on Digg had it half right and in some cases they may have even had it all right.
The goal is to earn attention, trust, and a customer. That’s the cycle of the social Web and business. You earn attention from referrals. You earn trust with your content and eventually you get that sale.
The folks that were targeting folks on Digg were creating great content. The ones that had the same audience as Digg were doing it right. They were trying to give Digg something in return for access to the Digg community.
The businesses that made content for Digg without understanding if their audiences were the same only got half the equation right.
Either way, Digg is gone now for the most part.
What I think the best course of action for companies that want to market online is creating content for your target audience. Don’t think about the channel or the social media site. Focus on the content and your audience first (after focusing on your product first and foremost).
Build content for your audience. Publish it on your own website or blog. Then focus on finding the audiences where your content can be shared. Find a variety of channels. You want to diversify because channels come and go. Channels are always changing. Even the biggest sites out there like Digg have the potential to fall from the top.
You can’t become dependent on one channel. It’s too risky.
Focus on yourself and your audience first.
Once you have that under control you can reach out to various channels for promotion. And if one of those channels fails you’ll still have the community you’re building on your own site and other channels that allow you to grow.