Friday, May 11, 2007

7 simple steps to a successful Social News Site like Digg

Creating social news is not for the faint hearted. Digg, and to some extent Reddit were a one-off phenomenon.

The tools for making a social news site are as easily available (Pligg, Phpdugg, etc) as tools for creating a blog or opening a Myspace type site. However, social news is about a community and creating a community is time and money consuming task which takes dedication to your topic.

I have tried to point out some steps that IMHO will help you create a ‘viable’ Social News site.

1. Find a unique topic
Digg does what successful blogs have been doing for quite a while – it focuses on the magic quartet of gossip, gaming, gadgets (the 3Gs) and entertainment.

Politics is also covered well on Digg.

You might want to do a research of all Digg clones and look for any missing niche there.

This list of Digg Clones is a great place to start researching.

2. Build a site with personality (voice)
Do it all by yourself. Create multiple user IDs, submit interesting stories, rate them, and comment on them yourself.

This is what the founders of Reddit did for a few months, until a constant flow of quality stories got a bigger user base.

3. Find like minded people
If you can find a way to address people who love your chosen niche, you are in.

Kevin Rose had a TV platform from where he evangelized Digg to like-minded Techies, who have stuck with him since and have only increased in number.

For example, if you are a journalist writing political stories, you may network with other like-minded political journalists convincing them to spend at least 30 min submitting stories and commenting on your site.

Moreover, you must give these like-minded people a valid reason to shift their allegiance to you from their existing favorite online haunts. Digg gave the promise of doing away with Slashdot-like editor-controlled filters.

What promise do you have?

4. Give them a reason to keep coming back
Quality stories, day after day – that is the only mantra.

5. No ads at start
I read once that a blog shouldn’t have ads until it has traffic of at least 1000 people a day. Something similar applies to Digg clones, most of which are chock full of adsense and other ads.

This is sure recipe to piss off users.

6. Spend money to get users
Set aside some money to spend on promoting your site - Adwords campaign, contests, text ad links, freebies, etc.

You will have to literally snatch people away from other social news sites.

If you are well-funded, do what Jason Calacanis did. He announced to pay $1000 per month to top Diggers who moved to the revamped Netscape site.

Forums are a good place to look for users for your social news site.

7. Be the biggest news submitter to your site
Stock up your RSS reader. Check them every hour for any scoop.

Digg got a big boost from the Paris Hilton stories, just when she was becoming infamous.

The key to making a successful Social news site is the community, the same essential ingredient that goes into making successful blogs.

One more thing: building a successful Social News site will take more of your time than building a successful blog. Remember, people will link to a good blog post, they won’t link to a good Social News link, and after all it is an aggregator.

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At 4:37 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good tips, Mate.

Liked your takes.

- Mikey


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